Henry Cameron McNeill, landowner and Confederate officer, was born on February 22, 1833, in Natchez, Mississippi, to Angus McNeill and Rebecca James (Adams) McNeill. The elder McNeill, in partnership with James Bowie, brought his family to Texas in 1835 and became a fixture in the cultural and political scene of the Republic of Texas; he was a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas among other activities. The McNeill family received a land grant in the Joseph Vehlein's colony in September 1835. This area became Liberty County during the Republic of Texas period. The elder McNeill later acquired a plantation in Colorado County.
Henry McNeill attended the Kentucky Military Institute and the Western Military Institute until receiving an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Graduating there in 1857, he was ranked twenty-sixth in his class. After graduation, McNeill served as an officer in the United States Army until May 12, 1861, when he resigned to join the Confederacy. Almost immediately, McNeill was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Confederate regular army. On August 9, 1861, McNeill was commissioned as lieutenant colonel in the Fifth Texas Cavalry. He distinguished himself during the New Mexico campaign, at one point capturing the bulk of a Union army regiment. On May 20, 1863, McNeill was promoted to colonel. From January 1863 to September 1864, McNeill served with this unit and acted as commander in several engagements. These actions included the battles of Galveston and Bayou Bourbeau, Louisiana, in 1863 and the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in Louisiana in 1864. A valued officer, his superiors repeatedly recommended McNeill for promotion to general. In 1864 McNeill's father turned over control of the family plantation and its forty-six slaves to McNeill and his brother-in-law, T. Scott Anderson. On May 26, 1865, McNeill and his unit were surrendered along with the rest of the Trans-Mississippi command by Gen. E. Kirby Smith.
After the war McNeill farmed in Eagle Lake, Texas. Henry McNeill died in Columbus, Texas, on November 29, 1876, of congestion of the lungs. He is probably buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Eagle Lake, Colorado County. He had married Margaret L. Murray.
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Bruce S. Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). Colorado Citizen (Columbus, Texas), November 30, 1876. Crump's Corner, Louisiana, 2 April 1864 (Red River Campaign 1864) (http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/pottery/1080/crumps_corner_la_2apr64.htm), accessed April 27, 2006. The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835–1837, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 1997 (http://www.smu.edu/swcenter/FairfaxGray/wg_229.htm), accessed April 27, 2006. Bill Stein, Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas, Part 6: 1861–1865 (http://library.columbustexas.net/history/part6.htm), accessed March 22, 2011.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Aragorn Storm Miller and Bruce Allardice,
“McNeill, Henry Cameron,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 11, 2011
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 21, 2011
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: