Sidney Sherman, biography c. 1926
[New Encyclopedia of Texas]
  Source: Davis, Ellis A. and Edwin H. Grobe, eds. New Encyclopedia of Texas. Dallas, Tex. Texas Development Bureau, 1926. Vol. I, p. 726-730.

GENERAL SIDNEY SHERMAN was the son of Micah and Susanna Frost Sherman of Marlboro, Massachusetts, where he was born on the 23rd of July, 1805. His ancestor. Captain John Sherman, the first of the name to settle in America, migrated from Dedham, England, in 1631. Roger Sherman so long the venerated Nestor of the United States Congress, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was also a descendant of Captain John Sherman, and was a first cousin of Sidney's father. Deprived of his parents in his young boyhood, Sidney left the old home in Marlboro, and at sixteen we find him in Boston engaged in mercantile pursuits. A year later he was induced by the flattering promises of a friend to embark on the adventurous sea of commerce on his own account. The failure of his friend, and his own lack of capital soon involved the precocious merchant in a like fate. He then removed to the city of New York where he remained five years and then wended his way westward and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1831. Here he soon united with a company for the purpose of establishing extensive factories in Newport, Kentucky. This association was the first to put into successful operation of cotton bagging by machinery, and Sherman individually was also the first to introduce the manufacture of sheet lead west of the Alleghany Mountains, (as he was the first to apply the gasspur to the iron horse in Texas). It was while he was absorbed in these pursuits, that tidings were received in the year of 1835 of the contest then going on between the Colonists of Texas and the Military Despotism of Mexico. His generous spirit kindled with enthusiasm and he zealously espoused a cause which contemplated under the most favorable aspect, might have intimidated the boldest heart. By a happy coincidence, Sherman at this time commanded a volunteer company by commission from the governor of Kentucky, which afforded him facilities for raising troops for the service of Texas. His call for volunteers was eagerly responded to and he immediately organized his company of fifty good men, requiring each man before being enrolled to sign stringent articles of subordination, and amid the snows of winter he established a regular camp and enforced discipline as strict as if in the face of the enemy. On the last day of December, 1835, he embarked on a steamer from Cincinnati, his men well armed, handsomely equipped and furnished with a full supply of ammunition and provisions. Notwithstanding a violent snow storm the United States troops at Newport barracks turned out and thousands of citizens lined the river banks to honor the occasion of their departure, and by repeated and enthusiastic cheering to manifest their sympathy in the heroic enterprise. Amid tears and touching farewells, waving of flags, beating of drums the bow of the steamer was turned towards the setting sun and passed down the great river, with a company of brave volunteers whose subsequent trials and triumphs form a splendid chapter in the proud history of Texas. Captain Sherman maintained the strictest order on board the steamer during the voyage, and in every way gave promise of an able commander. He landed at Natchitoches, Louisiana, and marched his company at once to Nacogdoches, Texas, and thence to Washington on the Brazos. He found the country in great confusion. The governor and lieutenant governor were at deadly feud, the convention had not assembled, and the brave Travis and his heroic band were calling for aid from the beleaguered walls of the Alamo. The people were enthusiastic and determined, but without arms or organization and no one present to instruct or lead them. Sherman paraded his men and called upon the citizens to volunteer and march on the following day to the relief of the Alamo, after which service, he declared his intention of returning with his company to the United States, unless the convention, then about to assemble, should declare the Independence of Texas. On arriving at Gonzales he found about two hundred citizen volunteers, a force totally insufficient to justify an attempt to break through the besieging Mexican force of about 7000. Fourteen days were consumed in concentrating men and supplies, at the end of which time Gen. Houston arrived and took command. On the following day the First Regiment of Texas Volunteers was organized, and Sherman nominated for the colonelcy. This he declined in favor of Gen. Burleson, an old and tried warrior, and he was elected lieutenant colonel. On the evening of the same day news was received that the Alamo had fallen and its brave defenders indiscriminately slaughtered. The army immediately retreated to the Brazos, where the second regiment was formed and Sherman elected to command it. While at the Colorado he was detached from the main body of the army and occupied a position some miles above it. Gen. Sesma was in open camp on the opposite side of the river with about seven hundred men and Col. Sherman feeling confident of his ability to defeat that attachment of the enemy asked permission of the commander-in-chief to cross the river and give him battle. Had he done so he might in all probability have saved Fannin and his men from an inglorious slaughter, but the request was refused, and he was ordered not to move from his quarters, not do anything to provoke the enemy. Like a good soldier he obeyed the obnoxious order and eventually was constrained to retreat with the main body of the army to San Felipe and thence to the Brazos bottom, some twenty miles above. During the retreat Colonel Sherman displayed all the soldierly qualities which, at such a crisis, were necessary to promote enthusiasm and to preserve the army from demoralization. He was equal to every emergency. It was he, under order of the commander-in-chief who put the army in marching order and personally superintended the dangerous crossing of the Brazos. At San Jacinto on the 20th of April, Col. Sherman led a small squadron of cavalry, sixty-eight in number, in an attack upon a detachment of the enemy that occupied an island of timber between the hostile camps.

He conducted the attack with admirable gallantry, but discovering that he was greatly outnumbered, he adroitly extricated himself with small loss and returned to camp. In the battle of the 21st of April, Sherman commanded the left wing of the army, and was the first to strike the enemy, sounding at the critical moment the war cry "Remember the Alamo." "Goliad and the Alamo." It was a day of vengeance, and deep retribution, and Col. Sherman acted a full and conspicuous part in its consummation. After remaining several months with the army in the West, and finding the enemy did not return, he tendered his resignation which President Burnet refused to accept, but instead, gave him a commission as colonel in the regular service, with orders to return to the United States and enlist his men. When about to leave his companions in arms, the secretary of war presented him with the stand of colors which he had brought to Texas, accompanied by the following note:

War Department, Aug. 6th, 1836.

This Stand of Colors, presented by the ladies of Newport, Kentucky, to Capt. Sidney Sherman, is the same which triumphantly waved on the memorable battlefield of San Jacinto, and is, by this government presented to the lady of Col. Sidney Sherman, as a testimonial of his gallant conduct on that occasion.

Secretary of War.

David G. Burnet.

On August 8th, 1896, this flag and the orignal note from the secretary of war were presented to the State of Texas by the daughters of Gen. Sherman through Mr. Eugene Gigges of the Department of Agriculture, Insurance Statistics and History. It had begun to crumble to decay and was preserved in a glass case, and is now in the archives of this historic State. Col. Sherman's health was much impaired by exposure and fatigue in the army, and before reaching Kentucky he was seriously ill for many weeks, but notwithstanding his very infirm health he, soon after reaching home, sent out some troops, and a quantity of clothing for those in the field who were very destitute. In January, 1837, he returned to Texas with his family and settled on San Jacinto Bay. In 1842 he was elected a representative to congress from Harris County, and was appointed chairman of the military committee. He introduced a bill providing for the election of a major general of militia and the protection of the frontier. The bill was vetoed by President Houston, but became a law by a constitutional majority in both houses of congress. General Rusk was the first elected to that position. Gen. Sherman succeeded him at the next election by the popular vote, which position he held until the annexation of Texas to the United States. On his retirement from military service General Sherman lost none of the energies which had characterized him in the field, but displayed in the occupation of private life useful enterprise and creative talents of a valuable order. In 1846 he conceived the idea of rebuilding the town of Harrisburg that had been destroyed by Santa Anna in 1836. With this vim he purchased a large interest in the townsite and 4000 acres adjoining. He then proceeded to Boston where he enlisted capitalists and organized a company to build a railway from Harrisburg westward. The difficulties to contend with were very great, the country was new and but imperfectly known abroad, the population and agricultural productions were inconsiderable and labor of every kind difficult to obtain, yet his unabated preseverance removed all obstacles and success finally crowned the enterprise, the rebuilding of the town and the construction of the first railway in Texas. The charter for this road, the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad, was approved by the Third Legislature of the state, February 11th, 1850, and the road was

started at Harrisburg in 1852. It is now a part of the Southern Pacific system, and was the first link in the chain of that great commercial highway running from New Orleans via San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. The first locomotive ever received in Texas was named the "General Sherman" in his honor. Its shrill whistle was the first glad sound of the locomotive to break upon the solitude of the Texas fields and forests and to rouse to new life the slumbering energies of her hardy people. It was the first west of the Sabine and second west of the Mississippi, one having been introduced at St. Louis a few months before. Thus the name of Sherman will be not only remembered as a chivalrous soldier whose best years were spent in the service of Texas, but as the father of a railroad system that has conferred inestimable blessings upon the people. In chronicling the events in the closing years of his life it is but a record of successive misfortunes. In 1853 a valuable saw mill and all the machinery belonging to him and Mr. D. W. C. Harris were entirely consumed by fire. Soon afterwards his dwelling at Harrisburg, then one of the finest buildings in the state, was also burned. The few valuables saved were removed to the railroad office which in its turn fell a victim to the fire fiend, and with it all his remaining possessions, including his valuable papers which had been accumulating for thirty years. Many of them of great value to himself and others relating to public affairs, and which would have been of much interest to the future historian of our country were totally destroyed.

In 1837 when Col. Sherman decided to cast his lot with the young republic and make it his future home, he chose a site on San Jacinto Bay for a residence, which he improved and called Crescent Place, and here he lived till 1847, when he moved his family to Harrisburg, and in 1855, that he might give his children better educational advantages he moved to Galveston, and here as proprietor of the Island City Hotel he remained till the stormy days of the Civil War, when he was forced to seek a safer refuge for his family. He espoused the cause of secession, and in 1861 was requested by the president of the committee of safety to take charge of affairs at Galveston with full authority to put the island in a state of defence. In 1862 he moved his family, consisting of his wife and three young children, and Ex-President Burnet back to the old home on San Jacinto Bay. His three oldest daughters were in Kentucky at school, and Sidney, the oldest son, with the army, but after Sidney's death, which occurred at the Battle of Galveston January 1st, 1863, Gen. Sherman went to Richmond, Fort Bend County, and there we find him at the close of the Civil War. Mrs. Sherman died in January, 1865, and the following year he returned to Galveston. He was much broken in health, and after the expiration of his term of office as president of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad Company, which he had held for several years, he retired to the shades of private life. He died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. J. M. 0. Menard, in Galveston on August 1, 1873, and was laid to rest in Lake View Cemetery by the side of his old friend and associate, David G. Burnet, first president of the Republic of Texas. Over these two the Sidney Sherman Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, whose object is to perpetuate the memory of the illustrious heroes of Texas, have erected a splendid monument.

Like most of the soldiers and statesmen who participated in the early struggles of the country, General Sherman derived little material benefit from its redemption.

Sidney Sherman was married on the 27th day of April, 1835, to Catherine Isabel, oldest daughter of Jacob and Maria Fenwick Cox of Frankfort, Kentucky. She was a lady distinguished for great moral worth, intellectual accomplishments and well equipped with all the qualities necessary for a soldiers wife, and the privations and hardships of pioneer life in a new and undeveloped country. Their children were eight, Lieutenant Sidney A. Sherman, who fell beside his gun at the battle of Galveston, January 1st, 1863, aged twenty-one years, unmarried. Caroline M. Sherman, now living in Galveston, the wife of J. M. 0. Menard. Their children are: Mrs. Sue LeCand, Mrs. Fanny Russell of Houston, Mr. Kendall Menard, Mrs. Belle Griggs and Mrs. Carrie Lew Keene and Odin who died in infancy. Caroline's first husband was Col. John A. Williams, civil engineer of the B. B. B. & C. R. R., and served on Gen. Lee's staff in Virginia during the Civil War. Albert Sidney Williams, the only child of this marriage is now deceased. Belle Sherman married Judge William E. Kendall of Richmond, Texas. He died in Houston in 1906. They had six sons: Sherman died at nineteen years, Charles in infancy, William E. Odin, Clarence and Fenwick all live in Houston. Susan Florence first married Chas. A. MacMurphy and had one child, Mrs. Carrie Belle GarnettAbrahams of Los Angeles, California. Her second husband was George 0. Cherry. She died in Galveston in 1872. Cornelius Fenwick Sherman died in infancy in 1853, Lennie Sherman, who was married to Hon. John T. Brady of Houston, and died April 22nd, 1885, leaving two children, Sherman Brady and Lucy Brady Hunt, wife of W. S. Hunt. Lucy Kate Sherman married Louis W. Craig and now resides in Houston. They have three sons: Leonard W., Doddridge H., and William Kendall Craig. The little girl, Emily Belle, died at two years, and David Burnet Sherman died in infancy in 1863.

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