and Nancy Haynes Greer Ragsdale. He was born on June 6, 1839, near Aberdeen, Mississippi, in Monroe County. His father Daniel was a farmer in Aberdeen until he died in the early 1850s. In 1857 Nancy Ragsdale and her children moved to Austin, Texas. By 1860 Ragsdale was a farmer in Caldwell, Texas, located in Burleson County. He owned fourteen slaves. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was a Texas Ranger serving under Col. John S. "Rip" Ford.
On April 20, 1861, Ragsdale was mustered in as a first lieutenant in Company D of McCulloch's First Texas Cavalry Regiment. He joined the military at Austin and signed up for one year of service. On June 3, 1861, the regiment was detached to Fort Mason in Texas where they stayed until September of that year. In November 1861 he was posted at Fort Chadbourne in Texas and remained there until March 1862. While serving in McCulloch’s First Texas Cavalry Regiment, Ragsdale saw no combat. On September 17, 1862, Ragsdale received a new commission in the Arizona Brigade as captain of Company A, First Battalion, also known as Davidson's Battalion, Texas Cavalry. He resigned from this unit on April 1, 1863, because the company was depleted of men, and he hoped to serve elsewhere. This resignation was not formally accepted, but Ragsdale went to Louisiana believing it had been.
In Louisiana Ragsdale enlisted as a private in Company H of the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry, Woods' Regiment, on May 14, 1863. He served in Louisiana to August 1863 when he was given a furlough to return to Texas and learned that he had not been officially relieved as a captain. In October 1863 Lt. Col. Alexander H. Davidson, commander of the First Battalion Texas Cavalry, died. As senior officer, Ragsdale was ordered to return and assume command of the battalion. He was listed as captain of Company A of Davidson’s Battalion in November 1863 and soon after was absent due to being sick in the hospital.
In February 1864 Ragsdale was a major in the Texas Daly's—Ragsdale's Cavalry Battalion and was stationed at Fort Manhassett at Sabine Pass. In April 1864 he was ordered before an examining board in Houston but was back on duty by May. In October 1864 he was given another leave of absence until December 12 of that year. He was on official business in Houston in January 1865. By February 1865 Ragsdale was promoted to lieutenant colonel. As late as April he was present commanding his battalion at the post of Sabine Pass. He signed a parole on July 17, 1865, at Houston as lieutenant colonel of Gould’s Regiment of Dismounted Cavalry, thus ending his service in the war. Serving primarily in Texas, Samuel G. Ragsdale saw no combat during the Civil War.
After the war, Ragsdale returned to Caldwell and continued to farm. Colonel Ragsdale served two terms as district attorney and in 1871 filled an unexpired term in the Texas legislature. He was a Democrat. On July 8, 1872, he married Eula H. Newell, and together the couple had five sons. The family belonged to the Caldwell Presbyterian Church. James G. Ragsdale was a lawyer in Caldwell until his death on April 5, 1904. His wife Eula Ragsdale eventually moved to Santa Monica, California, where she died on December 4, 1928.