A cursory glance at the photograph of the author, T.C. Neel, offers little insight into the fire-breathing secessionist we know him to be. Neel came to Texas in the mid-1850s from Georgia with his wife, Willia (whom I’ll highlight later), a daughter, and eighty enslaved persons, who worked Neel’s burgeoning plantation located near Waxahachie in Ellis County.
College educated, Neel quickly became a member of both the Texas House and Senate and eventually was elected to represent Ellis county at the Texas Secessionist Convention, convening in Austin, in January, 1861, where its members voted overwhelmingly to secede from the United States.
Eight months into the Civil War, Neel writes this letter to his wife Willia, from Austin. Weary of governmental responsibilities and impatient to return home, Neel shares his views on a number of issues, including the future prospects of the Confederacy, which he actively supports with money and supplies.
Unfortunately, we have no letters written in Willia’s hand but she was obviously no stranger to letter writing. She maintained an on-going correspondence with her father who was involved in some of the heaviest fighting of the war in Virginia and Maryland. Her father wrote often to keep her up to date on his condition and that of her brother, also serving in the Confederate infantry. These letters will be the subject of future posts.
T.C. Neel died in September 1863, and is buried in the Waxahachie Texas Cemetery.