Texas Military Board

Francis Lubbock defended the early actions of the Board to the legislature by reporting that it had done much “in defending and advancing the interests of the country. Every important act of the Board has been the united act of all.” He also requested that a “Joint Committee” from the House and Senate “be appointed to examine and report upon the action and business entrusted to the Board. This will be the best mode of determining as to its usefulness, the benefits resulting to the State and the propriety of its continuance. I can assure your Honorable Body that its labors have been most arduous.”1

Overview of archives

The records of the Texas State Military Board are held at the TSLAC (finding aid). Below are notes taken about the records, with call numbers as headers.

See this November 1865 report on the activities of the Board, prepared by E. M. Pease for Governor Andrew J. Hamilton, which is useful for identifying names.

In December 2012, I made a first pass through these records, looking primarily for mentions of Salt Works. On that trip, I barely cracked the bound volumes (2-1/300 through 2-7/824). In May 2015, I went back for a closer look at the folders in Boxes 2-10/299-302, noting the descriptions of the names given in pencil on the folders for each named individual and filling out information on manufacturing companies mentioned in the Texas Incorporation Acts. I also examined 2-1/318 (the New Board’s letterpress book) and 2-1/333 (a list of exemption details).

Most of my notes about the Board itself were taken while reading ramsdell1924; see that page for more info. In this section I want to debrief what I looked at and collected in Austin.

One of the most useful sources in the collection was the 1955 Report by the state auditor, which broke down how much the Board spent. While ramsdell1924 focuses mainly on what the Board didn’t do, the report’s breakdown shows the relative amounts of attention the board paid to different kinds of activity. Most useful for my research might be the point that after the purchase of cotton, other expenses were sometimes surprisingly close in amounts. As much was spent on Salt Works, for instance, as on the state foundry.

This archive is rich in evidence of cotton trading across the Mexican border. Although ramsdell1924 suggests profits were never high, there is some evidence here, including a receipt mentioning the Chenango Plantation, that such trading continued beyond September 1863, and that the real blow was the capture of Brownsville rather than difficulties beforehand. But the photos and notes I took only captured a fraction of the material related to cotton trading. If this line of inquiry becomes more important I’ll have to go back. (There is more evidence of the Board’s buying cotton into the the spring of 1864 in the papers of Pendleton Murrah. Murrah’s establishment of the Texas Loan Agency also means that a significant amount of cotton (perhaps half of all the baled cotton in Texas, according to Ralph A. Wooster) was not purchased by the Board but instead by this separate institution.^[See Ralph A. Wooster, “Texas,” in The Confederate Governors, ed. W. Buck Yearns (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985), 275n78.)

The letters to and from A. H. Abney may be important as they document operations at Jordan’s Saline.


Old Board Blotter

Bound volume, photographed in full. From TARO:

Old Board blotter, January 1862-April 1864 [Payment in cash, specie, bonds for premiums, salaries, services, purchase of ordnance stores, purchase of tools, wood, coal, stationery, Neat’s Foot Oil, blankets, cotton, cards, payment to firms, foundry and cap and powder factory accounts.]


Report of the Special Examination of the Records of the Military Board of Texas

This report was prepared by C. H. Cavness, state auditor, in 1955, to determine whether bonds sold by the state during the war were used to aid the rebellion or for “normal” government activity. (Some bond holders claimed the latter, which would have allowed them to be repayed; if they were used for the war, then the 14th amendment allowed the state to repudiate the debts.) Cavness broke down the major uses to which the proceeds or bonds were put. I’ve tabulated his summaries below (in dollars):

Purchase of Cotton 544,438.23
Ordnance Stores (by 12/31/62) 30,810.48
Perc. Cap Factory (by 09/30/63) 15,683.00
State Foundry 42,972.06
Purchase of Arms 22,992.75
Rifles 42,679.00
General Supplies 22,621.30
Agent Expenses 6,627.68
Bayou City 44,473.24
Bayou Obstruction 5,026.79
Salt Mining 43,750.00

Salt money was disbursed through Major A. H. Abney, the Board’s general agent. The report quotes a letter to him dated August 16, 1864 from two members of the board discussing the importance of Salt Works.

Letters of the Military Board from January 20th 1864

Bound volume. Photographed all but about one or two letters and blank pages at the end of the book. Contains several letters to Kirby Smith asking for enrolling agents not to interfere with the Board’s agents, particularly the chemist in charge at the Percussion Cap Factory and Abney, the salt agent. There is also a lengthy letter reporting on all the Board’s activities.

Military Board, January 28-April 29, 1864

Bound volume. Photographed in full except for blank pages. Includes a letter to John W. Leigh.

Volume 109 [Letters from Board, December 1862-December 1863]

Bound volume. Appears to be outgoing letters from the Board secretary dating from December 1862 through December 1863.

Mostly concerned with authorizing agents to buy and sell cotton. Also some letters about the foundry and attempts by enrolling officers to enlist men who had been detailed to work there. One letter to William Rowan (based in Waxahachie) dated March 10, 1863 requests that he make out a list of names, ages, and residences of “the hands in your employ” stating that they are necessary to the production of Gun Powder. More correspondence with Juan Weber in San Antonio about transportation costs. A letter dated November 13, 1863, to the governor arguing that the $5000 appropriated to begin working salines in the N. W. Frontier (Wise County) will be insufficient.

Copies of letters throughout the book are poor so no photographs were made except for index of recipients in the back of the book. It is clearly a rich source, though–500 pages of letters to contractors, military officers, supply companies, the Governor, and so on. Correspondence about traffic of cotton to Brownsville and Matamoras is also included.

Volume 108 [Letters from Board, March 29, 1862-December 27, 1862]

Large bound volume, did not examine.


Box containing correspondence to Board and contracts. Many of the folders are small and contain bids or receipts for sale of cotton to the state in return for bonds. Unless otherwise noted, the quoted descriptions of each of the below names is the description written in pencil on each folder in the box.

  • Alexander, A. M. and C.C.: “Sold and Delivered Cotton to Rio Grande”
  • Alexander, McCarty and Beard.: “Purch. of Cotton”
  • Baker, M. W.: “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Ball, Hutchings and Company
  • Bartley, D.E.: “Ord. Contract”
  • Beaumont, J.: “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Billups and Hassell: “Ord. Contract”
  • Bouldin, James E., Capt.: “Agent in Europe Selling Cotton” (to purchase arms)
  • Brazos Manufacturing Company: “Ord. Contract”
  • Bremond and Co.: “Ord. Contract”
  • Briggs and Yard: “Ord. Contract”
  • Brown and Todd: “Ord. Contract”
  • Browne, James - “Ord. Contract Perc. Caps”
  • Buckley, C.A. - “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Burchand and Co. - “Matamoras Selling Cotton”
  • Chappell Hill Manufacturing Company: “Ord. Contract”
  • Clarke, George R.: “Ord. Contract”
  • Cooke, F.J.: “Cotton Purchasing Agent”
  • Crockett, John M.: “Supt. of Arms Factory”
  • Crow, Peter: “Agt. Purch. Cotton”
  • Cunningham, L.C. and Co.: “Trans. of Cotton” (large file for a “forwarding and commissioning merchant” firm based in Alleyton)
  • Cunningham, T.W.: “Subagent Purch. Cotton”
  • Dallas Mfg. Co.: “Cotton Machinery” (similar arrangements made to this company as with Chappell Hill and Brazos—the incorporated company, in this case made up of John S. Ballard, Ed. C. Bouda, T. E. Sherwood & A. J. Cornett, to purchase 400 bales of cotton and use it to import machinery into the state, unless machinery can’t be purchased, in which case proceeds of cotton sales divided between company and state)2
  • Dance, I.H. and Bros.: “Ord. Contract”
  • Doughtery, James: “Agent Salt” at Sal del Rey
  • Drennon, S.D.: “Agt. Purchase Cotton”
  • Droege, Oetling and Co.: “U.S.-Texas Indemnity Bonds” (2 large folders)
  • Florian and Jefferson: Copper Sales
  • Foster, Constantine: “Powder Mill”
  • Gatewood, Berry: “Ord. Contract, Powder”
  • Gay, James L.: “Purchaser of Cotton” (two folders)
  • Giddings, George H.: “Procuring Agent Mexico”
  • Groesbuck and (C.H. Alexander): “Indemnity Bonds”
  • Gross, F. and Co.: “Purchase of Cotton”
  • Harcourt, John T.: “Agent 8% Bonds”
  • Hays, F.M.: “Agent Purch Cotton”
  • D. W. Heard: “Agent Trans. Cotton”
  • Henderson, John D.: “Agent Cotton Machinery”
  • House, T.W. and Co.: “Mayor of Houston, Ord. Contract”
  • Houston and Texas Central Railroad - just contains a few receipts for the transportation of cotton purchased by the state
  • Hughes and Totty: “Ordnance Cont.”
  • Independence Manufacturing Co. - similar arrangements as above manufacturing companies; letter to the Board dated October 4, 1864 fears that cotton will be impressed by the Confederacy unless the state protects it
  • Jeffries, A.: “Agt. Purchasing Cotton”
  • Johnson and Dewey: given permission in 1864 to export 75 bales of cotton to import machinery to Tarrant County
  • Johnson, M.T.: “Agt. Purchasing Cotton; Texas Loan Agency”


Contents similar to previous box. Unless otherwise noted, the quoted descriptions of each of the below names is the description written in pencil on each folder in the box.

  • Johnston, McKenzie, M.D.: “Ord. Cont.” (Johnston is from Hempstead and had an enslaved blacksmith making swords and Bowie Knives for the state.)
  • Kendall, Phillips and Co. - Cotton Purchasing Agents
  • Key, John P. - “Bonds Cotton”
  • King, R. and Co. - Cotton Purchasing Agents
  • Kingsbury, S.G. - “Agent Trans. of Cotton”
  • Kirkland, W.H. - “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Kittredge, E.B. - “Contact to Make Caps”
  • Koester, Theo. - “Contract for Alcohol”
  • Lamar - “Ordnance Contract”
  • Landa, J. and Co. - Authorized to export 300 bales of cotton to invest in cotton and wool machinery (Carders, gins, spinning frames, etc.), contract similar to that of above manufacturing companies, dated June 2, 1864; contains list of machinery that Landa and Co. are authorized to import
  • Lavenburg and Bros. - Commission and purchasing contracts in San Antonio
  • Lea, Pryor - one of the Board’s agents.3
  • Lockhart, R. - “Agent, Ordnance Off. Harris County”
  • Lusk, James A. - “Ord. Contract”
  • McElroy, J. - “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • McMiller, John and Co. - “Trans. of Cotton” - another contract, dated February 17, 1864, giving them permission to export 1000 bales of coton to invest in “Machinery and appliances for the Manufacture of Iron or Cotton Goods, Spinning Jennies & Knitting Machines”
  • McReynolds, J.B. - “Manufacture of Nitre”
  • Marchbanks, H.D. - “Procuring Agent”
  • Mayer, H. and Co. - Transportation of cotton, small file
  • Mevin, John - “Agt Purch Cotton”
  • Mills, R. and D.G., see Robert Mills - Mostly concerning purchases of powder, importation of goods
  • Moore, John M. - “Agent”; cotton purchasing - Two large folders of his accounts
  • Nance and Moffett - Contract to export 250 bales cotton to purchase machinery for a factor in Lancaster, Dallas County, dated June 1, 1864
  • Nichols, J.R. - “Ord. Contract”
  • Oliver and Bros. - Piedras Negras and Monterey commissioning agents for cotton sales and transportation; they are described in one letter from J. A. Quintero to F. R. Lubbock, September 7, 1862, as “the only merchants in Mex who, being friendly to our cause, are willing to import goods and arms for the use of the Confederate States”; they worked with John M. Moore, but were dissatisfied in February 1864 that Moore had not settled accounts—they had imported goods while still awaiting for delivery of cotton; discusses around 200 bales of cotton that were marked for sale in Barcelona, Liverpool, and New York
  • Osgood and Cavender - one document about a cotton sale
  • Patten, Charles - a few cotton receipts
  • Peck, Benjamin P. - “Agt” – one document
  • Perkins and Co. - “New Orleans” – two documents
  • Pfeiffer, George - “Procuring Agent”
  • Phoenix Iron Works - “Ord. Contract” – one document
  • Pitts, W.C. - “Ord. Agent”
  • Putnam and Henderson - cotton agents in Rio Grande City who handles sales of cotton to Matamoras for account of Huntsville State Penitentiary in late 1864 and early 1865
  • Raker, John M. - “Agent in Mex.” – One document


Contents similar to previous box. Unless otherwise noted, the quoted descriptions of each of the below names is the description written in pencil on each folder in the box.

  • Rice, F.A. - “Agent Cotton” - Two documents concerning purchase of cotton for state
  • Richardson and Co. - “Corpus Christi”
  • Richardson, D. - New Braunfels paper mill
  • Roberts, J.F. - “Agent 8% bonds”
  • Robinson, W.T. - “Agent for Trans. of Cotton”
  • Rogers, M.N. - “Gunpowder”
  • Root, J.B. - Agent of the Texas Loan Agency in Galveston County
  • Rowen, William - “Supt. Powder Mill in Waxahachie which Exploded”
  • Rugby, John “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Runge, Henry - “Agent”
  • Ryan, M.K. - “Agent Cotton Purch.”
  • Sampson and Henricks - small file
  • Sappington and Owings - Cotton consignees
  • Sawyer, Risher and Hall - Subagents of E. B. Nichols for purchase of cotton, 1864
  • Schwarz and Co. - LaVaca County, litigation with CSA
  • Shepherd, B.A. - bonds
  • Sherrard, Taylor and Co. - “Gun Contract”
  • Short, Biscoe and Co. - “Rifles”
  • Simpson, J.P. - “Agent Cotton Purch.”
  • Sims - recommendation by Speight for a friend named Sims as an arms purchasing agent
  • Smith, John M. and Co. - “Cotton”
  • Smith, P.R. - “Contract of Carding Machines” – two letters to Murrah concerning the Bastrop cotton manufactory that Smith started with A. J. Ward
  • Smith, Robert W. - “Contract” - leather
  • Stachely, J.A. - “Agent in Europe”
  • Stark, J.B. - one document, application to be an agent
  • Sutton and Spring - one document
  • Sublett, F.B. - “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Swisher, John M. and Co. - “US Bonds”
  • Tanner, N.B. - “Ordnance Contract” - letters concerning exemption details
  • Texas Powder Co.
  • Thomas, W.R. - “Agent” - cotton purchasing, Grimes County
  • Thomas, W.S. and Co. - cotton, one document
  • Thomason, J.H. - “State Agent”
  • Thomason, W.G. and Co. - “Rio Grande City / Matamoras” cotton agent
  • Travis Powder Co.
  • Trinity Mills Mfg. Co. - May 3, 1864, contract allowing the company to export 300 bales of cotton for machinery in Dallas County - letter seeking a letter to Smith ensuring they can transport their cotton
  • Tucker, Sherrard and Co.
  • Tyler Press
  • Watts, Alex M., Col. - “Agent”
  • Weber, Juan - Cotton commissioning and transportation in San Antonio and border, some documents in Spanish
  • Weston, John - Cotton Receipt
  • Whitescarver Campbell and Co. - arms company in Rusk, Cherokee County
  • White, William H. - “Agent Purch. Cotton”
  • Williams, John L. - “Agent Texas State Loan Agency”
  • Williams, W.H. and J.H. - “Clothing Manufactory” - contract from May 1864 authorizing export of 500 bales of cotton to import machinery for a clothing factory, together with a list of machinery - there is a letter from W. H. to the governor, dated December 21, 1863, that seems to detail the long history of this manufactory at Bastrop Mills prior to the war and during it, and urges Murrah to take this into account when taking any steps “to help manufacturers”—he wants Murrah to know that “we occupy a position in advance of any new organization,” perhaps a veiled reference to the company founded by A. J. Ward and others; while Williams says “I apply for no specific relief,” he does ask the governor to consider “our case in time to have it included in the wise & judicious plan I doubt not you will mature.”
  • Willis, R.S. - “Agt. Purch. Cotton”
  • Wilson, J.T.D. - “Cotton”
  • Wilson, James T.D. - “Bonds”
  • Yarbro, J.C. - one document
  • Young, Alex - “San Antonio agent”
  • Young, George - small file


Contains letter book of T. C. Armstrong, state agent for the Texas Loan Agency in Brownsville, reporting on his cotton purchasing and selling work. Only about 130 pages of the book are filled. Also contains papers of Loan Agency agents E. B. Nichols and Vance and Co. Correspondence in the dated folders details the conflicts between the “State Plan” and the Confederate Cotton Office. Letters in 1865 deal with attempts to settle accounts, and there are letters of complaint from E. B. Nichols about the way that John L. Williams has conducted his business; Williams has apparently held around $50,000 of the proceeds from sale of “State Plan” cotton in Havana and Europe. One letter in the February 1865 mentions a certificate for $5000 that Nichols holds from William Marsh Rice. There is also a defensive letter from T. C. Armstrong about the way he conducted State Plan business, arguing that he has done nothing to injure the credit of the state.


The “Salt” folder contains correspondence about investigations into the manufacture of salt along the Northwest Frontier (near Double Mountain and Fort Belknap) conducted in fall 1863. Only a small force of 25 to 30 men was contemplated to work these salines, no mention of hiring out slaves. The force would have to be armed for self-defense against Indians in the region. There is a document, however, listing people connected to the salt works that includes Hispanic surnames.

A. H. Abney

A. H. Abney was a general agent of the Board and the superintendent of Jordan’s Saline. Photographed this entire folder, which confirms the hiring of slaves at the Salt Works and gives receipts and accounts. Only a portion of these have been uploaded into Omeka collection. See also the postwar report of an inspector of the Military Board’s holdings.


Flipped through the letterpress book, made note of some correspondence with A. H. Abney and photographed some correspondence related to the Brazos Manufacturing Company.

The Board’s May 19, 1864 report to the legislature explaining its activities in encouraging manufacturing is also in this volume, and photographed.

There is a letter in this volume, photographed, to a firm that appears to be A. J. Ward & Co., which was an agent of the board in Rio Grande City that was involved in selling cotton. Difficult to tell if this is the same A. J. Ward that later leased the Huntsville State Penitentiary.


Ledger book that contains a list of around 80 exemption details given by the Board, along with the reason. Took photographs.

  1. Message of Governor, February 5, 1863, House Journal of the Ninth Legislature, First Called Session, of the State of Texas, February 2, 1863-March 7, 1863, ed. James M. Day (Austin: Texas State Library, 1963), 7-8, link.

  2. A letter from A. J. Cornett to Pendleton Murrah, July 25, 1864, Records of the Governor Pendleton Murrah, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, complains that Kirby Smith’s new regulations about cotton may deprive the company of half of the bales it intended to sell; Cornett appeals for help to Murrah “in view of the great injury resulting to the public” if the company is not able to proceed with its plans.

  3. See also Pryor Lea to Pendleton Murrah, March 9, 1864, Records of the Governor Pendleton Murrah, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Box 301-44, Folder 20. Lea writes about a plan to back freight salt to the interior of the state after delivering cotton to bond holders.