Spaight, Ashley W. (1821–1911)

By: Robert Wooster

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Ashley W. Spaight, Civil War officer and member of the Constitutional Convention of 1866, the son of John and Matilda M. (Wood) Spaight, was born at Prairie Bluff, Wilcox County, Alabama, on November 24, 1821. He served in the Creek War in 1836 and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1842. He received his law license three years later and became a partner of Thomas W. Watts, later attorney general of the Confederate States of America. Spaight was elected to one two-year term in the Alabama legislature in 1846. He married Victoria M. Riggs on November 15, 1854. Hoping to improve his wife's ill health, Spaight moved in 1861 to Liberty County, Texas, where he established a plantation. The next year he organized the Moss Bluff Rebels there for Confederate service. After a promotion to lieutenant colonel, he took charge of the Eleventh Battalion of Texas Volunteers, a unit that served in Southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Although Spaight tendered his resignation in January 1863 after a dispute with Gen. John B. Magruder, Confederate officials refused the request. Spaight subsequently received a commendation from Gen. Richard Taylor for his service in Louisiana in 1863. He was promoted to colonel the following year, commanded the Twenty-first Texas Infantry, and was placed in charge of Confederate headquarters at Houston during the final days of the war. Spaight, a staunch Democrat, was elected a delegate from Liberty to the Constitutional Convention of 1866. He moved to Galveston in 1869 after the death of his wife. Governor Oran M. Roberts appointed him state commissioner of insurance, statistics, and history, a position he held from 1881 to 1883. In this office he oversaw the publication of The Resources, Soil, and Climate of Texas (1882), a compendium of information of state and local interest. After 1883 he returned to Galveston, where he remained politically active by, for instance, opposing referendum and recall. Spaight died on December 23, 1911, and was buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Galveston.

Galveston Daily News, December 24, 1911. Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). Cooper K. Ragan, ed., "The Diary of Captain George W. O'Brien, 1863," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 67 (July, October 1963, January 1964). Ashley Wood Spaight Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Robert Wooster, “Spaight, Ashley W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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