Tidbits of Shelby County History
Y.W. Rogers

Good morning, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is doing well. This week’s article title is “Uncle Y.W. Rogers: Sole Survivor of Confederate Army: Recalls Stubborn Defense of Vicksburg”. The author and date of the article is unknown. Before submitting the article, I am going to give a short history of the life of Young William Rogers and the battle of Vicksburg.

Young William Rogers was born 12 Dec 1843 inLowndes County, Alabama and died 3 Dec 1936 Center, Texas and is buried Fairview Cemetery.His parents were John Gillon Rogers and Mary A. Graves. His grandsonwas James Graves "Jim" Rogers.

Y. W. enlisted in the Confederate Army in March of 1862 in Keachi, Louisiana and was assigned to Co. G, 27th Louisiana Regiment of Infantry.Confederate records are skimpy regarding individual soldiers, but it appears that Graves Rogers, the younger brother of "Y" and Jim, and their cousin Y. W. ("Billy") Graves, Jr., joined them at some time at Vicksburg.  Recruiting for the "Dixie Rebels" had continued back in Keatchie, and although Graves Rogers was only 14 or 15 at the time, "Y" later said that he was big enough, so he was old enough.

DeSoto Parish courthouse records show that "Y's" uncle, Captain Y. W. Graves for whom he was named, gave him a half section of land southwest of Keatchie, and for several years he tried to scratch out a living as a farmer in the Reconstruction economy.  His brother Jim began his schooling to become a physician.

In 1874 Y. W. Rogers and his younger brother Dr. James W. Rogers and their families moved to Center, Shelby County, Texas, about 25 miles west of Keatchie across the Sabine River.  At that time "Y" and Rebecca had three children:  John Carlton (0), age 5; Peyton Graves, age 2; and Hattie who was an infant.  Jim went to Center to establish his medical practice.  "Y" settled for a time at North Jericho, a community a few miles north of Center.  There he taught school and farmed.

Some of this information was shared by Lee Porterfield.

Now a little background on the battle of Vicksburg

Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 - July 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Mississippi led by Lt. General John C. Pemberton into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River; therefore, capturing it completed the second part of the Northern strategy. The Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863, is sometimes considered, when combined with General Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg by Major General George Meade the previous day, the turning point of the war. It cut off the Trans-Mississippi Department (containing the states of Arkansas, Texas and part of Louisiana) from the rest of the Confederate States, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two for the rest of the war. Lincoln called Vicksburg "the key to the war."

In this highly civilized era, it is hard for us to realize that only two generations ago cannons boomed, and muskets added to the terrible din of war, a staccato rat-tat-tat within a few hundred miles of Center.

But the memory of “Uncle” Y. W. Rogers, former private in the famed “Dixie Rebels” – as Company G. of the 27th Louisiana Infantry was known – is as fresh today as it was on that July morning in ’63 when General Grant threw his mighty army of 300,000 fighting men against the hungry, thinly clad ranks of the Confederacy who, ridiculously – Grant thought – were attempting to defend the Vicksburg with their shattered band of 27,000 men. (Note: The 27th Louisiana was stationed to block Graveyard Road, one of the major routes into Vicksburg from Jackson.  They were under continuous fire the entire time, casualties were high, and "Y" and Jim were wounded.)

To hear the story of the battle of Vicksburg – that bloody siege that lasted through forty-three days of excruciating hell – from the lips of one of its staunchest defenders is one of the rarest, and yet one of the most dreadfully realistic experiences this writer has ever had.

“We were hungry – mighty hungry!” Uncle Y. told the reporter. “Mule meat was our luxury and hard biscuits were as rare as hen’s teeth. The boys were in rags and bare-footed, and most of ‘em were sick – but” and here Uncle Y’s eyes shone – “but, boy how they could fight the Yanks – hungry or not hungry!”

“Why, there was a little Frenchman in our Company,” he continued, “who was one of the deadliest marksmen I ever saw. The boys soon learned of his shooting ability and once when the battle was reallyhot, and the Yanks were closing in on us four or five of the fellows threw their guns down and begin to load and pass to the Frenchman. I’ll wager he killed a hundred Yanks that afternoon.”

“Of course,” he went on, “soldier-life was not always hunger and pain – there were many laughable incidents throughout the war – there were wonderful friendships and hundreds and thousands of noble sacrifices that made the lot of the rest of us seem less hard to bear.”

Uncle Y. recalls “carpet-bag rule” with a shudder. “Why, when the war was over, I had $27,000 in Confederate money and it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on!”

“I was captured at Vicksburg,” the Veteran continued, “and it was one of the happiest events of the war for me because I was treated to some of the best Yankee vittles I had tasted since joining the army!”

“Those Yanks were fine fellows though, even if we did have to shoot at each other. We were treated royally and allowed to go as ‘exchanges’ back to our troops. However, my company didn’t see any more service because we had no food. So, a few days later we disbanded and went to our homes – sick of war!”

“It was a great war. I was recruited by Abraham Lincoln’s wife’s brother – Captain Todd. Yes Sir, Captain Todd was fighting against the cause of his own brother-in-law. But that’s the way it was – I’ve seen fathers and sons meet in prison camps and either was ignorant of the other’s presence in the war. I’ve seen brothers fight against one another and die in one another’s arms. It was terrible. We were fighting against our own people – our own flesh and blood and yet both sides thought they were right.”

“Now it’s all over, and I think it best that the North won – slavery was doomed – sooner or later. Thank God it was sooner!”

(Condensed from The Champion, Center, Texas)

The Shreveport Journal, Shreveport, Louisiana 05 Dec 1936, Sat * Page 11
Y.W. Rogers Dead at Center; Oldest Citizen is Called

One of Few Remaining Veterans of Confederacy - Once Lived in Keatchie

Center, Texas, Dec 5. - Death came very quietly at 4:10 Thursday afternoon to Y.W. Rogers, Center's oldest and one of her best-loved citizens. Had he lived until Dec.12, he would have passed the ninety-third milestone of life's pathway.

Mr. Rogers was born in Alabama in 1843, coming with his mother and her brother, Capt. Y.W. Graves, to Keatchie, LA, in 1857. His grandfather came from Sheffield, England, and his grandmother from Scotland.

At the age of 17 he volunteered in the Confederate army and fought through the war between the states in company G, Twenty-seventh Louisiana infantry. He was wounded at the siege of Vicksburg and carried the treasure scar until his death. Mr. Rogers was one of the four Confederate veterans surviving in this county.

In 1868 he was married to Miss Rebecca Carlton, and 63 years ago came to Center to make his home. Here he had been identified with all worth-while movements in the growth of the town. He was a Mason and is believed to be the last surviving charter member of the Keatchie (LA) Masonic lodge.

Mr. Rogers had taught school, held county offices and closed his activities as judge of the city county which office, despite his advancing years he filled capably until about a month before his death. For 50 years he had been treasurer of the Baptist church.

He is survived by two sons, J.C. Rogers and Will Rogers, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted at 1:30 Friday afternoon at the First Baptist church, Rev. Joe Smith, assisted by Rev. W.W. Rivers and Rev. Newton J. Robison, conducting the services. Interment was in the Fairview cemetery. Active pallbearers were W. C. Rogers, James G. Rogers, E. N. Rogers, Dr. Y. W. Rogers, Edward Rogers, and L. S. Muldrow, grandsons, and Jim Rogers, Jr. and John Oscar Rogers, great-grandsons of the deceased.