James Edward Harrison, public official and Confederate army officer, the son of Isham and Harriet (Kelly) Harrison, was born in Greenville District, South Carolina, on April 24, 1815. He was a brother of Thomas Harrison. The family moved soon after James's birth to Jefferson County, Alabama, and then, about 1829, to Monroe County, Mississippi, where Harrison served two terms in the state Senate. There, too, he met Mary Evans, whom he married in 1841. In 1857 the couple moved to Texas and settled near Waco. Because of his fluency in Choctaw and Creek, Harrison was appointed in 1861 as a commissioner to treat with the Indians for the state. He served in the Secession Convention and then entered Confederate service as the major of Lt. Col. Joseph W. Speight's First Texas Infantry Battalion. Harrison became a lieutenant colonel in 1862, when the battalion was reorganized as the Fifteenth Texas Infantry. He subsequently became colonel of the Fifteenth Texas, which he had helped to raise, when Speight assumed command of Col. W. R. Bradfute's brigade in 1863. Harrison and his regiment served in the Trans-Mississippi Department under Maj. Gen. Thomas Green in the Louisiana campaigns of 1863 and 1864. He was promoted to brigadier general in Gen. Camille Armand Polignac's division of the Trans-Mississippi Department on December 22, 1864, and given command of a brigade consisting of his own Fifteenth Texas Infantry plus Col. Robert T. P. Allen's Seventeenth Texas Infantry Regiment and Col. James G. Stevens's Twenty-second and Col. Trezevant Hawpe's Thirty-first Texas dismounted cavalry regiments. After the Civil War Harrison returned to Waco, where he was prominent in local affairs and in the Baptist church. From 1861 through 1874 he served as a trustee of Baylor University. He died on February 23, 1875, and is buried in the First Street Cemetery, Waco. The McLennan County community of Harrison is named in his honor.
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Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Clement Anselm Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing, 1899; extended ed., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1987–89). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine, 1891. Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Thomas W. Cutrer,
“Harrison, James Edward,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 11, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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