Lubbock, Thomas Saltus (1817–1862)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 16, 2015

Thomas (some sources say Thompson) Saltus Lubbock, soldier, the son of Henry T. and Susan Ann (Saltus) Lubbock, was born on November 29, 1817, in Charleston, South Carolina. He moved to Louisiana in 1835 and worked as a cotton factor in New Orleans. When the Texas Revolution started, however, he marched to Nacogdoches with Capt. William G. Cooke's company of New Orleans Greys and participated in the siege of Bexar. Thereafter he took employment on a steamboat on the upper Brazos River and did not learn of Antonio López de Santa Anna's incursion into Texas until after the battle of San Jacinto. After working for a time with Samuel May Williams and Thomas F. McKinney, Lubbock joined the Texan Santa Fe expedition as a lieutenant of one of the military companies. He and his men were captured in New Mexico and confined in Santiago Convent, Mexico City. Lubbock escaped by jumping from the convent's balcony and made his way back to Texas. After Adrián Woll seized San Antonio in 1842, Lubbock was elected first lieutenant of Gardiner N. O. Smith's company of Harris and Milam county volunteers and, due to Smith's illness, marched at the head of the company to Bexar to join in driving the Mexicans back across the Rio Grande. Lubbock and his men were among the 189 Texans who followed Alexander Somervell back to Texas on December 19, 1842, after declining to join William S. Fisher on the Mier Expedition.

Lubbock was a strong secessionist, characterized as a "very worthy and zealous" Knight of the Golden Circle. At the beginning of the Civil War he accompanied Benjamin Franklin Terry, John A. Wharton, Thomas J. Goree, and James Longstreet, who was to become the commander of I Corps of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, from Galveston to Richmond. At the Confederate capital on June 22 or 23, 1861, he and Terry, seconded by Senator Louis T. Wigfall, Thomas N. Waul, Wharton, and Longstreet, petitioned President Jefferson Davis for "authority to raise a company or battalion of guerrillas." "I must have your men," Davis reportedly replied. While in Virginia, Lubbock, Terry, and some fifteen other Texans organized themselves into an independent band of rangers to scout for the Confederate Army. Early in July, Lubbock and Terry, at the head of a company of Virginia cavalry, charged a Union camp, captured two of the enemy, wounded a third, and captured a horse and a fine Sharps rifle (see SHARPS BUFFALO RIFLE). Only then did they realize that they were alone and that the Virginians had not followed them in their rash attack. Lubbock was still a civilian in Virginia at the time of the battle of First Bull Run or First Manassas; he "exposed his life in bearing messages during the contest." With Terry, who had also served as a volunteer aide on the battlefield, Lubbock was authorized to raise a regiment of cavalry to serve in the Confederate States Army. The two men returned to Texas and recruited the Eighth Texas Cavalry, more commonly known as Terry's Texas Rangers. Terry served as the regimental colonel and Lubbock as lieutenant colonel. In poor health, Lubbock left the regiment at Nashville and never returned to it. After the death of Colonel Terry at the battle of Woodsonville, Kentucky, on December 17, 1861, Lubbock, then sick in a Bowling Green hospital, was advanced to command of the regiment, but he died in January 1862. John A. Wharton was elected colonel and John G. Walker lieutenant colonel of the regiment. Lubbock was married on December 14, 1843, to Sara Anna Smith. He was, according to one of his men, "small and affable, and made a favorable impression on us." He was the brother of Texas governor Francis R. Lubbock. Lubbock County was named in honor of Thomas Saltus Lubbock.

Leonidas B. Giles, Terry's Texas Rangers (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1911). Thomas Jewett Goree, The Thomas Jewett Goree Letters, ed. Langston James Goree V (Bryan, Texas: Family History Foundation, 1981). Jimmie Hicks, ed., "Some Letters Concerning the Knights of the Golden Circle," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (July 1961). George Wilkins Kendall, Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition (2 vols., New York: Harper, 1844; rpts. Austin: Steck, 1935; n.p.: Readex, 1966). Frances Richard Lubbock, Six Decades in Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: Pemberton, 1968). Thomas S. Lubbock Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).

Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Lubbock, Thomas Saltus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 16, 2015

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