Field and Staff - 2

FIELD & STAFF

6/6/1999                      by R. Scott Gartin

PAGE II

 

George Robertson Reeves was born in Hickman County, Tennessee on January 3, 1826.  His ancestors had come to the United States from Ireland around 1792, settling in South Carolina (Davis, 1977). 
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His father, William Steal Reeves, was born in South Carolina on March 9, 1794.  Orphaned at the age of 3, he was raised by an uncle who was a pioneer settler at Nashville, Tennessee.  William served in the War of 1812 and the Creek War.  In 1834 he moved to Crawford County Arkansas, where he engaged in farming.  In 1842 he was elected from his county to the State Legislature.  William Reeves and his wife, Nancy Totty Reeves, had 12 children, six sons and six daughters.   George, was the fifth child born, and first son (Barrier, undated)
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On October 31, 1844 in Arkansas, at the age of 18, George Reeves married Jane Moore, daughter of Mary Moore, a widow and the granddaughter of noted pioneer, Robert Bean.  Traveling by wagon in 1846, he and his wife came to The Peter's Colony in Texas with another large group of settlers.  Eventually they settled near Preston Bend on the Red River, near Pottsboro, Grayson County, where they engaged in farming, his previous occupation in Arkansas. 
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In 1848 George was elected Tax Collector and served 2 years.  He was elected Sheriff of Grayson County in and served until the close of 1854.  Reeves was elected to represent Grayson County in the Texas State Legislature in 1855.  Notable members of the legislature, regarding the 11th Texas Cavalry were James W. Throckmorton and Matthew D. Ector.  Throckmorton was the first Lieutenant Colonel of Young's First Regiment of Texas State Troops.  Ector was the Brigade Commander during the battle of Murfreesboro.  Reeves first took his legislative seat with the modesty of a plain farmer boy and stood in the background until his fine common sense and innate manhood attracted the attention of his associates.  Men came to recognize him as a man of excellent native ability, full of honor and incapable of any intrigue or meanness (Speer & Brown, 1881).  He was reelected in 1857 and served until the beginning of hostilities. 
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In late May of 1861, Captain George R. Reeves organized a company in Grayson County for the First Regiment of Texas State Troops under Colonel Young.  On June 1, 1861 they mustered into state service.  He provided Camp Reeves as a mustering point for the 11th Texas Cavalry and other Texas regiments into Confederate States service.  See the Chapter on Company "C" for more information about his service as a Captain.
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He was promoted to Colonel from being the Captain of Company "C" on August 10, 1863.  The Field and Staff Roster of January 1864 has remarks: "Col. George R. Reeves as senior Captain of the Regiment was promoted to Colonel by order of Gen. John A. Wharton and assigned to duty.  Has not received appointment from the President."  The final muster roll shows him Commanding the Brigade.
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On May 30, 1864, Colonel Reeves received cartridges for: Enfields, Mississippi Rifles, Muskets, Army Pistols and Navy Pistols.  At that time he also received 72 "Aurt" (Austrian?) Rifles and "Wait" (Whitney?) rifles, amongst other cavalry gear.
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On June 30, 1864, Colonel Reeves received ordinance at Marrieta, Georgia including rifle bullets of 69 (musket), 57 (Enfield), 54 (Mississippi Rifle) and 52 (repeating rifle) caliber.  Four 54 caliber guns were also in the shipment.
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Colonel Reeves commanded the regiment at the battle of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, on Wheeler's raid through middle Tennessee, during Longstreet's Knoxville campaign, and the Atlanta campaign.  He was always in the front when bullets rained.  He was the first when a contest ceased, to secure the wounded and dying among the enemy, an attribute without which man ceases to be noble and becomes a brute (Speer & Brown). 
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During his service with the 11th Texas Cavalry, Reeves became involved with disputes and controversies associated with fellow officers aspiring to regimental command level and also with his brigade commander, Thomas Harrison.  Official correspondence regarding him and his subsequent resignation are related in the following items.
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Staff report of Henry Bryan, adjutant, dated December 7, 1864:
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I enclose a paper written at my request & handed me 
Nov. 7 by Lt. Col. R. W. Hooks com'g regt [commanding
regiment] which I take to be substantially correct
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Col. G. R. Reeves-promoted from Sr. Captain by Gen. Wharton
in Aug '63 subject to the ratification of the President,
which has never been given - is and has been under arrest
since July '64 for taking his regiment to the front in a
disorderly line of march and disrespect to brigade commander.
He forwarded his resignation Aug 8th last and its acceptance
was recommended by brigade and Division commanders.  No answer
has been rec'vd from Richmond and he has declined
to renew the tender of resignation - I would urge that the War
Dept accept it to get rid of him.  He was beastly
drunk at the sacking of McMinnville, Tenn. in Sept. 1863 and
was inflamed by liquor when arrested.
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The same staff letter relates to two other officers of the 11th Texas Cavalry who apparently were seeking command of the regiment over Reeves through his removal. 
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About a month and a half later, Reeves submitted his resignation a second time in the following letter:
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Camp Near Robertsville, S.C.
December 24, 1864
Gen'l,
I have the honor (to) respectfully tender my resignation as Colonel of the 11th Regt. Texas Cavalry.  For 5 months I have been held under arrest without being able to procure a trial of the charges and owing to radical differences between my Brigade Commander and myself I feel that I could more efficiently serve my country in some other capacity than the one I now occupy.
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I hereby certify on honor that I am not indebted to the Confederate States in any sum whatever, have no public property in my possession and there are no charges for same against me.
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I am Gen'l
Most Respectfully
Your Obt. Servant
  (signed) G. R. Reeves
Col. 11 Regt. Tex. Cav.
Gen'l S. Cooper
A. & I.G.
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The resignation was next given to Colonel Thomas Harrison, the Brigade Commander who wrote:
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Approved and respectfully forwarded.  I think the acceptance of this resignation would be for the benefit of public service.
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The resignation was then sent to, approved and signed by:
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Brigadier General William Y. C. Humes
Major General Joseph Wheeler
Lieutenant General William J. Hardee's Adjutant
and sent to the Secretary of War
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It is not clear when and if the resignation was accepted by the Secretary of War.  One Private in Company “C” (W. Heil) was claiming to be a member of Reeves' Texas Cavalry in late March of 1865.  Those who know of him, claim that he served "until the last gun was fired" (Davis, 1977).
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Upon his return to Texas, he found himself ruined by the war.  His youngest son had died in 1863 at age 11.  He did not give up.  With vim, which was his characteristic, he went to work to retrieve his fortune and succeeded (Davis, 1977). 
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Reeves was a leader in post war veteran activities and the Old Settler's Association in Grayson County.  He was elected to the Texas Legislature, representing Grayson County, in 1866, 1873, 1878 and 1880.  In January of 1881, he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he filled with marked ability.  He came to own five farms and an abundance of other property. 
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While visiting home in 1882, he was bitten by a rabid dog.  Soon after, on September 5, he died from the effects of the disease which was incurable at that time.  He was 56 years old at the time of his death, which was greatly mourned all that knew him well.  His wife, Jane, and seven children survived him.  Three surviving daughters were Eliza, Sarah (Sally) and Lenora Belle Reeves.  Four surviving sons were George E., John Mayrant, William Steal and Alvin R. Reeves.  He was a member of Cumberland Presbyterian Church, a Master Mason and had served as Master of his Masonic Lodge.  He had donated 10 acres of land to create the Georgetown Cemetery, near Sherman, in 1850.  His baby daughter, Mary Tabitha, was the first to be buried there.  He also is buried there.
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George Reeves also donated land for a school and community building which was erected and in service many years.  Georgetown Community of Grayson County was named in his honor.
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Reeves county, Texas, created in 1883, was named in his honor (Webb & Carroll, 1952).  In 1968, the Texas Law Enforcement and Youth Development Foundation and the Texas Historical Foundation presented him with the tall marker that stands at the head of his grave today (see photo). More Reeves information here.
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Otis M. Messick was born about 1837 in Kentucky, enlisted in the 11th Texas Cavalry and was listed as Adjutant on the October 2, 1861 muster roll.  His profession was given as a Physician and his age was 24.  He lived in Grayson County prior to the war (Hale, 1990). 
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Messick held ranks of Adjutant, Major and Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel.  As such, he is the only soldier of the regiment who spent his entire war in the Field & Staff unit. 
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Lieutenant Otis M. Messick was mustered into Confederate service as the Regimental Adjutant by Major G. W. Chilton on October 2, 1861 and performed duty as such until December 9, 1861 at which time he was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel J. J. Diamond.  Lieutenant Messick was retained on this roll awaiting instructions from the Secretary of War.  Major Chilton was aware that Lieutenant Messick was a civilian and not attached to any military organization.  Since this Regiment entered into Confederate Service, it was organized and received by the Secretary of War per a letter to Colonel Young dated September 25, 1861 with Lieutenant Messick as Adjutant.  The 1861 muster roll states that the Commanders are awaiting a decision of the Secretary of War as to the legality of his appointment as Adjutant.  It appears that Messick was indeed dropped from the rolls in early 1862.
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Major Otis M. Messick is shown as enlisted on May 26, 1862 at Corinth, Mississippi on the August 31 to December 31, 1862 muster roll.  Remarks on the June 30 to December 31, 1863 muster roll read "Never received the appointment as Major from the Secretary of War.”  A Roster dated January, 1864 has note "Appointed Major by Col. W. L. Cabell May 25, 1862, but at the time had no position in the Regiment and his appointment was considered illegal."  Another register states that he was appointed April 11, 1864 and confirmed by election to the rank of Major on May 8, 1862. 
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Messick is referenced in the book Fightin' Joe Wheeler (Dyer, date??), although his name is given as Wessick.  The passage refers to an order given by General Wheeler on May 24, 1864 during the Battle of Atlanta.  The order directed Major O. M. Wessick, commanding the 11th Texas Cavalry to create a demonstration at Cases Station while the balance of the command moved on Castile, Georgia.
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On the same date Messick wrote a dispatch to Wheeler:
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Smith's House, May 24, 1864, 7 A.M.
Major General Wheeler:
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We are forced to retire.  We drove in the enemy's advance two and one-half miles, capturing two horses and one prisoner, causing the enemy to beat the long roll.  It is Kentucky cavalry we are fighting.  They have been driven back on a heavy reserve.  The prisoners state there are 3,000 cavalry and 15,000 infantry in Cases Station.  We are still skirmishing and will continue to do so as long as they pursue.  The cavalry is commanded by Stoneman.
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O. M. Messick
Major 11th Texas
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At some point Messick was assigned to General Wheeler's staff.  He is referenced again in Staff officer Henry Byran's report dated December 7, 1864.  This report also addresses George R. Reeves and R. W. Hooks.
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Major O. M. Messick-appointed in May '62 probably by Br. Gen. Cabell - there is a deep-seated prejudice in the regiment against him as being a man of low connections and while commanding a camp, he was once obliged to kill a man who attempted his life.  He was regularly commissioned by the War Dept in April '64 to rank from May '62.  He has generally been on detached service and for some time past was acting as an inspector for Gen. Wheeler and is now Provost Marshal of the Corps.  He protested against the promotion of Reeves and Hooks over him, but is I think, under the circumstances, unfit to command the regt.  His claims have, I think, been referred to Richmond.
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Messick was evidently too well connected for this letter to create his demise with the 11th Texas Cavalry.    Later he was held the increased ranks of Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel.
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Messick's records show him as Lieutenant Colonel with no dates given.  It would have to be after December 7, 1864.  He may have served in R. W. Hooks’ absence or lack of Presidential appointment.
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He is shown as a Colonel on surrender records.  Messick, possibly Colonel after George Reeves resignation, and possibly after Lieutenant Colonel R. W. Hooks left, until his surrender on April 26, 1865.  His surrender was according to the terms entered into by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnson and U.S. Major General W. T. Sherman in Durham, North Carolina.  Messick was paroled on May 2, 1865 at Salisbury, North Carolina.  He signed Oath of Allegiance at Salisbury on July 11, 1865.  He is the only member of the Field and Staff unit whose surrender/parole papers from the end of the war have survived.
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 Lieutenant Colonels
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James W. Throckmorton A Collin County legislator, elected Lieutenant Colonel of the first Texas State Troops organization.  He was dropped on a July 25, 1861 reorganization.  Throckmorton then raised another company for the 6th Texas Cavalry  Regiment.  Later in the war he became prominent in the frontier defense of Texas (Smith, 1992) in which he was a Brigadier General of State Troops commanding Brigade No. 3.  Throckmorton was Governor of Texas from August 9, 1866 to August 8, 1867 (Wright and Simpson, 1965). 
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Andrew J. Nicholson was elected on May 8, 1862, but never reported for this duty since he was absent due to wounds.  He was the original Captain of Company "F".  No further records are available.  See the Chapter on Company "F" for more information about Nicholson.
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Joseph Murphy Bounds was born in Missouri in 1822.  At some point prior to 1845, he moved from Missouri to Collin County, Texas, settling near McKinney. His occupation was that of a travelling trader.  At the onset of the war, he was a Hotel owner on Collin County and was 33 years of age (Hale, 1990). 
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Bounds was the first Captain of Company "G".  See the chapter on that Company for information regarding his service as a Captain.
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Bounds was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on July 27, 1862 after Andrew J. Nicholson failed to report.  Bounds assumed command of the Regiment after Colonel John C. Burks was killed at Murfreesboro on the morning of December 31, 1862.  On January 10, 1863, at Shelbyville, Tennessee, Bounds wrote the following report of the regiment's actions in the battle of Murfreesboro (OR, Series I, Volume XVI, Part II, pg. 932-933):
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SIR:  In compliance with SPecial Orders No. ___, I would respectfully report that our regiment was called into the line of battle before Murfreesborough, Tenn., on the evening on December 29, 1862, and took position within 500 yards of the enemy's line, and established a temporary breastworks out of fence rails, where they remained under range of the enemy's guns (and heavy shelling at intervals) until 7 a.m. of the 31st, at which time we were ordered to move forward on the enemy; and the regiment responded promptly, under command of our late gallant Colonel, John C. Burks, and charged the enemy's lines, and repulsing them, taking (or running over) three of their batteries, killing and wounding many, routing and putting to flight their reserve, and pursuing them about 3 miles, and making great havoc on their lines, and was then called off (there being no formidable enemy in our front) and marched back in column, inclining to the left, until it was discovered that the enemy has a strong position on the Nashville pike, to our left, and were ordered to halt and form in line of battle, preparatory to a charge, which was done, and the charge made with gallantry and heroism.  But owing to the fatigued condition of the men, and obstructions from the rough conformation of the ground we had to pass over, our line was thrown back in confusion and ordered to fall back, which was done in moderate, fair order, and we were ordered to a position on our right, which we took and held until 1 a.m. of January 3, when we were ordered back to Murfreesborough.
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In the early part of the first engagement I regret to have to say that our gallant colonel was mortally wounded, though at his post leading his men on to a glorious victory, and the officers and men that were under my command on that day and during the siege acted promptly and gallantly.
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Our loss was serious, viz, 8 killed, 2 mortally wounded, 35 severely wounded, 49 slightly wounded, 2 captured, and 15 missing.
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All of which is respectfully submitted.
Respectfully yours, etc.,
J. M. Bounds.
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Eleventh Texas Cavalry
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Bounds commanded the regiment in the remounting and Tullahoma campaign, attacking behind and on the flanks of the Union Army in Tennessee.  It was later determined that George R. Reeves, Captain of Company "C" had seniority over him.  Therefore his Colonelcy was deemed illegal and he was returned to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, evidently on August 10, 1863 (the date of Reeves' promotion to Colonel).  Note that this was after a large number of desertions had taken place from around Rome, Georgia on August 2nd and 3rd (see company records).
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Bounds returned to being 2nd in command after George R. Reeves took command.  He was attacked and killed on October 27, 1863 by Private W. R. Dulaney, of Company "E" (Peters, 1974).  The murder was likely a Union plotted assassination (See Dulaney's records). More Bounds information here.
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Robert Warren Hooks was born in 1839 in North Carolina.  His grandparents were William Henry Hooks and Dorcus Black Hooks of Wayne County, North Carolina.  His father was Warren Hooks of Wayne County and mother was Elizabeth Roberts Hooks, also from North Carolina.  Robert Warren Hooks was the fifth child of three daughters and five sons born to his parrents (Hooks, 1995).
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Prior to 1848, Warren and Elizabeth Hooks located to the area which became Hooks, Bowie County, Texas.  Here they established a 5,000 acre plantation along the Red River, becoming prominent citizens of the area.  The 1850 U.S. Census listed Warren Hooks as one of the largest landowners in Bowie County.  By 1860, Warren Hooks' family was one of 263 Texans having an estate valued at $100,000 or more, along with William C. Young.  The Hook's large home was colonial style, designed by architect A. J. Hoskins and built by slave labor.  This home became the social center of the area for a number of years before being destroyed by fire.
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Prior to his enlistment in the army, Robert was a student at McKinzie College in Clarksville, Red River County, Texas.  He enlisted in Texas State Troops service on June 28, 1861 in Bowie County, Texas as 1st Lieutenant of what later became Company "K" of this Regiment.  See the Chapter on Company "K" for information about his service as 1st Lieutenant and Captain.
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A January 1864 Roster states: “Lt. Col. Bounds having been killed October 27, 1863, the senior Captain, R. W. Hooks, was appointed and ordered on duty as Lt. Colonel.  Has not Rec’d appointment from the President.”  His presence or absence was not stated on the last two muster rolls.  Was formerly the Captain of Company "K".  He was, however, present and in command of the regiment in the fall of 1864 as indicated by a Morning Report dated November 6, 1864. 
In a Confederate staff report, dated December 7, 1864, and signed by Henry Bryan, adjutant, wrote the following:
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Memo of officers in 11th Texas Regt Cav
Harrison's Brigade
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I enclose a paper written at my request & handed me
Nov. 7 by Lt. Col. R. W. Hooks com'g regt which I take
to be substantially correct
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The letter critisizes Colonel George R. Reeves' and Major Otis M. Messick's service in the Regiment.  See presentations of these officers for transcriptions of the parts of the letter pertaining to them.  The letter mentions Hooks with the following:
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... Lt. Col. R. W. Hooks also promoted by Gen Wharton subject to ratification Oct 27th 63.  He lacks earnestness & vigor, but there is no one any better in the regt.  Under a good colonel he would do very well I think.
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Later in the staff report it is apparent that the was some resentment on the part of Major Otis M. Messick for Lieutenant Colonel Hooks being promoted over him.  Messick was protesting the same to Richmond.  There are no further records of Hooks with the regiment.  It is known that Messick later assumed the rank of Colonel.
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Robert W. Hooks had several family members who served in the service of the Confederacy.  Two brothers enlisted with him in Company "K".  His brother, Charles Augusta Hooks was an Orderly Sergeant on the Field & Staff for this regiment until Colonel Reeves dropped him and he returned to ranks of Company "K".   See Sergeant Majors, below.  His brother, John Frank Hooks, served as a surgeon in the Confederate Army also.
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After the war, in 1870, Hooks was killed in a sawmill explosion.  He was never married.  He is buried near Hooks, Texas.
 
Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Gartin
Printed by permission