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Letter Of Alfred E. Lewis to a Texas Paper.

Letter Of Alfred E. Lewis to a Texas Paper.
Jackson County, Miss.
August 10, 1869

Letter to the Times:

I see by the papers that one Gen. Davis was nominated for the Governorship of Texas by the Radical party, and believing that it must be the same Davis that raided through this part of the State in December 1864, I thought it not amiss to furnish a short link in the record of that infamous man. General Davis was one of the raiders that started from Baton Rouge in the fall of 1864 wi th some 8,000 cavalry and struck a northeasterly direction to and through Mississippi to Augusta, Perry County, making deep his path with desolation well knew that the “boys in gray” were “at the front” and in the back region he was plundering. He was met by the young and gallant Joe Deenhaur, with some half-dozen men, who turned the whole division pellmell to a south-easterly direction, when again the invincible Davis met a few-a very few- of Forest’s boys. The name of Forrest was too much for the raider-it was more than he bargained for. In bewilderment, he wheeled about-not however, without leaving som of the ruffians and a general scatterings filled with spirits of turpentine.
Here commenced in earnest the greatest run, not excepting Bull Run, that ever took place in this or any other age. Down southward on the west bank of the Pascagoula River, in close, Phalax thundered on wheels the brass artillery, leaving no trunks, houses or stables unturned. Unfortunately for me, I had deposited at a friends, silver forks, spoons, trays, and other valuables, which were stolen. The silverware was marked M.D.L. And J.F.L. And were family relics.
They reached my house on the 12th of December, 1864. So rapid was the march, or run, that the appearance of the advance guard of some sixty men, surrounded my house with pistols, and calling impudently loud, was the first news of their being in this county. The garrison, consisting of Mrs. Lewis and her four children, and some four or five servants, surrendered without bloodshed. I was absent, far from home at the time. Then commenced the pillaging of devastation of everything in reach:they charged particularly on the bee gums;Davis must have a sweet mouth: it is said that bears have.
I had instore for the vonlunteers' familiesa stack of corn, which they threw out and wantonly wasted on the ground; and when remonstrated with, and told that it was the bread of the poor women and children, they laughed in scorn, and bosted that (God save this mark) they were Union Soldiers.
Soldiers warring and charging on poor women and children' corn stacks, and running at first smell of gunpowder, until checked by the Pascagoula Bay. Two hundred of Forrest's gallant men could have made them take water drowned every ruffian of them.
As soon as they reached the Coast, they began embarking on boats for new Orleans, not however, with importing a negro Infantry to protect their hasty flight-though I must here give Davis credit for extreme prudence, for he had doubly secured his retreat by destroying everything in his route, so that neither man nor beast could follow him. The negro soldiers proved less vicious than Davis'screw. Whist he was here, my wife and children were ordered out of their bedrooms and sent up in the garret to starve or freeze to death:it was bitter cold at the time. Some of the black servants, through pity gave them scraps, as they were not permitted to sit at their own table

(page 2)though General Davis and the officers feasted on the brains and fat of my cattle, sheep and hogs.
Davis occupied the room some time, then moved his quarters to Mrs. McRae's fine and well furnished house with several pianos in it, She was highly respected and much esteemed lady, the mother of ex-Governor McRae, now an exile in British Honduras. It is needless to say that when Davis left, the pianos and fine furniture disappeared too. As pianos and silver spoons largely and necessarily constituted “military necessitids” Davis preferred charging on them to meet Mrs. McRae's son and the garrison where the battleflag waved. The faithful old black servant on the premises, who I know to be truthful, says that when Davis left, he gave orders to burn the house, but that he prevailed on the man not to do so, pretending to claim the property as his own, and that one of my fine hoses costing some $4,000 or $5,000 was burned by Davis. Special orders to “burn down the dam old rebel's house to the ground: pity he is not in it.
The tomb over my dead child was broken open and the bones scattered. A newly made tomb, containing Mrs. Owen's dead child, was broken open, the casket taken out, and the glass over the cold face crushed into the corpse. Stock of all kinds was wantonly destoryed and not used. The bleaching bones on every hillside are living monuments to his (Davis') wanton cruelty. One of my houses was burned down because it contained a little salt; one of my cribs was burnt because could not take all the corn out: the old, very old man in charge was left to starve. Huge piles of Burt bricks in this neighborhood show now the destroyer’s path
the grave of a good and inoffensive man-a Union loving man at that-Joe Ellis, is certainly a living evidence of a warriors prowess. He was murdered , nay chered(charred?), whilst attempting to protect his sister from the ruffian's lust. No notice was taken of it. Several old citizens were captured and sent to Ship Island tosuffer worse than death. I look upon your wild (Comanche Indians was saints compared with this general Davis and crew:for the Indians steal from necessity while it is Davis nature to be cruel and destroy.
If Davis will return to me the marked silverware, family relics that were stolen, I will give him a slight draft on my merchants, Messrs Webster & co. in new Orleans, for the full value, and ask no questions about the house linen, silk dresses, some $2,800. in gold and silver, and other valuables which disappeared during his (Davis) stay here.
I cannot believe that the gallant sons of the Lone Star State, the sons of brave men before them, can or will ever permit such a monster as this man, Davis,certainly is to occupy the highest position within their gift.
In event of Davis's success, then tear out the written pages of the history of Texas containing the brilliant exploits of the renowned “Texas rangers” and her humane officers, and let her present generation repent. I should say, humiliate themselves in sack-cloth and ashes until the second Moses leads them out of bondage.
I write this over my own signature, believing it to be an important duty, and refer all whom it may concern to any and every respectable citizen in this, my native county, as to who the writer; and also my friends, Robert C. Files and T. McRae of Houston Texas.
(Signed ( Alfred E. Lewis.

Note by C.E. Cain.
Alfred E. Lewis held many important offices in Jackson County, among them being delegate to the Secession Convention, His children and grandchildren are still holding important offices in his home county.

Note from SHAPE:
We are not sure if this is a transcription of the hand written letter or if it a typewritten copy that appeared in the Texas newspaper. There many typos, that could only come from a typewriter and cannot be duplicated on a text document generated by a computer. The typos found are in this online version are deliberate as we tried to duplicate as near as possible the images received from The Mississippi department of Archives and History.

From Texas Department of Archives at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/40016/tsl-40016.html

Biographical Sketch
Edmund Jackson Davis served as governor of Texas from January 8, 1870 to January 15, 1874. Florida native E.J. Davis was born on October 2, 1827. His family moved to Texas in 1848, settling in Galveston. After reading law in Corpus Christi, he served as customs inspector in Laredo (1850-1853), district attorney (1853-1856), and then district judge (1856-1861) at Brownsville. An anti-secessionist, he was defeated in a race for the Secession Convention of 1861. In 1862, Davis left the state to avoid conscription in the Confederate Army and organized a Union cavalry regiment. He was honorably discharged as a brigadier general when the Civil War ended. As a radical Republican, Davis took part in the Constitutional Conventions of 1866 and 1868-1869.

The 1869 gubernatorial election was one of the most turbulent and controversial in Texas history. Favoritism by the military for candidate Davis over A.J. Hamilton caused Governor E.M. Pease to resign September 30. General J.J. Reynolds ordered the drawing up of a new voter registration list, eliminating many of those who had qualified in 1867. Troops stationed at the polls probably prevented many Democrats from voting: only about half of the registered white voters actually cast a ballot, and many polling places were either not opened, or ordered closed. Irregularities were reported but never investigated, and official returns reported that Davis won by slightly more than 800 votes.

Appointed provisional governor on January 8, 1870 (about five weeks after the election and before the official outcome had been confirmed), Davis began a four-year term and was inaugurated on April 28, 1870. After the state legislature ratified the 14th and 15th Amendments, the civilian rule of the state officially replaced the military rule on March 30, 1870. The Constitution of 1869 had given the governor power to appoint more than 9,000 offices, impinging on the independence of local government and the will of the people. A taxpayers' convention met in September 1871, chaired by E.M. Pease, to protest high taxes, needless expenditures, and the legislature's cancellation of that year's regular elections. A special election was held in October, with Democratic victories for seats to the U.S. Congress. Democrats won a majority in the state legislature the next year, despite the presence of the state police at polling places. The legislature nearly impeached Governor Davis in 1873. The Texas Supreme Court in Ex Parte Rodriquez(the "semi-colon case" of December 1873) invalidated the election of 1873 in which Richard Coke had defeated Davis. Texans ignored this decision, and President U.S. Grant refused to intervene on Davis' behalf. Davis did not intend to leave office until April 1874, but he did so reluctantly in January, officially marking the end of Reconstruction in Texas. Davis was defeated in the 1880 gubernatorial race, and again in the 1882 congressional race. He died in Austin on February 7, 1883.