True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 141
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HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 141
done all that possibly could be done, and when he did not jump
or try to save himself he showed that he was more of'a fool and
idiot than a hero.
Perhaps one reason why I am so prejudiced against the latter
day "heroes" is that I have known one or two of the genuine
For a number of years Houston entertained an angel unaware
in the person of a man who was regarded as a crank and miser,
but who was in fact one of the grandest men and heroes that
ever lived. This was Judge John Duncan. As I write that name
I can see some of the old-timers who thought they knew him,
sit up and take notice. I admit that I would be with them in
doing so too, if I did not know the judge's history. Asa matter
of fact only two persons in Houston knew anything about the
Judge, for he was not given to talking about his .private affairs
and resented all'attempts to pry into them. He told me part
of his story and Judge George Goldthwaite told me the latter
part of it. The judge had but one leg, having lost the other
while in command of a Mississippi regiment during the war.
He had an old-fashioned wooden leg and one could hear him
coming down the sidewalk a block away. He was very sensitive
about his missing leg and no one ever made allusion to it in
his presence. One evening he and I were sitting in front of the
Capitol Hotel and I asked him where he lost his leg.
"Sir," said he, "it is a story that sounds so absurd and improbable
that I hate to speak of it for fear that my friends will doubt
either my veracity or saneness. I lost it in battle, which, of
course, was not strange, but the circumstances were most wonderful
and almost incredible.
"I was lieutenant colonel of my regiment and we had been
sent up in Missouri to take part in the campaign there. Our
colonel had been wounded the day before and I was in command.
Early one morning I received an order to advance my regiment,
drive off a small detachment of the enemy from a woods on the
opposite bide of a big field and hold the position until more troops
could be sent to me. It was supposed that the enemy had only a
small force in the woods, so you can judge of my surprise when
as we reached a point about half way across the field the enemy
opened on us at easy range with a withering rifle fire. Instead
of a small force we found ourselves confronted by a full brigade
that had been moved up during the night. There was an old
rock fence, about two feet high and I ordered the men to lie
down behind it, knowing that assistance would be sent us so soon
as our desperate situation was discovered by our people. Fortunately
the enemy had no artillery or they would have exterminated
us right there. The rifle fire was fierce and one had
only to raise a finger above the stone fence to have it shot off.
I was lying there expecting relief every moment, when I heard
a voice behind me and, looking around, I saw a boy about 16
years old, seated on a big white horse. The bullets were flying
Here’s what’s next.
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/141/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .