Oliver, John E. (1825–1871)

By: Matthew K. Hamilton

Type: Biography

Published: January 4, 2013

John E. Oliver, farmer, merchant, slaveholder, and Confederate military officer, was born on December 17, 1825, in Tennessee. It is not clear when Oliver arrived in Texas, but he lived in Anderson County by January 11, 1859, when he married Mary Helen Vannoy of Tennessee. In 1860 he and his wife resided in Springfield, Limestone County, Texas, where he worked as a farmer, operated a mercantile, and estimated his real property at $4,200 and personal property at $13,000, including the ownership of two slaves.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Oliver did not immediately join the ranks of the Confederate military. On February 5, 1864, he enlisted in Bradford’s Cavalry Regiment and was elected captain of Company D on June 16, 1864. Oliver and his unit were assigned to the Trans-Mississippi Department and stationed at Galveston and Matagorda. In October 1864 Lt. Col. Walter L. Mann ordered Oliver to command a detachment of the unit to guard Union prisoners in Tyler, Texas. In January 1865, per Special Order 207, Bradford’s Regiment was consolidated with Mann’s Battalion, Hoxey’s Battalion, and Capt. R. S. Poole’s Company Texas Cavalry to form Mann’s Regiment Texas Cavalry. Oliver’s new unit continued to serve in the defense of Galveston. Sometime between February and March 1865, Oliver was promoted to the rank of major, a position he held until the regiment was surrendered as part of the Trans-Mississippi Department by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith on May 26, 1865.

After the war, Oliver returned home to Limestone County where on May 5, 1871, he passed away at the age of forty-five. He was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Hubbard, Hill County, Texas. He was survived by his wife Mary, and his two children, John R. and Helen W.

Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). 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.

Matthew K. Hamilton, “Oliver, John E.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/oliver-john-e.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 4, 2013

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