Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fighters for Texas Independence and Southern Independence

Members of the 1st Texas Infantry in Winter Quarters in
Virginia, circa 1861-62. (Library of Congress)
October 2, 1835 marks the beginning of the War for Texas Independence with the skirmishing and capture of Mexican soldiers by Texas settlers at Gonzales, Texas. The war lasted less than seven very eventful months until the Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836  gained Texas Independence. The Republic of Texas lasted for 10 years when the people voted to join the United States in 1845. It is just one example of a successful secession by people exercising their God given right of people to govern themselves under a government of their own choosing. That is a right very well recognized and spelled out by the great secession document, the Declaration of Independence.

And of course possibly the greatest example of successful secession was the War for American Independence, 1775-1783. Another, less known example, was the West Florida Republic, which was formed in what is now Southeast Louisiana when the people of the Spanish colony of West Florida seceded from the Kingdom of Spain 1810 to form their own independent nation. The West Florida Republic lasted only three months before the United States took it over peacefully, claiming it was rightfully part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The national flag of the West Florida Republic was the Bonnie Blue Flag, a banner that made a deep impression on the people of the South. The Bonnie Blue Flag was one of the banners that represented the Texans battling for their independence, and was incorporated into the Texas state flag and its nickname, "Lone Star State."

So, when the people of the Southern states exercised their God-given right to govern themselves under a government of their own choosing in 1861, they had those successful examples of secession in mind and every reason to believe that their quest for freedom and independence would be successful too. Many leaders of the War for Southern Independence were the sons of veterans of the War for American Independence, including President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and General Joseph E. Johnston.

Here are some veterans of the War for Texas Independence who became Confederates (more will be added to this list as they are found), arranged by highest Confederate rank:

General Albert Sidney Johnston was the most prominent Confederate that was also a veteran of the War for Texas Independence. He was born in 1803 in Kentucky, was the grandson of a veteran of the War for American Independence, and an 1826 graduate of West Point. He was  the most prominent Confederate general who was also a veteran of the War for Texas Independence. Johnston served with the Sixth U.S. Infantry in the Black Hawk War. He came to Texas in 1836 and joined the Texas Army as a private, and a month later was made major and aide-de-camp for General Sam Houston. He later became a colonel and adjutant general of the army, senior brigadier general and then, in 1838, Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas. Johnston became colonel of the First Texas Rifles in the Mexican War, and in 1849 rejoined the U.S. Army, served as colonel of the Second U.S. Cavalry, and led the Utah Expedition. In the War for Southern Independence, he was made a full general in the Confederate Army and command the Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh, where he was killed in action on April 6, 1862.

Brig. Gen. Thomas "Tom" Green: He was born in 1814 in Virginia, moved to Tennessee with his family and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1834. He came to Texas in December 1835 to join the Texas Revolution, and enlisted in Captain Isaac Moreland's Company of the First Infantry Regiment. He helped fire the "Twin Sisters" cannons at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836. After the battle, he was promoted to lieutenant and then major and aide-de-camp of General Thomas J. Rusk. Green returned to Tennessee after the war but returned to Texas in 1837, where he became active in the politics and government of the new republic. He also continued his military service helping defend Texas from Mexican raiders, and commanded a company of Texas Rangers in the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. During the war for Southern Independence, he commanded the 5th Texas Cavalry in the New Mexico Campaign, the Battle of Galveston, and the Bayou Tech Campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general May 20, 1863 and led the First Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau, and the Confederate cavalry in the Battle of Mansfield. He was killed in action four days later, April 12, 1864, at the Battle of Blair's Landing, Louisiana.

Brig. Gen. William Polk Hardeman: He was born in 1816 in Williamson County, Tennessee and attended the University of Nashville. In 1835, Hardeman and his family moved to Matagorda County, Texas on the Gulf Coast. He joined the Texas Revolutionary Army early and participated in the Battle of Gonzalez. He went to the relief of the Alamo but it fell before he arrived. He also missed the Battle of San Jacinto. After Texas became a republic, Hardeman served in the Texas Rangers and fought Comanches at the Battle of Wallace's Creek Feb. 22, 1839 and at the Battle of Plum Creek August 18, 1840. During the Mexican War, Hardeman served in Gen. Zachary Taylor's army. He took part in exploration and scouting for the army. In 1861, Hardeman was a delegate at the Texas Secession Convention and voted for secession. He raised a group that became Co. A, 4th Texas Cavalry, Sibley's Texas Cavalry Brigade. Hardeman fought in the New Mexico Campaign and then in the Great Texas Overland Expedition in Louisiana in the fall of 1863. After leading his men at the Battle of Yellow Bayou Louisiana, May 18, 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general. Following the war, Hardeman temporarily went into exile in Mexico. He returned to Texas in 1866 and, after Reconstruction, served in various positions in Texas state government. Hardeman  died in 1898 and is buried in the state cemetery in Austin. [Added Oct. 6, 2014}

Brig. Gen. Walter Paye Lane: He was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1817 and immigrated to Ohio with his family in 1821. Lane answered the call for volunteers for the War for Texas Independence in 1836, joining Captain Henry Karnes Company of Cavalry. He was wounded in a skirmish on April 20, and then participated in the Battle of San Jacinto the next day, April 21, 1836. He received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant for his gallantry. Following the war, Lane served as a privateer for the Texas Navy on the Thomas Toby, and also served in the Captain Jack Hayes Company of Texas Rangers. During the Mexican War, Lane served in the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen and rose to the rank of major. After that war, he became a gold prospector in California and Arizona. With the outbreak of war in 1861, Lane became lieutenant colonel of the 3rd Texas Cavalry and fought at the battles of Oak Hill, Mo., Pea Ridge, Ark., and Corinth, Miss. He then raised and became colonel of the 1st Texas Partisan Rangers and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1864. After his recovery, he was given command of a brigade and was promoted to brigadier general March 18, 1865. Following the war, Lane returned to his mercantile business in Marshall, Texas and died in 1892.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch: He was born in 1811 in Rutherford County, Tennessee and was one of the closest neighbors of the frontier legend, and congressman, David Crockett. In 1835, he went to Texas with his younger brother Henry, and waited in Nacogdoches for Crockett and his hunting party. His brother went  back to Tennessee before Crockett arrived, and Ben got sick and couldn't accompany the group to the Alamo. He was suffering  from measles and didn't recover until after the fall of the Alamo. McCulloch then joined Captain Isaac Moreland's Company with General Sam Houston and fougtht at the  Battle of San Jacinto. He  received a battlefield commission to first lieutenant, but returned to Tennessee. He returned three months later as part of a 30 man company led by Robert Crockett, the son of David. He then began a storied career as a Texas Ranger, served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas, the Texas State Legislature and was a major in the Mexican War. He went to the California Gold Rush in 1849 and was a U.S. Marshal in the Buchanan administration. In the  War for Southern Independence,  McCulloch led 1,000 men who forced surrender of the U.S. Army in San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas. McCulloch  was appointed a brigadier general by President  Jefferson Davis in May 11, 1861. McCulloch was killed in action at the Battle of Elk Horn Tavern, Arkansas on March 7, 1862, [Added Oct. 9, 2014]

Brig. Gen. Jerome Bonaparte Robertson: He was born in Kentucky in 1815 and graduated from Transylvania University in 1835. He volunteered to fight for Texas Independence with a Kentucky group but was delayed in New Orleans until September, 1836 when the fighting was already over. Robertson, however, served as a captain in the Texas Army until 1837. He settled in Washington-on-the-Brazos, where he opened his medical practice in December 1837. The doctor continued to serve in military campaigns against Indians and Mexicans, and served his community in such offices as coroner, postmaster and mayor. In the War for Southern Independence, Robertson began as captain of Company I, 5th Texas Infantry, Hood's Texas Brigade. He was elevated to lieutenant colonel, colonel and then brigadier general. Robertson became commander of Hood's Texas Brigade and led it longer than any other man. He fought at Eltham's Landing, Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chickamauga. Robertson disagreed with General James Longstreet over how he was running the corps, and was removed from his command after a court-martial in 1864 and sent back to Texas. There, Robertson finished the war in command of state reserve forces. His son, Felix Huston Robertson, was also a Confederate brigadier general. Robertson continued to practice medicine and in 1874 became the Texas superintendent of immigration. He died in 1890. [Added Oct. 6, 2014]

Lt. Col. Kindallis "King" Bryan: He was among the first volunteers for the Texas Revolution, joining the Brazos Rifles at age 17 in September, 1835 to help defend Gonzales after the first skirmish of the war. A native of Louisiana, he settled with his family in 1834 in Liberty, Texas. He also served in the Siege of Bexar and volunteered to relieve the Alamo in 1836, but it  fell before the relief force could get there. After the war he served in the Army of the Republic of Texas, became a sheriff of Liberty County and a state representative for his district. In the War for Southern Independence he had a distinguished military record with the 5th Texas Infantry of Hood's Texas Brigade, fighting at Eltham's Landing, Gaine's Mill, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. He was wounded three times and disabled, but after the war  represented his district at the Texas State Constitutional Convention of 1866. He died later that same year.

Maj. Josephus S. Irvine
Major Josephus Somerville Irvine: Born in 1819 in Tennessee, he moved to Texas in 1830 with his family. He joined the Texas Revolution in 1835 and took part in the Siege of Bexar in Captain Henry W. Augustine's Company. In 1836, he joined Captain Benjamin Franklin Bryant's Company of Colonel Sidney Sherman's Second Texas Cavalry. With them, he fought in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, He then service a three month enlistment, beginning July 4, 1836, in Captain William Scurlock's Company. After the war he served as tax assessor and collector in Newton County, Texas. In the War for Southern Independence, Irvine raised a company or which he was captain. It became Company C, of Major James Liken's Battalion. When Liken's resigned to raise a cavalry battalion, the battalion was reorganized as the 11th Battalion (Spaight's) Texas Volunteers with Lt. Col. Ashley W. Spaight commanding and Irvine as major. Major Irvine commanded the battalion at the first Battle of Sabine Pass in September, 1862. He also took part in the battalion's campaign in Louisiana in the summer and fall of 1863, including the Battle of Stirling's Plantation on September 29, 1863, where his son James Patton Irvine was killed. Irivine, suffering with malaria, resigned his commission in December, 1864. He died in 1876 in Newton County.

Sergeant William Physick Zuber: He was born July 6, 1820 in Twiggs County, Georgia. Zuber moved with his family to Texas in 1830 when it was still a province of Mexico. He joined the Texas Army in the Fourth Company, Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers and served from March 1, 1836 to July 1, 1836. During the Battle of San Jacinto, much to his disgust, the 15-year-old was assigned to the rear guard to protect the army supply wagons. After the War for Texas Independence was won, he served in campaigns against the Indians and in 1842, the Somervell expedition, a punitive campaign against Mexico for three raids into Texas. During the War for Southern Independence, Zuber served in Company H, 21st Texas Cavalry (First Texas Lancers) and fought in Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana. Zuber became ill with pneumonia in December, 1864 and went home on sick furlough and was there when the war ended. He was a farmer and teacher who wrote about the Texas Revolution, his memoirs and his family genealogy. When he died in 1913, he was the last survivor of the Texas Army  at the Battle of San  Jacinto. [Added Oct. 9, 2014]

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