William Herbert Beazley, Confederate Army and Navy officer, physician, and advisor to the Coushatta Indians, was born on October 30, 1837, six miles east of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to A. G. A. and Mary Herbert (Washington) Beazley. When he was three years old, in 1840, the family moved to Texas. They lived in Smithfield, in what is now Polk County, across the Trinity River from the Logan league (see ACE, TEXAS). Beazley spent many of his early years working on his family's Logan-league plantation and operating a sailing vessel based at the site of present La Porte on Galveston Bay. On the Logan league he served as clerk, agent, and business manager for his uncle, Alexander Hamilton Washington, who operated the plantation.
After Texas entered the Confederacy in 1861, Beazley volunteered for service in the Confederate Navy and was attached, later in 1861, to the command of W. W. Hunter, the superintendent in charge of works for defense of the Texas coast. One of Beazley's principal duties was to operate his sailing vessel, the Fanny Morgan, as a dispatch boat and courier for guard duty on Galveston Bay and in staking channels. In 1862 he and Hunter and the local Alabama and Coushatta Indians cooperated with Major Washington in erecting obstructions in the Trinity River to prevent the ascent of Union gunboats; they also constructed flatboats to transport supplies down the Trinity to Confederate forces along the Texas coast. A Confederate naval station was established on the Logan league, and Beazley served as clerk and secretary to Commander Hunter.
Gen. John B. Magruder recaptured Galveston from federal forces on New Year's Day, 1863, and the naval station on the Logan league was abandoned in April 1863. Hunter and his command were ordered to Richmond, Virginia, for new assignments. Beazley requested a transfer to land forces and returned in the summer of 1863 to Texas, where he was authorized to organize the Alabama and Coushatta Indians and other recruits into a unit to build flatboats and transport supplies down the Trinity River to Confederate forces in the Texas coastal areas. This unit was listed in military records as Company A, Beazley's Unattached Cavalry, and in December 1863 was designated also as Company K and assigned on a standby basis to Morgan's Regiment of cavalry. In March 1864 Beazley's company moved to Magnolia, a Trinity River port in Anderson County, where they were joined by Capt. B. F. Lilley's company of Pardoned Deserters. Beazley received his parole in Houston on July 15, 1865, with the rank of captain, K Company, Morgan's Regiment.
After the war he attended the New Orleans School of Medicine (later Tulane University) and graduated in 1867. In 1868 he married Mary Virginia Carr of Smithville, Polk County, Texas; they eventually had twelve children. Mrs. Beazley died in 1893, and Beazley married Eugenie Sarah Jones of Leggett on January 16, 1895. Six children were born to this marriage.
The members of Coushatta chief Colita's village had continued to live on the Logan league, and Beazley served as their advisor and physician. He also helped to have the remainder of this group transferred to the Alabama Indian reservation in Polk County. A few of the Coushattas remained on the Logan league until 1906, when they moved to the Polk County reservation.
In 1878 Beazley joined the Methodist Church in Shepherd, Texas. He was a charter member of the Dick Dowling Camp of United Confederate Veterans of Houston and was awarded the Confederate Cross of Honor by the San Jacinto Chapter, United Confederate Veterans, at Cold Spring, Texas, in 1909. He died on May 18, 1919, and was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Shepherd Methodist Church.
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W. H. Beazley Collection, Polk County Museum, Livingston, Texas. Emma Haynes, The History of Polk County (MS, Sam Houston Regional Library, Liberty, Texas, 1937; rev. ed. 1968). Howard N. Martin, "Texas Redskins in Confederate Gray," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 70 (April 1967). Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies (Washington: Department of the Navy, 1894–1927). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: GPO, 1880–1901).
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Howard N. Martin,
“Beazley, William Herbert,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: