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HERBERT, PHILEMON THOMAS

HERBERT, PHILEMON THOMAS (1825–1864). Philemon Thomas Herbert, commander of the Seventh Texas Cavalry regiment, was born in Pine Apple, Alabama, on November 1, 1825, the son of John and Harriet (Waters) Herbert. He attended the common schools of the state and entered the University of Alabama in 1842. After being indefinitely suspended from the university in June 1844 for stabbing a fellow student, he left Alabama and moved to Texas in 1845. In April 1847 he enlisted at San Antonio as a private for six months' service in the First Texas Mounted Volunteers. About 1850 he moved to Mariposa, California, where he soon entered politics as a Democrat. He was elected to the California Assembly for the fourth (1853) and fifth (1854) sessions, and then as a representative to the Thirty-fourth Congress (1855–57). On May 8, 1856, Herbert fatally shot an Irish waiter during a brawl at a Washington, D.C., hotel. Although acquitted of murder, he found that the incident had ruined his political career. He therefore left California for the Gadsden Purchase area in the summer of 1859. After engaging briefly in mining, he settled in El Paso, Texas, to practice law.

Herbert, a fiery secessionist, was elected a delegate to the Secession Convention. That body subsequently appointed him a commissioner to encourage Arizona to join the Confederacy. With the outbreak of war, he entered the Confederate Army and saw action at the battle of Mesilla on July 25, 1861. Sometime after the arrival of Henry H. Sibley's brigade, he went to Richmond, where he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel to recruit a regiment for the protection of Arizona. He succeeded in raising three companies, which became known as Herbert's Battalion, Arizona Cavalry (also First Texas Arizona Battalion, Mounted Rifles), the last unit to leave Arizona and Trans-Pecos Texas when that area was abandoned in July 1862.

After a brief respite in Texas, Herbert was ordered to Louisiana, where his battalion served as scouts. For a short time he was detached from his unit and placed on General Sibley's staff. As Gen. Richard Taylor's forces retreated northward in April 1863, Herbert helped protect the rear guard. The following May he was promoted to the command of the Seventh Texas Cavalry and saw action at the capture of Brashear City on June 23, the unsuccessful attack on Fort Butler on June 28, and the subsequent engagement at Cox's Plantation on July 13, 1863. For several months, beginning on September 30, 1863, he was absent on sick leave. By February 1864 he had rejoined his regiment for the Red River campaign. During the early phase of the battle of Mansfieldqv he was severely wounded. He was later removed to Kingston, Louisiana, where he died on July 23, 1864, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery there.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Rex W. Strickland, "P. T. Herbert: Ante-Bellum Resident of El Paso," Password, April 1960. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Martin Hardwick Hall

Citation

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

Martin Hardwick Hall, "HERBERT, PHILEMON THOMAS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhe26), accessed July 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.