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Ogden, James M. (unknown–1843)

Thomas W. Cutrer Biography Entry

James M. Ogden, lawyer and soldier, was born in Virginia and moved to Texas before 1839, when he was practicing law in Austin. On March 1, 1840, he helped to organize the Travis Guards (see TRAVIS GUARDS AND RIFLES) in that city. At a victory dinner held at Bastrop on August 21, 1840, he toasted Felix Huston and Edward Burleson, the leaders of the Texas forces at the battle of Plum Creek. "Their martial achievements have shed a fadeless lustre on the Texas arms," he averred. "May the people they have led to victory reward them with the high public places they so justly merit by their knowledge and worth, their chivalry and patriotism." In 1840 Ogden owned one town lot in Austin. On January 15, 1842, Sam Houston nominated Ogden as district attorney of the Third Judicial District, and the Texas Senate confirmed the nomination on January 18. Despite Houston's patronage Ogden vigorously opposed the president's plan to remove the national archives of the Republic of Texas to the city of Houston, a move that ultimately led to the so-called Archives War. On November 9, 1842, in response to the raids of Mexican generals Rafael Vásquez and Adrián Woll, Ogden volunteered as a private in Capt. William S. Fisher's company of Col. James R. Cook's Second Regiment of Brig. Gen. Alexander Somervell's South Western Army to take part in the Somervell expedition. When Somervell ordered the expedition to return to San Antonio, Ogden refused to leave the Rio Grande and transferred to Capt. Claudius Buster's Company D of the reorganized rump of the army, now under the command of Fisher. He was captured at the battle of Mier, and after the abortive escape attempt at Salado on February 11, 1843, he was among the unfortunates who drew a black bean and was thereby doomed to execution by a Mexican firing squad (see BLACK BEAN EPISODE). According to Thomas Jefferson Green, Ogden, "with his usual equanimity of temper, smiled at his fate, and said, `I am prepared,'" before he was cut down on March 25, 1843.

Compiled Index to Elected and Appointed Officials of the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846 (Austin: State Archives, Texas State Library, 1981). Thomas J. Green, Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier (New York: Harper, 1845; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Joseph Milton Nance, ed., Mier Expedition Diary: A Texas Prisoner's Account by Joseph D. McCutchan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978). Texas Sentinel, September 12, 1840. 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).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Ogden, James M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 31, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.