ALEXANDER, NEGRO, Co. B, 24th Regiment, Texas Cavalry

NELSON, NEGRO/Barrett Family Branches


© Karen McCann Hett  All Rights Reserved 2003-2014

Nelson, Negro, was one of the members of Company B, Twenty-fourth Regiment, Texas Cavalry, who was captured by Union soldiers at Ft. Hindman in the Battle of Arkansas Post on January 11, 1863.

Nelson was present at the ill-fated battle.

Union Iron Clads Steaming toward Ft. Hindman

He was taken, along with the rest of the Confederate soldiers, to the federal prison at Camp Butler, Illinois. The winter was severe and we know that several of the prisoners froze to death on board the river steamer before reaching Camp Butler.

There were six Negroes from Company B who were listed on the prison muster roll. We know nothing about Nelson, other than that he was most likely a body servant who had gone into service with his master. He could have been owned by his cavalry master, or hired. We don’t even know whether “Nelson” was his given name or surname, but it is the only name he gave the Union soldiers.

Nelson had probably served the company as a cook, a wagon master, a builder, or he may have done any number of other jobs.

The one muster roll card in Nelson’s file at the National Archives tells us only one thing, and that is that Nelson was “liberated” by his Union captors.

Nelson, Co. B 24th Texas Cavalry, Appears on a Roll of Prisoners of War received at Camp Butler, Ill., Jan. 31, 1863. Roll dated not dated, Remarks, Negro, Liberated.

We do not know whether Nelson stayed in the North and made an attempt to live a life of freedom, or whether he returned home to his family in Texas. We do know that he would have had a hard time surviving in the frozen North without assistance, because the captives were not allowed to take coats or blankets with them when they were loaded onto the ships.

It is possible Nelson was from Grimes County, where there were several black men by the name of Nelson enumerated in the 1870 census. One family was surnamed Nelson: Richard Nelson was age fifty and had two sons, Moses and Samuel, who would have been old enough to go to war with a master. There were also Nelson Bates, age forty, Nelson Jones, age fifty-six, and Nelson Stoneham, age forty-eight.

It is my hope that our Nelson’s descendants will see this account of his Civil War experiences and e-mail us the full story of his life.

For a view of a Compiled Service Record card that would be similar to Nelson’s, see the biography on Negro Alexander.

The information on Nelson was compiled from his Compiled Service Record, on file at the National Archives and viewed on microfilm at the Confederate Records Research Center at Hillsboro; and the 1870 census of Grimes County, Texas.

For further information and records of all Confederate soldiers of Montgomery County, Texas, as well as histories of the regiments they served in, see Montgomery County, Texas, CSA by Frank M. Johnson. The book may be purchased by visiting Frank's website at or by contacting Frank at [email protected]

Read the history of Company B at History of Co. B 24th Texas Cavalry

© Karen McCann Hett  All Rights Reserved 2003-2014
Content Used with Permission on © Barrett Branches

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Karen McCann Hett

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Counter June 20, 2007