Merrill, Hamilton Wilcox (1814–1892)

By: Margaret Bierschwale

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: April 1, 1995

Hamilton Wilcox Merrill, army officer and lawyer, was born at Byron, New York, on February 14, 1814, the son of Asa and Penelope (Dalliba) Merrill. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in July 1838, was assigned to the Second Dragoons as second lieutenant, and, after serving in the wars against the Seminole Indians in Florida, was made first lieutenant and sent to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1845 he was at the arsenal in Austin, Texas. On March 1, 1846, he became a captain. After participating in the battle of Molino del Rey on September 8, 1847, he was brevetted major for gallant conduct. He also fought in the capture of Mexico City in the Mexican War. Merrill remained in Texas and in the summer of 1850 was sent to command Fort Martin Scott. At this post he assisted in negotiating a treaty with the Indians on Spring Creek, near the San Saba River. On July 6, 1851, he was ordered to establish Fort Mason. He did much to get the fort buildings underway, then was transferred to Fort Worth in July 1852 and was later sent to Fort Belknap. In 1856 he married Louisa Kauffman; they had one son. Merrill resigned his commission on February 28, 1857, to practice law in New York. He was offered a commission in the Union Army, but turned it down. He died at his home in New York City on July 14, 1892, and was buried at Woodlawn in that city.

M. L. Crimmins, "Major Hamilton Wilcox Merrill in Texas," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 13 (1937). M. L. Crimmins, "W. G. Freeman's Report on the Eighth Military Department," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51–54 (July 1947-October 1950). George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York (8 vols., New York [etc.]: D. Van Nostrand [etc.], 1868–1940). Frederick J. H. Merrill, The Ancestry of Hamilton Wilcox Merrill (1899). New York Daily Tribune, July 16, 1892.

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

Margaret Bierschwale, “Merrill, Hamilton Wilcox,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995