Cumby, Robert H. (1825–1881)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer and Bruce Allardice

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 8, 2011

Robert H. Cumby, Texas legislator and Confederate Army officer, was born on August 24, 1825, in Charlotte County, Virginia, the son of Morgan and Levicy (Tanner) Cumby. In 1836 he moved with his family to Lafayette County, Mississippi. There he married Nancy L. Zollicoffer and resided until 1849, when he moved to Rusk County, Texas. He became a prominent planter and one of the wealthiest men in the county; in 1860 he owned $22,600 in land and $38,000 in personal property, including thirty slaves. He was elected to the Eighth Texas Legislature in 1859 and served as a representative until 1861. At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised Company B of Col. Elkanah Greer's Third Texas Cavalry, also known as the South Kansas-Texas Regiment. The regiment was organized at Dallas on July 13, 1861, and after serving under Gen. Benjamin McCulloch in Arkansas and Missouri was transferred east of the Mississippi River and became part of Ross's Texas Brigade. When the regiment's one-year enlistment period expired on May 8, 1862, new elections for officers were held, and Cumby was elected colonel. Other outstanding officers in this regiment included M. D. Ector, Walter P. Lane, Hinche P. Mabry, and George W. Chilton. Because he was in poor health with chronic diarrhea, Cumby could not assume command and deferred to Lane. He resigned from command of the regiment on June 12, 1862, and returned to Texas. In 1863 Cumby was appointed major and commissary officer to General Greer. Several politicians, including the Texas congressional delegation, recommended Cumby for promotion to brigadier general, but he never again took the field. In 1864 he was appointed brigadier general, Fourth Brigade, Texas State Troops.

After the war he moved to Dallas, where he served as a constable. Later he moved to Sulphur Springs where he ran a grocery. He died in Sulphur Springs November 19, 1881, and is buried in that town’s city cemetery. Cumby, Texas, was named for him.

Bruce S. Allardice, More Generals in Gray (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995). Samuel Barron, The Lone Star Defenders: A Chronicle of the Third Texas Cavalry, Ross' Brigade (New York: Neale, 1908; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1964). Douglas Hale, "The Third Texas Cavalry: A Socioeconomic Profile of a Confederate Regiment," Military History of the Southwest 19 (Spring 1989). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

  • Eighth Legislature (1859-1861)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer and Bruce Allardice, “Cumby, Robert H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 8, 2011

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