By Danella Dickson
James Henry Ellis was born March 9, 1842 in Greene County, Illinois, the son of Thomas McKee and Mary (Witt) Ellis. When James was four years old he came to Texas with his parents who settled in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas.
During the spring of 1861, the Lancaster Guards, a group of men from in and around Lancaster who had been serving as a loosely organized militia, began recruitment of additional members, and formal training as a prospective Cavalry Company. Beginning in July 1861 they participated in training exercises on the State Fair Grounds along with several other companies being raised in north Texas. In late August 1861 the Lancaster Guards and nine other Texas military companies assembled seven miles south of Dallas, at Camp Bartow. On September 9, 1861 they were mustered in as Company F, 6th Texas Cavalry, CSA. http://pages.prodigy.net/procyon/lancaster/compf.htm
Nineteen year old “Henry” Ellis enlisted on September 9, 1861 in Company F, 6th Texas Cavalry, Ross’s Brigade for a twelve month obligation. He provided his own equipment identified as a horse, a Minnie rifle and a six shooter valued at $170.00.
In late November of 1861 the 6th Texas Cavalry was ordered to Fort Smith, Arkansas. At some point a detachment of men under the command of Lt. Col. John S. Griffin, was sent into Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma) where they became involved in the Battle of Chustenahlah. The campaign was undertaken to subdue the Native American Union sympathizers in Indian Territory. Following the battle it was estimated the Confederate loss was nine killed and forty wounded while the Indians causalities were believed to number two hundred and fifty.
Henry, while serving with this detachment of men, was wounded in the leg December 26, 1861 and carried the bullet the remainder of his life. He was furloughed from February 1st until March 20, 1862. The muster roll for March and April list him as present but “sick in quarters”. He was available for duty on the following muster rolls.
On May 14, 1862 Colonel Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross took command of the regiment and led them during the Battle of Corinth, October3- 5, 1862. Henry was wounded again in this battle, October 5, 1862, this time in the shoulder but was present for duty by January, 1863.
During the remainder of the war command of the 6th Texas Cavalry changed a number of times as the men took part in more than 85 skirmishes or battles in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. By 1863 they had gone from 1,000 to 600 men with disease causing more losses than wounds or desertions. The unit fought bravely and on many occasions victoriously in a delaying action toward Atlanta. They were said to have been one of the most dependable regiments in the Army, but lacked discipline and were extremely rough. This comment could have described any Texas unit of that time frame.
James was with his regiment when they surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865 and were paroled at Jackson, Mississippi May 13, 1865. Along with his fellow soldiers he returned to Texas and resumed his life on the family farm near Lancaster.
James married Mary E. Rawlins on July 25, 1867 probably in Lancaster. They were the parents of nine children, two of whom died young.
In 1929 James Henry Ellis applied for a Confederate Pension from the state of Texas. In the pension file was a letter from State Representative Ray Holder who stated, “Mr. Ellis is coming to the end of his days and I am very anxious to have him receive his pension at the earliest possible date”. Also found in the file was a letter from Mr. Ellis’ sister, Lou White, “To Whom It May Concern: In regard to the war record of James Henry Ellis, I know of my own personal knowledge based on my clear recollections that he served in the Confederate Army. He is my brother and I have a clear recollection of the day when his company was organized in the spring of 1861, under the command of Captain R.S. Guy, and later reorganized under Captain R.A. Rollins. The company drilled in Lancaster during the spring and summer of 1861. In September 1861 the company went into Indian Territory where they fought the Indians. My brother was wounded there and still has the bullet in his leg. The company went from Indian Territory to Arkansas. The company went into Mississippi, Tennessee and other places where they were in active service. We had letters from him during the four years he was in the war. I remember clearly the day he returned home from the war. It was after the surrender, in late spring or early summer of 1865. I was a girl 17 years old when the war begun and remember very clearly many things of the war and of my brothers service. Mrs. Lou F. White”. The letter appears on the letterhead of White and Company Bakers, Lancaster, Texas. The application was filed April 2nd and approved April 9th, .
James Henry Ellis and his wife celebrated their sixty-second anniversary on July 25, 1929. He died November 25, 1929 at the age of 87 years, 7 months and 27 days old, the last survivor of the Lancaster Guards.
Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts