Pvt James Dougherty, CSA

1st Texas Cavalry Regiment
Buchel's 1st Texas Mounted Rifles
Company "A"

James Dougherty"...James Dougherty died 23 May 1864 Ever Green Hospital, La from effects of a wound rec'd in the neck eight days before in the Battle of Marksville, La. Age 34 yrs. A brother of R. (Robert) Dougherty." So states a Dougherty family bible. It appears to have been entered by Lida Dougherty, which would mean it was written well after the fact.

Information from the original regimental muster roll of the 1st Texas Cavalry gives a little more detail of the man.

O'Dougherty, James, Private, Age 30, height 5 feet 10 1/2 inches, complexion dark, eyes brown, hair brown, born Ireland, occupation ranchero. Died of wounds received at Marksville, LA.

From the book Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke, The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War; we learn a bit more.

The 1st Texas Cavalry constantly beleaguered the retreating Federals and joined in the final engagements during the closing days of Banks' abortive expedition. On May 15, on the Avoyelles Prairie near Marksville, they joined with other cavalry units under Bagby to turn back the Union advance several times. Only major Federal reinforcements shoved the obstinate Texans aside, allowing Bank's; column to continue. Challenging the Federal advance guard at this action, the 1st Texas Cavalry lost Pvt. James O'Dougherty, Company A, mortally wounded, and at least four other men captured.

The 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, was the first Confederate unit organized in Texas and the longest to serve, participating in Indian skirmishes on the frontier as well as in full battles against the Union. It was one of the most unusual and successful military units in Texas history originating from the Confederate Committee on Public Safety's request for mounted units. to the appointment of Henry McCulloch as colonel of cavalry.

Henry McCulloch, a former Texas Ranger, was appointed as colonel of the cavalry. He was swift and effective at motivating his fellow Texans, notably Captains James B. "Buck" Barry and Thomas C. Frost, to arms. He and later regimental commanders, Augustus Buchel and William Yager, were acknowledged for their emphasis on precise discipline and gentlemanly conduct. Their training methods taught soldiers the valuable lessons of cavalry and infantry maneuvers as well as saber fighting and the proper care of horses and equipment. Many commanders maintained lax rules of propriety and organization, but the 1st Texas Mounted Rifles remained a cohesive and loyal unit, disbanding only under the proper orders. Even as the Confederacy fell around them, the troops remained steadfastly loyal to their fellows.

Biographical sketch - I am sure there were many good men, North and South, who met a tragic end on those fateful days in May 1864 in Avoyelles. La. This is the story of one of those.

James Dougherty (O'Dougherty, (O) Doherty) was born in 1830, in the Townland of Derrylanhan, Parish of Kilcar, County of Donegal, Ireland. His parents were James and Catherine McMahon Dougherty and he was one of seven surviving children. The O'Dougherty sept were, for centuries, the Lords of Inishowen, rulers of that fertile peninsula in North West Donegal but driven out by their English conquerors in the 17th century to the more remote potions of the county, such as Kilcar, in South West Donegal. There, these proud people were forced to eak out an existence on a barren and inhospitable land. This family faired better than most because of their close proximity to the fishing port of Teelin where James’ father plied his trade as a wheelwright and farmer. Nevertheless, those in the west of Ireland lived in deprivation, constantly on the edge of famine. This, compounded by the death of their father when the children were all young, would lead eventually, to all seven of the Dougherty children immigrating to the United States. They were more fortunate than most because their mother, Catherine, insisted that all her children were educated and literate. It is from the surviving letters between family members that their story was preserved. James' older and only brother, Robert, and sister, Catherine, were the first leave, immigrating to America in 1847. Like the rest, they arrived in this new land of freedom, seeking the opportunities denied them in Ireland and wary of governmental authority.

It was common at that time, for new immigrants to first settle near family and neighbors from Kilcar who had preceded them to the U.S. Eventually, the sisters, Margaret, Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary, and Nellie located in areas like, New York, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Morris, Illinois. Robert, however, like many Kilcar immigrants of that time became a traveling salesmen, exploring his adopted country and lured, eventually, to one of the newest states, Texas. In the late 1850's, his brother, James, who immigrated to Texas via New York, joined him. James Dougherty was tall of stature with very red curly hair and was of a practical turn of mind. He and his brother, Robert, went into the horse raising business, with James doing most of the field work tending the horses on the open prairie. Robert became more involved in teaching school in Gussettville and San Patricio. This arrangement lasted about two years and was then interrupted by the War Between the States. Upon James return from a trip to Mexico, he enlisted as a private in Company A, First Texas Calvary Regiment (Buchel's 1st Texas Mounted Rifles). He was stationed at Fort Brown on the Rio Grande across from Matamoras, Mexico, from May 1862 to April 1863. By 6 April 1864 Colonel Buchel's Calvary Regiment formed part of General Hamilton Bee's Brigade at Pleasant Hill La, where they were part of Brigadier General Thomas Green's Division. In the bloody battle of Pleasant Hill, Colonel Buchel was killed leading a successful dismounted attack on the Missouri infantry. This action was part of the Red River Campaign, a failure for Federal troops. After Pleasant Hill, Union troops began a long retreat that was constantly harassed by Confederate elements. It was during one of these latter battles that James Dougherty was mortally wounded. During the engagement at Marksville, James received a wound to the neck. He died on 23 May 1864 at Ever Green Hospital, La., eight days after his injury.

Robert Dougherty joined Company A, Third Texas Calvary and was promoted to lieutenant in Captain V.S. Rabb's Company in 1864. Robert Dougherty did not learn of his brother's death until November of that year and it fell upon him to notify his sisters of the tragedy. A surviving letter from his sister, Bessie Dougherty, tells of their profound sorrow in the loss of their beloved brother, James. It was a devastation experienced by so many families during that tragic period of our history.

John D. Dougherty, D.M.D. Mountain Top, PA.

Dr. Dougherty is a descendant of the Doughertys of Kilcar and a skilled researcher of the Irish families of Donegal. It is highly likely his ancestors were cousins of the James Dougherty family of Derrylanhan.

Page created by: Aug. 18, 2003

"Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke, The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War" by Stanley S. McGowen,
Texas A&M University Press, ISBN 0-89096-903-5 p. 159.
McGowan is a descendant of Corporal Billy McGowan, Company I 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment.