Madison, George T. (ca. 1830–1868)

By: David Park and Bruce Allardice

Type: Biography

Published: May 10, 2011

Updated: July 15, 2011

George T. Madison, Confederate officer, is said to have been born in New York around 1830, based on an 1860 census return. Further research suggests he was born in Missouri, the son of William and Sarah (Taylor) Madison, and that his middle name was probably Taylor. After service in the Mexican War, he mined for gold in California, and then settled near Tucson, Arizona. While living in Tucson, he joined the relief party recruited for Henry A. Crabb's filibuster into Mexico, served as deputy sheriff of the town, and managed a hotel. By 1860 he lived in San Pedro Settlement and worked as a merchant supplying rations to local miners. In September of that year, when Apache raiders attacked the area, the local settlers were able to protect themselves and their crops by fortifying Madison's ranch home.

At the onset of the Civil War, George T. Madison enrolled in the San Elizario Spy Company, also known as the "Santa Fe Gamblers" or the "Forty Thieves," and was elected lieutenant. Madison and his company became an advance scout unit for Gen. Henry H. Sibley during his New Mexico campaign and were the first to enter Santa Fe. Madison was captured at the battle of Glorietta Pass but was paroled at Fort Union on April 5, 1862.

After his parole Madison was promoted to captain, and his group was reorganized as Madison's Spies and Guides. In late 1862 Captain Madison and his soldiers disrupted federal mail and communication lines throughout southern Colorado, especially Fort Garland, a federal outpost in the San Luis valley that was a primary target for Confederate activity. In August, after Madison and his men seized a mail train at Fort Garland, federal officers offered a $500 reward for their capture. By the following month, however, they were already headed to San Antonio with the rest of Sibley's army.

Throughout the winter of 1862–1863, while the Spies and Guides camped in San Antonio, their commander trained Confederate troops with Alonzo Ridley. On November 16, 1862, Madison was promoted to lieutenant colonel and made a staff officer of the Third Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, under Col. Joseph Phillips. Soon after, the regiment marched east, and on June 28, 1863, Col. Phillips's "Bloody Third" took part in an ill-fated attack on Fort Butler at Donaldson, Louisiana. During this battle a slightly wounded Lieutenant Colonel Madison and his men were pinned down by relentless rifle fire in a brick-lined ditch with no easy means of withdrawal at their disposal. They fought until dawn when they were finally able to escape under a flag of truce. Madison assumed command of the Third Arizona, which suffered casualties equaling more than one-third of its former strength.

Madison's regiment, along with the rest of the Arizona Brigade, left Louisiana for Texas and manned the coastal defenses through the winter of 1863–1864. They stayed at Galveston where they attempted to rest and replenish their commands. The brigade moved back to Louisiana in April 1864 to help counter the Federal movement up the Red River. On April 9 the Arizona Brigade encountered the enemy's main line near Pleasant Hill and over the next several weeks participated in several skirmishes. On May 27, 1864, Madison, with only 200 men, engaged three Union regiments totaling almost 2,000 men. After retreating to Bayou Fordoche, Madison's forces held their ground and managed to push the Federals back toward Morganza.

The Red River campaign was the last major operation for the Arizona Brigade. They returned to Texas in December of 1864 and camped in the Houston area. Madison was paroled in Houston on June 1, 1865, as colonel of the Third. After the war he may have moved back to the southwestern territories, but only one account, by S. A. Bartley who served in his regiment, exists. Bartley claims that Madison came to Texas in 1873, engaged in the cattle business, and was later shot and killed by a man named Walters in December 1876 in the Panhandle. Purportedly, he lived another nine or ten days in Henrietta before being buried in Gainesville, Texas. However, it appears Bartley confuses Madison with another Confederate Colonel, Jacob Biffle. Madison probably died on October 6, 1868, in Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas.

Bruce S. Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). James T. Matthews, "Frontier Commanders in Grey: George Baylor, Alonzo Ridley, and George Madison," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 73 (1997). Jerry Thompson, Civil War in the Southwest: Recollections of the Sibley Brigade (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001). Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995).

Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

David Park and Bruce Allardice, “Madison, George T.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 10, 2011
July 15, 2011

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