BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF

GENERAL LAURENCE SULLIVAN ROSS.

Texas, though her annals be brief, counts upon her "roll of honor" the names of many heros, living

and dead. Their splendid services are the inestimable legacies of the past and present, to the future. Of the

latter, it is the high prerogative of the State to embalm their names and memories as perpetual exemplars to

excite the generous emulation of the Texan youth to the latest posterity. Of the former, it is our pleasant

province to accord them those honors which their services, in so eminent a degree, entitle them to receive.

Few lands, since the days of the "Scottish Chiefs," have furnished material upon which to predicate a

Douglas, a Wallace, or a Ravenswood; and the adventure of chivalric enterprise, errant quest of danger, and

the personal combat, were regulated, together with the knight’s armorial trappings, to the musty archives of

"Tower" and "Pantheon," until the Comanche Bedouins of the Texan plains tendered, in bold defiance, the

savage gauntlet to the pioneer knights of progress and civilization. And, though her heraldic roll glows with

the names of a Houston, a Rusk, Lamar, McCulloch, Hayes, Chevallie, which illumine the pages of her

history with an effulgence of glory, Texas never nurtured on her maternal bosom a son of more filial

devotion, of more loyal patriotism, or indomitable will to do and dare, than the subject of this brief sketch.

Laurence Sullivan Ross was born in the town of Bentonsport, Iowa, in the year of our Lord, one

thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight. His father, Captain S. P. Ross, removed to Texas in 1839, and cast

his fortunes with the pioneers who were blazing the pathway of civilization into the wilds of a terra

incognita, as Texas then was. Captain S. P. Ross was, for many years, pre-eminent as a leader against the

implacable savages, who made frequent incursions into the settlements. The duty of repelling these forays

usually devolved upon Captain Ross and his neighbors, and, for many years, his company constituted the

only bulwark of safety between the feeble colonists and the scalping-knife. The rapacity and treachery of his

Comanche and Kiowa foes demanded of Captain Ross sleepless vigilance, acute sagacity, and a will that

brooked no obstacle or danger. It was in the performance of this ardous duty that he slew, in single combat,

"Big Foot," a Comanche chief of great prowess, and who was for many years the scourge of the early Texas

frontier. The services of Captain S. P. Ross are still held in grateful remembrance by the descendants of his

compatriots, and his memory will never be suffered to pass away while Texans feel a pride in the sterling

worth of the pioneers who laid the foundation of Texas’ greatness and glory.

The following incident, as illustrative of the character and spirit of the man and times, is given:

"Captain Ross, who had been visiting a neighbor, was returning home, afoot, accompanied by his little son

Sul,’ as the General was familiarly called. When within a half mile of his house, he was surrounded by

fifteen or twenty mounted Comanche warriors, who commenced an immediate attack. The Captain, athletic

and swift of foot, threw his son on his back, and out-ran their ponies to the house unhurt amid a perfect

shower of arrows."

Such were among the daily experiences of the child, and with such impressions stamped upon the

infantile mind, it was but natural that the enthusiastic spirit of the ardent youth should lead him to seek

adventures upon the "war-path," similar to those that had signalized his honored father’s prowess upon so

many occasions. Hence, we find "Sul" Ross, during vacation from his studies at Florence Wesleyan

University, Alabama, though scarcely twenty years of age, in command of 135 friendly Indians, cooperating

with the United States cavalry against the hostile Comanches. During this campaign the dashing

Major Earl Van Dorn led an expedition against the hostiles in the Wichita mountains, which culminated in

the hotly-contested battle of the Wichita, in October, 1858. In this engagement, the red warriors of Captain

"Sul" Ross, led by their intrepid young white chief, performed prodigies of valor, and to the sagacity, skill,

and bravery of Ross was the complete annihilation of the hostiles, in a great measure, atributable. In the

moment of victory, Ross was felled to the earth by receiving two dangerous wounds, by a rifle-shot which

pierced his arm and side, and was borne from the field on the shields of his faithful and brave Indian

retainers. In the heart of the engagement, and before being shot down, Ross discovered a little white girl, a

captive, among the Indians. Immediately upon her discovery was her rescue determined upon, and, a

murderous melee, was effected. For the particulars of which, as well as of the fortune of "Lizzie Ross," vide

the concluding pages of this memoir. For conspicuous gallantry on this occasion, Major Van Dorn, upon the

field of battle, drew up a recommendation, which was signed by all the officers of the gallant old Second

United States Cavalry, addressed to the Secretary of War, asking the promotion of Captain Ross, and his

assignment to duty in the regular army. The venerable General Winfield Scott, Commander of the United

States Army, wrote an autograph letter to the wounded young leader, complimenting, in the highest terms,

the noble qualities displayed on that trying occasion, and tendered him his friendship and assistance.

Captain Ross made no attempt to use the recommendation of the United States officers, whatever, but, as

soon as his wounds admitted of travel, he returned to college, and graduated in 1859.

Immediately upon his return home, Captain Ross was placed in command of the rangers on the

frontier, by appointment of Governor Sam Houston, and repaired forthwith to his post of duty. In

December, 1860, at the head of sixty rangers, Captain Ross followed the trial of a large body of

Comanches, who had raided through Parker county, to their village on the head-waters of Pease river.

Though proverbial for vigilance and cunning, Captain Ross succeeded in effecting a complete surprise, and

in the desperate encounter of "war to the knife" that ensued, nearly all the warriors bit the dust. So signal a

victory had never before been gained over the fierce and warlike Comanches, and ever since that fatal

December day, in 1860, the dispirited Comanche "brave" dates the dissipation of that wand of invincibility

which it seemed the "Great Spirit" had thrown around them. The blow was as sudden, and as irresistible, as

a thunder-bolt from a cloudless sky, and as crushing and remorseless as the hand of fate itself. Ross, sword

in hand, led the furious charge of the rangers, and Peta Nocona, chief of the tribe, arose from his last sleep

on earth, aroused by the demoniacal saturnalia in the midst of which his warriors were melting away like

snow-flakes on the river’s brink, to strike, at least, an avenging blow ere the night of death had drawn its

sable curtains around and above his devoted tribe. Singling out Ross, as the most conspicuous of his

assailants, with eyes flashing and nerves steeled by the crisis of fate, Peta Nocona rushed on the wings of

the wind to this revel of death. The eagle eyes of the young ranger took in the situation at a glance, and he

welcomed the redoubtable chief to the contest with a smile. Desperate was this hand-to-hand grapple, for

there was no alternative but victory or death. Peta Nocona fell covered with wounds at the feet of his

conqueror, and his last sigh was taken up in mournful wailings by the fugitives fleeing from this village of

blood and death. Many of these latter perished on the inhospitable plains, in a fruitless endeavor to reach

their friends and allies on the head-waters of the Arkansas river. The immediate fruits of this victory were

450 horses and all their accumulated winter supplies. But the subsequent results are not to be computed on

the basis of dollars and cents. The spirit of the Comanche was here broken, and to this crushing defeat is to

be attributed the pacific conduct of these hitherto implacable foes of the white race during the civil war—a

been to Texas of incalculable value.

It was in this engagement that Captain Ross rescued "Cynthia Ann Parker," after a captivity of

twenty-five years, or since the capture of "Parker’s Fort," in 1830 (see Thrall’s History of Texas, page 455,)

near the site of the town of Groesbeck, Limestone county. General Ross corrects the statement of Mr.

Thrall, to the effect that Cynthia Ann Parker was dressed in male attire, nor was there much doubt as to her

identity, as in conversing with her, through the medium of his Mexican servant, who had also been a captive

to the Comanches and perfectly conversant with their language, there was but little doubt on the part of

Ross as to who his captive really was; and he dispatched a special messenger for her uncle, Colonel Parker.

In the meantime, sending Cynthia Ann to Camp Cooper, so that Mrs. Evans, the wife of Captain (after

Lieutenant-General) N. G. Evans could properly attend to her necessities.

After the carnage had ceased, Captain Ross discovered a little Indian boy lying concealed in the tall

grass, expecting, in conformity to the savage customs of his own race, to be killed immediately upon

discovery. Ross, with kind words, placed the little fellow upon his horse behind himself, and took him to

camp. The little captive was named "Pease," in honor of Governor E. M. Pease. Captain Ross took "Pease"

home, and properly cared for him, and he is now with his benefactor, a full-blooded Comanche Indian,

though a civilized and educated gentleman.

Captain Ross sent the shield, bow, and lance of Peta Nocona to Governor Houston, who placed them

in the archives at Austin, where they now remain, encrusted and stained with his blood. In a letter,

recognizing the great service rendered the State by Captain Ross in dealing the Indians this crushing blow,

Governor Houston says: "Your success in protecting the frontier gives me great satisfaction. I am satisfied

that, with the same opportunities, you would rival, if not excel, the greatest exploits of McCulloch or Jack

Hays. Continue to repel, pursue, and punish every body of Indians coming into the state, and the people will

not withhold their praise."

But the tempest of sectional hate, that had so long been distracting the country, was now culminating

into a seething, whirling cyclone of war, and such a spirit as Ross could not remain confined to the mere

border foray, when armed legions were mustering for the titantic strife; he, therefore, tendered his

resignation to Governor Houston, who, in recognition of the services rendered by Ross, had appointed him

his aide-de-camp, with the rank of Colonel. Ross’ resignation drew from Governor Houston the following

letter, than which a more gratifying testimonial of his worth and services could not be tendered a young man

of scarce twenty-three years of age:

"EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, AUSTIN, TEXAS,

"February 23, 1861.

"CAPTAIN L. S. ROSS,

"Commanding Texas Rangers:

"Sir—Your letter of the 13th, tendering your resignation as Captain in the ranging service of Texas,

has been received. The Executive regrets that you should think of resigning your position, as the state of the

frontier requires good and efficient officers. He is, therefore, unwilling to accept your resignation. * * * The

Executive has always had confidence in your capacity as an officer; and your deportment, as a soldier and

gentleman, has met with his entire approval. It is his desire that you at once increase your command to

eighty-three, rank and file, and take the field again.

"Very respectfully,

"[Signed]

"SAM HOUSTON."

Captain Ross called Governor Clarke’s attention to the necessity of entering into treaty stipulations

with the Indians on our frontier; and Major Van Dorn also urged the same measure upon the Governor, and

suggested Captain Ross as the most proper person to conduct the negotiation on the part of the state, as it

was well known he had the full confidence of the "Texas Indians," whom he commanded in the Wichita

campaign. In response to these suggestions, Governor Clarke wrote Captain Ross as follows:

"AUSTIN, July 13, 1861.

"CAPTAIN L. S. ROSS:

"Dear Sir—When you were here, a few days ago, you spoke to me of the disposition of the Indians to

treat with the people of Texas. At the time you did so, I was so crowded with business that I was unable to

give to the subject the consideration its importance demanded. I, nevertheless, concluded and determined to

adopt and carry out your suggestions. I would be pleased for you to inform me whether it may now be in

time to accomplish the objects you spoke of, and, if so, whether you would be willing to undertake its

execution. You mentioned, I believe, that a day was fixed by the Indians for the interview, but that you

informed them that by that time Texas could not be ready.

"Very respectfully,

"[Signed]

"ERWARD CLARKE."

In pursuance of this programme, Captain Ross received his credentials from the Governor, and,

taking with him Mr. Downs, of the Waco Examiner, and two or three more young friends, set out for the

plains. Arriving at Gainsville, Ross met an Indian trader, whom he knew, named Shirley, whose brother was

an interpreter, and both of whom lived in the Indian country. He was about to engage the assistance and cooperation

of these men, when he learned that General Pike had been commissioned, and was then en route

to Fort Sill to enter into treaty stipulations with the Indians, on the part of the Confederate government.

Captain Ross, deeming that the interests of Texas could be best sub-served by non-action, as certainly all

expense and responsibility was obviated, did not attend the interview; nor, indeed, did he allow to transpire

the nature of his business in that section, at all though, through the medium of Shirley, Jones, Bickle, and

one or two other white men living with the Indians, all of whom were well known to Ross, the Indians were

fully prepared and anxious to enter into friendly relations with the South; so, that when General Pike arrived

the ground lay fair before him, and he found no difficulty in arranging the terms. Captain Ross, who had

been in correspondence with the above-named white residents of the Indian section, realized the importance

of prompt action on the part of the South, before commissioners of the United States could have

opportunities for seducing the Indians from their natural friends. Finding that the Confederacy was moving

to the accomplishment of the same object, Ross possessed too much sagacity to invite a conflict of authority

between Texas and the Confederacy as was the case in some other States by a too liberal interpretation of

the sovereign prerogative of the States; and, while saving Texas the expense of the negotiation, and all

responsibility in the matter, silently contributed to the accomplishment of General Pike’s mission. The value

of this treaty to the South can not well be overestimated. It not only obviated the necessity for the presence

of a considerable force on the frontier which was required elsewhere, but it actually contributed to the

augmentation of the Confederate ranks. This great service rendered Texas, and particularly to the immediate

frontier, was wholly unselfish and gratuitous, and it is believed the true statement of the case, now, for the

first time, finds itself in print. Seeing the consummation of this important affair well under way, Ross

returned to Waco and joined, as a private, the company of Captain P. F. Ross, his elder brother. This

company was, with others, consolidated into the Sixth Regiment of Texas Cavalry, at the city of Dallas,

Texas, and L. S. Ross was elected Major, and commissioned as such September 12th, 1861. In this same

regiment, ex-Governor J. W. Throckmorton was Captain of Company "K," and John S. Griffith Lieutenant-

Colonel, Colonel B. Warren Stone being the Colonel. The regiment immediately took up the line of march

for General Ben McCulloch’s army in Missouri. The regiment participated in the battle of Chustenahlah

(Creek Nation) with distinguished gallantry, December, 1861, and in the three days’ battle at Elk Horn, or

Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Just previous to this latter engagement, Major Ross was dispatched upon a raid, at the

head of a detachment of about 300 men, composed of companies of the Third and Sixth Texas Cavalry, in

the enemy’s rear. This delicate expedition, demanding the consummate address of a prompt and decisive

commander, was attended with eminent success, General Ross capturing numbers of prisoners and

destroying immense quantities of quartermaster and commissary stores.

The "Army of the West," composed of the division of the lamented McCulloch and General Price,

were transferred to the Cis-Mississippi Department to re-enforce General Beauregard at Corinth,

Mississippi, where he was confronted by an overwhelming force of the enemy. The Sixth Texas, as were the

other cavalry regiments, was dismounted, and their horses sent to Texas. At Corinth, the command was

engaged in a number of outpost affairs until in May, when the first year’s service having expired, the

regiment was reorganized, and Major L S. Ross was elected Colonel. Immediately upon his election he was

assigned to the command of the brigade in which his regiment was incorporated, in the following order from

division head-quarters:

"HEAD-QUARTERS JONES’ DIVISION,

May 26, 1862.

"Special Orders No. II—Extract.

"I. Colonel Laurence S. Ross will immediately assume command of Roane’s Brigade, Jones’

Division, Army of the West.

"By command of

"L. JONES, Major-General,

"CHARLES S. STRINGFELLOW, A. A. G."

Colonel Ross, with his characteristic modesty, declined the honor, and prevailed with General Jones

to allow him to remain in command of his own regiment, and General Phifer was subsequently placed in

command of the brigade. The summer of 1862 was spent in the camp at Tupelo, Mississippi; the time being

principally employed in drilling the regiments, in the case of the dismounted Texans in transforming natural

troopers into unwilling infantrymen. The next engagement of importance was the storming of Corinth, and

the struggle at Hatchie bridge for the temporary salvation of the "Army of the West." And, as an authorative

elucidation of the part borne by Ross and his men, on those two trying occasions, the following letters from

General Dabney H. Maury and General Pryor are adduced:

"HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

"MOBILE, ALABAMA, October 6, 1863.

"MY DEAR COLONEL:

"General Jackson asked me to have some colors made for his division. Please send me, at once, the

names of the battles in which my old Texas regiments were engaged prior to coming under my command, as

I wish to have them placed on their colors. I always think of the behavior of the Texans at Corinth, and at

the Hatchie, next day, as entitled to rank with the very "gamest" conduct displayed by any troops in this

war. It does not seem to be generally known, but it is a fact, that the fragment of my shattered division

withstood the attack of Ord’s corps, and successfully checked it until the whole train of the army had

changed its line of march. For about an hour the remnant of Phifer’s Brigade, commanded by Colonel L. S.

Ross, held the Hatchie bridge, and with the light batteries, kept the enemy back. Then Cabell’s brigade

came up, and the fight was maintained exclusively by my division until we were ordered to retire, which

was done in a deliberate and soldierly manner. I often reflect, with satisfaction, on that fight as one of the

most creditable to the troops engaged of which I have any knowledge, and I do not believe any thing is

known of it outside of the division. No regiment can have a more honorable name upon its flag than

"Hatchie," and, to my certain knowledge, no regiment can more justly and proudly bear that name on its

colors than the Sixth Texas Cavalry.

"With kind regards, Colonel, I am truly yours,

"[Signed]

"DABNEY H. MAURY."

"MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, June 4, 1867.

"GENERAL L. S. ROSS,

"Waco, Texas:

"My Dear Sir—I am requested by General Forrest, who is completely immersed in business

connected with a large railroad contract in Arkansas, to acknowledge the receipt of your very esteemed

favor of the 21st ult., and to return his, and my own, sincere thanks for your report. You may very well

suppose I took great interest in, not only reading your summary of operations while with Forrest, but also in

seeing, for the first time, the high testimony General Maury bears to your old regiment at Hatchie bridge.

For, you will remember, I was with you, on your staff, on that occasion, and have always taken some little

credit to myself for the assistance I was so fortunate as to be able to render to your brigade that day. I was

the first to discover that Moore’s Brigade, which we had crossed the river to support, as also another

command (Whitfield’s Legion, I think), had both been scattered, or destroyed as organizations, and that

your small brigade, of less than 700 men, was about to be assailed by Hulburt’s whole army. I remember

that I gained this information from General Moore, whom I accidentally met retiring from the front, all

alone on the bank of the river, and immediately communicated to you, with the request of Gen. Moore that

you should ‘fall back’ across the stream, or you would be overwhelmed in ten minutes, or less time, by a

force of at least 8,000 men; I remember that you refused, at first, to comply with Moore’s request, and sent

Captain D. R. Gurley and myself to General Maury for orders, who, upon ascertaining the facts,

immediately dispatched you the order to retire. Then, at ‘common time,’ the brigade was moved by the left

flank to the road leading to the bridge (without letting the men know, at first, that they were falling back),

when the order to ‘file left’ was given, and the command brought off in good order, quietly and safely, with

the exception of a portion of the extreme right, which, misunderstanding the first order, moved by the ‘right

flank’ instead of the left, and so became separated, and near a hundred of them captured. Withdrawing to

the east bank of the Hatchie river, and taking position on a little ridge two or three hundred yards distant,

the brigade there made the gallant stand for several hours, to which General Maury so complimentarily

alludes. With best regards to my friend Gurley, whom I shall always remember as one of the best truest, and

most efficient of men I ever knew,

"I remain, my dear sir, very truly yours,

"[Signed]

"J. A. PRYOR."

But as the foregoing pages of this narrative deals with the services of Ross in the Confederate army, it

would be a useless repetition to repeat what has already been said, unless having a direct bearing upon

General Ross individually, or tending to illustrate some trait of character.

The defeated Confederate army retreated, via Holly Springs to Grenada, Mississippi, near which

place the four Texas regiments were remounted, as already stated. Then came the Holly Springs raid, which

forced Grant to retire to Memphis, Tennessee, thus delaying the Vicksburg catastrophe twelve months.

Then the march to Tennessee, and the brilliant action at Thompson’s Station, in which three thousand of the

enemy were captured. Then the long and tedious march to Mississippi for the relief of beleaguered

Vicksburg, and the innumerable affairs in the performance of this duty; the fall of Vicksburg and retreat to

Jackson, on every foot of which road Ross’ Brigade disputed stubbornly the advance of Sherman. The

services of Colonel Ross were fully appreciated by his superiors in rank, and he was placed in command of

a brigade composed of the First Mississippi Cavalry and the Sixth Texas, and dispatched to the Tennessee

valley, conducting a brilliant campaign, against vastly superior forces, by land and river. In testimony of the

high appreciation in which they held Colonel Ross, the following testimonial of the officers of the First

Mississippi Cavalry is adduced:

"CAMP FIRST MISSISSIPPI CAVALRY,

"December 21, 1863.

"COLONEL L. S. ROSS:

"The officers of the First Mississippi Cavalry desiring to express their appreciation of you as an

officer, have designated the undersigned as a committee to communicate their feelings.

"It is with profound regret that they part with you as their Brigade Commander, and will cherish, with

kind remembrance, your generous and courteous conduct toward them, and the gallant bearing you have

ever displayed in leading them in battle. The service, with all its hardships and privations, has been

rendered pleasant under your direction and leadership. They deplore the circumstances which render it

necessary that they should be taken from your command, but feel confident that, in whatever field you may

be called upon to serve, the country will know no better or more efficient officer. Our regret is shared by all

the men of the regiment, and you carry with you their best wishes for your continued success.

"In conclusion, allow us to say, we are proud to have served under you, and with your gallant Texans,

and hope yours, and theirs, and our efforts in behalf of our bleeding country, will at length be crowned with

success. Very respectfully,

"W. V. LESTER, Captain Company K.

"J. E. TURNER, Captain Company I.

"J. A. KING, Captain Company G."

Lieutenant-General Stephen D. Lee wrote Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of War, October 2, 1863:

"Colonel L. S. Ross is one of the best disciplinarians in the army, and has distinguished himself on many

battle-fields, and his promotion and assignment will increase the efficiency of the most reliable troops under

my command."

General D. H. Maury wrote from Mobile, Alabama, October 6, 1863: "During the battle of Hatchie,

Colonel L. S. Ross commanded his brigade, and evinced such conspicuous gallantry, that, when called upon

to report to the War Department the name of the officer who had been especially distinguished there, and at

Corinth, I reported the name of Colonel L. S. Ross to General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General of

the Confederate States Army."

Hon. F. R. Lubbock, while a member of the President’s staff at Richmond, Virginia, wrote General

Ross: "I have learned, with pride and great satisfaction, of the good behavior, and gallant conduct, and highbearing

of the Texas soldiers, and particularly of Ross’ Brigade."

General W. H. Jackson, commanding Cavalry Division, wrote the Secretary of War, October 1, 1863:

"I regard Colonel L. S. Ross as one the best disciplinarians, and one of the most gallant officers, in the

Army of the West.’ "

General Joseph E. Johnston wrote the Secretary of War, October 3, 1863, urging the promotion of

Colonel Ross.

All this was done positively without the solicitation of Colonel Loss, and, in point of fact, without his

knowledge and consent. The first intimation that Ross had the honor to be conferred upon him, was the

reception of his commission as a Brigadier-General, in the presence of the enemy, before Yazoo City. The

appointment sought the man, and there was no one amid all that galaxy of glory, who wore the "wreathed

stars" during the stormy period of the war, more deserving the honor than Laurence Sullivan Ross.

We may merely mention the most salient features of the campaigns, henceforth, which, like the

rounds of a ladder, bear us, step by step, to the end.

Sherman commenced his memorable march from Vicksburg to Meridian. Ross harassed his columns

in front, rear, and flank incessantly, and retarded the Federal advance until the defeat of Smith’s corps, by

Gen. Forrest, near West Point, caused Sherman to abandon the idea of marching to Mobile, as he

subsequently did to Savannah. Ross was now dispatched, in post-haste, to the Yazoo valley, up which

stream a Federal flotilla was ascending, accompanied by a land force of 3,500 men.

The spirited battles of "Liverpool," "Satartia," and "Yazoo City," were fought, each resulting in a

complete victory for Ross, who drove the Federals on board their transports, and, though protected by

ironclad gun-boats, drove them down the Yazoo and into Vicksburg.

The following testimonial of the citizens of Yazoo City, to the services of Ross and his brigade, is a

volume in itself:

"YAZOO CITY, February 6, 1864.

"GENERAL L. S. ROSS:

"We the undersigned, citizens of Yazoo City, do hereby tender you, and your gallant command, our

heartfelt thanks for the noble manner in which you have repelled the enemy, though far superior in numbers,

thus saving us from the insults and other indignities which they would have heaped upon us.

"[Signed]: W. H. Mangum, John M. Clark, S. H. Wilson, Alex. Smith, James P. Thomas, Jr., M. P.

Dent, R. M. Grail, H. B. Kidd, Mark Berry, S. D. Hightower, F. M. Cassels, John Smith, D. Kearney, R. C.

Shepherd, W. L. Stamford, S. C. Goosey, Richard Stephens, S. T. Pierse, F. Barksdale, F. G. Stewart,—

Gibbs, Louis Franklin, J. W. Barnett, C. Hollingsworth, Louis Rosenthral, A. Asher, M. L. Enlich, John

Hagman, Jacob Hagman, A. H. Montgomery, Captain O. T. Plummer (Volunteer and Conscript Bureau),

Captain W. J. Blackburn (Volunteer and Conscript Bureau) B. J. Harris, James Schmitt, W. Ragster, R. B.

Powell, R. R. Callahan, J. O. Dwyer, J. Bradley, C. Swann, Joseph Carr, J. W. Campton, Samuel Goodwin,

J. S. Wallace, Fred, Knabke, John S. Murphy,—Murphy, J. Mozer, John Reilly, James Carter, James P.

O’Reilley, H. C. Tyler, Thomas R. Smith, Hiram Harrison."

The brigade was ordered from the Yazoo section to re-enforce the army of General Johnston, in

Georgia. The engagements during this campaign were of almost daily occurrence. Ross’ Brigade, at times,

constituted a portion of the Confederate line in front of Sherman, and, at other times, was engaged in

repelling, fighting, and capturing Federal raiders in the rear of General Johnston’s army. In the advance to

Nashville, Ross and Armstrong were the eyes of Hood, and, in his defeat and retreat, their two brigades

absolutely saved the army from annihilation. But, as has been aptly said, the tide of Confederate success

reached its greatest height in Pickett’s charge upon Cemetery Heights, and Hood’s ephemeral successes

were but the spasmodic efforts that precede final dissolution. The end came; and the commencement of the

end dates from the day that General Johnston inaugurated his ignoble retreat by retiring from Dalton,

Georgia. Had he assumed the offensive there, the Confederacy would have been spared the sad catastrophe

that befell it.

It is not pleasant to contemplate these heroic men struggling against an iliad of woes. They had borne

their banners on the highest waves of victory, and stood as conquerors on the Ohio itself. Now, footsore and

weary, ragged, famished, after nine-tenths of their numbers had been offered as sacrifices upon the altar of

duty, they stood contemplating the inevitable. The rest is known of all.

General Ross returned to his home, near Waco, and, with his interesting family, lived the quiet and

honorable life of a farmer. Since his twentieth year, he had shared all the vicissitudes of a soldier’s life. The

golden morning of life had been spent, without the hope of fee or reward, in the arduous duties and dangers

of the battle field. He now sought repose, content to remain on

"The Sabine farm, amid contiguous hills,

Remote from honors and their kindred ills,

But, in 1873, his friends called him from retirement by electing him Sheriff of McLennan county. In

this position he remained several years, and so efficient were his services, that he was styled, by those who

had opportunities for judging, "The model Sheriff of Texas!" Voluntarily retiring from office, he again

sought the privacy of his country home. In 1875, he was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention

that framed the present organic law of Texas. As tending to illustrate, in some degree, the part borne by

General Ross, and the policies advocated by him in the prosecution of this grave duty, a few extracts are

reproduced from the leading journals of the time. The Waco Daily Telephone, of November 8, 1877, in a

rather hostile review of the Constitution, and especially of Article V. (the Judiciary), says:

"Judge Ballinger and General Ross protested against their action (the "Rutabagas"), but were

overslaughed. * * * Our readers will remember the unanswerable argument of General Ross against the

reduction of the judges, salaries, and judicial districts, against which the "Rutabagas" opposed—not their

arguments, but their votes."

The State Gazette, Colonel John D. Elliott, editor, said:

"We can never refer to the name of General Ross without feeling an inspiration of admiration

scarcely ever equalled in our experience of life. He is one of nature’s noblemen—as artless and

unostentatious as a child, as courageous and heroic as ever bore the image of man, and as able as the ablest

of the land. His record in the Constitutional Convention showed him as exalted a patriot and statesman as

the man of letters and thorough representative of the people. He is eminently fitted for the highest trust of

the Commonwealth. We know of no citizen of the State who would add greater luster in her chief

magistracy than General Sul Ross."

The following letter is from the pen of Colonel John Henry Brown, and appeared in the columns of

the Dallas Morning Call:

"Another Richmond:—A Good Man for Governor—Enthusiastic Suggestion of General Sul Ross, of

Waco. —A soldier-boy on the frontier—a leader of Indian scouts under Van Dorn while yet a youth—the

gallant boy Captain who rescued Cynthia Ann Parker after twenty-five years captivity—a private soldier

winning his way up to a Brigadier-Generalship—the hero of more than a hundred battles and fights—the

modest and educated gentleman—for five years the model Sheriff of the State, and in the Constitutional

Convention displaying the highest qualities of eloquence and enlightened statesmanship—why may not his

thousands of friends present his name for the position of Chief Magistrate of the State he has so nobly, and

ably, and disinterestedly served since he was thirteen years old? Why not? He has never intimated such a

wish; but his friends claim the right to mention his name. Ask the people of the whole frontier—ask the

people of his large district—ask his neighbors—ask the thirty thousand ex-soldiers who know his deeds,

and see what they all say. They will send up one grand shout for Sul Ross."

All of which the Telephone endorsed in the following language:

"General Ross’ sound, practical abilities, are unquestioned, and few men are more justly esteemed.

We believe he would fill any position which he consents to accept, with ability, faithfulness, and dignity.

We do not know, however, that he would consent to become an aspirant, this time, for the gubernatorial

office. We do know, however, that he will never intrigue or scheme for the position; and, if tendered the

nomination, it will be a voluntary offering by the State at large, without reference to local or personal

predilections and efforts. Under those circumstances, General Ross would make a governor equal to any

Texas ever had.

Such, in brief, is a hasty synopsis of the life of General L. S. Ross. The foregoing pages of this

narrative attempt to elaborate some of the incidents in his career that won for himself the confidence of his

superiors in rank, and for his brigade the ecomium of all. Nothing like a complete history of Ross, or his

brigade, is claimed here. At this late day, in the absence of all documentary material to use in the

construction, that desideratum is impossible of attainment; and, with the conclusion drawing nigh, the

author feels like exclaiming: The half has not been told; and the fragment here preserved falls far short of

doing the subject justice! Probably, no general officer who commanded troops in the late war, drew them in

closer sympathy to himself than General Ross. Each man of his brigade regarded his dashing young

chieftain as a personal friend. As Junot was prompt to resent a fancied insult to Napoleon, so would the

troopers of Ross have drawn their sabers at any allusion disparaging to their idolized leader. Brave unto

rashness himself—he had seven horses shot under him in the course of the war—yet he was solicitous of the

welfare of his men, and all his plans of attack or defense contained, in an eminent degree, the element of

prudence. Often, with his skeleton brigade, he seemed tempting the wrath of the Fates, and as risking all

upon a single cast of the die; but no mission of danger ever appalled his men, for, following his dashing and

seemingly reckless lead, they again and again plucked "the flower safety from the nettle danger."

In the disastrous retreat of Hood from Nashville, the brigades of Ross and Armstrong were the

palladiums of hope to the discomfited army; and had it not been for their interposing shields, Hood’s army,

as an organization, would have ceased to exist ere a passage of the Tennessee river could have been

attained.

A characteristic letter from the General’s pen will conclude this sketch of his life—a letter written in

the expectation that no eye save the author’s would ever scan its pages—as tending to illustrate somewhat

those noble qualities of heart that so endeared him to his men. The noble sentiments expressed are

characteristic of the man.

General Ross was recently elected to a seat in the State Senate, distancing his competitor by an

unparalleled majority, and running two thousand votes ahead of his own party ticket. Apropos to General

Ross’ opposition to the "Judical Article" of the State Constitution, it is gratifying to his friends to know that

five years of experience has demonstrated his wisdom in pronouncing the article, on the floor of the

Convention, "wholly inadequate to meet the wants of the great State of Texas, and that, as a system, it must

prove in the end more expensive than the one sought to be displaced." As the Democratic party in

convention at Dallas demands, through the "platform," an amendment to the Constitution to meet this

particular want, a more emphatic and unqualified vindication of General Ross’ course in the Constitutional

Convention could not be framed.

"WACO, TEXAS.

"VICTOR M. ROSE,

"VICTORIA, TEXAS:

"My Dear Friend—Your kind letter did not reach me promptly, but I hasten to assure you of my

approval of the commendable work you design. You will probably remember that, during the war, Captain

Dunn, whose health had failed, detailed to write a full and accurate history of the operations of the brigade,

and I furnished him with all necessary data—orders, papers, etc.,—so as to render his duty of easy

compliance; but, unfortunately, he died in Alabama, and this information was received, together with that,

that my trunk and papers entrusted to his care had fallen into the hands of the enemy. In my trunk was found

twenty stands of colors and other trophies which we had captured from the Federals. My memory is too

defective to be relied upon at this late day for much valuable information, but such as I can trust, I will

gladly give you; and I feel warranted in saying, that Captain Gurley, and others of our comrades, will aid

you in your noble work, which, I trust, you will not delay for the endorsement of any one.

"I was glad to hear from you. Indeed, every few days, by letters or calls from my noble, brave boys,

am I assured that they remember me kindly. No churchman ever loved to tell his beads as I love to recount

their valor and their loyalty in the discharge of a solemnly-conceived duty. Long after I was thoroughly

satisfied they knew they were being called upon to follow a "will o’ the wisp" to their utter discomfiture—

naked, footsore, and famished as they were, yet, with heroic devotion, they met every peril unflinchingly,

and encountered every hardship unmurmuringly. I hope steps will be taken soon to bring about a happy

reunion of all those who are still living, and then we can take steps to honor and embalm the memory of the

dead.

"I would be pleased to have suggestions from any, or all, of our comrades everywhere, as to the

practicability of getting up some kind of an organization, and I am ready to concur in any plan devised. My

health is not very good. I contracted a cold from exposure in the Mississippi swamp when we were crossing

over those arms, and it eventually settled on my lungs, and from that time I have suffered much from

bronchitis, and have often thought consumption would ensue. I am farming, and making enough to provide

for the wants of myself and wife, and six children. Happily, my early training upon the frontier, among the

early pioneers of Texas, inculcated no very extravagant desires. Please remember me to all my "boys," and

tell them that if we are never permitted to meet en masse on this earth, when we "cross over the river" we

shall enjoy a grand and glorious reunion, and have a long, long time to talk it all over.

"Very truly your friend,

"[Signed]

"L. S. ROSS."

FROM MINUTES OF 1898.

WHEREAS, since the last reunion of the survivors of Ross’ Texas Brigade, we have been called to

mourn the death of many of our comrades, which we realize as a constant reminder that we too must soon

cross over the river to join those comrades who have gone before. Yet, while we remain on the lands where

we have fought life’s battle, ties of friendship bind our hearts in memories that are sweet in the bitter past,

and our tears fall in sympathy with those bereaved.

Therefore, be it Resolved, That deep sympathy be extended by this Association, to the relatives of our

departed comrades.

And that, in the death of our leader, Gen. L. S. Ross, his family have lost a kindred endeared by all

the ties of a loving nature, his friends lose a pleasant companion and Texas loses one of her best and most

honored citizens, whose strong arm was ever ready to defend her institutions and whose counsels have been

freely given in shaping her wisest and best policies. And we, of the Ross Brigade, will mingle our tears with

those who weep for we realize that we have lost a brave commander, a wise counselor, a true comrade, and

faithful friend, in the death of Gen. Laurance Sulivan Ross.

 

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/RR/fro81.html