A half-century after the war, old soldiers banded together to share their stories and honor their comrades
IN JANUARY 1908, Confederate veteran Thomas A. Elgin wrote this description of his aging comrades: “Old veterans whose unsteady steps and gray hairs speak of the many years gone by since in their youth they went forth to battle for principles.” Elgin was one of the elderly men who met regularly in Marshall, Texas, between 1900 and 1910 to reminisce about the events of 1861-65 and their lives since. They were members of the W.P. Lane Camp of United Confederate Veterans, whose failing bodies did not keep them from coming together faithfully every month. They shared their memories of the past, but there were also new battles to be fought for what they believed.
The core of the camp was formed by former members of the W.P. Lane Rangers, organized in Marshall on April 19, 1861, named for Brig. Gen. Walter P. Lane, “hero of three wars” (Texas Revolution, Mexican War, Civil War). The Lane Rangers were the first company raised in east Texas’ Harrison County for Confederate service. Lane’s service in the war included the battles of Wilson’s Creek (August 1861), Pea Ridge (March 1862), and Mansfield (April 1864). When the war ended, he returned to Marshall, federal pardon in hand, to devote his time to business interests and veterans’ matters until his death at 74 on January 28, 1892. His was the first military funeral ever conducted in Marshall, and he was so highly regarded that Texas Governor James S. Hogg ordered the flag atop the capitol in Austin lowered to half-staff in his honor.