"A Serious Affair":
Nick Hardeman Deserts the Confederate Army
A Program for the Smith County Historical Society
by Vicki Betts

          The Austin newspaper printed a "special correspondence" from Tyler, dated July 29, 1864:

Editor Gazette—About a week ago 150 men of Col. Anderson's Regiment, who were guarding the Federal prisoners near here, organized under a Lieutenant, and left.  Their horses had come in from grazing the day before, and they are well-armed and mounted.  Col. Anderson endeavored to overtake them with a small force, and induce or compel them to return, but was unable to overtake them.  They deserted in open day, fell into line at the sound of the trumpet, and are by this time on the frontier, I presume.  For a day or two the Federals were very insecurely guarded and some apprehensions were felt that they would escape and do much damage, but all is safe now.  What should be the punishment for men so lost to honor as to desert their post, leaving 3000 or 4000 miscreants almost unguarded in the heart of the country, thus endangering the lives and property of the whole country to pillage and slaughter? 

          The federal prisoners mentioned in this article were, of course, at Camp Ford, and the lieutenant was 2nd Lieut. G. N. "Nick" Hardeman, eighteen years old, of Matagorda County.  Why would he desert, and what happened to him?  I've searched through records from Austin to Bay City to Washington, D.C., and while I've found some of the answers, other key points remain a mystery.

          Nick Hardeman was no ordinary Texas farm boy.  His father was D. Hardeman, who moved to Texas in 1845 from Tennessee and points in between to join his extended family.  Ten years earlier, in 1835, forty-five Hardemans, led by Nick's great uncles Bailey, Peter, and Thomas, all veterans of the Battle of New Orleans, had moved to Texas, receiving grants along Caney Creek in what is now Matagorda County.  Bailey Hardeman assisted in writing the Declaration of Independence for the Republic of Texas as well as its Constitution, and served as the Republic's first Secretary of the Treasury.  Four of Nick's first cousins once removed fought with the army of the Republic of Texas, including one at San Jacinto.  A brother-in-law and four cousins fought in the Mexican War, mostly with McCulloch's Rangers.   As we will see, the family will also be well represented in the Confederate army.

          The family also enjoyed outstanding political and social connections.  His grandmother was a friend of Martha Washington.  His parents attended Andrew Jackson's inaugural party at the Hermitage in Nashville.  One great aunt was also the aunt of President James K. Polk.  A Missouri cousin was a close friend of Thomas Hart Benton, while another was the first governor of the state of California and friend of John C. Fremont.

          As you might expect, the family was quite wealthy.  After the rest of the Hardeman clan gradually moved away from the coast to claim land, D. Hardeman took their place in Matagorda County where his eldest daughter, Sallie Ann, married her first cousin once removed, Samuel H. Hardeman, the son of Bailey Hardeman.  In the 1859 tax rolls, D. owned almost three thousand acres, worth $42,529, or almost $14.26 per acre, well above the state average.  He owned 49 slaves, plus his wife owned 12 in her own right, which placed them comfortably within the planter aristocracy.  They kept 30 horses, 75 cattle, and one carriage.  However, about that same year D. Hardeman decided to sell out and move elsewhere—exactly where I'm not sure, although I do know where he was in 1864.  By the 1860 tax rolls, he only reported 711 acres, and he didn’t appear in the 1861 Matagorda County tax rolls at all. all.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

        D. Hardeman was a staunch Democrat.  He represented his region to the State Democratic Convention in 1859.  The local newspaper called him a "warm supporter of the Democratic nominees against the Sam Houston pow wow.  He does not know of a man in his neighborhood who will vote for Houston."

          Nick was the ninth child of eleven, five boys and six girls, although four of the children had died early, and the three oldest girls had married.  That left D. Jr., Dickerson, Martha Evelyn, Nick, and William Perkins at home when the war began.  Not long after Fort Sumter, on June 13, 1861, Captain E. S. Rugeley formed the Caney Rifles, in which one of Nick's brothers-in-law served as 3rd Lieutenant and his two brothers and another brother-in-law served as privates.  Five weeks later this group reorganized as the Caney Mounted Rifles, which later became Company D, Reuben Brown's Regiment Texas Cavalry.  Nick's two brothers soon left the Rifles—D. Jr. joined Terry's Texas Rangers, and Dickerson joined the 4th Texas Cavalry, part of Sibley's Brigade.  One Hardeman cousin became a major in the Quartermaster Corps, another a captain in the 28th Texas Cavalry of Walker's Texas Division, another served in the 16th Texas Infantry, and another in Hood's Texas Brigade.  The highest ranking family member was Nick's cousin William Polk Hardeman, who rose to Brigadier General by the end of the war.  William Polk Hardeman was Samuel's first cousin as well as his step-father.

In 1861 Nick was only fifteen years old, but he made regular trips out to the Camp Winston near Matagorda Bay where Brown's Regiment was stationed.  His sister, Sallie, sent letters, boxes, and jars of goodies to her husband Samuel, and Samuel sent Nick back with letters, redfish, oysters, and seashells.  He may have picked up the measles in camp—he was sick for New Year's Day, 1862.  D. Sr. visited the part of his family remaining in Matagorda County from time to time, and sent bolts of cloth when he could.  He wrote them letters from "Fairview" although at this point I don't know if that is a plantation name, or one of several towns called "Fairview" listed in the Handbook of Texas.  In one letter he suggested that Samuel (I think) go and see General and Mrs. Bee in San Antonio..."they are my most intimate friends."

In March, 1863, Samuel, now age 42, received an honorable discharge from the army and the correspondence slacked off for a while.  However, by late January, 1864, he again rejoined Brown's Cavalry.  At about the same time, Philip Fulcrod, from Goliad, formed Fulcrod's Cadet Cavalry, presumably from young men not quite old enough for the regular service, among them Nick Hardeman.  As soon as the command got together, General Bee ordered one company to picket duty on the coast, four companies under Col. Fulcrod went "west" to arrest deserters, and one company went to Columbia to act as couriers.  As of February 14, 1864, three more companies were in the process of being raised, but that may not have been accomplished.  In early April the commands of Philip Fulcrod and John Pelham Border were combined, with Col. Thomas Scott Anderson, formerly with the 6th Texas Infantry, placed in command.  From that point on, the unit would be known as Anderson's-Border's Cavalry.

On April 11, immediately after the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, Border received orders to take his battalion from their camp on the Lavaca River to Camp Ford to assist in guarding the anticipated influx of thousands of new prisoners.  Nick wasn't in camp at the time—he was again "quite sick" but was well enough to accompany the regiment north in early May.  Col. Anderson arrived in Tyler on May 13 to replace Col. R.T.P. Allen.  He found Sid Richardson's company of Walter P. Lane’s Rangers already guarding at Camp Ford but anxious to join the fighting at the front.  They would not consider handing over their arms to their replacements.  For a while the veterans and the young raw recruits overlapped.  W. W. Heartsill, one of the veterans, was not impressed—one of Anderson's Regiment managed to kill himself by an accidental discharge of his gun within half an hour of going on duty for the first time.

Nick arrived at Camp Ford during the absolute worst period of Camp Ford's history.  The Mansfield and Pleasant Hill prisoners had already arrived, necessitating enlarging the stockade.  On May 21 another almost 500 came in from Arkansas, six days later 540 returned after the Red River Campaign canceled their anticipated exchange, making a total of 4400 men within the walls.  Ten days later another 160 arrived.  The new prisoners were provided with no shelter from the early summer sun and heat.  Sanitation became an immediate problem.  Anderson placed Border in control of Camp Ford, and Border's adjutant, Lt. B. W. McEachern soon became the tyrant of the stockade.  The tension between the guards and the prisoners, and even in the outside community, was intense.  On May 18, Holcombe, Reed, and McReynolds were removed from the Smith County jail and lynched.  On May 22, one of Anderson's men shot and killed a prisoner allegedly for cursing him, although others denied the excuse.  Five prisoners escaped on June 6 but were recaptured three days later.  On June 22 a Yankee was found shot dead in the woods where he had gone after brush—after that the federals hired the Confederate guards to go out with them.  The next day a slave woman was whipped severely in full view of the prisoners, as if proving the powerlessness of the abolitionist federals to protect her.

The prisoners somewhat broke the tension on the Fourth of July, when they held an Independence Day celebration, including music, speeches, and the possible brief raising of a hidden US flag.  A few days later about a thousand of the earliest prisoners were paroled and marched toward Shreveport for exchange, easing the overcrowding somewhat.  Still, on July 11 a guard killed a Yankee for cursing him, and on the 15th a prisoner killed his messmate.  Nick's first commander, Philip Fulcrod, was ordered to Tyler to stand court martial for some unknown reason, perhaps something he did in reaction to losing his command.  At sunrise on July 16, the veterans of Walter P. Lane's Rangers joyfully "bid farewell" to Camp Ford, heading east to Marshall and then Shreveport, leaving the prisoners under the care of hated Lt. McEachern and the recruits of Anderson's /Border's Cavalry, many of them still in their teens.  All in all, this was probably NOT what Nick Hardeman had in mind when he joined the Confederate Army.

As the Austin newspaper originally stated, on Tuesday, July 19, the cavalry horses were brought in from pasture.  On Wednesday, July 20, the trumpet sounded, the men, many of them only boys, mounted their horses and headed west. While the Austin paper said 150 men deserted their posts, Col. Scott Anderson put the number at Lt. Hardeman and 98 additional men.  Only a couple of POW diaries exist for that period.  On the 20th, Captain William McKinney, 19th Kentucky Infantry noted "quite a number of the guards desert.  160 in number."  Jacob W. Paulen, 130th Illinois Regiment, wrote in his diary "163 Rebs deserted from this camp this morning.  The authorities started after the deserters but don't hear from them."  He added for the following day--"Sixty Rebels from Tyler deserted taking with them a 6 pounder.  Joining those left this camp yesterday."  I have not found any other reference to this second desertion—he may have misinterpreted some movement of the guards.

Anderson sent Capt. Gus Patton, Co. G, with two lieutenants and forty men in pursuit, and also ordered a courier to ride to the nearest telegraph office, which was in Henderson, with a telegram to be sent to Houston.  The next day, Headquarters of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona issued the following:  "Col Bradford will proceed forthwith, exclusive of Mann's Battalion via Bastrop and Austin to Fredericksburg and use all means to intercept Lieut. Hardeman and one Hundred men deserted from Col. Anderson's Command Tyler on yesterday; Col. Bradford will leave sufficient number of men at points on the road from Bastrop to Fredericksburg to surprise & capture the men (who will march in an irregular and loose manner), also to communicate with each other, so that chase can be made in any direction the deserters may take.  The officers & men under your command will shoot down without hesitation any of these men and particularly the officers should they attempt to escape or offer the least show of resistance.  Col. Bradford will use the utmost vigilance and activity to intercept & capture the deserters, the safety & honor of the country require it.  The movement will be made without the least delay, no officer or man being permitted to carry any Baggage except a change of clothing.  Commissary supplies will be found at Bastrop and Austin.  Commanding officer is authorized to call upon the commanding officer of the State Troops at Fredericksburg for supplies & request him to furnish them for temporary purposes which will be paid for, or returned in kind, at the earliest moment.  Capt. Pool's Co. unatd [unattached] cavy [cavalry] will proceed to Bastrop and operate from there.  Col. Bradford will proceed to Austin and be guided by developments of the movements of these deserters.  If he heard of the deserters being South of Fredericksburg he need not proceed to that point.  He will report progress from time to time and make the utmost haste to return to his post & bring the deserters to Columbus in irons or tied." General J. E. Slaughter, Chief of Staff, informed Lt. Col. Fulcrod, who was in Houston at the time, about the mass desertion from his former unit.  Fulcrod responded the next day:  "This subject has ever since been one of very painful reflection to me.  I have thought that I could advance the service if I were permitted to go in search of them.  The relations of the men have been such to me that I think I could induce them to return to their duty with comparatively little trouble.  As you are aware I am at present under arrest and of course cannot act unless permitted."  I have seen nothing to indicate that Fulcrod was allowed to go after his men.

Within three of four days, seven of the deserters evidently saw the error of their ways and returned to Camp Ford voluntarily.  These men were put into close quarters.

Late on Friday night, the 22nd, Col. N. H. Darnell, commanding the post at Dallas, received information that the deserters had reached the vicinity of Butler's Bridge, on the East Fork of the Trinity River, in Dallas County, and were making their way to the frontier.  Darnell called together Capt. Smith's company of the Reserve Corps, a part of Capt. W. H. Darnell's company, and as many of the Government operatives and citizens as could get arms, numbering in all about 80 men, who started in pursuit about 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon.  They found tracks at the crossing of the Trinity River, at Cedar Springs, and trailed them all night, coming up on the men a little before daylight, on Sunday morning, a few miles southwest of Cedar Hill, where they had camped.  They were able to capture the whole party, except for about twenty who had left the group before they reached Dallas County, and Nick Hardeman and seven or eight others, who made their escape.  Captain Patton and a squad of men from Tyler met Col. Darnell's company after the capture, and returned with them to Dallas on Sunday afternoon.  Patton took charge of the prisoners, escorting back to Tyler on Tuesday, July 26 and placing them in the guardhouse.  The Dallas Herald declared that "The whole affair was well arranged, and carried out, and reflects much credit on the promptness and energy of Col. Darnell, as well as on the soldiers, the operatives in the Government troops at this place, and the citizens, all of whom responded with alacrity to the call of Col. Darnell for men."

Col. Anderson reported to Houston that most of the deserters had been returned, and Major General Walker ordered a court martial to be convened at Tyler.  He instructed Anderson to choose "eight or ten of the ringleaders" to bring before the court, but at that point, none of the instigators had been captured.  The men who returned voluntarily or who had been captured at Dallas would all later be released. 

On August 3rd, Houston was still ordering Capt. Pool with a detachment of fifteen men to "pursue with all haste and arrest the deserters--Lt. Hardeman & ten men (the rest having been arrested), they will be sent to Tyler Texas."  A week later headquarters ordered Capt. Louis Bechwitz of Col. Anderson's regiment of cavalry to "pursue to Col. Ford's command on the Rio Grande Lieut hargrove [sic] & men of his company--he will arrest and prefer charges against Lt. Hargrove, collect the men of his company and proceed with them to Tyler and report to Col. T. S. Anderson."  Sometime during the month of August, Nick Hardeman was arrested and incarcerated in the guardhouse at either Houston [August letter from Sally] or Millican [Anderson letter, Sept. 29], or perhaps he was moved from one place to the other.

By that time his father, D. Sr., had fallen "dangerously ill of congestive fever" at his new home in Burleson County, and "his physicians [said] it was not possible for him to recover."  D.'s daughter, Sallie wrote her husband Sam in Brown's Cavalry, begging him to get a furlough to assist her mother, "you know how helpless Ev and Ma will be amongst total strangers without anyone to advise them. . . Pa was in a great deal of trouble about Nick, who is under arrest in Houston, but I will not here repeat the particulars of his case, for I suppose you have heard them before this.  Poor misguided young man.  I am afraid it will be a serious affair for him."  D. Hardeman died later that month in Burleson County, but I have been unable to find his grave.  His attorney, William Pitt Ballinger, wrote in his diary:  "Col. D. Hardeman died recently.  No Better man is left behind.  If I knew the facts I wd write a biographical sketch of him."  The Austin Daily Telegraph called him "one of the oldest and widest known of Texas citizens."  Instead of Sam, another son-in-law, William F. Davis, requested leave on August 28 to go to Nick's mother.  "[M]y father-in-law has just died, leaving his family in Burleson County in an unprotected condition having no male on the premises and a large number of slaves most of whom are now sick, his sons are all in the Army and are remote from home to give their Mother the immediate attention which her condition requires.  The length of time asked for is barely sufficient to remove my mother-in-law to Matagorda County from whence she removed to Burleson county on the appearance of the enemy last winter, she can there receive the attention her situation requires from her friends who are too old to be in the Army. . . "

Sam Hardeman's company had been transferred to near Harrisburg, so he was near Nick.  He wrote his wife on September 6 that William Davis would be seeing Nick the following day and that he hoped to see him in a day or two.  Five days later he wrote her that "Wiggins" had been to see Nick on the 9th, that he had been sick but was now "fat and Hearty and will have a chance of getting home before long."  Evidently Davis wasn't so confident, because Sallie wrote her husband that "I feel more anxious about the termination of his case since I saw Mr. Davis.  Do write me what you think about it and how he bears his troubles."

It was now time to bring in the family's wide connections to try and influence the impending court martial.  Confederate Congressman Claiborne C. Herbert of Colorado County informed Lt. Governor Stockton Donley of the situation.  Donley wrote Major General John G. Walker, commander of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona:  "Being informed by the Hon. C. C. Herbert that Lieut. N. Hardeman is held in arrest with the possibility of charges being presented against him of insubordination, and knowing something of the command to which he was formerly attached, I take the liberty of joining others in making the request that he be released upon the grounds, and reasons, stated by the President of the Confederate States in General Order no. 139, of 1863, issued from Genl. Cooper's office."  This Proclamation of pardon and general amnesty had been extended to "all absentees, except those twice convicted of desertion, who should return to their proper commands within twenty days after publication of the amnesty in the State in which the absentees might be"--I'm not sure how this applies to Nick.  Donley continued his letter by explaining that "The battalion to which Lt. H was first attached was of boys, and [raised?] by Lt. Col. Fulcrod during last fall and winter."  Donley had been in the area during the winter and spring and visited the camp--the officers were inexperienced and the young men had not been trained in military discipline.  Lt. Col. Fulcrod was frequently off on detached service and "the examples then exhibited to them in old regiments and among men of mature age, on the contrary, was so calculated to provoke insubordination among them, that it was a frequent subject of remark with others as well as myself. . . . "I take the liberty therefore to join in the request that Lt. Hardeman be discharged, or at least that you exercise in advance your authority to consider his case, & know whether his is not one in which your discretion may be exercised to dismiss the prosecution."

Less than a week later, on September 26, Sam wrote his wife that "I went to see Mrs. Sarah Wharton [mother of Confederate Major General John Austin Wharton] who was at Mr. Leonard Groce's near Hempstead [that's Liendo Plantation].  She told me that she had been to see Genl. Walker [commander of the Department of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona] and that he had promised to do all he could for Nick consistent with the duties of his office.  Mr. Groce told me that he had spoken to Col. Scott Anderson and he thought that there would be no great difficulty about the case.  Col. Anderson is the Col. from under whose command the cadets deserted.  His wife is Mary McNeill, an old acquaintance of mine.  [The McNeills and the Hardemans had moved from Tennessee to Texas together.]  I got Mrs. Wharton to agree to talk to Col. A.  I assure you that what Mr. Groce told me took a great weight off of my mind for I felt much grief about it. . . Nick is fat and hearty and sends his love to Betsy and Catherine Chapman."

          If Mrs. Wharton did indeed talk to Col. Anderson, she did not convince him to drop the charges.   On September 29, he requested "that Lt. Hardeman be tried upon the charges preferred."    

          On October 4, 1864, Special Order no. 24 was issued:

"A Gen'l Court Martial is hereby appointed to convene at Brenham, Texas, on Tuesday the 11th day of Octr 1864, at 10 o'clock a.m., or as soon thereafter as practicable for the trial of Lieut. G. W. Hardeman of Anderson's Reg't, and such other prisoners as may be brought before it.  The Court will sit without regard to hours.  Detail for the Court"

1.  Col [Henry] M Elmore 20th Texas Infty President
2.  Lieut. Col. [James] Wrigley, Timmons Reg't Infantry
3.  Lieut. Col. [Patrick Henry] Swearingen, 24th Texas Cav. Dis'out
4.  Lieut. Col. [Noble] L. McGinnis, 2'd Texas Infantry
5.  Maj. James  A. Randle, Anderson's Regt Cav.
6.  Capt. William Davis, Anderson's Regt Cav.
7.  Capt. [Gus] Patton, Anderson's Regt Cav., Co. G

"Capt. George P. Finlay P.A.C.S. is appointed Judge Advocate of the Court.  No other officers than those named can be assembled without manifest injury to the service.  Should any of the members of the court be absent, the court will nevertheless proceed with, and transact the business before it, provided the number present be not less than the minimum prescribed by law."

          Nick Hardeman's case was delayed for some unknown reason.  His older brother, D. Jr., was able to get leave and tried to get him additional civilian legal representation.  He visited Thomas M. Jack, Thomas Pitt Ballinger's law partner, on October 21, who then contacted Ballinger who was at that point out of town--"D. Hardeman came to see me this morning.  Got his leave extended. Goes to Hempstead to see J. W.  Is anxious for you to appear in defense of his brother."  Ballinger arrived home within the week and wrote in his diary on the 26th:   ". . . unless [Horace] Cone could go to Brenham--I must certainly go to defend Nick Hardeman before a court martial--& must go up to-day.  Cone wrote me this morning he couldn't go--& I wrote to D. H. [D. Hardeman, Jr.] and to Scott Anderson I would go up to-morrow--It puts me to great inconvenience, but I do not feel that I can with propriety decline considering any relations towards the Hardeman family--I wouldn't that he should be dishonored or seriously punished for any earthly consideration--& shall spare no effort to preserve him."

          On Thursday, October 27th, Ballinger traveled to Brenham to assist on Nick's case.  He found that the charges had not yet been received, nor would they be the following day.  He wrote in his diary:  "I saw Nick Hardeman.  He is a fine noble boy--one of the last I have ever seen to commit a conscious wrong.  He was lying sick--His brother D was there also.  He had employed [John Woods] Harris & it turned out that Col. [Leonard] Groce caused me to be telegraphed for.  Harris also favored the employment of [Jabez Demming] Giddings which was done, tho' G did not seem to consider it necessary or to enter into the case with much interest.  I conferred with H. fully--left him DeHart, with written mems of my views--& I left Saturday. . . I wrote Harris yestdy [November 6] fully as to Hardeman's case--He wants me to go up, but this is impossible.  Court will set the 17th."  In the meantime, several witnesses were summoned:  Lt. Col. Philip Fulcrod; Mr. Trabne, provost marshal at Millican; privates R. Jones, E. Nelson, and T. Dunn of Nick's company H, and Captain W. B. Coffield, Lt. W. H. Randle, and Pvt. R. Crunk of Company K.

          I have not found any detailed account of Nick Hardeman's trial for desertion, but the final results were published on December 29.  He was one of four men tried at the same time as a result of the same incident.  Privates J. H. Herron of Company I and William Reed of Company K, who deserted "and did not return" to their posts, were found guilty and given three months hard labor under guard.  Private Ed. Schertz, of Company D, who deserted "and remained absent until arrested" was found guilty and given three months hard labor with ball and chain, under guard.  The specification against 2nd Lt. Nick Hardeman, Co. H, Anderson's Regiment, Texas Cavalry, C. S. Army, read that he "did, on or about the 20th day of July, 1864, his regiment being stationed at Camp Ford, near Tyler, Texas, desert the service of the Confederate States, in company with about one hundred men of his own and other companies of his Regiment, and did not return to his command.  To which charge and specification the accused pleaded Not Guilty."  The findings and sentence of the Court to the specification--Guilty; to the Charge--Guilty.  And the Court do therefore sentence the said 2nd Lt. G. N. Hardeman, Co. H, Anderson's Regiment, Texas Cavalry, to be Cashiered, forfeit all pay and emoluments due him from the Confederate States, and that he be turned over to the Enrolling Officer for conscription."  The findings were confirmed, and Nick was simply released from confinement.  I thought that was a rather lenient sentence, but when I looked in Ella Lonn's book Desertion During the Civil War, she notes that at least through 1862, "desertion by a commissioned officer entailed only being dropped from the rolls in disgrace and danger of conscription as a private."  It paid to be an officer!

          Nick Hardeman does not show up again in any official military paperwork, although he evidently does return to the army in a different regiment.  On February 5, 1865, Sam Hardeman, Nick's brother-in-law, wrote to his wife from Camp Ford, stating that he had arrived on January 26th, "after a long trip through bad weather and bad roads" from beyond the Bernard River.  Brown's Cavalry, now part of cousin Major General William Polk Hardeman's Brigade, Bee's Division, Wharton's Cavalry Corps of the Trans-Mississippi, had been temporarily assigned to guard duty until the Reserves could be assembled and armed.  Where was Nick?  Sam wrote "Nick plays the fiddle on one side of me and Lt. Bemehon the other."  He was back at Camp Ford, guarding prisoners once more, but this time under the watchful eye of his brother-in-law and under the ultimate command of his cousin.  He was not just visiting, because on March 28th, Sam wrote from Brazos County that "Nick says you must tell Betsy that he is well and hearty and rec'd her letter with which he was much delighted.  Tell her he says he is going to apply for a 30 day furlough pretty soon and come to see her.  Nick sends How'dye to you and Ellen and Johnny and Bailey and all the folks."  Evidently he got his furlough, one way or the other, because he was at his mother's home, probably in Burleson County, by the second week of April.  He was not mentioned in Sam's letter of May 3rd.

          A biographical sketch of D. Hardeman Jr. states that after the war "when he returned to the once magnificent domain of his father" he found it "laid waste by the ruthless hand of the war, and the family scattered."  If it was truly laid waste, it was from inattention, not because of any sort of federal invasion, and the family was only scattered between Burleson County and Matagorda County.  According to this sketch, "[n]othing daunted, he, with his brother [probably William Perkins Hardeman, although it could have been Nick], rented a farm and undertook the task of tilling the soil themselves." On December 29, 1865, the San Antonio Daily Herald announced that Nick Hardeman had been found dead on November 29th, five miles from Lagrange, on the Lyonsville road, at the crossing of the Navidad.  It stated that "he had evidently come to his death by foul means."  He was only 19.  Who killed Nick and why?  Where is he buried?  I've not been able to find the answers to these questions.  I checked the district court records in LaGrange for about 4-5 years after the murder, and I've not found anyone brought to trial.  Nick never married and had no children, so there are no direct descendants for me to ask, although I am tracking down members of the extended family to check letters and diaries covering 1864-1865.  This remains a project in progress.