John R. Watson was born in Georgia around 1825, the son of Thomas and K. D. Watson. Prior to 1850 the family moved to Linden, Cass County, Texas, where John began a law practice and worked as deputy court clerk. He married Clementine Connally in 1854 and they had two children.
Watson enlisted in Company B of the Eighteenth Texas Infantry as a captain on April 2, 1862, at Linden in Cass County. He was promoted to major on February 23, 1863, and to lieutenant colonel on August 10, 1863, while stationed on the Red River. Watson was described by his fellow officers as a "gallant soldier and a fine officer." Following the battle of Opelousas on October 21, 1863, the women of the town made the unit a flag and presented it to Watson. He took the flag and gave a brief thanks to the women.
Watson was promoted to colonel on April 9, 1864, but was killed in action at the battle of Jenkins' Ferry on April 30, 1864, where approximately 900 Confederate and Union troops died as well.
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Bruce S. Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington. James Henry Davis, ed., Texans in Gray: A Regimental History of the Eighteenth Texas Infantry, Walker's Texas Division in the Civil War (Tulsa: Heritage Oak Press, 1999). Richard G. Lowe, Walker's Texas Division, C.S.A.: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Bruce Allardice and Stephanie P. Niemeyer,
Brett J. Derbes,
“Watson, John R.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 1, 2011
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 29, 2011
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: