Broocks, John Henry (1829–1901)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

John Henry Broocks, Confederate Army officer, was born in Jackson, Tennessee, on October 12, 1829, the son of Elizabeth A. and Travis G. Broocks. In 1837 the family moved to San Augustine, Texas, where Broocks attended Wesleyan College and San Augustine University. He then worked in his father's mercantile business until the outbreak of the Mexican War, when he enlisted as a private in Capt. Otis M. Wheeler's Company A of Col. George T. Wood's Second Regiment of Texas Mounted Rifles. After returning from Mexico, Broocks engaged in the mercantile business until 1852, then moved to California to try his hand first at mining and farming and then at merchandising at Shaw's Flat. After succeeding in these efforts, he returned to San Augustine in July 1854 to marry Elizabeth J. Polk; the couple had eight children. In 1855 Broocks moved to his farm.

Soon after secession he raised a company of cavalry in San Augustine County that became Company C of Whitfield's Legion, or the Twenty-seventh Texas Cavalry. Broocks was elected major. As part of Gen. Ben McCulloch's Army of the West during the first year of the war, this regiment fought at Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas. In Mississippi the following year it saw action at Iuka, Yazoo Pass, and Spring Hill. When Whitfield was promoted to brigadier general on March 9, 1863, Broocks became lieutenant colonel. Edwin R. Hawkins, the new regimental commander, was often ill, and Broocks frequently served in his place, so well that he won, according to one his troopers, "the love of his men and the confidence and respect of his superiors in rank."

Commanding Whitfield's Legion on March 5, 1863, Broocks distinguished himself in the defeat and capture of a strong Union reconnoitering expedition at Thompson's Station, Tennessee. In this engagement Broocks's brother, a captain of the legion, was killed in action. Broocks's command met with disaster in April 1864 near Spring Hill, Tennessee, when a cavalry detachment under Union general Gordon Granger surprised it in camp and captured more than a hundred men of the regiment as well as its horses, mules, wagons, and camp equipage. Broocks was among those who escaped capture, but, as Samuel Barron of Ross's Brigade wrote, "no officer in the army would have felt more mortification at such an occurrence than the brave, gallant John H. Broocks. It was said that he was so haunted by the sounds and scenes of the capture of his regiment that he was almost like one demented, and that for days and days afterwards he would sit away off alone on some log, with his head down, muttering, `Halt! you d----d rebel, halt!'"

After the war Broocks retired to his San Augustine County farm. Although he was repeatedly called upon to run for the state Senate, he declined to do so; he did serve as chairman of the Democratic Congressional District Committee. He died on April 16, 1901.

Samuel Barron, The Lone Star Defenders: A Chronicle of the Third Texas Cavalry, Ross' Brigade (New York: Neale, 1908; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1964). Victor Marion Rose, Ross' Texas Brigade (Louisville, Kentucky: Courier-Journal, 1881; rpt., Kennesaw, Georgia: Continental, 1960). A. W. Sparks, The War between the States (Tyler, Texas: Lee and Burnett, 1901; rpt., Longview, Texas: D&D, 1987).

  • Business
  • Education
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Broocks, John Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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