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BROWN, REUBEN ROBINSON

BROWN, REUBEN ROBINSON (1808–1894). Reuben Robinson Brown, soldier of the Republic of Texas and the Confederate States of America, was born in Green County, Georgia, on February 3, 1808, and moved to Texas in November 1835 in company with Hugh and John Love, both also of Georgia. They traveled by way of Nacogdoches to Bexar, where they arrived at the Alamo the day after Col. Edward Burleson had received the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos. Brown thereupon joined Capt. B. L. Lawrence's company to participate in the Matamoros expedition of 1835–36. According to his own account, his escape from the massacre of James Grant's command at the battle of Agua Dulce Creek was as miraculous as any on record. On March 2, 1836, according to Brown's account, Grant led some fifteen men in a raid on Gen. José de Urrea's horse herd at the Camargo ranches, which was being guarded by the troops of a Captain Rodríguez. Brown was chosen to lead the attack and claimed to have personally captured Rodríguez, but Urrea counterattacked and surrounded all of the insurrectionists except Brown, Grant, and Plácido Benavides, who were riding in the lead of the raiders. Seeing the desperate nature of the situation, Grant dispatched Benavides to inform James W. Fannin at Goliad of the fate of his command and then followed Brown's recommendation that they "Go in and die with the boys." Brown's horse was shot from under him, and he remounted on the horse of Maj. Robert C. Morris, who had been killed in the fighting. Thereafter Brown was lanced through the arm and again unhorsed. On March 8, 1836, a Thomas B. Rees wrote to a friend in Georgia that "Rubin Brown & Coln. Grant with about twenty men was attacked in a open perary & Both of them fel and all of there men that was not killed was taken prisoners." According to Brown's claim, he was lassoed and beaten senseless but allowed to live because Urrea wanted to question him. He was taken to Urrea's headquarters at San Patricio, where he was offered his freedom if he would go to Goliad and persuade Fannin to surrender. After declining, Brown was marched to Matamoros, where he was confined and forced to work as a street cleaner by day and sleep in a foul jail at night for eleven months. Then, according to his story, he escaped from prison with the aid of a local Irishman who had been retained by Brown's parents in Georgia, and rejoined the Army of the Republic of Texas by way of Mier and Victoria. Brown received his discharge from Gen. Felix Huston and departed for North Carolina for the summer.

On returning to Texas he established a plantation at the mouth of the Brazos River with twenty-four slaves. By 1850 he was a prosperous planter with twenty-one slaves, and by 1860 he had amassed real estate valued at $14,250 and personal property, including slaves, valued at $40,335, and employed a French gardener named Pierre. His hospitality was well known. In January 1847 the St. Louis Spirit of the Times published "A Texas Hunting Song," composed on Brown's plantation on the eve of a great hunt. With his wife, Jane E. Milton, who was also a Georgia native and a niece of Stephen Austin, he had five children.

On April 14, 1845, Brown attended an annexation meeting at Brazoria and was appointed to a committee to prepare "an Address to the People of Texas" on the subject. After the Civil War broke out he was elected lieutenant colonel of Col. Joseph Bates's Thirteenth Texas Infantry on October 15, 1861, and saw service on the Texas coast between Galveston and Matagorda Island, primarily near Brown's home at the mouth of the Brazos. In 1862 he was given command of an independent cavalry battalion, the Twelfth, made up of companies from Bates's regiment. On November 11, 1863, Brown was promoted to colonel and organized and commanded the Thirty-fifth Texas Cavalry, a consolidation of his own and Maj. Lee C. Rountree's battalions. This regiment served in Texas until it was transferred to Louisiana in the spring of 1864 and saw action in Brig. Gen. Henry E. McCulloch's brigade of Walker's Texas Division during the Red River Campaign. Brown's was one of two regiments named the Thirty-fifth Texas Cavalry, the other being that of Col. James B. Likens. On July 19, 1881, the Texas Veterans' Board approved Brown's application for a pension. After the war Brown farmed in Brazoria County. He died in Velasco on March 2, 1894, and is buried in Peach Point Cemetery. Pioneer Texas historian John Henry Brown referred to Reuben R. Brown as "a brave and intelligent man."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Bruce S. Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). Harbert Davenport, Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men (MS, Harbert Davenport Collection, Texas State Library, Austin; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). James M. Day, comp., Texas Almanac, 1857–1873: A Compendium of Texas History (Waco: Texian Press, 1967). Phineas Jenks Mahan, Reminiscences of the War for Texas Independence (Houston, 1872). James A. Mundie, Jr., with Bruce S. Allardice, Dean E. Letzring, and John H. Luckey, Texas Burial Sites of Civil War Notables: A Biographical and Pictorial Field Guide (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill College Press, 2002). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas W. Cutrer and Bruce Allardice

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas W. Cutrer and Bruce Allardice, "BROWN, REUBEN ROBINSON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr95), accessed September 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on July 12, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.