Oran M. Roberts
United Daughters of the Confederacy®
Houston, Harris County, Texas
Houston was the location of one of five principal Confederate States Quartermaster Trans-Mississippi Depots, which also included depots at Shreveport, LA, Jackson, MS, Enterprise, MS and Little Rock, AR. These depots were responsible for the manufacture of various uniforms and accouterments necessary to support Confederate troops.
Houston Depot jackets were usually made of imported British Cadet Grey Kersey cloth, the first shipment of which was received through the blockade in Autumn 1862 (12,000 yards, Texas Quartermaster receipt. Indeed there are records in the Official Records (Navy) for seizures off the coast of Texas in November 1863 of blockade runners carrying large quantities of "woolen cloth of a color between blue and grey. That is just the Confederate uniform color." Southern-made cloth from the Huntsville Penitentiary (bleached white woolen jeans, "sheep's grey" woolen jeans, and bleached white woolen kerseys) was shared between the Houston and Shreveport depots, with its white kerseys usually being reserved for 'Negro labourers' clothing.
Houston Depot trousers were usually made of Huntsville jeans, the cadet gray kersey being spared for jackets and kepis. Adolphus (ibid.) notes that the trousers had four to five buttons, unbleached domestic serving for the pockets and waistband, with a buckle and cloth belt in the rear. Stripes in cotton webbing may or may not have been added.
However, it should also be remembered that the Houston Depot 'production figures' include some complete goods which made it to Texas through the blockade. In Fall 1863 Wharton, the head of the Houston Depot, reported receipt of 2,400 jackets and 2,916 pairs of trousers in grey wool from Great Britain.
Strictly speaking, the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Theater states were Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Good uniform information is not available for all Confederate units that fought in the Trans-Mississippi.
The Houston Depot (under Capt. Edward Wharton) gave the following production figures from January 1863- February 1864.
|13, 691||kepis & hats|
|40, 293||pairs of trousers|
|34,507||pairs of drawers|
|3,426||pairs of socks|
|43,657||pairs of shoes|
The Houston Depot began to produce clothing in December 1862 and continued to do so until the end of The War.
The Depots were operational by the end of 1862 and continued until the end of The War, although their output was constrained and often interrupted by shortages of cloth and other raw materials.
AUSTIN STATE GAZETTE, Austin, Texas, 6 July 1861, p. 2, c. 2
Col. J. M. Croquet, writing to the Herald, from Houston, remarks that the ladies of the city have an upper room of the building of the Telegraph office, are provided with a lot of sewing machines, and they meet there in parties, and make up uniforms for the different companies. The uniforms are made of very common strong woollen goods from the Penitentiary, each company in a particular color.
We are glad to learn that the Agent of the Penitentiary is manufacturing suitable military dress goods. We think it advisable for the Agent to employ all the labor that he can spare, in the manufacture of such articles as may be required by volunteers in the field. This course of policy we see is being pursued in several, if not all of the other Southern States, and we are gratified to know that such is the case.
SAVANNAH REPUBLICAN, Savannah, GA, 18 Nov 1862, p. 1, c. 4
Factory Burned. - The Houston Factory owned by Messrs. Tooke & Cooper, was burned down yesterday morning. The wool, cotton, and what little they had manufactured, was saved. [Macon Telegraph]
TRI-WEEKLY TELEGRAPH, Houston, Texas, 21 Dec 1864, p. 4, c. 3
Among the features of the Clothing Bureau of this District, under charge of Capt. E. W. Taylor, is hat making. The hat factory began, as it were, from the stump a year or more ago, and has gradually grown to be an institution of no little importance. It now turns out 2,000 black wool hats per month. These hats are very well put up and durable, and afford a supply for a large part of the army in the field. They are made altogether of Texas material, and colored with home-made dye. We believe such a manufactory for the general market would be a paying enterprise.
The following Index of names were found in an original ledger book located in the Official Records of the City Secretary of the City Houston. The ledger book is related to the manufacture of Confederate uniforms by individuals in the City of Houston.
The original ledger book is not available to the public; however, it is on microfiche at the City Secretary's Office.
The book is in poor condition with mold and other stains. Information was only written on the odd pages 3 through 79 and then even and odd pages 82 through 87. The remainder of the book was used to take the minutes of City Council Meetings during late summer 1865 through the end of the year.
The first entry in the ledger book is for 1 Feb 1865 and the last entry is dated 22 May 1865.
Various columns include information related to the manufacture of: gray cloth jacket, gray cloth pants, socks and other items of clothing.
It is unknown if there were other volumes of the manufacture and inventory of uniforms. This is the only surviving ledger book was found in the Official Records of the City Secretary of the City of Houston, City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby, Houston, Texas.
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