While still a republic, two bands of Durants, cousins, began migration to the new state of Texas, settling first in Leon and Brazoria Counties. The Civil War forced them to congregate in Brazos County, and after considerable hardship, they all ended up back at Brazoria County by 1880. That is when their ultimate legacy began...
Born in Georgetown, South Carolina in 1834, (yes, I am sadly aware that this disputes BOTH of his grave markers! THAT is another story!) George W. Durant followed the rest of his family to Brazoria County, Texas after graduating from the Citadel in 1852. After a stay in Georgia in the 1840's, and the marriage of his sister Eliza Jane to W. C. Cooper in 1847, the rest of his family had all followed their third cousin John Wesley Durant to the Brazos River valley of Texas. J. W. Durant was a land speculator among other things and had visited Washington on the Brazos as early as 1839 and puchased land there. He first settled in Leon County, dabbled in the newspaper business, and marketed lots in the Capital City, then Washington on the Brazos. The Coopers settled in Brazos County, and George's father and brothers established plantations in Brazoria County.
My version of Washington on the Brazos, around 1850 when my ancestors invested there, on display at the Star of the Republic Museum.
George W. Durant was elected County Surveyor of Brazoria County in 1855, at the ripe age of twenty-one, and served that office for several terms. Land records from 1860 show that he was often paid in large tracts of land, in some cases whole sections, in Brazoria and Galveston Counties, for his services. His cousin and future father in law, J. W. Durant was elected to the Texas State Senate in 1861, and served in the Ninth and Tenth Session of Congress during the Civil War.
The Civil War would split the Brazos Valley, just as it did the whole country. Brazoria County neighbors with strong Northern ties like Gail Borden and W. D. Cushman would have to double-search their hearts about the Federal Abolitionist policies. Meanwhile others like the Dance brothers, W. J. and Guy Bryan and Francis B. Durant would move their families and interests on up the Brazos River to secure their assets out of reach of a Union invasion. The Bryans and Durants were some of the earliest to move their fortunes to what would become the Bryan - College Station area. The Dance brothers would eventually move their Confederate gun factory to nearby Anderson. Other prominent Brazoria County names adorn the streets and cemeteries of Navasota and Bryan today. Munson, Mims and Brown.
Galveston County August the 30th, 1861
A list of the names Magnolia Rangers a uniform company, organized Jan 17th, 1861
Capt G. W. Durant
First Lieut Mirandy Coward
2nd Lt.: John L. Lewis
3rd Lt.: John L. Fulghum (appears to be a relation to Ezekiel Wood Fulghum later in Madison's 3rd Cav)
1st Sergeant: Ralph Robertson
2nd Sgt.: C. Bundick
3rd Sgt.: M. Bundick
4th Sgt.: J. W. Grace
5th Sgt.: J. W. Coward
Ensign: William Coward
1st Corporal: Willis Coward
2nd Cpl.: J. W. Derrick
3rd Cpl.: John H. Kipp
4th Cpl.: M. D. Ray
Privates: (alphabetized by me)
T. W. Allen
F. M. Baugh
Green W. Butler
George W. Butler
A. W. Coward
J. H. Craig
George M. Fulghum (appears to be a relation to Ezekiel Wood Fulghum later in Madison's 3rd Cav)
Henry J. Holms
John C. Jacobs
John L. Jvey?
C. W. Fairbanks
W. B. Grissom
D. J. Hukins
Oliver F. Letitson
J. E. Long
W. H. Long
F. G. Mayson
M. C. Perkins
H. C. Philbert
L. H. Roark
A. J. Savells
P. L. Savells (also later in Madison's 3rd Cav)
J. M. Staton
J. M. Welborn
George M. Wilboan
NOTE: The number of Cowards, with a capital C: Nine! I'm just saying... Filled with Cowards and Butlers, (3) no wonder they couldn't get any respect! This was very much a family affair. Also three Savells, three Perkins, three Allens, and a pair each of Biggs, Longs, Fulghums and Bundicks. These kinds of relationships guaranteed either incredible solidarity or chronic mutiny!
According to Confederate historian, James E. Williams of Milano, there was a Camp Durant during the war in Galveston County. We can assume this name was attached to Durant's Company which was stationed there.
Ranging between the various "Gulf Prairie Encampments," they took the name "Magnolia" from the creek that ran between the two communities that provided most members for their unit. Unfortunately, their eagerness to fight Yankees did not earn them any advantages when the State Militia formalized its organization. As a "Home Guard" unit, it fell to them to provide protection and security to the citizens in southeast Texas.
Originally, it was the general concept that the State of Texas would provide its own militia; "rangers" to fend off hostile Indians, Mexican bandits, Union sympathizers, Yankee spies, and even to police rebel deserters and slave uprisings. It turned out that there was a surplus of all the above, as the Magnolia Rangers began the discharge of their duties.
In 1989 the Magnolia Rangers Chapter 2544, Texas Division of the UDC at Humble, Texas, with corporate sponsorship and private donations, spent over fifteen thousand dollars restoring it. When I last saw it, it was on display at the Museum of Southern History in Sugarland. The early date still raises eyebrows with historians, and some have problems with it. They seem to think that the date indicates the making of the flag as well, which would have been impossible, since the design for that flag was not adopted until months after the date on the flag. "Experts" don't like aberrations, and want everything to fit nicely into their pigeon holes, but we make no apologies for the flag or the date, and testify that it is authentic and a family treasure, with a multitude of witnesses over several generations, which we were proud to share with the people of Texas. [You can purchase decent cotton reproductions of the flag, sans the date, on eBay] Some critics have suggested that it was a post-war artifact, used in reunions. But it is doubtful that this could be the case, as all of these men, including Captain Durant went on to other outfits and served more time in more serious service later. Read on and you will probably agree, the Magnolia Rangers were not much to celebrate or remember. Infact thery would be totally forgotten EXCEPT for their huge flag.
Reb recruits Russell and Reynolds Cushman, about 1962.
But my grandmother also told us much more about George Durant as a citizen and family man, because his war service was just a small reason for her admiration for him. His defense of his homeland and his way of life is a matter of history, and was for him a matter of survival. George Durant was a Southern patriot, and was ready to see action when duty called, as were many Texas Confederates. But the story of his military service was just a tragic period in his life, where he saw many kinsmen killed or crippled in a losing cause.
already tweny companies more than he wanted. I dislike to stay here inactive when others are at work. I would be under many obligations to you if you would attend to this matter # emeidately (sic).
respect your Osc?
If you consent for us to go to Arizona, send our commissions blank as we will elect some of our commissioned officers anew, and if you do not consent, send the 2nd Lieut. commission Blank, as the company will remove the present one.
I was very privileged to paint the Battle of Galveston for the Museum of Southern History at Houston Baptist University.
Magruder and his Texas officers had dreamed up a wonderfully ridiculous contraption; Heavy artillery mounted on a rail car... Effectively distracted, the Union forces focused on the surprise bombardment from the west by rail, ( I'm told the predecessor of the Army tank, the first mobile artillery in American history!) as the Confederate steamer Bayou City rammed the Harriet Lane, helplessly anchored in Galveston Bay. As the tides turned in Galveston Bay, so did the fortunes of the two armies.
As a reward for his performance at the Battle of Galveston, George Durant and many of his men were assigned to the Texas 3rd Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, originally led by Col. Joseph Phillips. This would begin Durant's long desired service in the Confederate Cavalry, and his own journey to Hell and back. The following years would add greater hardships and glories to George Durant's service record, and make those idyllic days of gallantry in Galveston County a quaint memory.
& BATTLES OF MANSFIELD, PLEASANT HILL AND YELLOW BAYOU
Madison's (Phillip's) 3rd Texas Cavalry had earned high praises during the first Union invasion, also providing reconnaisance and cavalry support during the battle of Sabine Pass. They were to distinguish themselves again in the Red River Campaign at the battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Yellow Bayou, in 1864.
Major General Richard Taylor's approximate force of 9000 marched off to face a well supplied Federal invasion of upwards of 30,000. Numerous Texas brigades moved back to Louisiana in April of 1864 to help counter the Federal movement of naval vessels, supply wagon trains cavalry, heavy artillery and battle hardened infantry borrowed from Sherman's army up the Red River. On April 8th and 9th the Texas welcoming committee encountered the enemy's main line in a running battle that stretched from near Mansfield to Pleasant Hill, Louisiana and over the next several weeks participated in several skirmishes. Between hard hitting, bloody, sometimes reckless attacks, and deceptively noisy and grandiose marches to fake a much larger force, The Confederate forces caused the Union to turn-tail and run. This was made possible by unhorsing hundreds of cavalrymen, including the 3rd Texas. Madison's "Dismounted" Cavalry provided the top jaw of at least two of these legendary Confederate victories, often so far into the fray they were fired upon by other Rebel brigades.
But not without great cost. Generals Buchel and Green were killed, and over 2600 men with them. The 3rd Texas fought a number of battles in Louisiana under General Tom Green, drawing much praise from Taylor, son of former President Zachary Taylor, and Commander of the Trans-Mississippi. He once wrote:
Leading his faithful cavalry in a charge, the legendary General Green was killed at Blair's Landing, in a bizarre battle between Confederate Cavalry and Union gunboats! The Texans swarmed a beached gunboat like Texas Comanches, and gained the awe and respect of the United States Navy, as they riddled the ironclad vessels with relentless fire. The gunboat responded with deadly accuracy, killing the Confederate General. Their General dead, the Texans attacked even more furiously, until all were exhausted from the heat. Even though this made General Major the ranking officer, he allowed General Parsons to lead his blazing Partisan Rangers in the firefight, where the bloodied Texans poured an Alamo style of rage into the stranded gunboat, making the return fire almost impossible. It was a costly exercise to have lost this general, and would only be the beginning of Parsons Partisan Rangers dominating the field. They would prove to be fearlessly game, and their Texas bravado was a difficult and sometimes foolish act to follow.
The Union had lost only 38 men, but 226 were wounded. These seasoned veterans, on loan from the Union's General Sherman, would later remark that these Texans attacked "with a stubbornness and impetuosity" that reminded them of Nathan Bedford Forrest. But these words of respect and admiration from the enemy were hardly worth the casualties inflicted. Yellow Bayou was remembered by both sides as one of the most severe battles of the war. Madison's "Bloody Third" had lived up to its name as well and eventually limped back to Texas.
Later Colonel Debray would call it an "unfortunate and unnecessary affair." Thank God that the Union invaders were battle weary and exhausted from the Louisiana heat and humidity, and resumed their retreat. Both sides lost in this epic struggle. General Grant later called the affair a disaster. That, in some minds, made the CSA the winner.
Taylor, Wilson Sgt. Co B Madisons - Tx CAV
Wise, Sherwood Sgt. Co B, 3rd Cav
Privates & Corporals:
Bock, Isadore 5-14-1844 11-20-1891 Pvt Co B, 3rd Reg Cav
Brown, George Thomas 1840- 1908 Pvt Co B, Madison's 3rd Tx CAV: We know from the dogged research of Lawrence T. Jones that young George Thomas Brown was recruited at some point later. Jones has published a wonderful photo of him in his series of Confederate calendars which someday he may grant me permission to share with you.
Byrne, D. D. 1830 8-31-1888 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Chaney, Hiram C. 1832 1912 Co B, Madison's TX Cav
Churchwell, W. Daniel 1865 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Davis, James C. 8-15-1844 12/02/33 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Dowell, James 3-23-1827 1-13-1877 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
? Flynt, Henry L. 1825- 1864 Pvt. Co B TX CAV 3rd Regt.
Fulgham, Ezekial Wood 9-26-1846 8/7/1905 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Mallett, John Collier 10-10-1817 02/19/02 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
McKeown, John H. 9-7-1835 7/18/1903 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
McNair, Rodrick 6-1-1800 3-24-1870 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
McWhorter, Andrew N. 1833 2-29-1904 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
McWhorter, W. B. W. 1828 1875 Cpl Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Mize, J.N. 6-21-1841 9/22/1924 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Moon, Jesse N. 1835 1896 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Neely, David Madisons - Tx CAV
Neely, G. M Madisons - Tx CAV
Neely, Henry 9-16-1829 6-2-1882 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Neely, J. C Madisons - Tx CAV
Neely, J.H. Madisons - Tx CAV
Neely, J. W. Madisons - Tx CAV
Neely, John 1803 1874 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Neely, Terrell L. 4-29-1840 7-29-1890 Co B, Madisons Reg Tx Cav.
Neely, William Madisons - Tx CAV
Rogers, Arthur T. 01/17/05 02/14/05 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Savel, J. Perry 7-4-1834 11/12/1906 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Smoot, Oliver H 01/03/05 02/17/05 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Taylor, Robert Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Trant, Samuel 1843 1905 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Turner, J. W. 4-3-1832 8 -10-1896 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Upchurch, Jesse M. 12-7-1850 4-10-1916 Co B Madison's TX Cav
Wells, Hugh J. Cpl Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
White, Joseph 1829 5/14/1911 Pvt Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
Williams, Alex 1845 1917 Co B Madisons - Tx CAV (Durants Co)
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS IN BRYAN
PATENTED INVENTIONS and TRAGEDY
While living in Bryan, George and James Durant invented this improved fence post socket in 1873.
The Durant water-well strainer patented in 1895.
Besieged by tragedy, the G. W. Durant family around 1880, right before they returned to Mustang Slough, in Brazoria County.
Gravestone of James Durant.
Jasminum Grandiflorum- Cape Jasmine, one of several varieties grown by G. W. Durant.
The Major about 1910.
Emma Durant wearing a beautiful corsage... a fitting decoration for the wife of a renowned Brazoria County flower grower.
The spittin' image of Emma Durant, my grandmother Nell McDougald and her mother Jennie Durant McDougald.
Granddaughter Daisy Bering.
While her mother enjoyed high society, Nellie spent a great deal of time in Alvin, soaking up the simple country life, where she "could be a tomboy". Happiness to her was a sun-ripened piece of fruit, right off of the tree; Homemade mayonnaise; A sudden squall out of the Gulf blowing in and soaking the land; A big family gathering where everybody piled in the house for a party. The more the merrier. She learned many of these things from her grandparents, especially the Major, who left her a legacy of selfless service and charity, and the daily goal of making the world a better place. Although she was just a young woman when he died, and he had been old and blind for years, he still managed to convey to his granddaughters a lasting impression, and she to me.
Three of G. W. Durant's granddaughters; Daisy Clark, Emma Gray and Nell Cushman.
"There is so much bad in the best of us,
and so much good in the worst of us,
that it little behooves any of us
to say anything about the rest of us."
The Major at his Alvin home with a great grandson.
The Major with great grandson Jack Clark.
George Durant descendants at a Confederate marker dedication; left-right-
Tristan Cushman, Ralph B. Cushman Jr., Russell Cushman, Robert Cushman, Joy Cushman and Richard Cushman.