Sons of Confederate Vetrans Sons of Confederate Veterans, Texas Division

William Williston Heartsill

William Williston Heartsill, born Louisville, Tennessee, a little town on the Holston River near Knoxville, on October 17, 1839. He went to Nashville in 1856 at the age of 17 to become a traveling salesman. He got the “Texas fever” in 1859 and moved to Marshall. In Marshall he became a Clerk in the Bradford & Talley store where he worked until joining the W. P. Lane Rangers.

On February 2, 1861 the Texas Secession Convention voted 171 for and 6 against to leave the Union. Very Quickly a State wide Election was held on March 2nd, 1861 on the question of secession with the yes votes winning by almost 32,000 votes the count was 46,129 for and 14,698 against. 18 Texas Counties voted against the movement.

Harrison County Sheriff A.W. Crawford received permission from the Governor to raise a Company of Rangers to serve for 1 year as a State Militia. On April 7th, 1861 the militia was raised in Harrison County with other coming in from other Counties. W.W. Heartsill was among the ones joining. On April 19th, 1861, 301 determined young men were sworn in to the Service of the State of Texas on the North side of the Courthouse. They chose the name the W. P. Lane Rangers.

On April 20th, 1861 to Mounted Rifle Company led by their elected Captain Samuel J. Richardson headed for Austin to draw equipment and to receive their assignment. They crossed the Sabine at Camden. (We still have a Shreve-Camden Rd. ) The trip took 10 days. On May 4th the left for San Antonio to draw supplies this took 4 days. They spent 2 weeks in San Antonio and were transferred and Sworn in to the Army of the CSA on May 23rd, 1861 and became Company F, 2nd Regiment, of the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles.

On June 6th, 1861 they left for their 1st assignment as Frontier guardians. They were sent to Ft. Wood 200 miles west of San Antonio to protect the Frontier the trip took 8 days. They protected the frontier for 10 months. On April 19, 1862 to re-enlisted in the CSA Army for a period of whatever time it would take to win the War. On April 24th left for Marshal for a 2o day leave and reassignment. It took 19 days to get back to Marshall.

On June 20, 1862 the Rangers were ordered to Little Rock Ar. But due to changes and miss information they left on Nov. 3rd, 1862 for Little Rock. On Nov. 25th they arrived at Pine Bluff Ar. They were ordered to Arkansas Post to Ft. Hindman and arrived on Nov. 29th. Shortly after arrival a serious problem with the Mumps spread amongst the men including Heartsill.

Jan. 9th the Battle of the Arkansas Post began with an estimated 70,000 total Union troops and Navy attacking the Fort that had 4,000 CSA troops . After 7 attempts on Jan. 11th an un called for Surrender appeared surprising many including Heartsill who thought they were holding on against the over whelming force. On Jan. 12th he was placed on the Steamer Sam Gatey for an 17 days hard cold trip on the outside decks up the Mississippi to Alton, Ill. It was snowing and raining for most of the trip. They were place in train cars and sent to Prison Camp at Camp Butler just east of Springfield, Ill. Arriving on Jan. 31, 1863. To try to keep up his strength and to stay away from the sickness in the camp he walked 16 miles a day in Camp, by Feb. 27th 125 prisoners fro Ft. Hindman had died. On April 7th 1863 they were moved to the trains and shipped to City Point Va. Arriving on April 14th and they were released on April 15th, 1863.

Heartsill received a Furlough to go home to Tennessee to visit his Family, and to report back to Tullahoma, Tn. On May 26th to join his Company to be assigned back to the Trans Mississippi Army. When he returned 80 of the Company had already left for Shreveport and him and 10 others were assigned to a combined non mounted Brigade under Gen. Churchill in Gen. Braggs Army of the Tennessee, they were called the Ark. Post Brigade. This was a great insult to the Men to be un - mounted. On June 1st they moved to south east Tenn. And then to Ga. Arriving on August 19th. Back and forth they moved like Gen Bragg could not make up his mind and all about this time they along with Capt. Nutt from Shreveport were sending request to be sent back across the Mississippi. On Sept. 19th they were involved in the Battle of Chickamauga. After the Battle they were back to moving back and forth to Lookout Mt. and preparing to Battle again at Chattanooga. Captain L.M. Nutt was promised his men from West of the Mississippi would be released. On Nov. 3rd the remaining members of the W. P. Lane Rangers were for the 6th time denied a release to return to the West along with troops from Shreveport. This period was the only time Heartsill was disappointed in his service as he wanted to rejoin his brothers in the W. P. Lane Rangers. On Nov. 7th Heartsill and Sgt. Thomas Elgin and 2 others left for Texas, bound to get away from Gen Bragg. On Dec. 20th they crossed the Red River on a pontoon bridge arriving in Shreveport where they turned themselves in to the Provost Gen. They had traveled 736 miles on foot in 43 days. They were released to Report to Capt. Richardson in Marshall and arrived in the “City of Sand” at 3 PM on Dec. 21st.

On Dec. 22nd 1863 the Rangers were assigned to Camp Ford, Tyler for service as prison Guards, Heartsill & Elgin arrived on Feb. 17th 1864. On May 11th, 1864 Heartsill was appointed Sgt. – Major of the Company at Camp Ford. On July 11th after 201 Days serving as Prison Guards the Rangers were released to report back to Marshall. On July 16th left Marshall for Shreveport and on July 21st the 90 men still in the Company were sent South to Camp Polk and then to Alexandria and then northwest to Harrisonburg where the Tensas met the Mississippi arriving on Aug. 12th. On Sept. 1st they were assigned to move to Pine Bluff then they were told to go to Ft. Smith. On Dec. 7th they were sent back to Texas to head to Houston for its defense. They finally got as far South as Moscow, Texas and were told to Camp until notified. On March 13, 1865 the Rangers passed a resolution to return East to help in the fighting. On March 25th they were on the move to Houston then ordered to Huntsville. On April 19th 1865 they celebrated 4 years as a soldier of the CSA. On April 23rd the got word of Lee’s Surrender and they were devastated. Apr. 27 moved to North of Walker County, May 7th to Anderson County. May 8th to Navasota where they heard rumors of Gen Johnston’s surrender. May 10th moved to camp on the Brazos, May 11th moved to Robertson County along the Brazos. May 13th heard that Johnston had surrendered and a rumor that Gen. Smith was going to surrender the Army of the Trans Miss. May 20th marched to Camp on the Little Brazos (south of Hearne) where Col Parsons told them that “They as an Army were disbanded” Heartsill was heartbroken. 4 years, one month and 1 day in service to the W.P. Lane Rangers.

Heartsill went in at age 21 as a Private and came out the Orderly Sgt. Of the Company. He was promoted to 2nd Sgt. On Nov. 2, 1863 and promoted Ord. Sgt. in Jan. 1863 and went out on May 20th, 1865.

Grand total on Roll 206, mustered out 121, deserted 7, died 28, discharged 12, transferred out 25, missing 2, in Gen. Johnston’s Army 11. In the 11 years after the War ended 23 Rangers died.

Between Dec. 9, 1874 to July 1, 1876 he printed 1 page at a time his diary of events on his $10 “Octavo Novelty Press” at his business. He put together 100 copies that included 61 pictures. Of the 100 copies only 13 still are around at the Library of Congress, University of Texas, Texas State Library ect. Heartsill went on to be a successful business man, Alderman and later Mayor of Marshall. He served for 42 years as the Sec. of the Marshall Masonic Lodge #22 and served for years as a Steward and Trustee for 1st Methodist Church. He also was the Commander of the W.P. Lane Rangers CVA Camp. Heartsill died on July 27, 1916 in Waco where his son Dr. Charles Heartsill had taken him for treatment of stomach problems he was 76 years old,

W.W Hartsill Pictures and Documents
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