Elections Held in the Original Sixth Texas Infantry Regiment
By Daniel Snell
During the existence of the original Sixth Texas Infantry Regiment, from September 1861 until the final surrender and dissemination in April May 1965, numerous elections were held in the various companies for Sergeants as well as Officer positions. These elections are noted in surviving documents on file at the National Archives and in letters from the soldiers themselves.
While it is very probable that elections were held initially to place the first Officers and Sergeants, no documentation has yet surfaced to confirm this. The Captains of the individual Companies were commissioned due to their ability to recruit men to the ranks. It is likely that the Captain himself chose his 1st and 2nd Lieutenants and 1st thru 4th Sergeants and Corporals, perhaps due to prior service or standing in the community, or because of the assistance he received in recruiting men for his Company.
It is clear that elections were held throughout the various companies in the Sixth subsequent to the initial mustering in. A number of such elections occurred during the weeks of preparation just prior to the Regiment taking up the line of march for Arkansas. It was important for the Regiment to be have the proportional amount of Officers and NCOs for the number of men in each company, especially so when undertaking such a long journey. This was when Col. Garland, Commanding Officer of the Sixth, ordered elections to fill such vacancies that may exist. One such election was well documented in Company D, where on May 14th, 1862, "In obedience to the order of the Commanding Officer of the 6th Regiment Texas Infantry" 1st Lt. Greenberry Stewart and 2nd Lt. P.E. Peareson held an election for the office of one Jr. 2nd Lt, one 2nd Sergeant and one 5th Sergeant. The men who voted were listed by name and totaled 62 in number. The following was the result:
For Jr. 2nd Lt. 1st Sgt. George Lewis received 18 votes
2nd Sgt. John Dale received 42 votes and was elected.
For 2nd Sgt. - 3rd Sgt. William Gibson received 20 votes
Pvt. Francis Holt received 40 votes and was elected
For 5th Sgt. - Pvt. Arthur Cheesman received 53 votes and was elected unopposed
It is interesting to note that while the service records indicate that all of the above men were "appointed" to their positions, it was clearly an election that caused their appointments. This leads us to speculate that many more elections were held than one would presume by looking at the service records themselves. Most election results did not survive as can be expected.
Other elections were held at Arkansas Post as attrition, due to sickness, began to take a toll on the men and again after the battle of Chickamauga. Elections became necessary during the second consolidation of the 6th Texas when Gen. Granbury took command of the Brigade on the 1st of March 1864. This reorganization removed the 10th Texas Infantry from the previous consolidated regiment and allowed the 6th to form 6 Companies and the 15th Texas to form four companies. This move required additional Officers and NCOs.
Another interesting point that should be presented, is that Corporals and many Privates were elected to the higher ranks. As noted above, Pvt. Francis Holt was elected 2nd Sergeant and later on March 9, 1864 he was elected from 2nd Sergeant to Jr. 2nd Lt. Some others were: 4th Cpl. Christopher Haynes, Co. A, elected Jr. 2nd Lt. Mar 9, 64; Pvt. John McVea, Co. C, elected 2nd Lt. Mar 9, 64 who during the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Captured the Flag and Flag Bearer of the 58th Illinois, the regiment that stood guard over them after the surrender at Arkansas Post; Pvt. Edward Thompson, Co. E, elected 2nd Lt. March 9, 1864; 1 Cpl. William Dunson, Co. G, elected Jr. 2nd Lt. June 22, 1864; Pvt. H.B. Harvey, Co. H, elected Jr. 2nd Lt. April 30, 1862; Pvt. S.F. Cocke Co. H, elected 2nd Lt. Nov. 9, 1863 and let us not forget 1 Cpl. Eugene Navarro, Co. K, elected 2nd Lt. March 9, 1864 and promoted to 1st Lt. April 9, 1864.
I can only find one indication that Corporals were elected positions. The only instance is that of Pvt. John Brightwell, Co. H elected Corporal on April 30, 1864. The occurrence of Corporals being elected may have in fact been more prevalent, but somehow not entered into the service records as such. This is very possible as evidenced by the above stated election in Company D, where the service records did not indicate the appointed men were elected eventhough the election results clearly proved they were.
In any event, once the men were elected to Jr. 2nd Lt. they were subsequently promoted by seniority to the next higher ranks, or as vacancies occurred.
I thought this was a fitting moment to bring the above information to light in order to support the method that our unit elects its officers and NCOs. Good luck to all those who were elected, you have my devoted support.
Respectively Submitted to all My Comrades of the Sixth,
Pvt. Daniel Snell
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