Quayle, William (1825–1901)

By: David Paul Smith

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: October 2, 2020

William Quayle, Civil War officer, was born in Kirk Michael Parish, Isle of Man, on October 18, 1825. His parents came to America when he was a child and settled in Ontario County, New York. He attended Canadagua Academy. He went to sea for nearly ten years and eventually became a captain. He later traveled in Europe and Asia and was broken in health upon his return to America. He moved to Texas in the 1850s and settled near Grapevine, where he served as a district clerk, district judge, and chief justice of Tarrant County. He was opposed to secession; nonetheless he organized Company A, Ninth Texas Cavalry, the first company to leave Tarrant County for Confederate service. As lieutenant colonel he commanded the regiment at the battles of Pea Ridge and Corinth but soon returned to Tarrant County in poor health. Shortly after Quayle's return he won election to the state Senate and took his seat in February 1863. He served as cochairman on the Joint Committee on Frontier Protection and worked to push through the bill to transfer the Frontier Regiment to the Confederate Army and to form the state-supported Frontier Organization. In January 1864 Governor Pendleton Murrah appointed Quayle major in command of the First Frontier District, the nineteen organized counties on the state's northwestern frontier. From headquarters at Decatur, Quayle struggled throughout the spring and summer to maintain order in this, the most complex and difficult district to manage in the entire frontier organization. As well as patrolling against Indian raids, his men were kept busy searching for deserters, draft dodgers, and renegades. By summer's end, with his health failing, Quayle requested to be relieved. His replacement, James Webb Throckmorton, took command of the district on December 13, 1864. Quayle served briefly as Throckmorton's second-in-command until March 1865, when poor health required him to take a furlough. At the end of the war Quayle joined other Confederate officers and moved to Mexico for several years. He returned to Texas briefly, then moved to Missouri, where he lived the remainder of his life. He first married Sarah Henderson of Mississippi, then Elizabeth Terrill of Missouri. Quayle died at his home in Moberly, Missouri, on August 8, 1901.

Confederate Veteran, August 1902. Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898). Julia Kathryn Garrett, Fort Worth: A Frontier Triumph (Austin: Encino, 1972). David Paul Smith, Frontier Defense in Texas, 1861–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, North Texas State University, 1987). Texas Legislature, Senate Journal, 9th Leg., 1st called sess., 1863; 10th Leg., reg. sess., 1863. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: GPO, 1880–1901).

  • Peoples
  • English
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • North Texas

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

David Paul Smith, “Quayle, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/quayle-william.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995
October 2, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: