Christian, Samuel Patrick (1835–1908)

By: Jennifer Eckel and Bruce Allardice

Type: Biography

Published: April 14, 2011

Updated: July 24, 2016

Samuel Patrick (or Patteson) Christian, steamboat pilot and Confederate officer, was born on October 22, 1835, in Richmond, Virginia. The family moved to Texas, where Samuel attended Rutersville College. By 1860 he resided in Houston, Texas, with his wife Elizabeth (Stotts) and brother William Duval Christian (1838–1929). In Houston, Christian's occupation was as a steamboat pilot.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Christian was mustered into Company K of the Eighth Texas Cavalry on September 7, 1861. The Eighth Texas was also known as Terry's Texas Rangers. Upon organization of the unit, S. P. Christian was elected third lieutenant of Company K. In February 1862 Christian, by then a captain, helped Maj. Thomas Harrison retain command in the face of growing discontent among the enlisted men who were incited by a harsh punishment Harrison had handed out to two soldiers under his command. Christian fought notably at the battle of Murfreesboro and was wounded slightly. He was promoted to major on June 25, 1863. Christian was much more severely wounded on October 7, 1863, during an action at Farmington, Tennessee; he was hit in the face with a bullet and lost several teeth. Christian recovered and returned to the regiment. In November 1864 he was furloughed to Texas in order to collect members of Terry's Rangers who had overstayed their leave. After returning to the front, Christian was wounded again at Bentonville, North Carolina, in March 1865, and he did not recover until after the war ended. He and his unit surrendered to Union forces on April 26, 1865, and Christian was subsequently paroled on July 12, 1865.

Following the war, Samuel Christian returned to Houston where he returned to his primary vocation as a steamboat captain. In 1899 he attended the Terry's Texas Rangers Reunion and served on the committee that petitioned the Seventeenth Indiana Infantry for the return of the Ranger Flag. He died in Houston on September 9, 1908, and is buried there in Glenwood Cemetery.

J. K. P. Blackburn, L. B. Giles, and E. S. Dodd, Terry Texas Ranger Trilogy (ed. Thomas W. Cutrer [Austin: State House Press, 1996]). "Col. Pat Christian, Terry's Texas Rangers,” Confederate Veteran 21 (July, 1913)."Samuel Patrick Christian," The Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers: Sharing & preserving the history of the 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment, 1861–1865 (, accessed April 11, 2011.

Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Jennifer Eckel and Bruce Allardice, “Christian, Samuel Patrick,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 14, 2011
July 24, 2016

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