The Diary of 1st Sergeant H. N. Conner

Placed here with the personal permission of W. T. (Bill) Block
and my cousin,
Marilyn Claire "Williams" Dungan, accomplished writer and Conner's great granddaughter (

Edited and annotated by W. T. Block

Preface to H. N. Conner

About 1971, while the editor-annotator was researching and writing his M. A. thesis, he learned that a Civil War diary about Southeast Texas - "The Diary of Sergeant H. N. Conner" - was in possession of Dr. Haskell Monroe of Texas A and M University. Dr. Monroe was kind enough to loan me the diary for use in my thesis, which was published in 1975 as "A History of Jefferson County, Texas, from Wilderness to Reconstruction."Other than his Civil War years, H. N Conner was a very elusive person to track in early Texas history, and I still would not have very much information, were it not for that furnished to me by his great granddaughter, Marilyn Williams Dungan, of Paris, KY. H. N. was listed in the 1850 Galveston census under the name of 'Valentine,' reason unknown and in the 1860 Sabine Pass census as 'H. N.' No descendent seems to know what the H. N. stood for, except of course that his father's name was Hiram. H. N. Conner was born in Galveston on July 1, 1841, the son of Capt. Hiram L. Conner (1819-1859) and Julia Elizabeth Dalton (1818-1894).1 H. N. Conner was a bookkeeper for a Sabine Pass cotton commission merchant when the 1860 census was enumerated. On April 20, 1861, he enlisted in the "Sabine Pass Guard," a 102-man militia company, organized for 90 days under the Act of Feb. 15, 1858.2 Three months later he re-enlisted in the "Ben McCulloch Coast Guard," also a 90-day cavalry militia company, captained by Dr. Jas. H. Blair of Sabine Pass.3 Dr. Blair resigned in Dec. 1861, and the company soon became Co. A, Likens Battalion, Commanded by O. M. Marsh, a West Point graduate.4 After Col. Likens resigned, the battalion was commanded by Col. A. W. Spaight. As First Sgt. H. N. Conner, our diarist was principally domiciled in Jefferson County, Texas except for the 7 months, May to Nov., 1863, when Spaight's Battalion was helping defend South Central Louisiana. For 9 months from July, 1864 until May, 1865, Conner was assigned to Hardeman's Brigade, in both Louisiana and Arkansas, until Conner returned to his old company in time to be discharged at Beaumont on May 25, 1865. Apparently Conner did not begin his diary until Dec. 1861, when he began using both a month and day date. Prior to that he wrote in only the month and year. His 'May 1861' entry is in error because Conner was mustered in the first time on April 20, 1861.It is indeed sad that a longer biography of Conner cannot be written. Before his death in 1859 at Sabine Pass, his father Hiram L. Conner was captain of the Trinity River cotton steamer Reliance.5 His uncle Capt D. E. Conner was master of the steamboat Sunflower, in the Neches River trade before the Civil War. In the offshore battle of Jan. 1, 1863, which pitted the Confederate gunboats Uncle Ben and Josiah Bell as winners over the ill-fated offshore blockaders Velocity and New London, H. N. Conner served as sharpshooter and "horseless marine" aboard the Bell, of which civilian D. E. Conner served as chief engineer.6 After the war D. E. Conner's steamer transferred to the Trinity River, where the Sunflower snagged and sank at Patrick's Landing, north of Swartout, with 553 bales of cotton aboard.7 After his discharge, Conner married Sarah Amanda Gordon (1846-1923) and they became parents of about 10 children. The Conners resided at Fort Worth until his death on Aug. 20, 1905. His widow died there on Nov. 9, 1923.