"...most bitter against the Yankees." - A Confederate Colonel in Cincinnati

Updated: Jul 22

Tucked away in Section 36 of Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati lies a colonel, Philip Noland Luckett.[1] His story is a bit different than the other colonels at Spring Grove, in that he was a Confederate. There are several other Confederates buried at Spring Grove that came from Camp Dennison, where they were being treated for wounds while being held as prisoners of war. Those that died were buried initially at Camp Dennison before being moved to Spring Grove. Luckett is the highest ranking Confederate buried in idyllic Spring Grove.

Flag of the 3rd Texas Infantry, commissioned by citizens of Brownsville, said to have been sewn in Havana, Cuba

Luckett is an interesting character. Born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1824 (some accounts say 1823), by age six Luckett was living in Chillicothe, Ohio, where his father served as county recorder. The younger Luckett allegedly attended West Point in 1841, but left before graduating - yet one source states that he never enrolled. By 1847 Luckett had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he would act as a surgeon in the Texas Rangers, having attended the University of Louisville Medical School some time before his move to Texas but after his supposed exit from West Point.


In January 1861, Luckett was voted to represent Webb and Nueces Counties in the state secession convention. He was noted as "a handsome man...well informed and agreeable, but most bitter against the Yankees." He would help negotiate the surrender of Federal forces in Texas, then serve as quartermaster and commissary general of the state. By the fall of 1861 Luckett would form the Third Texas Infantry Regiment where he would serve as its colonel. The men that formed the Third came mostly from Austin and San Antonio. The Third did not see much action during the war, having stayed mostly within the confines of the Lone Star State during the course of the conflict. In a stop at Houston in 1863, the city's residents remarked that the Third was "the best drilled regiment in the state." Arthur Fremantle, during a tour of Texas in April 1863, would remark:


Lieutenant-Colonel Buchel[2] is the working man of the corps, as he is a professional soldier. The men were well clothed, though great variety existed in their uniforms. Some companies wore blue, some grey, some had French kepis, others wideawakes and Mexican hats. They were a fine body of men, and really drilled uncommonly well. They went through a sort of guardmounting parade in a most creditable manner. About a hundred out of a thousand were conscripts.​

During all my travels in the South I never saw a regiment so well clothed or so well drilled as this one, which has never been in action, or been exposed to much hardship.​


Not all was rosey in the Third however, as evidenced by this report written by Lieutenant Colonel Edward F. Gray:


GALVESTON,

August 4, 1863.

SIR: I would respectfully and earnestly call the attention of the general commanding to the character of the provisions being issued to the troops of this regiment, and I presume, to all at this post.


The only issue now given consists of beef, molasses, and corn-meal. The latter, even when good, is exceedingly heating in its effects on the blood, and when, added to this, it is sour, dirty, weevel-eaten, and filled with ants and worms, and not bolted (and the troops without the means of siding it themselves), it becomes wholly superfluous to add that it is exceedingly unwholesome.


The daily increasing number on the sick reports fully demonstrates by the character of the diseases that the food is one if not the chief cause producing it.


Were this character of food, or even worse, the only kind which could be procured by the commissary department, I have no hesitation in saying the troops, actuated by true patriotism, would not complain. But, sir, when such is not the case, and it is a fact well know among the troops that large supplies of good and wholesome flour are in depot at Columbus and Harrisburg, I cannot but consider their murmurs in some measure just and not without reason, for I fell satisfied that wholesome food can be obtained with but little exertion.


It is with regret that I fell myself forced into the position of a complainant, but I deem it one of the first duties of a commander to watch with zealous care the welfare of those under his command, and I could not feel that I had discharged my duty to them should I fail to make these representations, which I believe it only necessary to do to have them corrected.


Accompanying this communication I send a sample of the corn-meal issued to this regiment. A casual examination will satisfy you of its unwholesomeness.


I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


E. F. GRAY,

Lieut.-Col. Third Texas Infantry, Comdg. Regt.


Lieut. R. M. FRANKLIN,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brig., Second Div., Galveston, Tex.

Luckett's pistol, presented by the citizens of Bexar County in 1861

In June 1863 Luckett was made an "acting" brigadier and commanded the Eastern Sub-District of Texas.


In April 1864 the Third Texas was assigned to Brigadier General William R. Scurry's brigade of Walker's Texas Division. After Scurry was killed at the Battle of Jenkins Ferry, Luckett took command of the brigade.


After the war Luckett fled to Mexico. Returning to Texas in November 1865, Luckett was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana. Pardoned some months later, Luckett remained in New Orleans. His ever-delicate health shattered, he was unable to engage in business. After his release he remained for a time in New Orleans before joining relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Luckett died of bronchial disease on May 21, 1869 in the Cincinnati suburb of Avondale.

Photo courtesy Find a Grave.

There are some sources that give Luckett's rank as brigadier general, and one Cincinnatian recently tried to have Luckett's marker at Spring Grove changed to reflect that rank. However, Luckett's promotion was never confirmed, and the marker has his correct rank. Luckett is buried in Section 36, Lot 57.

Location of Luckett's gravesite within Spring Grove Cemetery

NOTES:

[1] Spring Grove Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in the United States. There are over forty Civil War generals and at least twenty colonels buried there, including several of the Fighting McCooks, Joseph Hooker, and William H. Lytle. Salmon Chase, as well as Hiram U. Grant's parents are also at Spring Grove. There are over 5,000 Civil War veterans buried in the cemetery as well.

Augustus Carl Buchel

[2] Augustus C. Buchel, a lieutenant colonel in the Third, was a Hessian soldier who fought in the Carlist War in Spain and was knighted by Queen Maria Christina for his bravery in battle. He fought in the Turkish army and served in the Mexican War after arriving in Texas in 1845. He died while attached to a different regiment at Pleasant Hill.

SOURCES:

American Civil War Research Database

Find a Grave

Spring Grove website

Official Records - Vol. 26. Part I, Reports & Union Correspondence

Texas State Historical Association website

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