A Civil War Biography

Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Ross was born in Bentonport, Iowa Territory on 27 September 1838. A year later his family migrated to Texas, eventually settling in Waco in 1849. Ross gained a reputation as an Indian fighter early in his life. Although he loved the action, he recognized the value of an education and enrolled at Baylor University at Independence, Texas then at Wesleyan University at Florence, Alabama. Ross did, however, spend his time between semesters on the frontier.

In October 1858, he was wounded while leading a band of Indian auxiliaries against Comanche's near Rush Springs, Oklahoma. After recovering from his wounds, he returned to Wesleyan and graduated the next spring. Returning to Texas, Ross joined the Texas Rangers in 1860. Initially appointed a lieutenant he eventually was named a captain assigned by Sam Houston to raise a company in Young County and the surrounding area.

In December 1860 Ross and his company pursued a Comanche raiding party, ending in the battle of Pease River and the rescue of Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been captured by the Comanche 20 years earlier.

After Texas seceded Ross resigned from the Texas Rangers. He served as a peace commissioner to various Indian tribes before enlisting in the Confederate army as a private in a company formed in Waco by his older brother, Peter. When the company became part of the 6th Texas Cavalry Ross was made a major. In May 1862 he was promoted to colonel. For his skillful covering the retreat of Earl Van Dorn from Corinth, Mississippi Ross was promoted to brigadier general on 21 December 1863. He commanded a cavalry brigade until the end of the war taking part in over 135 engagements and having 5 horses shot from under him during his Confederate service. Ross was in Texas on furlough when his brigade surrendered at Jackson, Mississippi in May 1865.

After the war he took up farming. He was elected sheriff of McLennan County, Texas and served from 1873 until 1875. He was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1875 then served as a state senator from the 22nd district from 1881 until a reapportionment bill reduced his four-year term. Ross declined to seek re-nomination. In 1887 he was elected governor, leaving office in 1891 after serving two terms. He was then appointed president of the struggling Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M University. In 1893 he was elected commander of the Texas Division of the United Confederate Veterans. He held both posts until his death on 3 January 1898 in College Station, Texas.

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