Jerome B. Robertson

Last updated
Jerome Bonaparte Robertson
Nickname(s)"Aunt Polly"
Born(1815-03-14)March 14, 1815
Woodford County, Kentucky
DiedJanuary 7, 1890(1890-01-07) (aged 74)
Waco, Texas
Place of burial
Oakwood Cemetery, Waco, Texas
AllegianceFlag of Texas.svg  Republic of Texas
Flag of the Confederate States of America (1865).svg  Confederate States of America
Service/branchFlag of Texas.svg  Army of the Republic of Texas
Battle flag of the Confederate States of America.svg  Confederate States Army
Years of service18361837 (Texas),
18611865 (CSA)
Rank Brigadier General (CSA)
Commands held Texas Brigade
Battles/wars American Civil War

Jerome Bonaparte Robertson (March 14, 1815 January 7, 1890) was a doctor, Indian fighter, Texas politician, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was noted for his service in the famed Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Confederate States Army Army of the Confederate States

The Confederate States Army was the military land force of the Confederate States of America (Confederacy) during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Army of Northern Virginia field army of the Confederate States Army

The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. It was also the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac.


Early life and career

Robertson was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, the son of Scottish immigrant Cornelius Robertson and his wife Clarissa Hill (Keech) Robertson. When Robertson was only four years old, his father died, leaving his mother almost penniless. Unable to properly support her family, she apprenticed young Robertson four years later to a hatter, who moved with the boy in 1824 to St. Louis. After studying medicine at Transylvania University in Kentucky, Robertson graduated in 1835. With the Texas Revolution emerging as a national topic, Robertson joined a company of Kentucky volunteers as a lieutenant and made plans to travel to Texas. However, they were delayed in New Orleans and did not arrive in the Republic of Texas until September 1836. There, he joined the Army of Texas and was commissioned as a captain.

Woodford County, Kentucky County in the United States

Woodford County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 24,939. Its county seat is Versailles.

St. Louis Independent city in the United States

St. Louis is a major independent city and inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which marks Missouri's border with Illinois. The Missouri River merges with the Mississippi River just north of the city. These two rivers combined form the fourth longest river system in the world. The city had an estimated 2018 population of 302,838 and is the cultural and economic center of the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, and the 20th-largest in the United States.

Transylvania University Private University in Lexington, KY, USA

Transylvania University, colloquially known as "Transy", is a private university in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, founded in 1780, the first university in Kentucky. It offers 36 major programs, as well as dual-degree engineering programs, and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its medical program graduated 8,000 physicians by 1859.

In 1837, with Texas Revolutionary hostilities essentially ended, Robertson resigned his Texas commission and returned to Kentucky, where he married Mary Elizabeth Cummins. He returned with his wife and several relatives to Texas in December 1837, buying land and settling in Washington-on-the Brazos. He established a medical practice, and became known on the frontier as an Indian fighter through six years of sporadic campaigning. He also served in the military forces that helped repel two invasions by the Mexican army in 1842. After stints as the town's coroner, mayor, and postmaster, Robertson built a home in Independence in 1845. By this time, the Republic of Texas was on the verge of becoming the State of Texas. Robertson was elected in 1847 to the State House of Representatives and in 1849 to the State Senate.

Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas Unincorporated community in Texas, United States

Washington-on-the-Brazos is an unincorporated area along the Brazos River in Washington County, Texas, United States. Founded when Texas was still a part of Mexico, the settlement was the site of the Convention of 1836 and the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The name "Washington-on-the-Brazos" was used to distinguish the settlement from "Washington-on-the-Potomac"—i.e., Washington, D.C.

Independence, Texas Unincorporated community

Independence is an unincorporated community in Washington County, Texas, United States. Located twelve miles northeast of Brenham, it was founded in 1835 in Austin's colony of Anglo-Americans. It became a Baptist religious and educational center of the Republic of Texas. In 1845 it became the first site of Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

He and his wife Mary had three children, one of whom died in infancy. His son Felix Huston Robertson eventually became a brigadier general in the Confederate army.

Felix Huston Robertson Confederate Army general

Felix Huston Robertson was the only native-born Texan to serve as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. If he is classified as a general despite his temporary appointment being rejected by the Confederate Senate on February 22, 1865, at the time of his death, he would have been the last surviving general of the Confederacy. He was noted for the controversial behavior of his troops at the Battle of Saltville, where scores of wounded black Union cavalrymen were killed in their beds.

Civil War

Robertson was a delegate to the state Secession Convention in January 1861, and subsequently raised a company of volunteers for the Confederate army and was elected as its captain when it became a formal part of the newly raised 5th Texas Infantry Regiment in the brigade of John Bell Hood. In November 1861, Robertson was elevated to lieutenant colonel, and then on June 1, 1862, to colonel and command of the regiment. He was in the Peninsula Campaign, serving with distinction during the Seven Days Battles and leading his regiment in a successful charge during the Battle of Gaines' Mill that split the Union lines.

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

The 5th Texas Infantry Regiment was a unit of Confederate States Army infantry volunteers that fought in the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. The unit was part of the famous Texas Brigade. The regiment fought at Eltham's Landing, Gaines's Mill, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg in 1862. It fought at Gettysburg and Chickamauga in 1863 and the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864. The regiment surrendered to Federal forces on 9 April 1865 after the Battle of Appomattox Court House.

Brigade Military formation size designation, typically of 3-6 battalions

A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or reinforced regiment. Two or more brigades may constitute a division.

Robertson became popular with his soldiers due to his unusual concern for their welfare, giving rise to his nickname, "Aunt Polly." He served in the Northern Virginia Campaign and the Maryland Campaign, where his health was failing due to months of steady campaigning. During the Battle of South Mountain, he was overcome by exhaustion and had to be carried from the field. He did not rejoin his regiment until after the subsequent Battle of Antietam. However, by then his reputation as a fighter had been noted, and with the promotion of Hood to division command, Robertson was named as his successor and was promoted to brigadier general on November 1, 1862. He saw his first action as a brigade commander during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Northern Virginia Campaign series of battles fought in Virginia during the American Civil War

The Northern Virginia Campaign, also known as the Second Bull Run Campaign or Second Manassas Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during August and September 1862 in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee followed up his successes of the Seven Days Battles in the Peninsula Campaign by moving north toward Washington, D.C., and defeating Maj. Gen. John Pope and his Army of Virginia.

Maryland Campaign also known as the Antietam Campaign, an American Civil War invasion

The Maryland Campaign—or Antietam Campaign—occurred September 4–20, 1862, during the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was repulsed by the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who moved to intercept Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia and eventually attacked it near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.

Battle of South Mountain Battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of South Mountain—known in several early Southern accounts as the Battle of Boonsboro Gap—was fought September 14, 1862, as part of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War. Three pitched battles were fought for possession of three South Mountain passes: Crampton's, Turner's, and Fox's Gaps. Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, needed to pass through these gaps in his pursuit of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's precariously divided Army of Northern Virginia. Although the delay bought at South Mountain would allow him to reunite his army and forestall defeat in detail, Lee considered termination of the Maryland Campaign at nightfall.

Gettysburg and after

In the summer of 1863, Robertson led his brigade into Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign. Hood's Division arrived too late for the first day's fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg, but they played a prominent role on the second day, where Robertson led his brigade in a series of hard-hitting, but ultimately unsuccessful, attacks on Little Round Top. Those attacks culminated with the fight for Devil's Den, during which his 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas regiments, as well as his 3rd Arkansas Infantry, took heavy casualties that ultimately resulted in their taking their objective, despite being greatly outnumbered by Union forces. Robertson was wounded along with several of his officers during that action, which he later described as "one of the hottest contests I have ever witnessed."

In September, along with the rest of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's corps, Robertson and the Texas Brigade were moved to Tennessee to reinforce the Army of Tennessee, fighting with distinction at Chickamauga. However, Robertson's performance in the subsequent East Tennessee campaign invoked the wrath of both Longstreet and division commander Micah Jenkins. Longstreet filed formal court-martial charges against General Robertson, alleging dereliction of duty and accusing him of pessimistic remarks. Shortly before, Robertson had joined the other brigadiers in the division in support of Evander M. Law over Longstreet's protégé Jenkins as division commander, which undoubtedly influenced Longstreet, who was in a bitter argument with Law. Robertson was reprimanded, replaced as commander of the Texas Brigade, and transferred to Texas, where he commanded the state reserve forces until the end of the war.

Postbellum career

Following the collapse of the Confederacy and the surrender of the remaining Texas forces, Robertson returned to his home in Independence and resumed his medical practice, a period marked by mourning when his wife died in 1868. He re-entered politics in 1874, being named as superintendent of the Texas Bureau of Immigration for two years. Two years later, he served as passenger and emigration agent for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. Robertson married a widow, Mrs. Hattie Hendley Hook, in 1878 and relocated to Waco a year later. There, he continued to promote railroad construction in west Texas.

He held several high Masonic offices, including deputy grand master of the Third Masonic District and of the Twenty-ninth Masonic District. He was an organizer of the Hood's Texas Brigade Association, which he served as president several times.

He was initially buried at Independence next to his first wife and his mother. In 1894 his son had all three bodies moved to Oakwood Cemetery (Waco, Texas).

See also

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Texas Senate
Preceded by
John Winfield Scott Dancy
Texas State Senator
from  District 14

Succeeded by
James H. Armstrong