Townes, Nathaniel William (1827–1900)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Type: Biography

Published: April 26, 2011

Updated: August 12, 2020

Nathaniel William Townes, lawyer and Confederate officer, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, on February 3, 1827. Townes married Lucinda Robbins on October 5, 1852, in Red River County, Texas. By 1860 the couple and their three children lived in Paris, Texas, where Townes worked as an attorney and planter with nine slaves.

Townes joined the Ninth Texas Cavalry when it organized in August 1861. A popular man, the men elected him major of the regiment on October 2, 1861, and then colonel in May 1862. The Ninth was mustered into service on October 14, 1861, and saw some of their first battles in Indian Territory where they fought pro-Union American Indians.

Shortly after being elected colonel in 1862, Townes was injured in an accidental shooting in Corinth, Mississippi. One of the men failed to see a loaded rifle on the ground in front of him, stepped on the gun, and it fired hitting Townes in the knee. Despite efforts to return to his troops, Townes never again took the field as a field officer.

After the Civil War, Townes returned to Red River County and lived in Bogata. On December 1, 1893, he was named Bogata postmaster, a position that he retained for six years. Townes died on May 4, 1900, and is buried in the Bogata Cemetery.

Richard Lowe, ed., A Texas Cavalry Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of James C. Bates (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999). James A. Mundie, Jr., with Bruce S. Allardice, Dean E. Letzring, and John H. Luckey, Texas Burial Sites of Civil War Notables: A Biographical and Pictorial Field Guide (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill College Press, 2002).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Townes, Nathaniel William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 26, 2011
August 12, 2020

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