Decimus et Ultimus Barziza

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Apr 7 02:45:55 UTC 2008

At 4/5/2008 09:32 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>My favorite figure of 19th c american History (outside of NYC) is
>Decimus et Ultimus Barziza.  I know nothing about him, beyond his
>name; but what more do I need to know?  (He wrote a book on his
>Civil War experiences.)

I was curious whether this was a slave name.  Not.  From The Handbook
of Texas Online,

BARZIZA, DECIMUS ET ULTIMUS (1838-1882). Decimus et Ultimus Barziza,
lawyer, politician, author, businessman, and officer in the
Confederate Army, was born on September 4, 1838, in Virginia, the
tenth [answers one question, but raises another] and last son [now
how did his parents know this at the time he was born?!  But see
below] of Phillip Ignatius and Cecelia Amanda (Bellett) Barziza. He
was the great-grandson of eighteenth-century English scholar John
Paradise and a direct descendant of the Ludwells, who owned extensive
property in colonial Virginia. In 1857, after graduating from William
and Mary College, Barziza followed three of his brothers [Septimus
through Nonimus?] to Texas and studied law at Baylor University. [See
also Baylor site.]  He graduated in 1859, moved to Owensville,
Robertson County, and set up his law practice.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he volunteered for service in the
Confederate Army ... During the attack on Little Round Top [at
Gettysburg] on July 2, 1863, he was wounded and left behind when the
Confederate troops were forced to retreat. Although feigning death,
he was discovered by Union troops and taken prisoner. After a year in
federal hospitals and the prison camp at Johnson's Island, Ohio, he
was part of a contingent of prisoners sent from Johnson's Island to
Point Lookout, Maryland. On the journey he managed to escape by
diving through the open window of a train, near Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

After his escape he made his way to Canada, where he was one of the
first escapees to use a network set up by rebel agents and Canadians
to send escaped Confederates back to the South via Nova Scotia and
Bermuda. Barziza arrived at Wilmington, North Carolina, in April
1864, and was allowed to return to Texas to recover from the
hardships of his escape. In February 1865 he published his war
memoirs anonymously in Houston under the title The Adventures of a
Prisoner of War, and Life and Scenes in Federal Prisons: Johnson's
Island, Fort Delaware, and Point Lookout, by an Escaped Prisoner of
Hood's Texas Brigade.

Barziza settled in Houston, where he established a well-known law
practice. He also became active in politics as a staunch Democratic
opponent of Reconstruction. He joined other prominent Texans in
calling for a "conservative state convention," which was held in the
Harris County Courthouse on January 20, 1878. In July of that year he
served on a statewide committee that organized the state Democratic
convention at Bryan. He was instrumental in removing scalawag
Governor Edmund J. Davis from office, and in 1873 Barziza was elected
as a representative from Harris County to the Fourteenth Legislature.
In 1875 he was reelected but subsequently lost the speakership of the
House  ... .

BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Henderson Shuffler, "Decimus et Ultimus Barziza,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly 66 (April 1963). R. Henderson
Shuffler, "A Texas Profile: Decimus et Ultimus Barziza," Texas Bar
Journal, April 22, 1963. R. Henderson Shuffler, ed., Decimus et
Ultimus Barziza (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).

[signed]  Jeffrey William Hunt

>Actually, it would be nice to know whether the "et Ultimus" was his
>father's idea or his mother's.

Perhaps one of the bibliographic sources will answer this question!


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