The Father and Son Generals

Graves of Jerome &
Felix Robertson

In the old stately Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas lie the remains of a father and son who both survived many fierce battles during the Civil War, rose through the ranks to become generals and returned from the war to become successful in civilian life. The son, Felix Huston Robertson, was the only native-born Texan to serve as a general during the Civil War and by the time he died, had earned a singularly notable accomplishment.

The father, Jerome Bonaparte Robertson, came to Texas from Kentucky to join the Texas army in 1836. He served as a captain until he resigned his position in 1837. After getting married, he purchased some land and settled at Washington-on-the-Brazos where he opened a medical practice. Over the next 6 years, he was often away fighting in Indian campaigns and serving in the army to repel two invasions by the Mexicans. He managed to come back home often enough for his wife to give birth to three children, one of whom died in infancy. After finally coming back home with the intention of settling down, he became the town's coroner, post master and eventually was elected mayor. In 1847 he was elected to the State House of Representatives and in 1849 to the State Senate.

Jerome Robertson
In January, 1861, Jerome served as a representative at the Texas Secession Convention and soon after, raised a company of volunteers for the Confederate army. He was elected as its captain when it became an official part of the 5th Texas Cavalry under John Bell Hood. From that date forward, he was in almost continuous campaigns and battles, fighting with distinction in many famous battles such as the 7 Days Battle, Gain's Mills, South Mountain, Antietam, and Gettysburg. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Jerome and his men fought in the ferocious battles of Little Round Top and Devil's Den. In spite of being heavily outnumbered by the Union troops at Devil's Den, Jerome's soldiers accomplished their objective, suffering heavy casualties while doing so. By this time he had been made a general, but he still insisted on leading his men in charge after charge. In all the fighting he had taken part in over the last three years, he had never been hit, but during the last charge on Devil's Den, he was wounded several times. After recovering, he rejoined his unit and once again bravely fought in the Chickamauga Battle in Tennessee. Unfortunately (or perhaps very fortunately - how many times can one man be shot at and missed?), he then became embroiled in a bit of political infighting, came out on the losing side and was transferred to Texas where he commanded the reserve forces until the end of the war.

After the war, in spite of all the death and gruesome things he had seen and was a part of, Jerome simply moved back home and picked up where he left off, reestablishing his medical practice and with his son, investing in railroads and real estate. He died peacefully in his bed in 1890 at age 74.

Felix Robertson was born in Texas on March 9, 1839. He attended Baylor University and then West Point, but quit and offered his services to the Confederacy. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the artillery and took part in the bombardment of Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War. Felix served with distinction in numerous less well-known battles and several famous ones such as Shiloh and Murfreesboro. At Chickamauga, he was in heavy action near his father. Amazingly, both father and son survived 3 days of fierce fighting in which there were over 18,000 Confederate causalities.

Felix Robertson
Felix steadily rose in rank and became a general like his father. In late 1864 though, his luck finally ran out and he was severely wounded in a battle near Augusta, Georgia. He would survive his wounds, but they were so severe that it ended his military service and he was sent home to Texas. While recuperating, he read law books and passed the bar exam to become a licensed lawyer. His partnership with his father investing in railroads and real estate proved to be a success and they both became financially well off.

Other than surviving against the odds, what notable accomplishment did Felix achieve? Not content with just being the only native Texan to serve as a general in the Civil War, when he died in Waco, Texas on April 20, 1928, he was the last surviving general of the Confederacy.