GENERAL LAURENCE SULLIVAN ROSS.
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
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,
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
thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight. His father, Captain
S. P. Ross, removed to
his fortunes with the pioneers who were blazing the pathway of civilization into the wilds of a terra
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
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
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
Major Earl Van Dorn led an expedition against the
hostiles in the
the hotly-contested battle of the
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
"CAPTAIN L. S. ROSS,
"Sir—Your letter of the
13th, tendering your resignation as Captain in the ranging service of
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.
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
campaign. In response to these suggestions, Governor Clarke wrote Captain Ross as follows:
"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
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
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
Captain Ross, deeming that the interests of
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
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
the sovereign prerogative of the States; and, while
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
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
company was, with others, consolidated into the Sixth
Regiment of Texas Cavalry, at the city of
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
(Creek Nation) with distinguished gallantry, December, 1861, and in the three days’ battle at Elk Horn, or
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
other cavalry regiments, was dismounted, and their horses
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
"HEAD-QUARTERS JONES’ DIVISION,
"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
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
the struggle at
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,
"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
I wish to have them placed on their colors. I always
think of the behavior of the Texans at
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
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
colors than the Sixth Texas Cavalry.
"With kind regards, Colonel, I am truly yours,
"DABNEY H. MAURY."
"GENERAL L. S. ROSS,
"My Dear Sir—I am requested by General Forrest, who is completely immersed in business
connected with a large railroad contract in
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
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
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
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
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,
"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
place the four
forced Grant to retire to
Then the march to
enemy were captured. Then the long and tedious march to
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
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:
"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,
"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
General D. H. Maury wrote from
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
the Confederate States Army."
Hon. F. R. Lubbock, while a member of the President’s
Ross: "I have learned, with pride and great satisfaction, of the good behavior, and gallant conduct, and highbearing
General W. H. Jackson, commanding Cavalry Division,
wrote the Secretary of War,
"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,
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
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.
in front, rear, and flank incessantly, and retarded the Federal advance until the defeat of Smith’s corps, by
Gen. Forrest, near
subsequently did to
stream a Federal flotilla was ascending, accompanied by a land force of 3,500 men.
The spirited battles of "
complete victory for Ross, who drove the Federals on board their transports, and, though protected by
ironclad gun-boats, drove them down the
The following testimonial of the citizens of
volume in itself:
"GENERAL L. S. ROSS:
"We the undersigned, citizens of
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
constituted a portion of the Confederate line in front of
repelling, fighting, and capturing Federal raiders in the rear of General Johnston’s army. In the advance to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
prove in the end more expensive than the one sought to be displaced." As the Democratic party in
particular want, a more emphatic and unqualified vindication of General Ross’ course in the Constitutional
Convention could not be framed.
"VICTOR M. ROSE,
"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
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
"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
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
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,
"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
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
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