Remembering a Confederate general with a Waco connection
By Terri Jo Ryan Special to the Tribune-Herald
Saturday April 10, 2010
The sad tale of a Mississippi lawyer who met and married an Alabama belle in their adopted home of Waco, just before the Civil War, adds even more poignancy to the story of the brutal conflict that had almost 70,000 Texans under arms.
Confederate Brig. Gen. H.B. Granbury, who would become commander Granbury’s Texas Brigade, was born in March 1831 in Copiah County, Miss., the son of Nancy and Norvell R. Granberry, a Baptist minister.
Educated at Oakland College in Mississippi, a Presbyterian institution, Granbury, reportedly more than 6 feet tall, moved to Texas upon completion of his degree in 1851 to open a law office in Seguin. He later came to Waco Village to practice law. He was admitted to the bar and served as chief justice of McLennan County from 1856-58.
The courthouse was a clapboard building and was the only house on the east side of the square. In his spare time, he assisted with the editing of the first paper in Waco Village. On March 31, 1858, in McLennan County, the 27-year-old judge married 20-year-old Fannie Sims, of Waco, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When the war began in early 1861, Granbury organized the Waco Guard, a hometown militia group. Answering the call of the South, this McLennan County militia marched to Marshall, Texas, when the fighting erupted. The Waco Guard joined with nine other counties to form the 7th Texas Infantry Regiment, as Company A. Granbury’s company elected him major.
The 7th Texas and other Confederate regiments were captured at Fort Donelson, Tenn., in February 1862. Before Granbury could be transported to prison in Fort Warren Prison in Boston Harbor, Mass., he requested permission of the Union’s Brig. Gen. U.S. Grant to escort Fannie, who had followed him to war, to a more suitable place.
But refusing to leave her husband’s side, Fannie accompanied Granbury and the other captured Confederate officers on the train to the north. Granbury remained imprisoned for five months before being paroled as part of a prisoner exchange — a not-uncommon occurrence in the war’s early months.
Some documents indicate that Granbury’s bride was already suffering from the effects of suspected ovarian cancer and that he had received a special pardon so he could care for her.
But instead of staying in the North and seeking surgical treatment in Baltimore, Md., the Granburys slowly made their way South again, to Fannie’s family in Alabama. Her health now in rapid decline, Fannie was left in the care of her father’s home in Tuscaloosa, while her husband — since promoted to colonel — spent much of the winter of 1862-63 in Texas, recruiting to help fill the refill the regiment.
When Fannie’s death drew near, he was summoned to be by her side in Mobile, Ala. On March 20, 1863, the 25-year-old Fannie Granbury died of cancer. An unmarked grave in Mobile’s Magnolia Cemetery holds the remains of Granbury’s beloved belle, Fannie.
Back to Texas
Returning to the 7th Texas, Granbury took part in the Battle of Raymond, Miss., and later joined forces with Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee in Georgia. That fall, the 7th participated in the Battle of Chickamauga, a counteroffensive by Bragg against the invading Union army.
After Chickamauga, a brigade was created composed entirely of Texas troops. During the siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., Gen. Patrick Cleburne’s division defended the Confederate line on Missionary Ridge. When General James Smith went down wounded, Cleburne gave Granbury a battlefield promotion to brigadier general. Granbury was one of 32 brigadier generals hailing from the Lone Star State.
After the Missionary Ridge melee, Granbury’s Texas Brigade provided protection as the army’s rear guard when the troops retreated into Georgia. That November, the brigade made a defensive stand that halted the federal pursuit and allowed Bragg’s dispirited forces to escape without further loss.
Killed in action
By the end of the Atlanta Campaign in mid-1864, Granbury was leading his men in Gen. John B. Hood’s invasion of Tennessee. At the Battle of Franklin, on Nov. 30, 1864, he charged the Union center with Gen. Cleburne and was killed before reaching the federal breastworks. Battlefield witnesses recorded his brutal end:
“Gen. Granbury was hit in the eye about the same time Gen. Patrick Cleburne was hit in the chest. The bullet passed through his brain and exploded at the back of his head. He threw his hands up to his face and fell dead instantly.”
He was one of six Confederate generals to die in the fray. By the time the final surrender came, in April 1865 at Durham Station, N.C., so few remained in the brigade that all eight regiments had been combined into one fighting force.
Initially buried near Franklin, Tenn., Granbury’s body was later reinterred at St. Luke’s Cemetery in Ashwood, Tenn. But in 1893 — almost 30 years after he died — his body was once again moved. This time, it was to Granbury, Texas, a town named in his honor.
The county seat of Hood County (named for Granbury’s commanding officer), the town sits in the cluster of Texas counties named after Confederate generals. A statue of Granbury was erected in 1913 on the courthouse lawn.
Sources: Handbook of Texas Online; GranburysTexasBrigade.org; 7thTexas.info; Gen. Hiram B. Granbury Chapter No. 683, United Daughters of The Confederacy; TexasMilitaryForces Museum.org