A Guide to the George W. O'Brien Diary, 1863
Born near Abbeville, Louisiana in 1833, George W. O’Brien (1833-1909) moved with his father to Beaumont, Texas, in 1839. At the age of 21, O’Brien won election as county and district clerk and married Sarah E. Rowley with whom he had five children. O’Brien was one of the few voters to reject the Secession Ordinance in Jefferson County; however, he still enlisted in the Confederate 5th Texas Infantry. O’Brien contracted measles shortly after enlisting and was discharged at the end of 1861. After recovering at home, he joined Colonel A. W. Speight’s 11th Texas Battalion of Volunteers. The most notable action O’Brien saw was during the Louisiana Campaign between June and November 1863. After the campaign ended his company were garrisoned at Sabine Pass and Fort Griffin until the end of the war.
O’Brien, who qualified for the bar just before the start of the Civil War opened a law practice and worked other jobs to make ends meet. He was vehemently opposed to Radical Republicans during Reconstruction, and eventually published the Neches Valley News, which became the Beaumont News-Beacon. In 1872, O’Brien served as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention. O’Brien finished his career with his law firm, O’Brien, John, and O’Brien.
Block, W. T. "Capt. George W. O'Brien: A Torchbearer of Our Texas Civilization."Beaumont Enterpise, November 9, 1980, p. 11-C. Accessed July 26, 2011.
Composed of a typescript volume, the George W. O’Brien Diary, 1863, documents his experiences as a member of the 15th Texas Infantry during the Louisiana Campaign. O’Brien’s entries concern camp life, fellow soldiers, and action, notably the Battle of Fordoche Bridge, the most important during the Louisiana Campaign.
This collection is open for research use.
George W. O'Brien Diary, 1863, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers