Donelson, John Lawrence (1829–1864)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Revised by: Brett J. Derbes

Type: Biography

Published: April 5, 2011

John Lawrence Donelson, Confederate cavalry officer, was born on April 6, 1829, in Hermitage, Davidson County, Tennessee, son of Stockley and Phila Ann (Lawrence) Donelson. His family helped to found Nashville, Tennessee; his great-grandfather piloted the boat Adventure up the Cumberland River to settle in present-day Nashville. Donelson was the grand nephew of the wife of President Andrew Jackson. By 1860 Donelson was a stock raiser who lived in Echo, Live Oak County, Texas, at the beginning of the Civil War. He took part in the Secession Convention in 1861 and voted in favor of leaving the Union.

Donelson enlisted as a captain in Company K of the Second Texas Cavalry on September 23, 1861, at Camp Brown near Brownsville, Texas. The Second Texas Cavalry served primarily in the Trans-Mississippi Department and spent much of its time in Texas, Louisiana, and the New Mexico Territory. He was plagued by sickness early in his service and was sent on leave by the Medical Board. Following his recovery he was absent to the interior where he participated in rear military service. By September 1862 Donelson was provost marshal in Fredericksburg. He was promoted to major on October 8, 1862. Due to a lung-related illness, Donelson was released from duty on January 13, 1864, and resigned from official duty in February 1864 as a result of his disability. Donelson died of consumption in San Antonio on July 5, 1864, and was buried there in City Cemetery No. 1.

"2nd Regiment, Texas Cavalry (2nd Mounted Rifles)," The War for Southern Independence: Texas (, accessed February 3, 2011. Ordinance of Secession of Texas (, accessed February 3, 2011. Second Texas Cavalry Company K: Captain John Donelson (, accessed February 3, 2011. Tennessee Portraits (, accessed June 26, 2006. Tennessee Portrait Project (, accessed February 3, 2011.

Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Stephanie P. Niemeyer Revised by Brett J. Derbes, “Donelson, John Lawrence,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 5, 2011

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