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I decided to retrace my steps, until I came to the camp of the wagon train, that I had met late that afternoon. Directly after leaving the ferry, I came to a slough, which I had surrounded on my way down, but was afraid to undertake it in the darkness, and as I could see the road on the opposite side, I resolved to ford it -- found it about waist deep. Overtook the wagon train about two miles from the ferry. I told the gentleman why, and what I came for, he remarked that his bunk was like an omnibus, "Always always [sic] room for another one." He treated me very kindly, and in return, I spread before him the lunch my relatives had provided for me. We spent the night very pleasantly together. Next morning I thanked him for his kindness, and returned to the ferry, soon crossed and found that the Command had camped but a little way on the other side, which accounted for the answers to my calls, the evening before. I overtook them about 10:00 o'clock.

We passed through the towns of Crocket, Madisonville, via Piedmont Springs to Navisota [Navasota], thence to Hemstead. Here we encamped, went to drilling, and the non-commissioned officers studying and reciting lessons in the tactics, as though the war was going on for years to come; but between May 1st and 15th 1865, we received news of the surrender of Gen. R. E. Lee.

The soldiers soon began to leave, one by one, and later, in small groups, until by the 16th or 18th (on which day I left) the camp was very thinly populated. The calculation had been, and was then, for the army to break up on the 19th, and the officers tried to influence the men to wait, promising transportation, rations and an equal division of the wagons and teams at the time of disbanding. I was reluctant to leave before the main army, but taking into consideration the scarcity of everything on which to subsist along the main road, G. W. Tucker, G. W. Petty, T. N. Steed and I concluded to take the train for Milligan [Millican], intending to travel from thence to Tyler, by the most direct route.

Accordingly, we began to get ready for our journey. We cooked some rations, and at 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock, May 17th, 1865, we bid our comrades adieu, and though we were worn out with camp life, I could not keep from shedding tears, when I separated from some of my friends. We were soon at the depot at Hemstead, Tex. Here we expected some trouble getting on the train, but when we arrived, the town was full of soldiers, breaking down doors and ransacking houses. A great many provided themselves with saddles and bridles, and those who could not get mounted here, went with us to the train, and the conductor hitched on a sufficiency of boxes, without any hesitation, to carry all who wanted to go, and we soon ran to Navisota. Here a great many mounted themselves. Those who could not, resumed their places on the train.

Next we came to Milligan, where they began to leap from train, before it had hardly checked its speed; to try to procure horses. A great many were successful. Some had wild mustangs, which were pitching and bellowing at a terrible rate. They rode them, I suppose. I never waited to see. My comrades and I did not try to mount ourselves, for fear we might get hold of some private property (which I believe was often done) but pushed on afoot. Soon after leaving town, G. W. Tucker left us, to go to his family, who had moved to some of the southwestern counties. My two comrades and I, went a short distance, and called at a house for some milk, which they gave us, also some butter, which was a treat, not having had

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Life of John C. Porter and Sketch of His Experiences in the Civil War

John C. Porter 1874