Hamner, Harris A. (1827–1876)

By: Matthew K. Hamilton

Type: Biography

Published: April 14, 2011

Harris A. Hamner, editor, lawyer, Confederate military officer, son of Wingfield Hamner and Cynthia Osborn, was born in South Carolina in 1827. In 1847 Harris Hamner resided in Macon County, Alabama, but moved to Mobile in 1848. By 1854 he and his family had moved to Johnson County, Texas. Hamner left Johnson County in 1856 and moved to Jacksboro where he became, along with John R. Baylor and Isaac Worrall, coeditor of the White Man weekly newspaper.

The White Man promoted the policy of removing Indians from the North Texas area and was heavily critical of Gov. Sam Houston's inability to deal with the Indian raids against settlers in the region. The White Man reflected the anti-Indian attitudes of the three editors, including Hamner. As a result of his newspaper, Hamner quickly gained a reputation as a staunch critic of Houston's frontier defense policy and, later, as a supporter of secession.

In 1859, because of Governor Houston's failure to control Indian raids against Texan settlers on the northwest frontier, North Texas counties organized independently from the state, and Hamner was chosen to organize troops for their defense. He served in "Terry's Rangers" at the rank of captain, but this was probably a reserve rank as his full-time vocation was editor of the White Man. Hamner and his family resided in Jacksboro in the summer of 1860 but moved to Weatherford later that fall. Although still heavily involved with the publication of the White Man, he also became a lawyer in the spring of 1861, and he was a Grand Master of the Masons.

On February 2, 1861, upon news of Texas's secession, Hamner organized a large group of Texas citizens to keep a close watch on the Federal garrison at Camp Cooper until Confederate forces under Col. William C. Dalrymple arrived and took possession of the fort on February 21, 1861.

On April 17, 1861, Hamner was given a commission to organize and command—at the rank of captain—a company of soldiers that was described as a "fine company and would do good service against old Abe's cohorts, if they should come down on the Border." This company was eventually absorbed into the Second Regiment Texas Cavalry. Hamner's company was mustered into Confederate service in the early summer months of 1862. He was promoted to the rank of major and then lieutenant colonel, and his company was attached to Griffin's Infantry Battalion of the Confederate States Army. Griffin's Infantry Battalion served in the Trans-Mississippi Department along the Texas coastline and also in the defense of Galveston. In November 1864 the battalion merged into the Twenty-first Texas Infantry Battalion.

Hamner was shot twice during the war, the last of which forced him to resign from service due to chronic rheumatism that produced atrophy of the thigh muscles with hydrops articuli of the left knee joint. On July 21, 1863, he resigned his rank of lieutenant colonel and returned to civilian life.

Harris A. Hamner was married twice. His first marriage, sometime in the 1840s, was to Louisa (Eliza) Mason of Alabama. This marriage produced three children, Mary Jane "Jennie" John Baylor, and Katie Frances. Sometime after the Civil War, Louisa died, and Harris, along with his three children, moved to California. He married Julia Ann Covington (of Mississippi) on April 30, 1872, in San Bernardino. They had two children, Estelle and Birdie. Hamner never fully recovered from the injuries he sustained during the Civil War. Having possibly contracted tuberculosis, Harris A. Hamner died on August 31, 1876, in Los Angeles, California, and was laid to rest in Redlands, California.

General Hamner Black, Hamner Heritage: Beginning Without End (Bear Creek, Alabama: Cesco Press, 1981). Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington. Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). Lester W. Galbreath, Fort Griffin and the Clear Fork Country (Galbreath, June 1997). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: GPO, 1880–1901).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

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

Matthew K. Hamilton, “Hamner, Harris A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hamner-harris-a.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 14, 2011

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