By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Did you know that April was declared “Confederate History Month” by the Texas Legislature in 1999? I have little knowledge of Comal County’s involvement in the Civil War. That, however, is about to change because Wilfred Schlather has written a book about that very subject that will soon be for sale at Sophie’s Shop. The Sophienburg is very proud to sponsor his endeavor and all proceeds will go to the Museum and Archives.
My knowledge of the Civil War in Comal County has been confined to the statue on the east side of Main Plaza and the saltpeter extracting plant in Landa Park. One hundred pounds of bat guano produces four pounds of saltpeter used in making gunpowder. (Just proves that everything has a purpose). We have some photos in the archives, a beat-up Confederate cap, and a collection of muskets.
Schlather began researching “War Between the States – Participants from Comal County, Texas” in 2005. His interest in this particular period of history stems from the fact that his g-grandfather, Pvt. Franz Heimer, was involved in the war. Also, Capt. Julius Bose, an important leader in the war, is an ancestor of Schlather’s wife, Marlena Winkler Schlather.
The book contains lists of soldiers in the regular army (those who left Comal County) and militia under the auspices of the state (those who remained in Comal County). Included also are unit histories. The lists include battle locations, duration of service, and mustering out dates.
Not every male wanted to fight in the war. I had always heard that many didn’t think it was their war, and after all they came to Texas to get away from conscription. Schlather said that he ran across some information from family histories that some had hidden out in the hills, gone to Mexico, or switched sides.
Each county in Texas was charged with voting “for” or “against” seceding from the Union. Newspaper accounts and personal letters show that there was much conflict in Comal County about this issue. Texas Governor Sam Houston made a trip around Texas trying to convince Texans to vote “no” to secession. He stood on our courthouse steps (where the Chase Bank stands).”Zeitung” editor Ferdinand Lindheimer began a campaign against Houston urging Comal Countians to vote “for” secession. The vote locally was 239 ”for” and 86 ”against”. Statewide, the vote was 46,158 “for” and 14,747 “against”. Thereby, Texas became part of the Confederate States. Interestingly, Comal County was the only predominantly German county in Texas that voted to secede.
A certain number of units were to be organized from each county. In 1861 three regiments were formed. Volunteers could choose their regiment. Leaders were chosen by the soldiers. The three leaders, all with previous military experience in Germany before emigrating, were Capt. Gustav Hoffmann, 7th Cavalry, Capt. Theodore Podewils, Company 36th Regular Texas Cavalry, and Capt. Julius Bose, Volunteer Texas Infantry.
In September of 1863, the militia companies were ordered to assemble at Stebbin’s point (Guada-Coma area) for the purpose of drafting 25% of men for State Troops and organizing such a company. They were to be armed and show up or be designated as deserters. On that day, Capt. Friedrich Heidemeyer was elected commander of the Comal County Company of Infantry. These men were in the service of the Confederate States Provisional Army and served for six months.
I found Schlather’s “Postface” most interesting. These are thoughts that he had after collecting the information, studying the Civil War and finally writing the book. There are some real “thinkers” in there, and some surprises. But I won’t tell you! Buy the book at Sophie’s Shop when it comes out. I can’t wait to get it. Were my ancestors on the lists or did they hide out in the hills?