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Ogden, Duncan Campbell (1813–1859)

Thomas W. Cutrer Biography Entry

Duncan Campbell Ogden, soldier, legislator, and merchant, was born on September 13, 1813, the son of David A. and Rebecca Cornell (Edwards) Ogden, at Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, New York, a community founded by his father. His father was a law partner of Alexander Hamilton. Young Ogden joined an uncle in a New Orleans business venture and then immigrated to Texas; he landed at Galveston in the summer of 1838. Almost immediately upon his arrival he was commissioned second lieutenant in a regiment being raised to repel an anticipated Mexican invasion, and in 1839 he was promoted to captain in the Army of the Republic of Texas. He commanded Company G of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Infantry in the battle of the Nueces in 1839. On August 21, 1840, he was transferred to the command of Company C of the First Regiment, then commanded by Col. William G. Cooke. In this capacity he participated in the opening of the Military Road from the Red River to Austin. Ogden was transferred from Company C on March 1, 1841.

In partnership with his old comrade, Maj. George T. Howard, he opened the mercantile establishment of Howard and Ogden in San Antonio. In 1841 this firm loaned Juan N. Seguín $3,000 to purchase merchandise to smuggle into Mexico, and Ogden accompanied Seguín to the Rio Grande to establish the cartel by which the goods would be traded. In reaction to the invasion of Raphael Vásquez in the spring of 1842 Ogden was elected captain of the San Antonio militia company that served under Col. John C. Hays. After entering the captured city under a flag of truce to parley with Vásquez, Ogden rode to Austin with Hays's plea to the War Department for reinforcements and then returned to San Antonio in time to lead a cavalry charge against the rear guard of Vásquez's retreating column.

That fall, after a show of resistance to a second column of raiders under Mexican general Adrián Woll, Ogden was sent to treat with the enemy and was taken captive on September 11, 1842. He and a number of other San Antonio citizens were marched to Perote Prison, from which, with Thomas Jefferson Green and John Twohig, Ogden was one of sixteen Texans to escape on July 2, 1843, through a carefully excavated tunnel. The horse and guide for which he had arranged were not at the designated rendezvous point, however, and he began the walk north with fellow escapees Tom Hancock and John Forester. "We directed our course from the prison immediately to the mountains overlooking the town of Perote," Forester later wrote. "We then started to the town of Jalapa, traveling by night and lying up during the day. We were frequently in hearing distance of the Mexicans, but managed to keep from being seen by them." Hancock, who had been a member of the Texan Santa Fe expedition, was soon retaken while attempting to purchase food. Ogden and Forester became separated while crossing a deep canyon during the night, and although Forester was assisted in making his escape through Vera Cruz by members of the English colony in Jalapa, Ogden was recaptured by Mexican Indians some days later and returned to captivity at Jalapa. Only eight of the sixteen Texans avoided recapture. Presumably through the efforts of members of his family in New Orleans, the Mexican council in that city secured orders for Ogden's release on February 22, 1844, but an illness prevented his planned departure from prison on March 3. According to the Trueheart diary, Ogden left Perote on March 7; other accounts claim that he was still there on March 23, and Green lists him among the thirty-six prisoners who were not released until April 24, 1844, at the intercession of United States minister Waddy Thompson.

Upon Ogden's return to Texas he was elected to represent Bexar County in the House of Representatives of the Ninth Congress of the Republic of Texas. In 1846, after annexation to the United States, Ogden was reelected to the House of Representatives of the First Legislature. Also in 1846 he was appointed the state adjutant general. On May 30, 1845, he married Elizabeth Cox, a daughter of San Jacinto veteran James Cox, in Washington County; they had three children. After his return from Mexico, Ogden devoted his full energies to his mercantile firm until his death, on March 10, 1859, of a "pleuritic infection." His Perote Prison diary, which was never copied, was destroyed in the fire that burned the state Capitol in 1881. Mrs. Ogden later married Ogden's partner, George Howard, and became a founder of the Battle of Flowers, a part of Fiesta San Antonio.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Defenders of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Laurel House, 1989). John Forester, Memoirs, ed. John H. Jenkins (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1969). Thomas J. Green, Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier (New York: Harper, 1845; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836–1841 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). San Antonio Daily Herald, March 12, 1859. 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). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Texas National Register, June 19, 1845. James L. Trueheart, The Perote Prisoners; Being the Diary of James L. Trueheart (San Antonio: Naylor, 1934). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).


  • First Legislature (1846)
  • House

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Ogden, Duncan Campbell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.