Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999 Page: 4
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
wife, Mary Theresa, and daughter, Jane Margaret Jordt, and made off with a good deal of
hardware. The newly enriched men steadfastly maintained that they believed the hardware
belonged to the Confederacy. Redgate, however, disagreed. Eventually, he, together with an
escort of United States soldiers, retrieved most of the missing items and filed charges against
the men who had taken them. The accused men waited through nearly three years of delays
before finally, on March 7, 1868, the state dropped its case.2
The soldiers who had helped Redgate recover the stolen items were members
of the 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, who had been ordered to Columbus to "take
post, preserve order, and protect public and private property" on June 22, 1865. Despite
warnings from their former masters about the evils the Yankees would do, local blacks, in a
celebratory mood in their first week as freedmen, cheered and applauded as the army marched
into town on June 24, and gathered in their camp the following day. At first, the atmosphere
was tense as the soldiers were verbally abused and taunted with drawn revolvers by what
one of them characterized as "men that was in the rear or at home" during the war. But after
a senior officer arrived and fined one citizen ten dollars "for useing about four words againste
a Soldier," there were far fewer incidents of abuse. The Iowans would stay less than a
month, being replaced in town by the 30th Missouri Infantry Regiment on July 11. Other
federal troops, including a cavalry unit from Illinois, came through or took up posts inside
the county, for several months. The depth of resentment toward these soldiers in the white
community can hardly be exaggerated. Some seventy years later, Etta McCormick, who
because she was not born until 1874 must have derived her understanding of the situation
from her parents and their contemporaries, recalled that the soldiers were in town to place
"all white men in jail who abused the Negroes in any way" and that because "it was the
pleasure of the Negroes to report such abuses . .. many a good, law-abiding citizen was
placed in jail until it was the will of the officer in charge to dismiss him."3
2 [La Grange] True Issue, June 3, 1865; Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause
File No. 594: State of Texas v. William Thompson, et al., Criminal Minute Book D, p. 129. On May 23, 1865, the
day after the former cavalrymen had taken all the Confederate property in La Grange, another group of former
soldiers arrived in town. Dismayed that they were too late to participate in the confiscation of government
property, they turned their attention to private property, though with much less public approval.
Redgate's wife, Mary Theresa, was the same woman who had been captured by Indians in 1836 when
she was the wife of Conrad Jurgens. Jane Margaret Jordt, who was actually JUrgens' daughter, was the same
child who was born while her mother was in captivity and who had been adopted by Redgate. On September 23,
1855, she had married Hermann Emil Mathias Jordt, who, it will be remembered, died during the Civil War
while serving as the captain of a Confederate army company (see Colorado County Marriage Records, Book C,
3 War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: Govern-
ment Printing Office, 1889-1896), series 1, vol. 48, part 2, pp. 969, 1069, 1078; Frederick H. Dyer, Compen-
dium of the War of the Rebellion (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1978), pp. 1174, 1334); Des
Moines [Iowa] Register, July 19, 1865; Harold D. Brinkman, ed., Dear Companion The Civil War Letters of
Silas I. Shearer (Ames, Iowa: Sigler Printing and Publishing, 1995), pp. 156, 158; Letter of Frederick E. Miller,
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, January, 1999, periodical, January 1999; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151405/m1/4/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.