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RUNNELS, HENRY GEORGE [HAL]

RUNNELS, HENRY GEORGE [HAL] (1825–1880). Henry "Hal" George Runnels, Confederate officer, was born on April 25, 1825, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Hiram George Runnels and Obedience A. Smith. Henry was related to several notable men of Texas—including his first cousin, the former governor of Texas, Hardin Richard Runnels. Henry's uncle was Benjamin Fort Smith who fought with Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans and later fought at the battle of San Jacinto. The latter conflict earned him a 640-acre land grant in Texas, which he later conferred to Henry Runnels. Henry's father Hiram was governor of Mississippi from 1833 to 1835 and, after moving the family to Brazoria County, Texas, in 1842, was prominent enough that Runnels County was named after him. On November 5, 1849, Henry G. Runnels married Stella Lewis in Brazoria County. The couple had three children. In 1857 Runnels organized about 100 men in the Houston area to participate in William Walker's attempt to take control of Nicaragua. It is unclear, however, if Runnels in fact went to Nicaragua.

In the late 1850s Runnels was employed as a contractor on the rail line between Liberty and Houston. At the beginning of the Civil War, he organized a militia unit known as the San Jacinto Guards, which was soon incorporated into the Second Texas Infantry Regiment as Company A, with Runnels elected as the captain of the company. In August 1861 he received promotion to major. Runnels participated in the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. On April 25, 2862, the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph published a letter he wrote appealing for medicine and surgical personnel for the Texas regiments engaged in Tennessee and Mississippi.

During the Civil War, Runnels's wife Stella died on October 28, 1864. Sometime before 1870 he married Eliza A. Hennigan. The couple had three boys and three girls. Between 1870 and 1880, Runnels moved his family to San Rafael, Marin County, California, where he worked as a prison guard at San Quentin. He died on September 20, 1880, at the age of fifty-five.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Earl W. Fornell, "Texans and Filibusters in the 1850s," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 59 (April 1956). "Letter from Major Runnels, [Houston] Tri-Weekly Telegraph, April 25, 1862, "The Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers: Sharing & preserving the history of the 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment, 1861–1865 (http://www.terrystexasrangers.org/newsclippings/houston_tri_weekly_telegraph/1862_04_25b.htm), accessed April 13, 2011. Organization of the Armies, 1913 Report of the Shiloh National Military Park Commission (http://www.shilohbattlefield.org/commission/Pages/introduction/organization.htm), accessed April 13, 2011. "'Sioux': Pen Name and Biography of William P. Doran, Texas' First War Correspondent," Transcribed and annotated by W. T. Block from Galveston Daily News of Dec. 1, 1901(http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/bill_doran.htm), accessed April 13, 2011.

Aragorn Storm Miller and David Park

Citation

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

Aragorn Storm Miller and David Park, "RUNNELS, HENRY GEORGE [HAL]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fru42), accessed July 28, 2014. Uploaded on April 15, 2011. Modified on May 12, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.