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 Texas : Features : Columns : Lone Star Diary :

G.W. Fly:
Confederate Soldier
and Texas Statesman

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery

While researching old issues of The Gonzales Inquirer from the year 1905, I came across the obituary of Mr. G.W. Fly.

The Fly name is very prominent in the history of Gonzales and the little article about his death immediately caught my eye.

George Washington Lafayette Fly was born in Yalobusha County, Mississippi, on June 2, 1835. He was the youngest of 10 children born to William and Mary (Mitchell) Fly.

According to information obtained from The Handbook of Texas and The Gonzales Inquirer, Fly enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1851. However after one term there, he went to Madison College and graduated from that institution in 1853.

While he was in college the family moved to Texas and settled at Oyster Creek in Brazoria County. After the death of his father in 1855, G.W. (the name he was known by) relocated with his mother to Big Hill Prairie in Gonzales County. There he became a planter.

G.W. Fly soon became well known around the area as an outspoken young man as well as, a noted orator. He is also remembered as being a strong supporter of states' rights.

Young Fly was quick to answer his country's call to arms at the start of the Civil War. He raised a group of volunteers from Gonzales County and was immediately elected captain by the men. These troops were mustered into Confederate service as Company I, Second Texas Infantry. They soon became known as the Gonzales Invincibles.

To say Fly only served the Confederacy would be an understatement. His record was outstanding. He saw action at the battle of Shiloh in April of 1862. He was involved in battles at Corinth, Farmington, Hatchie Bridge, Suka, Chickasaw Bayou, and all the battles around Vicksburg.

His family mourned for three weeks after he was reported killed at Corinth in October of 1862. Only later did they hear that he had been captured, exchanged, and returned to his command.

He was promoted to the rank of major before the siege of Vicksburg. When that city surrendered on July 4, 1863, Fly was captured again and released in a prisoner exchange. After this ordeal he was ordered back to Texas to raise more forces which he did.

The troops, recruited by Fly, were ordered to Galveston in August of 1864. Here he served as commandant and defended that city until the close of the war in 1865.

After the war, from 1866 to 1870, G.W. Fly ran a boarding school known as Stonewall (named after Confederate Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson). That institution was located about six miles from Gonzales in the small community of Big Hill.

Fly was president of the Gonzales College from 1873 to 1875. He was elected to the 17th Texas Legislature in 1880. However, he refused to run for reelection despite his popularity at the time. After his political career he began what would eventually be his last profession. He opened a law firm.

In 1886, Fly moved his wife Mary (also known as "Callie") and their five children to Victoria, Texas, where he continued to prosper as an attorney. Never forgetting his deep ties to the Southern cause, Fly was a charter member of the William R. Scurry Camp of United Confederate Veterans at Victoria. Twice he was chosen commander of that organization.

After years of service to his family, country, and several communities, George Washington Lafayette Fly died January 27, 1905, while working at his law office in Victoria, Texas. He was 69 years old.

It is interesting to note that two of G.W. Fly's sons followed in his footsteps with their service to the public. Ben W. Fly was county judge of Victoria County and served as city attorney for Victoria. Another son, William M. Fly of Gonzales, was a state legislator.


Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary January 1, 2010 Column

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