has 254 counties and 1,208 incorporated cities, but none are named
for Henry Millard – a virtually forgotten hero of the Texas War
The best the state has managed to do in remembrance of this early-day
fighting Texan is attach his name to the 13th hole at Battleground
Golf Course in Deer Park. Well, there is an official state historical
marker about him placed in 1991 outside the Beaumont
public library in the city he founded.
Part of Millard’s obscurity is easy enough to understand. When Texans
think of the battle
of San Jacinto, the first name that comes to mind is Sam Houston.
Oh yes, we recall, Houston defeated Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa
Anna on April 21, 1836 and assured Texas’ independence from Mexico.
True enough, but the two men didn’t go “mano a mano” in a duel.
Each had hundreds of “seconds” backing them up in that decisive
contest of arms.
Houston relied on a small staff of senior officers commanding some
700 to 900 men, depending on which source you want to believe. The
Mexican force had more officers and more rank and file soldiers.
On the Texas side, while Houston held overall command, he turned
to five men as his field commanders. Of those five, four are relatively
well known even to casual students of Texas history: Cols. Edward
Burleson, George Washington Hockley, Mirabeau B. Lamar, and Sidney
Burleson, who led the First Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, later
became vice president of the Republic of Texas and had both a county
and city named in his honor. Hockley, commander of artillery (including
the famous Twin Sisters) got
a county named after him. Lamar, who led a corps of cavalry that
afternoon, became the Republic’s second president. He also got a
county, a town and a university bearing his distinctive surname.
Finally, Sherman, commanding the Second Regiment of Volunteer Infantry,
got a town, a county and a college named in his honor.
Alas, no one bothered to recognize the final member of Houston’s
battlefield leadership team, Lt. Col. Henry Millard.
one has yet found his date of birth, but Millard is believed to
have been born around 1796 in Stillwater, NY. A distant relative
of President Millard Fillmore and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Millard came to Texas in 1835 after having spent time in Missouri,
Mississippi and Louisiana. He and a partner bought land along a
bluff on the Neches River and laid out a town site he called Beaumont,
his late wife’s maiden name.
Millard quickly became active in separatist politics, and in late
1835 or early 1836 received a commission as lieutenant colonel in
the Texian army.
Jacinto, he led two companies of regular infantry, 92 men in
all. Along with Burleson’s regiment, Millard and his soldiers overwhelmed
the Mexican breastworks and captured their cannon.
under…Col. Geo. W. Hockley…was placed on the right of the first
Regiment; and four [sic] companies of Infantry under the command
of Lieut. Col. Henry Millard, sustained the artillery upon the right,”
Neither Millard nor any of his men suffered injuries that day, but
one account has Millard’s horse having been shot from under him.
Houston, who lost two horses, rode near Millard’s men when he suffered
an ankle wound that plagued him for the rest of his life. Later,
in appreciation of Millard’s service, the general presented the
colonel with two pistols that had belonged to Santa Anna.
ever wrote an account of his role in the battle, it is not known
A few months after the battle, however, Millard made the newspapers
by participating in an Army plot to arrest interim President David
G. Burnet. The effort did not succeed, and Burnet booted Millard
out of the Army.
incident could explain Millard’s lack of recognition, he went on
to hold public office in the new county of Jefferson as well as
Later, after moving to Galveston,
he served as a militia colonel.
Just as his birthday is unknown, so is there confusion as to Millard’s
date of death. He died at around 48 on either Aug. 28 or 29, 1844,
He’s buried in the Episcopal Cemetery there.
One hundred and forty-one years later, in 1985, Judith Walker Linsley
and Ellen Walker Rienstra revived his memory somewhat with an article
called “Henry Millard, Forgotten Texian,” published in the Gulf
Historical and Biographical Record. They also wrote the entry for
Millard in the Handbook of Texas Online.
Four days after the battle, still smarting from his wound, Houston
sent his after-action report to President Burnet. While remembered
for a high level of self-confidence bordering on arrogance, Houston
said the right thing about his officers and men in his report:
“For the Commanding General to attempt discrimination as to the
conduct of those who commanded in the action, or those who were
commanded would be impossible. Our success…is conclusive proof of
their daring intrepidity and valor; every officer and man proved
himself worthy of the cause in which he battled, while the triumph
received a luster from the humanity which characterized their conduct,
after victory, and richly entitles them to the admiration and gratitude
of their General.”
grateful for his officers and men, but the people of Texas failed
to accord lasting recognition to Henry Millard. Well, except for
that 13th hole in Harris County.