General Scurry

Entrance to the Texas State Cemetery
The Texas State Cemetery in Austin was established in 1851 and is the final resting place of Governors, Senators, Legislators, Congressmen, Judges, Medal of Honor war heroes, legendary frontiersmen, famous authors and other noted Texans who have made the state what it is today. One of these resting in eternal peace is General William Read Scurry.

Scurry was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, on February 10, 1821, and arrived in Texas on June 20, 1839. He was licensed to practice law before he was twenty-one and appointed district attorney of the fifth judicial district in 1841. Scurry became aide-de-camp to Thomas Jefferson Rusk in 1842 and represented Red River County in the Ninth Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1844 and 1845. During the Mexican War he enlisted as a private in Col. George T. Wood' Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, and was promoted to major on July 4, 1846. After the war he practiced law in Clinton and for a time was the owner and editor of the Austin State Gazette.
General Skurry (historical photo)


After representing the counties of Victoria, DeWitt, Jackson, and Calhoun in the Secession Convention, he volunteered for service in the Confederate army in July, 1861 even though he was 40 years old. He was assigned the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Fourth Texas Cavalry and distinguished himself as a man of leadership and great bravery during the Confederate invasion of New Mexico while commanding the Southern forces at the battle of Glorieta.

After his participation in several more battles, he was promoted to brigadier general and played a vital role in the Confederate recapture of Galveston in January, 1863. In late 1863, General Scurry was assigned to command the Third Brigade of Walker's Texas Division. He valiantly  led his men in the bloody battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill and then was transferred with his command to Arkansas to repel the Union army which was marching toward Northeast Texas. 

On April 30, 1864, Scurry again went into battle at Jenkins Ferry. At age 42, after almost three years of war, leading men in ferocious, deadly battles, his luck ran out. As the battle raged, he was on his horse,rallying his men in their attack when a cannon shell exploded close by. His horse was killed, but miraculously, Scurry received only minor wounds. He continued to lead on foot when, as he crested a hill in front of his troops, he was shot in the upper leg, the mini ball shattering the bone. His men wanted to take him to the rear where he could be given medical attention and possibly saved, but fearing to do so would cause his troops to lose the morale needed to turn the enemy, he refused. 

For almost 2 hours the battle raged around him as he laid in the open field shouting encouragement to his men and giving orders. In spite of his bravery and encouragement though, he enemy held off the Rebels long enough to receive reinforcements and pushed the southerners back. Scurry laid in the field with the other dead and wounded as the Yankees rushed by. In the heat of battle, there was no time to care for the  wounded of either side so Scurry went without aid for over 2 hours.

W. R. Scurry grave
Soon, the Confederate's halted their retreat and made a stand. After several Union attacks were turned back, the Southerners rallied and made their own attack. The Yankee lines broke and the pitched battle turned into a route as the Union soldiers were forced into a running retreat. Scurry's men regained the field where he lay and rushed to see if by some miracle their leader was still alive. He was.

When a handful of his men found him, he asked, "Have we whipped them?" On being told the battle had been won, he whispered, "Now take me to a house where I can be made comfortable and die easy." After over 2 hours of laying in the hot sun in severe pain, bleeding with a shattered leg and receiving no treatment, General Scurry finally, mercifully, passed out. His men carried him to a nearby house which had been turned into a field hospital, but it was too late. He died without regaining consciousness.

William Read Scurry's body was brought back home and buried in the Texas State Cemetery in May, 1864. Scurry county Texas is named in his honor.