Thomas Green (general)

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Thomas Green
ThomasGreen.jpg
Nickname(s) Tom
Born June 8, 1814
Amelia County, Virginia
Died April 12, 1864(1864-04-12) (aged 49)
Red River
Buried at Austin, Texas
Allegiance  Republic of Texas
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch Republic of Texas Texan Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861 - 1864 (CSA)
Rank Union army maj rank insignia.jpg Major (Texas)
Confederate States of America General.png Brigadier General (CSA)
Unit Texas First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (Texas Rangers)
Commands held Texas 5th Texas Mounted Rifles
Battles/wars Texas Revolution: Battle of San Jacinto
Somervell expedition
Mexican-American War
American Civil War: Battle of Valverde, Battle of Bayou Bourbeux, Red River Campaign (Battle of Pleasant Hill)

Thomas Green (June 8, 1814 – April 12, 1864) was a lawyer, politician, soldier and officer of the Republic of Texas, and rose to the rank of brigadier general of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.[1][2][3] Tom Green County, Texas was named after him.

Early life and career[edit]

Green was born in Amelia County in Virginia to Nathan and Mary (Field) Green. The family moved to Tennessee in 1817. He attended Jackson College in Tennessee and Princeton College in Kentucky before he received a degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1834. He then studied law with his father, a prominent judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

When the Texas Revolution began, Green left Tennessee to join the rebel volunteers. He arrived in Nacogdoches in December 1835, and enlisted in Isaac N. Moreland's company on January 14, 1836. During the April 21 Battle of San Jacinto, Green helped operate the famed "Twin Sisters" cannons, the only artillery present in Sam Houston's army. A few days after the decisive victory, Houston rewarded Green with a commission as a lieutenant. In early May, he was promoted to major and assigned as the aide-de-camp to General Thomas J. Rusk. With hostilities over, Green resigned on May 30 and returned to Tennessee to resume studying law.

In 1837, the legislature of the new Republic of Texas granted large tracts of land to leading veterans of the Revolution, including Thomas Green. After relocating to Fayette County, Green became a county surveyor at La Grange. That same year, fellow San Jacinto veteran William W. Gant nominated Green for the position of engrossing clerk for the Texas House of Representatives. He was subsequently elected and held the office until 1839, when he represented Fayette County in the House of Representatives in the Fourth Texas Congress. After a single term, he chose not to run again, and resumed his clerkship. During the Sixth and Eighth Texas Congresses, he served as secretary of the Senate. From 1841 to 1861, he was clerk of the Texas Supreme Court, in both the republic and the subsequent U.S. state.

Between legislative and court sessions, Green served in military campaigns against the Indians and Mexico. In the fall of 1840, he joined John H. Moore in a foray up the Colorado River against the Comanches. After Rafael Vásquez's invasion of San Antonio in March 1842, Green recruited and served as captain of the Travis County Volunteers, a unit that did not see battle. That fall, he served as inspector general for the Somervell expedition after Adrián Woll's foray into San Antonio.

When the United States went to war with Mexico, Green recruited and commanded a company of Texas Rangers in La Grange as part of the First Texas Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, led by John Coffee Hays. The Texans helped Zachary Taylor capture Monterrey, Nuevo León, in September 1846.

After returning home from the Mexican-American War, Green married Mary Wallace Chalmers, daughter of John G. Chalmers, on January 31, 1847. Five daughters and one son were born to them.

Civil War[edit]

After Texas seceded in early 1861, Green was elected colonel of the 5th Texas Cavalry, which, as part of a brigade led by Brig. Gen. Henry H. Sibley, joined the invasion of New Mexico Territory in 1862. There, Green led the Confederate victory at the Battle of Valverde in February. After a difficult retreat into Texas, he led his men, aboard the river steamer Bayou City, to assist in the recapture of Galveston on January 1, 1863. He was also involved in the seizure of the Union steamer Harriet Lane that same day.[4]

Bayou Teche Campaign[edit]

In the spring of 1863, Green commanded the First Cavalry Brigade in Richard Taylor's division in the fighting along Bayou Teche in Louisiana. He was promoted to brigadier general, May 20, 1863.[1][2][3] In June, he captured a Union garrison at Brashear City, but failed to seize Fort Butler on the Mississippi River. Green's cavalry routed advancing Union troops under Godfrey Weitzel and Cuvier Grover at Koch's (Cox's) Plantation on July 13.[4] In September, the First Cavalry Brigade captured another Union detachment at Stirling's Plantation.[5] A similar success followed in November at the Battle of Bayou Bourbeux. In four victories, Green's men inflicted about 3,000 casualties and suffered only 600 losses. Green was subsequently assigned command of the cavalry division of the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Red River Campaign[edit]

During the Red River Campaign, Green led his division of cavalry from Texas to reinforce Taylor in Louisiana to stop the advance of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks toward Shreveport. Green participated in the Battle of Mansfield and the Battle of Pleasant Hill. A few days later, on April 12, 1864, Green was mortally wounded by a shell from a Federal gunboat while leading an attack on the gunboats patrolling the Red River at Blair's Landing. He soon died on Blair's Plantation.[6] Upon his death, Admiral David Dixon Porter paid tribute to the fallen Confederate cavalryman in saying that Green was "one in whom the rebels place more confidence than anyone else. He led his men to the very edge of the bank, they shouting and yelling like madmen—losing General Green has paralyzed them; he was worth 5,000 men to them."[7] He is buried in the family plot at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

Historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana (1963) quotes a Texas soldier who fought under Green: "He was a man who, when out of whiskey, was a mild mannered gentleman, but when in good supply of old burst-head was all fight."[8] Winters continues: "Well fortified with Louisiana rum, Green with a yell told [his men] that he was going to show them how to fight. The charge against the gunboats was made on horseback. Green was killed well in advance, a cannon shot taking off the top of his head. . . . Drunk or sober, foolish or not in waging the attack, Green was a valuable man, and General Taylor lamented him."[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
  2. ^ a b Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, [http://books.google.com/books?id=Fs0Ajlnjl6AC&pg=PA265 Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. p. 265.
  3. ^ a b Wright, Marcus J. United States War Department, The Military Secretary's Office. Memorandum relative to the general officers appointed by the President in the armies of the Confederate States--1861-1865. (1908) (Compiled from official records). Caption shows 1905 but printing date is February 11, 1908. Retrieved April 12, 2014. p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Lamb's, p. 338.
  5. ^ North & South - The Official Magazine of the Civil War Society, Volume 11, Number 1, Page 30, "The Battle of Stirling Plantation", accessed April 16, 2010.[dead link][dead link]
  6. ^ Lamb's, p. 339.
  7. ^ DANFS.
  8. ^ Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 978-0-8071-0834-5, p. 359.
  9. ^ Winters, p. 359

References[edit]

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