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Hill, Asa Collinsworth (1826–1913)

Joseph E. Blanton Biography

Asa Collinsworth (Colley) Hill, soldier, filibuster, and ranger, son of Elizabeth (Barksdale) and Asa Hill, was born near Hillsboro, Jasper County, Georgia, in November 1826. He was brought to Texas in 1835 by his father. He attended Rutersville College. After Sam Houston became United States senator in 1846, Hill served as Houston's amanuensis in Washington. In the Mexican War he enlisted on September 20, 1847, in Capt. John Allen Veatch's company, Col. Peter Hansborough Bell's regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. Hill was Dr. Work's hospital steward in Presidio de Rio Grande, Coahuila, Mexico, before commanding a spy company in the battle of Piedra Pinta. He was mustered out of the service on September 20, 1848. He married Mary Chapman on October 3, 1849, in Rutersville; they had two sons. In 1856 he volunteered with the rank of lieutenant in Gen. William Walker's Nicaraguan army. After recruiting men and raising money in the United States, he sailed from New Orleans and arrived in Punta Arenas on January 4, 1857, where he assumed the duties of adjutant to Col. Samuel A. Lockridge. On the retreat down the San Juan River after the unsuccessful assault on Fort Castillo, Hill was wounded when the boiler of the steamer J. N. Scott blew up. In 1859 he was a captain in the Texas Rangers. The first official information Houston received of the forays of Juan N. Cortina was a letter from Capt. William Gerard Tobin dated Brownsville, December 16, 1859, brought to Houston by Hill, who was in several engagements including that at Bolsa Bend. His last report to Houston was from Brownsville on February 9, 1860, signed A. C. Hill, Captain of Spies. Crippled by osteomylitis and limited to horseback duty, he volunteered as a civilian guide early in the Civil War. The captain of the company to which he was attached, claiming he was a soldier, brought charges of insubordination against him and he was convicted in a court martial in October 1861. He was imprisoned for six months before being vindicated. Hill later wrote that he was imprisoned because of his "adherence to the cause of the Union" but there was no hint of treason or sedition in his lengthy trial. He was in Mexico in 1866 and again in 1867 and was with his brother, John C. C. Hill, when the latter obtained the release from prison of Gen. Pedro de Ampudia who was under sentence of death for allegedly siding with Maximilian. From 1870 to 1873 Asa Hill progressed from first lieutenant to colonel in the Frontier Forces and Texas State Police with much of his duty in areas of Indian raids. During his career he was wounded five times. In 1889 while living in Washington, he participated in the George Washington Centenary ceremonies in New York City as a member of the District of Columbia National Guard. From 1904 to 1907 he traveled about Texas gathering data for a history of Texas that he never completed. He died on October 9, 1913, in Beeville and was buried on the ranch of his son, Judge William Asa Hill, near Clareville.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Time Periods:

  • Antebellum Texas

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

Joseph E. Blanton, “Hill, Asa Collinsworth,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 30, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.