Camp Chase Gazette

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Pinkertons at the County Fair

Posted on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 8:25 am

This blustery autumn October day broke in Montgomery, TX with a brief and welcomed sun shower about nine in the morning. The center of the town was a flurry of activity as the town folk made their last moment preparations for the day’s affairs. Master Hidebreder brought his prize oxen and his wife Missy Claudia Hidebreder her award-winning pecan pie. It was going to be a great day filled with fun, games, fellowship and good eating. The chuck wagon crew had already started the fire for the roast beef; I mean the entire cow, last night. The year had been a bit lean for many in the South, but for those in Montgomery County things had been relatively good. The crops were in and due the blessings of God, the weather had provided ample sun, limited summer heat and a goodly amount of fresh rain.

Several heroes of the south attended the event, on leave from the front in Eastern Departments celebrating the day’s affairs and the blessings that had been bestowed upon all those living in the Brazos River Valley. Several veterans of the war of independence from Mexico were slated to speechify and to regale the assemblage with tales of battles won and independence achieved. The Sons of the Republic were ensconced near the ironmonger proudly showing their old but yet still serviceable 4-pounder split tail field piece, with accouterments. Maser Michael Wilson, at a spry 56 proudly posted against the gun eager to answer any questions, which might be offered up. Col Tony Gajewsky was also at hand with several members of the Brazos Valley Volunteers somewhat back behind the gun comfortably seated under the sun fly, as he knew that the cool of the day would not last.

As the morning melted into a much hotter early afternoon Pvt Claud Hunter, Pvt Bob Mennell, Pvt Douglas Collins, under the command of Corporal John Meredith were to fire a honor guard volley at the raising of the flag of the Republic of Texas during the noon ceremony. The Lonestar Volunteers, mounting a 6 pounder field piece under the command of John Homman and Mike Wilson were to fire cannon precisely as the flag of the republic reached the top of the flagpole. It was to be a grand gesture in as much as shot and powder were in great demand as the brave men of the south defended against the marauding Yankee hordes.

Already this month several scallywags and deserters purporting to be federal troops had been captured and hung after being caught in the act of pillaging the Adams farmstead. No mercy was afforded these scallywags as the dishonored Missy Adams during their foraging. Shame be upon them. They were unceremoniously buried in popper graves in Hempstead, as none in these parts would grant them a Christian burial anywhere in the county limits.

Just as the festivities were to start rumors started to circulate that Pinkerton men were in the vicinity in search of Ms. Frances Elaine McDonald-Hamlin Collings of the Hamlin-Collings Plantation. It was said that she had been sought for her nefariouse spying at the Yankee camp near Hempstead when General Custer and his band of Lincolns Boys occupied the plantation earlier in the month. It was rumored that Ms. Elaine as she was known in the county was even better than the great southern spy Belle Boyd, AKA Maria Isabella Boyd among other names. Ms Elaine was the daughter of a prominate plantation owner originally from Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. She had been educated at Mount Washington College in Baltimore before the war where she was a classmate of the esteemed Ms. Boyd. They became fast friends. They also shared their debutant ball in Washington D.C. as they were near possible sisters. Much like Ms. Boyd, Ms Elaine established a spy ring at her father’s plantation not much before the federals invaded. Her strong will, ingratiating charms and her unequaled beauty enchanted the Federal officers who repeatedly unwittingly divulged military secrets and troop dispositions. Ms Elaine was engaged in listening in on the conversations between General Custer and his staff through an open flu at the fire place on the second floor of the Leando plantation house as they planned their advance upon the railhead in Hempstead. Her timely information had thwarted their advance and caused them to shamefully withdraw back to Hempstead. The federals had thought that she was a spy but were unable to find convincing evidence when confronted by her great charm. Confederate General McGruder was so pleased with her service that she was awarded an honorary captaincy as an aid-de-camp in his staff.

The 15th Texas Company E under the command of Capt. Ron Paynter with First SSgt Sovich were in the city on rest and recoupment having recently fallen below strength during the siege of Petersburg, but they were not at the county fair this day. Just as the wandering minstrels, lovingly called the Tejas Pioneers with lead guitarist Kent Hargett and Michael Martin began “Green Grows the Lilacs” a tussle erupted just in front of the bandstand. It got so loud that the squeezebox and the banjo were completely drown out. It appeared that a dastardly bearded man had laid a hand upon Ms. Elaine. She shrieked loudly and pulled away from the scoundrel in great distress. Shortly he announced that he was a Pinkerton and that Miss Elaine was to be detained as a confederate spy about General Custer camp. Immediately the crowd scattered in all directions as the brave men of the south mustered on the far end of the field in good order. Several more Pinkertons showed themselves as they surrounded Ms Elaine. They shamefully gathered her by both arms, lifting her short frame completely off the ground as they attempted to make for their horses just east of the filed. She would have none of this. She wriggled free just long enough as to place a hardy slap upon the face of the offending Pinkerton man. He was caught completely by surprise and sent reeling backwards against the bandstand. This was sufficient time for Ms. Elaine to make a hasty rush toward the Ironmongers shed, losing her bonnet in the hurried rush.

As the Pinkertons regrouped and started to make after her a loud “Unhand that woman!” erupted from Corporal John Meredith as he ordered men into line and the line to advance. Shocked by the rapid advance of armed troops the Pinkertons cowered near the bandstand in confusion. When one of them rose to make objection, the order was given to fire a volley, which dispatched two of them and mortally wounded the squeezebox behind them on the band stand. They made a feeble attempt to return fire with their short pistols missing wildly. A second volley was ordered which sent the remaining Pinkertons skedaddling for their horses and rushing away for their dear lives.

Shortly Corporal John Meredith called to Ms. Elaine to return as the danger had passed for the moment. She was encouraged to withdraw to a safer place as surely the Federals would make a foray to Montgomery to avenge the Pinkertons. Wisely, she and her family made haste to move toward Austin as the home guard made plans to repel the Federal foray. But this would be another day.

I hope you enjoyed this fanciful tale about the goings on at the Frontier Days, held ever Oct 7th in Montgomery, Texas at the Fernland Historical Park located at 780 Culpepper St, Montgomery, TX. It is to be held on the second Saturday in October next year from 10am to 5pm. There will be ample food and drink to be had, wonderful demonstrations of cowboy shooting skills and many interesting booths to visit. Yall come, …… hear!!!!! Please contact Ms. Kathy Boyd at or website for additional information. Please send correspondence to attn:Ms Kathy Boyd, 16296 Bethel Road, Montgomery, TX 77356

Yours in Service,
Corporal Michael Bunch
32 TX Dismounted