Uncle Jack's Luck Charms

AUG

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The fallowing article appeared in the San Antonio Daily Express, April 17, 1910, by Lieutenant Campbell Wood, Co. D "Waverly Confederates", 5th Texas Infantry, Hood's Texas Brigade.


On the morning of the second day's fighting at Sharpsburg [Sept. 17], Private T. J. Edwards—a member of Company D of the Fifth Texas—was one of the detail sent back to cook for the regiment. The fires were made and preparations for the cooking under way, but the smoke from the fires revealed the position of the detail, the Federal artillery caught range and shells from their guns soon extinguished them. It was then that Edwards was killed. A ball struck him about the height of his elbows severing both arms and cutting his body into two separate parts. The detail sought another location, but had sooner built new fires than those that were extinguished by the artillery and the cooking abandoned, the men of the Fifth Texas fought the second day at Sharpsburg with empty stomachs.

By the little town of Danville, Montgomery County, Texas, where Company D of the Fifth Texas was organized, lived in 1861 an old German known as Jack Hostetter but was familiarly known as Uncle Jack. But the old man and the town exist now only in memory. The morning we were leaving and bidding goodbye to the people of the little town, Uncle Jack came out of his front gate, holding in his hand some bits of paper which he handed one of each of them to Capt. R. M. Powell, W. B. Campbell, R. C. Stanton, T. J. Edwards and myself. They appeared to be strips of Bristol board an inch in width, folded longitudinally and glued tightly, and then doubled once making them each three fourths of an inch long and half an inch wide.

The old man explained that they were 'charms' and that as long as carried would protect the bearer from leaden balls, but not from a cannon ball or any missile made of iron. "You may be struck by a spent ball," said he, "but no leaden ball will kill you while you carry this charm." Noticing an incredulous smile on my face as he tendered one to me, he remarked, "You may laugh but it will not take up much space in your purse, so take it to please an old man."

Of course each of us accepted a charm, and naturally, we joked each other often about them. Holding them to the light we could see writing inside of the glued fold, but could not decipher it.

While wading the Rappahannock River at Freeman's Ford the contents of my purse became saturated with water. Examining the charm I discovered that after its wetting it could be easily opened and pulling its folds apart, I read the words "max fax du max," A few days later, at the battle of Second Manassas I was struck just below the belt by the fragment of a shell, which I accepted as a punishment for my audacity in tampering with Uncle Jack's charm. However, I had restored it to its original condition, and still carried it on my person.

Of the five persons to which Uncle Jack gave charms, R. C. Stanton was slightly wounded at Second Manassas, Colonel R. M. Powell then Capt. Powell of the Fifth Texas and myself were wounded at Gettysburg, and W. B. Campbell although never missed a battle, was never wounded. As for the fifth man, T. J. Edwards, he was never struck by a leaden bullet, but his body was cut in two by an iron shell at Sharpsburg.

Old Jack Hostetter was a "forty-niner," in the gold mines of California. I have often seen him relieve the toothache by a process he called "coning." He would place the sufferer behind a door, and with a hatchet in one hand and a nail in the other, he would make four strokes on the door facing the wall and inquire, "How does it feel now?" The usual reply in the first inquiry was: "It hurts like the devil." Four more strokes and another familiar inquiry would elicit the reply, "It feels a little better." Again Uncle Jack would make four strokes with the nail and told in reply to his third inquiry how the tooth felt that it did not hurt at all he would drive the nail into the door facing and assure the patient that as long as the nail remained there the tooth would never ache again. And never did ache, so far as I could learn. I always believed that with each stroke of the nail he uttered one of the mysterious words: "max fax du-max," that was concealed in the folds of the charm he gave me. I give no opinion as to the virtue of that charm. I have stated the facts—your readers may draw their conclusions.

Campbell Wood

And before anyone says there was only one day of fighting at Sharpsburg/Antietam, the Texas Brigade was engaged in some skirmishing over the same ground the night before the battle, so that's probably why Wood remembers the actual day of the battle as "the second day's fighting." Wood was later wounded in the foot at Gettysburg, having three toes amputated and eventually retiring from service. After the war he became a physician in San Saba County, Texas. He died October 28, 1914, and is buried in Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio.
 

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AUG

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#3
Photo and more info on captain and later colonel Robert M. Powell.

Col. Robert M. Powell.jpg

Robert Micajah "Mike" Powell, Confederate officer, was born on September 23, 1826, in Montgomery County, Alabama, to George Francis Powell and Nancy (Williamson) Powell. Powell moved to Brenham, Washington County, Texas, in 1849 and partnered with his uncle, R. M. "Three-Legged Willie" Williamson, in his legal practice. Powell married Elizabeth Green Wood (the daughter of wealthy planter Maj. Green Wood) on November 27, 1851. He purchased a 176-acre farm the following year, and the couple had one child before Elizabeth died in 1856. Powell represented Montgomery County in the Seventh Texas Legislature from 1857 to 1858, and in 1860 he had $21,700 in personal real estate.

Powell first served as captain of Company D of the Fifth Texas Infantry during the Civil War. Company D included men from Walker and Montgomery counties. He was promoted to major on August 22, 1862, and began to serve at the regimental headquarters. He rose quickly in the ranks and became lieutenant colonel on August 30, 1862, and then was promoted to colonel and began to command the Fifth Texas Infantry in November 1862. At Gettysburg he was wounded and captured on July 2, 1863. Union forces treated his wound and then imprisoned him at Johnson's Island Federal Prison, Sandusky, Ohio. On January 27, 1865, Powell was transferred to Fortress Monroe before being paroled a few days later on February 6. He returned to the Confederacy and took command of the Texas Brigade from Frederick S. Bass. Powell led the unit until its surrender at Appomattox on April 12, 1865.

By 1867 Powell had moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked as a merchant and cotton broker. He had also remarried, in 1865 on his return to the Fifth Texas from prison, this time to Elizabeth Grace. The couple had a son and daughter. In 1882 Powell moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, where he died on January 15, 1916, at eighty-nine years of age. He is buried at Cavalry Cemetery in that city.
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo73
 



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