The Texas in the Civil War Message Board

Re: Prison Canyon, Camp Verde, Texas

Hello Sue, I was surprised to see your post as I rarely visit this site, and have not done so for some time. You are replying to my post of quite some time ago.

Firstly, I was in error. There were not five companions, but two. I have never heard their names. You can see on page 1 of my book, "Coan the Cooper" the

obituary published in Mackay, Queensland, Australia (rather like Texas) of my Great Grandfather, Sergeant Ira Coan. I imagine that the two companions would also have been

members of Company I, 8th Regiment (I have all their names and nationalities from that census). Since Ira also gave his nationality in the 1860 Census at Fort Bliss as Irish (he

wasn't, & his father would have detested them) I feel that his friends were Irish and that he associated himself strongly with them. I have written all this into the novel as I feel it

must have happened this way.

He and the two companions got to Matamoros, where the consul, Mr. Pearce, was under great pressure to get all sorts of people out of Mexico. I understand that Ira and his two

companions were give passage back to N York where they were most unhappy. They had to guard Confederate prisoners on Governor's Island in N York Harbour (the very Island

where Ira's G Grandfather had arrive as a 6 -year-old orphan in 1710, but then called Nutten Island). I feel that he was conflicted on a few issues. 1. They felt that N York didn't

care, and he would have seen NY traders buying up cotton down south. 2. They had more in common with many of the men they were guarding rather than their own officers 3.

They were appalled by some of the executions they had to witness on the Island. 4. We were always given to understand that they were denied pay unless they signed on for

another three years, so they signed on and "shot through".

I feel that having to suppress the Conscription Rioters may have disillusioned him with the Irish, and pitted him against friends -- anyway, we understand that all three of them

deserted, my G Gfather on Aug 11 1863, taking a ship to Liverpool, and thence to Australia, as Welshman Frank Williams.

On arrival in Sydney, one of the first people he saw was "one of his absconding mates" (according to my Uncle Jack). They both put their heads down and were careful not to take

any chance even in far away Australia (largely Confederate sympathies - a couple of Confed ships came to Melbourne and were feted).

Maybe you've already found it, but an excellent source was "My 22 months as a prisoner of the Confederates" which details their experience very well. Frank/Ira's obituary states

that he was imprisoned for 16 months, and the "22 months" account states, "We had now been in prison for 22 months and some of the men decided to escape". They did it

under cover of the band (poignant for me as I was an army bandsman). That's about all Sue...good luck........Paul (Coan) Williams.

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