Claiborne C. Herbert, planter and legislator, was born in Virginia about 1814. Shortly before 1846 he and his wife Mary and son William moved to Texas and purchased a plantation east of the Colorado River and twelve miles southeast of Columbus in southeastern Colorado County. By 1860 Herbert was reportedly one of the wealthiest landholders in the county; his property included forty-seven slaves. He represented the Columbus District, embracing Austin, Colorado, and Fayette counties, in the Texas Senate in both the Seventh Legislature, 1857–58, and the Eighth Legislature, 1859–61, and was among those voting to convene the Secession Convention.
Upon outbreak of the Civil War he was captain of a home guard company at Eagle Lake, near his home. By June 1861 he was serving as an aide-de-camp in the Tenth District, comprising Milam, Burleson, Washington, Austin, and Colorado counties, where he attained the rank of colonel. He was elected to represent the Second Texas District in the First and Second congresses of the Confederate States of America. In the First Congress he served on the Committee on Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, and the Committee to Investigate the Castle Thunder Prison. In the Second Congress he was a member of the Committee on Claims, the Committee on Commerce, and the Committee to Investigate the Stewart Hospital. In bitterly opposing the Confederate conscription law, Herbert called for Texas secession from the Confederacy.
After the war he was elected to the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth United States congresses from the Fourth Texas Congressional District in 1865 and 1867 but was denied his seat because he would not swear the required "iron-clad oath." In January 1867 he represented Colorado County at a landowners' convention in Houston that sought alternatives to the employment of freedmen in the state's agricultural labor force. On July 5, 1867, Herbert was shot to death in Columbus in an apparent case of mistaken identity. He was buried on his plantation at Reel's Bend on the Colorado River.