John Asa McCrocklin (1834 - 1881)
Indian Fighter, Ranger, Confederate Soldier and early Blanco resident
Submitted by Larry Luckett
John Asa Mitchell McCrocklin was born in Coles Settlement in Stephen F. Austin's colony in the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas on December 16, 1834. He arrived as the fervor for independence from Mexico was growing among his parents’ friends and associates. While his father, Jesse Lindsey McCrocklin, was with Sam Houston and the Texian Army executing Houston’s strategy of "Retreat to Victory" at San Jacinto, young John Asa and his mother, Isabella Harris McCrocklin, experienced the terror of the citizenry due to the advancing Mexican army. From a Memoir by John Asa’s sister Bettie McCrocklin Carnal:
"[In 1836] News reached the settlement that Santa Anna was marching upon them to repeat his Alamo and Goliad massacres. Dr. Hoxey [Asa Hoxey, physician, planter and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence], who had been left in charge, gathered the women and children in wagons and on horseback and started for the Eastern border. Mother's eldest son [John Asa], an infant, was at the time very ill, being nursed on a pillow in her lap. In one of the wagons, rough lumber was provided for a coffin, as Dr. Hoxey despaired of his life. Day after day of travel added similar groups to the caravan of women and children and this event is known in Texas history as the 'Runaway Scrape'."
As news of the Texian victory at San Jacinto spread, the Mexican threat waned, and the families returned to their homes.
John Asa survived the Texas revolution and his childhood, and he grew up with the Texas Republic in the settlement re-named Independence, Texas. Around the period 1854-56, John Asa moved approximately 120 miles west with his parents to a new home on the Rio Blanco in central Texas. Jesse McCrocklin's new ranch of 1,311 acres was adjacent to the line between Blanco, Comal and Hayes Counties; in early years the county lines seem to have shifted to and fro across the McCrocklin ranch, until the boundaries of Blanco County were firmly established.
As a young bachelor on the frontier living with his parents, John Asa was occupied with establishing and maintaining the operations of his father’s ranch. But he also was motivated to public service to support and defend the young frontier community. In July 1855 John Asa joined as a Private in Captain James H. Callahan’s Company of Rangers on a punitive campaign into Mexico against Lipan-Apache Indians. The campaign originated with the authorization by Governor E. M. Pease to form a ranger company to retaliate against Indian attacks in Bexar and Comal counties. The company of 130 men crossed the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass on September 29, 1855, and fought an inconclusive battle about forty miles south of there on the Rio Escondido. The company retreated to Piedras Negras, which was fortified, then looted and burned, before re-crossing the Rio Grande under fire.
In May 1856, J. A. McCrocklin appears as signer to a petition to the Comal Co Commissioners’ Court, requesting a road leading from San Marcos to Fredericksburg by way of Pittsburg [Pittsburg became the original seat of Blanco Co when it was organized in 1858]. J. A. McCrocklin appears in 1859 on the Hayes County tax rolls with no land and 1 horse valued at 50 dollars. He appears with his parent’s family on the 1860 Comal County census with occupation "Ranger".
In November 1860, "Jno McCrocklin" was paid $ 130.35 for service as a Corporal in Burleson's Company, Texas Mounted Volunteers during the period Jan 20 - Sep 7, 1860 [approx $ 0.50 per day]. The Texas Mounted Volunteers were a State militia or guard force, also called "Mounted Rangers" that evolved over time into the more famous state police force, the Texas Rangers. Service in the Mounted Volunteers was usually for a period of approximately six months, and their purpose was to protect settlers along the frontier from Indian attacks, rustlers and assorted desperados. Typically, companies would cycle between mounted patrols for 2-3 weeks, returning to their homes or ranches for a few days, and then patrolling again.
Answering the call to defend the Confederacy, on March 4, 1862 John Asa enlisted for a period of one year in Darnell's Regiment, in the Cavalry Company commanded by Capt. R. N. Calhoun. The unit mustered in Dallas, Texas and was re-designated as Co F, 18th Texas Cavalry, C.S.A., before deploying to Arkansas, arriving there in June 1862. Due to a drought and the inability to obtain adequate forage, in July 1862 the horses were returned to Texas, and the unit was re-designated the 18th Texas Cavalry, Dismounted. [The Cav didn't want to be "mere" infantry, thus "dismounted cavalry" was more distinguished, but they were employed the same as infantry].
The unit spent the summer and fall of 1862 at various locations in Arkansas ( Camp Crystal Hill, North of Little Rock and Camp Hope, near Austin, AK), and saw action in a few skirmishes, but no major engagements. The fall and winter of 1862 brought an end to the dry spell, but little improvement in the condition of the troops, and many died of disease, primarily pneumonia. In December 1862 the unit was assigned to the Arkansas Post or Fort Hindman, on the Arkansas River, guarding the river approach to Little Rock from Union gunboats on the Mississippi River.
John Asa was captured by the Yankee forces when the Confederate defenders surrendered following an intense assault at the Battle of Arkansas Post on January 10/11, 1863. He and other enlisted troops were sent to Camp Douglas, a prisoner of war camp near Chicago, Illinois until he was paroled and exchanged on April 10, 1863 at City Point, VA. Remnants of the 18th and other Texas units were reconstituted in Tullahoma, TN, into General Cleburne's Division (later Granbury's Texas Brigade) of Maj Gen Braxton Bragg's Army of the Tennessee. As the combined 17th/18th Texas Cavalry, Dismounted, the unit participated in battles at Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Ringgold Gap. Maybe he despaired of the war ending in defeat; maybe he despaired of the war ever ending; maybe he returned to the unit at a later date, but on the unit muster rolls, John Asa is listed as "Deserted" on Jan 24, 1864 at Tunnell Hill, GA, where the Army of the Tennessee had wintered, following the battle of Ringgold Gap.
After the War, John Asa returned to Texas, and to service for his Blanco County community. In August 1865 he led a citizen deputation from Blanco County to petition Provisional Governor J. A. Hamilton, requesting authorization to raise a company of citizens for home protection. The petition was necessary because immediately following the Civil War, the ex-Confederate states were not allowed to have military or paramilitary organizations without prior approval of the Federal Government’s representative. In the petition, the citizens identified a number of Indian depredations: "A great number of horses have been stolen in our immediate vicinity by Indians within the last two weeks. They have chased men to their houses. They have left arrows sticking in a number of horses that we have found dead and cut loose, and taken off horses within a quarter of a mile of Blanco city....Every Citizen’s property and life are greatly endangered judging from the murders that have been committed by them in adjoining counties."
Perhaps he tired after ten years of fighting desperados, Yankees and Indians; John Asa soon left Blanco and returned to his boyhood home of Independence, TX. There he found grown and matured a childhood friend, Madora Coles, daughter of one of the "Old 300", the original families of S. F. Austin’s colony. John Asa and Madora married in February, 1867 and settled in Independence, where they raised three children before John Asa’s death on July 7, 1881. He is buried in the old cemetery at Independence, Texas.
Appel, Mary Lou, Coles Family Record, (Personal communication, May 99), Electronic Family Tree file.
Brown, Norman D. (ed). One of Cleburns’s Command: The Civil War Reminiscences and Diary of Capt. Samuel T. Foster, Granbury’s Texas Brigade, CSA. (Un of Texas Press, Austin, 1980).
"CALLAHAN, JAMES HUGHES." The Handbook of Texas Online, (The Texas State Historical Association, Copyright: 1997, 1998; updated online Jan 21, 1999)
Carnal, Elizabeth McCrocklin. Memoir, (unpublished and handwritten)
Marriage Records of Washington County, TX
Moursund, John Stribling, Blanco County Families for 100 Years, (Nortex Press, Burnett, TX, 1981).
Moursund, John Stribling, Blanco County History, (Nortex Press, Burnett, TX, 1981).
Muster Roll of Captain James Callahan’s Company of Rangers, State of Texas. 1855
Media: Electronic, quoting "The Southwestern Historical Quarterly," Vol LIV, July 1950.
Location: Blanco County GenWeb site: http://www.usgw.org/tx/blanco/callahans_co.htm
Muster Roll, Co. F, 18th Texas Cavalry (Darnell’s Regiment), C.S.A. Official Records, Microfilm.
"Paymaster's Certificate" No. 194, Nov 14, 1860. Texas State Archives and Library, Austin, TX.
Rippey, J. Fred. "Border Troubles along the Rio Grande, 1848-1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly,
Vol. XXII, (1919-1920).
U.S. Census - 1860; New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas. Interviews: June 30, 1860; Microfilm.
18th Texas Cavalry / Darnell's Regiment
Regiment Homepage http://pages.prodigy.net/procyon/lancaster/compi.htm
Return to Blanco County
Muster rolls http://www.angelfire.com/tx/RandysTexas/18thCavCoF.html