[A Texas cavalry colonel stationed in Confederate Louisiana requests a leave of absence.]
Head Quarters, 1st Texas Cavalry, Natchitoches Parish,
Louisiana, January 22, 1865
Lt. Col. John N. Gallaher
Assistant Adjutant General, District [of] West Louisiana
Having been in the service for nearly four years—during which time I have never been absent from my post except when sick—my business at home requires my attention. I therefore respectfully ask a leave of absence for 60 days to visit my home in Guadalupe County Texas, distant about 550 miles. Col. Lykens [James B. Likens/Liken] is now on duty in command of the Brigade. Col. [Alexander Watkins] Terrell’s leave expires on the 28th instant. [Editor: The term “instant” is an adjective for ‘of the current month.’] Lt. Col. [Robert A.] Myers is present for duty with the Regiment. Major [Edward] Beaumont’s leave expires on the 26th instant (though he may be absent beyond that time on account of his wound). A more favorable
time for my absence will probably not offer soon, I therefore trust that this application will meet with your approval, and should the spring campaign open before the expiration of my leave I shall return promptly to my command.
I wish also to lend my assistance to Lieut. D___(?) [Andrew Daley?] in returning
absentees to the Regiment.
I have the honor to be very respectfully
Your [Obedient Servant]
William O. Yager
Colonel, Commanding Regiment
[Editor: Yager’s request was later approved by District of West Louisiana commander Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner (1823-1914) during February 1865—but only for a thirty-day leave of absence. Later that same month Brigadier General Arthur Pendleton Bagby Jr. (1833-1921) “earnestly requested” Buckner extend Yager’s leave to sixty days, praising him as “an officer of distinguished merit.” The request was also endorsed by brigadier generals Joseph Lancaster Brent (1826-1905) and Allen Thomas (1830-1907); Terrell, Bagby and Brent were assigned to duty as general officers (subsequently, in Bagby’s case, to that of major general) by appointment of General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department though their ranks were never confirmed by the Confederate Senate.
William Overall Yager (April 3, 1833-January 20, 1904) was born in Luray, Page County, Virginia. After tutoring at home, he graduated from Virginia Military Institute (1852), ranked 5th out of a class of 56, and studied law at the University of Virginia (1852-1854), earning a certificate of distinction for attaining the first division in the junior class of the University’s law school; during the 1850s-1860s Yager went west for his health and practiced law and served as a probate judge, notary public, militia colonel, federal postmaster and county surveyor in Kansas and Texas. Prior to taking command of the 1st Texas Cavalry (pursuant to an October 9, 1863 special order), he served as a lieutenant and acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch (1811-1862) in December 1861 and as a lieutenant colonel and acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of General Hamilton P. Bee (1822-1897) during January 1863. He was promoted to full colonel in April 1864 and paroled at San Antonio, Texas, on September 2, 1865. After the war Yager was a lawyer, banker, manufacturer and represented Page County in the Virginia General Assembly’s House of Delegates 1875-1875 and 1879-1880. He was the county’s superintendent of schools during the 1880s. Yager died in 1904 and was buried at the Yager Cemetery in Luray, Page County, Virginia. A decade after his death, at the request of his widow Mary E. Rhodes Yager (1842-1932), the U. S. War Department provided her a summary of his Confederate military service.
The 1st Texas Cavalry was also designated “Colonel Augustus Buchel’s [and later], Lieutenant Colonel William O. Yager’s 1st Mounted Rifles,” “1st Regiment, Texas Cavalry (Yager’s) (1st Mounted Rifles)” and “First Texas Cavalry Regiment.” John N. Gallaher was assigned to the staff of General Buckner during February 1862. The District of West Louisiana was part of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department (May 1862-May 1865) which included Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, western Louisiana and the Indian Territory; the District of West Louisiana and Texas (authorized May 28, 1862) was among its military districts. At the time of Yager’s leave request General Edmund Kirby Smith (1824-1893) had commanded the department since 1863 (colloquially known as “Kirby Smithdom” because of the autonomous civil, executive and military authority he wielded over this vast and isolated military theater after the Union Navy’s control of the Mississippi River made communications with Confederate president Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, impractical if not impossible).]