Holland, Bird (1815–1864)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Revised by: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 21, 2022

Bird Holland, civil servant and Confederate soldier, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, on March 23, 1815, the son of Kemp Spearman and Jane Jenny (Murry) Holland. He was the younger half-brother of Spearman Holland. Holland immigrated to Galveston, Texas, in 1837 with L. B. McGill. By 1840 he was residing in Travis County, where he owned one slave. Bird Holland probably fathered seven children (three boys and four girls) with a slave named Matilda. The three boys—James, Milton M., and William H. Holland—were sent to live free in Ohio, and Bird paid an abolitionist school to rear and educate them for trades. Milton Holland won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

In 1846, at the outbreak of the Mexican War Holland was elected captain of Company F of Col. George T. Wood's Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. His nephew James Kemp Holland was elected second lieutenant of the company and served in that capacity until detached as aide-de-camp to Colonel Woods. Bird Holland became seriously ill, probably of cholera, at Matamoros, where he resigned from the army on August 8, 1846. A brother, Kemp Spearman Holland, Jr., served with Jefferson Davis's famed First Mississippi Rifles in the Mexican War but died in camp shortly before the battle of Buena Vista.

After the Mexican War Holland served as chief clerk and assistant secretary in the state department. On October 1, 1857, he married Matilda Rust of Austin. She died on July 4, 1858. He was appointed secretary of state on March 16, 1861, and served until November 1861, when he joined the Confederate Army. During the Civil War Holland served as adjutant of Col. Richard B. Hubbard's Twenty-second Texas Infantry with the rank of major. He was killed in action on April 8, 1864, at the head of his regiment at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, during the Red River campaign. The following year his body was returned to Austin, where it was buried in Oakwood Cemetery on October 14, 1865.

Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Texas, 1929–30. Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). James K. Holland, "Diary of a Texan Volunteer in the Mexican War," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 30 (July 1926). James Kemp Holland Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Southern Intelligencer, October 26, 1865. Charles D. Spurlin, comp., Texas Veterans in the Mexican War: Muster Rolls of Texas Military Units (Victoria, Texas, 1984). Texas State Gazette, October 3, 1857, July 10, 1858.

  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer Revised by Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Holland, Bird,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/holland-bird.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 21, 2022

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