Gunsmoke, Steam, and Blood
ex-Confederate Cavalry Officer from Texas
Growing up outside of Fort Worth, Texas, Kelley learned the life of a cattle rancher early. His father, Ian, who served under Colonel Lamar the battle of San Jacinto, had carved out a prosperous territory for himself in the rolling hills south and west of the cattle town. When Colonel Lamar became the second President of the Republic of Texas, Ian once again left home to serve as one of Lamar’s Texas Rangers in action against the Comanche. Kelley’s formative years, then, were spent overseeing his father’s ranch. In 1841, Ian returned home with a bullet in his thigh – unable to continue in service with the Rangers. For his part, Kelley was ready to travel abroad. With his father’s letter of recommendation, Kelley responded to President Houston’s call for 150 more Rangers, and rode to Austin.
Kelley served with the Rangers from 1841-1846, receiving a commission as an officer with the U.S. Army Dragoons and volunteering to serve under General Scott in his Mexico City Campaign. After the conclusion of the Mexican-American War and the subsequent disbanding of the Texas Rangers, Kelley returned home to his father’s ranch, where he took over for his ailing father. He married a childhood sweetheart, Alexis Duncan, and together they began to raise a family. Ian Maddux died in September, 1857.
In early 1862, Kelley traveled east with intent to broker a deal with the Confederate army for a herd of horses. He left his wife and two boys behind him, aged 13 and 9, and traveled to Richmond with 100 horses. While he was east of the Mississippi, Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron took control of New Orleans, and – more importantly – the Mississippi River. Kelley was trapped. On the basis of his wartime experience, Kelley was offered a Colonel’s commission under Maj. General Ewell.
Kelley commanded the 7th Virginia Cavalry of Ewell’s Division in the Battle of First Winchester during the Valley Campaign. May 25, 1862. He is credited with ambushing Union walkers as they were transported to the front on oxcarts, capturing two intact and preventing Banks from employing them against Jackson.
While serving under Ewell, Kelley had opportunity to interact with General Jackson from time to time, and deeply respected him both for his care for the men and for his faith. While not nearly as learned as Jackson, Kelley began to emulate his commander’s habit of daily prayer and Bible study. The two never spoke casually, but Kelley admired the man greatly. Jackson’s death under the feet of a Union Walker at Chancellorsville impacted Kelley greatly, and he spiraled into a depression. Kelley himself took a musket ball to the knee in the same action, and even as the Confederate army was surrendering, he began a long and arduous journey home to recuperate.
Returning home after the war, he found his family ranch devastated by raiders, his family missing. Unable to track them down, Kelley spent the next several years as a drunkard and his family ranch continued to collapse around him.
In late 1866, a letter found Kelley in Amarillo – appearing to have been written by Alexis in 1863. The letter spoke of raiders from the north and her intent to leave for Austin. The prospect of finding his family was enough to break Kelley out of his depression, and he returned to what remained of his father’s ranch where he dug up a previously buried cache of gold taken as a prize in the Mexico City Campaign. Using it, he re-outfitted himself and headed to Austin to find his wife. But after nearly a year’s search, he had found no indication that she ever made it.
His questions still unanswered, Kelley headed north, eventually making his way to Abilene. For nearly a year he has remained there, but has once again given up hope. Most of his money has been spent on whiskey, his horse lost in a game of cards.
Gear: .46 Rimfire Remington Army Model 1858 cartridge conversion revolver with flap holster and 25 cartridge-loop belt; two boxes of 50 .46 rimfire cartridges each; .50-70 Government Sharps Model 1863 Carbine with integral stock coffee grinder; two boxes of fifty .50-70 rimfire cartridges; 8-gauge Manton Double-Barrel muzzle-loading shotgun; 49 percussion caps/shots worth of buckshot/powder for shotgun; powder/shot measure for shotgun; heavy staff; Bible with a bullet stuck in it (stops just short of Isaiah 30:26); Model 1840 Cavalry Sabre with sheath; bedroll; duster; rain slicker; spurs; good heavy riding boots; gloves; red cavalry scarf; hat; $30 in gold dollars; fob watch; room, board and cigars at Drover’s Cottage in Abilene, KS. Abandoned burnt-out ranch back in Texas.