SIMMONS, JAMES R. (1840 ~ 1906). Confederate veteran James R. Simmons was born in Kentucky in 1840. Simmons moved to Texas in 1859 and settled near Tarrant County.
Simmons enlisted in the Confederate Army on November 28, 1861, and was assigned to the 7th Regiment Texas Cavalry, Mounted Volunteers.
The 7th Regiment Texas Cavalry was organized in the summer of 1861 in Victoria, Texas. Many of the men were from San Antonio, Palestine and Angelina County. It was assembled by Brigadier General Henry Sibley, who was ordered to enlist more than 2,000 men from Texas to take possession of New Mexico for the Confederate States.
In 1862, this force moved along the Rio Grande, where they were met by Union forces led by then Colonel Canby in Valverde New Mexico. The 7th Regiment Texas Cavalry claimed their first victory and continued to march on Santa Fe. The 7th Texas Cavalry was also responsible for later victories in Glorieta and at Johnson's Ranch. Simmons and the rest of the 7th Texas Cavalry, under then Captain William Steele, were ordered by Sibley to hold the Mesilla Region from the advancing Union army.
A majority of the New Mexico Campaign was successful with one exception. Sibley hoped to acquire Union rations to feed his troops, however, prior to his defeat Canby destroyed all supplies that could fall into Confederate hands. With supplies dwindling and Union forces converging on New Mexico, the 7th Texas Cavalry and the rest of the Confederate troops withdrew to Texas.
The 7th Regiment Texas Cavalry also participated in the recapture of Galveston Harbor. The 7th Cavalry was used as ground support while steam ships and other merchant vessels were converted to gun ships in order to shell the Union fleet in Galveston bay. Confederate forces retook Galveston with 27 Confederates killed and more than 100 wounded.
The 7th Regiment Texas Cavalry surrendered to the Union Army on June 2, 1865, after receiving word of the official surrender.
After the war Simmons lived in Montague County, Texas where he worked as a carpenter. He moved to Austin, Texas on December 31, 1906, when he was admitted into the Confederate Men's Home.
Simmons remained there until his death on December 17, 1907. He was buried at the Texas State Cemetery a short time later.
Simmons never married and is believed to have had no children. He had a brother, B.F. Simmons, who lived in Vernon, Texas.
Information taken from: National Parks Service at http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/; "Confederate Military History" edited by Robert S. Bridgers; and Confederate Home Roster records.