Lane, Walter Paye (1817–1892)

By: Douglas Hale

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 24, 2020

Walter Paye Lane, soldier, was born in Cork County, Ireland, on February 18, 1817, the son of William and Olivia Lane. The family immigrated to the United States in 1821 and settled at Fairview, Guernsey County, Ohio. Lane moved to Texas early in 1836 and participated in the Texas Revolution. As a member of Henry W. Karnes's cavalry company, he was wounded in a skirmish on April 20. He participated the next day in the battle of San Jacinto and was promoted to second lieutenant for gallantry on the field. Lane then served aboard the privateer Thomas Toby in raids against the Mexican coast until the vessel was wrecked in a storm in October 1837. In the fall of 1838 he barely escaped with his life from the Battle Creek Fight.

He lived and worked in San Augustine County from about 1838 until 1843 and then moved to San Antonio, where he joined Capt. John C. Hays's Texas Rangers on several scouting expeditions. With the outbreak of the Mexican War he was elected a first lieutenant in the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, in June 1846 and participated in the battle of Monterrey. He rose to the rank of major and was given command of a battalion. Among his exploits was the recovery of the remains of the executed members of the Mier expedition, which were conveyed to La Grange, Texas, for reinterment. During the gold rush of 1849, Lane trekked overland to California; he spent four years as a miner and merchant at Nevada City and Shasta City. After returning to Texas by way of Peru, he joined his brother, Judge George Lane, at Marshall and opened a store. After the Gadsden Purchase (1854), he wandered off to southern Arizona to prospect for gold. He operated a ranch near Calabasas for a time, then worked as a clerk at newly established Fort Buchanan for several months before returning to Marshall, Texas, in 1858 to resume his mercantile business.

When the Civil War broke out he was among the first in Texas to issue a call to arms. Such was his military reputation that the first Confederate volunteer company raised in Harrison County was named for him. Lane himself, however, joined the Third Texas Cavalry regiment as lieutenant colonel in July 1861. He served with this unit throughout the first year of the war and led his troops in the battles of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, Chustenahlah, Indian Territory, and Pea Ridge, Arkansas, as well as in the battle of Corinth, Mississippi. The Third was reorganized in May 1862, when the men's one-year enlistment expired. As the unit had been dismounted, Lane declined to reenlist and run for colonel. He continued to lead the regiment for a month, however, at the request of its members, including its newly elected colonel. During this time he commanded the unit at the battle of Franklin, Mississippi. The conduct of the regiment during this action was singled out for particular praise by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. Subsequently, Lane returned to Texas and during the summer raised a new regiment, the First Texas Partisan Rangers. While he was absent from this unit because of illness, the regiment fought at the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, on December 7, 1862. Lane commanded the unit in the Atchafalaya and Donaldsonville raids in Louisiana in 1863. In the course of Nathaniel P. Banks's Red River campaign, Lane's unit was heavily engaged at the battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, and he himself was severely wounded. After his recovery, he rejoined his regiment near Hempstead, Texas, and assumed command of a brigade. His promotion to the rank of brigadier general was confirmed on March 18, 1865.

Lane returned to his mercantile business at Marshall after the war, served as deputy federal marshal, and assisted in the foundation of the Texas Veterans Association. He was elected treasurer of Harrison County in 1880. With his brother George, Lane belonged to that group of Democrats who restored White supremacy to the county after 1878. Lane, who never married, died on January 28, 1892, and was buried at Marshall with full military honors.

Walter Paye Lane, Adventures and Recollections (Marshall, Texas, 1887; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1970). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). 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).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers
  • Irish

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution
  • Civil War

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

Douglas Hale, “Lane, Walter Paye,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 23, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 24, 2020

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