One of more enduring stories surrounding the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry centers around General Horace Randal and his wife, Nannie.
Randal commanded a Brigade of troops under Walker’s Texas Division at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. We know what happened to him…during the height of the battle as he and Generals William Scurry and Thomas Waul led their Texans into battle, all three were shot down. Scurry goes down with a gunshot would to the abdomen, Waul nearly has his right arm blown off and Randal is shot in the chest. It was a bad day for Texas.
Scurry would lay in the mud for hours, refusing to be moved. At the conclusion of the battle, once the Federals had made their escape across the Saline River, General Scurry asked if they had won the day. Assured they had, he uttered the now famous line, “Now take me to a nearby house where I can be made comfortable and die.” They did – and he did.
The Randal related story centers on his wife, Nannie. Horace Randal was married twice. He married Julia Bassett in 1858. She is the young lady shown with Randal in today’s blog. She was a beauty in the eyes of any generation. Their marriage ended tragically, as she died in childbirth in 1861, neither her nor the child surviving.
Horace Randal remarried in 1862 to Nannie Taylor with whom a son, Horace Jr. was born in 1863.
The story goes that following his wounding during the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Randal was taken to a nearby house to be treated. His wife, Nannie, was said to be traveling with the army and was a few hours behind. Upon hearing the news, Nannie Randal rushed to her husband’s side, only to discover he had been mortally wounded. This was not unheard of, as wives of the commanders would sometimes travel with their husbands during some of the campaigns. It would have been interesting to know more about how she was traveling.
Upon the death of General Scurry, his remains were carried about ten miles south to the tiny settlement of Tulip, where he was laid to rest with full military honors. Following the service, the Confederates returned to Jenkins’ Ferry where they had camped following the battle and discovered General Randal had died. So, the entire procession was repeated with Randal’s remains carried to Tulip and buried alongside General Scurry. Here they would remain for about six months until the Texas troops returned to the area for the purpose of removing both Generals back to their native soil. General Scurry is buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin and General Randal is buried in the Marshall, Texas. Scurry and Randal county Texas are named in their honor.
There are some fragmented pieces of information about Nannie Taylor Randal following the war. One story has her marrying a Federal officer and moving to Oklahoma where she died.
It must have a horrific day for Nannie Randal, as she rushed to her fallen Generals side, surrounded by death and destruction. Arriving at his bedside, knowing there was no hope, no chance of recovery, there now only for the death vigil.
She was lucky though and never realized it. There were scores of wives and mothers a lifetime away from Jenkins’ Ferry who never had the opportunity to spend those final moments with their loved ones, to know what happened to them, to see them buried with dignity.
No….there were too many wives and mothers who never knew what happened to their soldier – his remains forever lying in an unmarked grave in that dreadful Saline River bottom.
Not knowing is far worse that knowing sometimes.