Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas. Page: 70
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1880 census it is revealed that over 450 citizens of
Grayson County were receiving pensions for Civil War
service from the United States Government. Although
this list includes many Negroes and other persons who
came to the county after the close of the war, the names
of some thoroughly established pioneer families are to
be found there. Since the number of those who were
pensioned must have been considerably smaller than the
total number who served, we can only conclude that the
Union service must have proved attractive to Grayson
In cases in which the circumstances of Union service
are known, we find that such service offered no very
great inconvenience to the families of the men. The
men came home on leave, perhaps not so openly as their
Confederate neighbors, but without being captured; and
there is at least one case on record of a Northern soldier
who returned to Grayson on leave to marry a girl whose
family was Confederate in sympathy.
Perhaps the most flagrant instance of Union recruiting
in North Texas was carried out by a man intimately
related to Grayson County from the earliest days.
This was the organization in Hunt County of the socalled
First Texas Cavalry by Martin D. Hart.
An account is given in another chapter of the early
exploration carried out by John Hart near Preston Bend.
It will be recalled that Hart and his partners cleared
land there as early as 1837. The ownership of this property
being disputed by Holland Coffee and his partner
Silas Colville; the argument was settled when Colville
murdered John Hart in 1840-1. Hart left two sons,
Martin D. Hart and Hardin Hart, minors. Martin D.
Hart was a student in the first school, held at Warren.
In 1841 the executors of the Hart estate in the name of
Martin D. Hart sued Daniel Montague for having improperly
recorded field notes to the property at issue at
the time of the murder. Although the court upheld
Montague, it is hard to suppose that the decision was
just. In any event it is tempting to interpret the subsequent
activities of the Hart brothers as a reaction to
personal injustice perpetrated against two orphan boys
by the principal slave-owners of the county.
Both Martin and Hardin Hart became lawyers and
practiced in the Sixteenth Judicial District, going, as
was the practice, from county seat to county seat. Thus
the two were familiar figures in Sherman throughout
the 1850's. From time to time their names appear in
the newspapers in connection with public projects. For
example, the Clarksville Standard for April 17, 1852
reports that Hardin Hart and M. D. Hart were delegates
to a convention in Little Rocc for the purpose of
securing a railroad for North Texas. Reports of court
sessions in Sherman before the Civil War usually contain
the names of the brothers. Memoirs of some of the
earliest settlers refer particularly to Martin D. Hart.
In the latter 1850's Martin D. Hart was living in
Hunt County. He became interested in politics and
served for some time as state Senator from his district.
An article about Governor E. M. Pease in the Dallas
Herald for 29 February 1868 contains the following:
Failing, however, to he elected to the Senate as he (Pease)
had hoped, in 1859 he joined a separate Democratic party of
which Gen. Houston was the head; and in 1860 he and
other gentlemen got up a mass meeting to nominate the old
hero for the Presidency. This meeting was at Buaas' garden
in the city of Austin, but
his accounts seem to be full of every thing but the truth. The
Editor too seems so badly scared that he forgot how to spell.
Not long after this Martin Hart raised a company
in Hunt County to serve "in the war." The troop marched
off gloriously displaying the lone-star flag. What
people didn't know as they saw this band march by was
that its leader had a commission in the Union army and
was en route to Arkansas and Missouri to act with his
men as guerrillas, a sort of northern counterpart to
Although there is relatively little information about
the activities of Hart's so-called gang, the following
item from the Dallas paper of 6 December 1862 proves
that this group achieved some degree of notoriety.
Martin D. Hart, late Senator from Hunt but by January
18, 1863 when Brig. Gen. William Steele wrote
the following report to John R. Baylor in command of
troops on the "Frontier of Texas," apparently Hart had
given a good deal of trouble.
Subsequent to the retirement of General Hindman with
his army from this section a guerrilla force of the enemy has
made its way to the south side of the Arkansas River, and 1
am fearful, have succeeded in cutting off my communication
with headquarters. This, so far as I am concerned, is unavoidable,
as I have no cavalry force, and nothing to subsist it
with if I had one. This force of the enemy, I have no doubt,
is being rapidly augmented from the Unionists of this section
and the deserters from General Hindman's army. There were
many arms scattered through the country during the late retreat,
and I take it for granted, are in possession of this band
and their adherents, as but few stand have been recovered,
after diligent search. The topography of the country where
these parties operate is of such character as to render pursuit
useless, unless the men are well mounted, and the pursuit is
kept up without relaxation. The chief object of this, however
is to inform you that this lawless band is under the command
of one Martin D. Hart, formerly a member of the Texas
senate, from Hunt County, and who now represents himself
as a captain in the First Texas Regiment (Federal). I am
satisfied that communication is being kept up between Hart and
Abolition sympathizers in Northern Texas, and is is possible
that, should he conceive himself strong enough, he may attempt
to push his raid into that section. I have no special
hope of success. I would respectfully suggest a maintainment
of a vigilant and close watch along the various channels of
communication with this section of the country, with the object
of intercepting all communciation between Hart and his Texas
friends and sympathizers.
In a letter written the same day to Gen. D. H.
Cooper, Steele added particulars of Hart's activities.
Several of the most respectable citizens of the Valley of
the Arkansas have been murdered, and numerous robberies
committed by these outlaws .... These men seem to be well
armed and mounted, and are evidently divided into several
parties, having, no doubt, a common rendezvous. Last night
there was a party within 4 miles of this place, killing and robbing,
and on yesterday there was a party of some 50 men, with
a couple of wagons and several negroes, depredating some 20
miles south of this, in the direction of Waldron. This lastmentioned
party is said to have taken the Doaksville road.
It is desirable that you should keep a close watch upon all
the channels of communication leading to Texas, as this man
Hart has declared his intention of making a raid into that
State. There is also said to be a party of 80 or 90 in the vicinity
of Sugar Loaf Mountain. You must have all trains passing well
guarded, and keep up through the country south of this as
active a system of scouting as possible. Be specially careful in
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An illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas with numerous photographs and a pioneer name index (p. 120).
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Landrum, Graham. Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas., book, 1960; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24647/m1/74/: accessed February 19, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .