Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

GKBoppHOME

Holeman

Alexander Wake Holman (Holeman)

Alexander Wake Holeman, known as Wake Holman/Holeman, was a friend of Kentucky newspaper editor Henry Watterson who mentioned "Wake" in his autobiography. That book is now on the web at University of North Carolina web site:
"Marse Henry"
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (vol. 2)
Electronic Edition.
WATTERSON, HENRY, 1840-1921
Use the below link and search on "Wake Holman" - use that spelling and the quotes as shown:
http://docsouth.unc.edu/index.html

The following has been abstracted from the above source [pages 21-26]:

-------
         Holding office, especially going to Congress, had never entered any wish or scheme of mine. Office seemed to me ever a badge of bondage. I knew too much of the national capital to be allured by its evanescent and lightsome honors. When the opportunity sought me out none of its illusions appealed to me. But after a long uphill fight for personal and political recognition in Kentucky an election put a kind of seal upon the victory I had won and enabled me in a way to triumph over my enemies. I knew that if I accepted the nomination offered me I would get a big popular vote - as I did - and so, one full term, and half a term, incident to the death of the sitting member for the Louisville district being open to me, I took the short term, refusing the long term.

Though it was midsummer and Congress was about to adjourn I went to Washington and was sworn in. A friend of mine, Col. Wake Holman, had made a bet with one of our pals I would be under arrest before I had been twenty-four hours in town, and won it. It happened in this wise: The night of the day when I took my seat there was an all-night session. I knew too well what that meant, and, just from a long tiresome journey, I went to bed and slept soundly till sunrise. Just as I was up and dressing for a stroll about the old, familiar, dearly loved quarter of the town there came an imperative rap upon the door and a voice said: "Get up, colonel, quick! This is a sergeant at arms. There has been a call of the House and I am after you. Everybody is drunk, more or less, and they are noisy to have some fun with you."

It was even as he said. Everybody, more or less, was drunk - especially the provisional speaker whom Mr. Randall had placed in the chair - and when we arrived and I was led a prisoner down the center aisle pandemonium broke loose.

They had all sorts of fun with me, such as it was. It was moved that I be fined the full amount of my mileage. Then a resolution was offered suspending my membership and sending me under guard to the old Capitol prison. Finally two or three of my friends rescued me and business was allowed to proceed. It was the last day of a very long session and those who were not drunk were worn out.

When I returned home there was a celebration in honor of the bet Wake Holman had won at my expense. Wake was the most attractive and lovable of men, by nature a hero, by profession a "filibuster" and soldier of fortune. At two and twenty he was a private in Col. Humphrey Marshall's Regiment of Kentucky Riflemen, which reached the scene of hostilities upon the Rio Grande in the midsummer of 1846. He had enlisted from Owen county - "Sweet Owen," as it used to be called - and came of good stock, his father, Col. Harry Holman, in the days of aboriginal fighting and journalism, a frontier celebrity. Wake's company, out on a scout, was picked off by the Mexicans, and the distinction between United States soldiers and Texan rebels not being yet clearly established, a drumhead court-martial ordered "the decimation."

This was a decree that one of every ten of the Yankee captives should be shot. There being a hundred of Marshall's men, one hundred beans - ninety white and ten black - were put in a hat. Then the company was mustered as on dress parade. Whoso drew a white bean was to be held prisoner of war; whoso drew a black bean was to die.

In the early part of the drawing Wake drew a white bean. Toward the close the turn of a neighbor and comrade from Owen county who had left a wife and baby at home was called. He and Wake were standing together, Holman brushed him aside, walked out in his place and drew his bean. It turned out to be a white one. Twice within the half hour death had looked him in the eye and found no blinking there.

I have seen quite a deal of hardihood, endurance, suffering, in both women and men; splendid courage on the field of action; perfect self-possession in the face of danger; but I rather think that Wake Holman's exploit that day - next to actually dying for a friend, what can be nobler than being willing to die for him? - is the bravest thing I know or have ever been told of mortal man.

Wake Holman went to Cuba in the Lopez Rebellion of 1851, and fought under Pickett at the Battle of Cardenas. In 1855-56 he was in Nicaragua, with Walker. He commanded a Kentucky regiment of cavalry on the Union side in our War of Sections. After the war he lived the life of a hunter and fisher at his home in Kentucky; a cheery, unambitious, big-brained and big-hearted cherub, whom it would not do to "projeck" with, albeit with entire safety you could pick his pocket; the soul of simplicity and amiability.

To have known him was an education in primal manhood. To sit at his hospitable board, with him at the head of the table, was an inspiration in the genius of life and the art of living. One of his familiars started the joke that when Wake drew the second white bean "he got a peep." He took it kindly; though in my intimacy with him, extending over thirty years, I never heard him refer to any of his adventures as a soldier.

It was not possible that such a man should provide for his old age. He had little forecast. He knew not the value of money. He had humor, affection and courage. I held him in real love and honor. When the Mexican War Pension Act was passed by Congress I took his papers to General Black, the Commissioner of Pensions, and related this story.

"I have promised Gen. Cerro Gordo Williams," said General Black, referring to the then senior United States Senator from Kentucky, "that his name shall go first on the roll of these Mexican pensioners. But" - and the General looked beamingly in my face, a bit tearful, and says he: "Wake Holman's name shall come right after." And there it is.

[end]

Source:
"Marse Henry"
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (vol. 2)
Electronic Edition.
WATTERSON, HENRY, 1840-1921
Use the below link and search on "Wake Holman" - use that spelling and the quotes as shown:
http://docsouth.unc.edu/index.html

GKBoppHOME