Felix Huston Robertson

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Felix Huston Robertson

Felix Huston Robertson (March 9, 1839 – April 20, 1928) was the only native-born Texan to serve as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving general of the Confederacy.[1] He was noted for the controversial behavior of his troops at the Battle of Saltville, where scores of wounded black Union cavalrymen were killed in their beds.

Early life[edit]

Robertson was born in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas, to Mary (Cummins) and Jerome B. Robertson, who would also serve as a Confederate general. He attended Baylor University and went to West Point in 1857, but left before graduation to serve the Confederacy.

Civil War[edit]

Commissioned initially as a second lieutenant in the artillery, Robertson went to Charleston, South Carolina, and participated in the shelling of Fort Sumter. He then went to Florida, where he served as a staff officer for Brig. Gen. A. H. Gladden at Pensacola.

In early 1862, Robertson became captain of an artillery battery from Alabama and fought at the Battle of Shiloh in May and again at Murfreesboro at the end of the year. He was promoted by Braxton Bragg to the rank of major and given command of the reserve artillery battalion of the Army of Tennessee, which he led at Chickamauga in September 1863.

Robertson was subsequently promoted to lieutenant colonel and reassigned to command the Confederate horse artillery under Joseph Wheeler. He participated in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign. Robertson's performance drew the attention of senior commanders, and on July 26, he was promoted to brigadier general. He became Wheeler's chief of staff. He married Sarah Davis while on a furlough.

Perjurer, sycophant, quite probably a murderer, Felix Robertson of Texas was almost without doubt the most reprehensible man in either army to wear the uniform of a general. Only by the narrowest of margins did he escape being tried by his own government for what later generations would call war crimes.

William C. Davis[2]

Late in the year, Robertson was assigned a field command, leading first a brigade and later a division of cavalry. On October 3, 1864, a group of guerrillas associated with Robertson's troops during the campaign slaughtered more than one hundred black Union soldiers who had been wounded in the previous day's fighting. One of his subordinate officers, Champ Ferguson, was executed by hanging after the war for his part in what the Northern press deemed the "Saltville Massacre." Historian William C. Davis, in his book "An Honorable Defeat. The Last Days of the Confederate Government," reports that Robertson personally "join(ed) in the act of villainy" although he escaped prosecution. Robertson was severely wounded in a skirmish along Buckhead Creek near Augusta, Georgia, on November 29, 1864. He lived, but never resumed field duty.

Postbellum career[edit]

After the war, Robertson returned to Texas and settled in Waco. He studied law, passed his bar exam, and established a profitable legal practice. He and his father speculated in real estate and invested in several local railroads. After the death of his wife, Robertson remarried in 1892. Robertson attempted to enter local politics in 1902 as he ran for mayor of Waco in the Democratic primaries.[3] However, he was defeated by incumbent J. W. Riggins. He became the commander of the local United Confederate Veterans in 1911. In 1913, Texas Governor Oscar B. Colquitt appointed him as the Texas Representative for the Battle of Gettysburg Commission, a national group that commemorated the battle's fiftieth anniversary in July 1913.[4]

He died in Waco, Texas and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.[5]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, p. 101.
  2. ^ Davis, p. 100.
  3. ^ “Riggins Again Chosen,” Dallas Morning News, 5 March 1902; “Gen. Robertson to Run for Mayor,” Dallas Morning News, 9 February 1902; Fair, Richard H. "The Good Angel of Practical Fraternity: The Ku Klux Klan in McLennan County, 1915-1924," Master's Thesis, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, 2009, 105-106.
  4. ^ "Address to Veterans,” Dallas Morning News, 7 May 1913; “Gen. Robertson Appointed,” Dallas Morning News, 21 May 1912; Fair, Richard H. "The Good Angel of Practical Fraternity," 107.
  5. ^ Felix Huston Robertson at Find a Grave

References[edit]

  • Colgin, James H. "The Life Story of Brig. Gen. Felix Robertson." Texana 8 no. 2 (1970): 154-182.
  • Davis, William C., "Felix Huston Robertson", The Confederate General, Vol. 5, Davis, William C., and Julie Hoffman (eds.), National Historical Society, 1991, ISBN 0-918678-67-6.
  • Fair, Richard H. "The Good Angel of Practical Fraternity: The Ku Klux Klan in McLennan County, 1915-1924," Master's Thesis, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, 2009.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.

External links[edit]