(1835 - 1892)
Home State: Texas
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 1st Texas Infantry
He was a law student at 15, licensed by special act of the legislature at age 17 (1852), and then practiced law in Woodsville, TX. He was elected District Attorney in 1856 and 1858. He was commissioned First Lieutenant and mustered into Confederate service in Company F, First Texas Infantry on 28 May 1861 in New Orleans. His Captain was his former law partner Philip A. Work. Samuel was elected Captain in Spring 1862 after Captain Work was promoted.
On the Campaign
He was severely wounded in the arm in action at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862.
The rest of the War
He returned from medical furlough in January 1863. He was wounded again, at Gettysburg, PA on 2 July 1863 and was captured there on 3 July, apparently (disguised?) in the uniform of a Private. He escaped from the Federal prison at Fort Delaware, date not given, but probably about December 1863. He had been appointed to a staff position as Assistant Adjutant General (probably as a Major) in the Trans-Mississippi Department while in prison, and reported there in January 1864.
After the War
He returned to his law practice in Woodville. He was elected a judge in 1866, but was removed by "radical Republicans" in 1868 when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, seeing it as unconstitutional. He moved to Rusk in Cherokee County, TX that year and served a term as District Attorney. He was appointed and then reelected Associate Judge on the Texas Court of Appeals from 1882-91 and was afterward the official court reporter. He continued in his practice in Rusk with son Samuel P. Willson as partner to his death.
References & notes
Service information from Davis1, Simpson2 and research in his Service Records by Hugh Simmons of the Fort Delaware Society. Gettysburg details from the Buseys.3 Personal details from sketches in The Medico-legal Journal (NY, 1891) and Lynch's The Bench and Bar of Texas (1885). His name is frequently seen as Samuel A. Wilson. His gravesite is on Findagrave.
He married Susan Elizabeth Priest (1836-1909) on 1 September 1853 and they had at least 8 children together. Sam's father Stephen Pelham Willson (1789-1861) was a physician who brought his family to San Augustine in 1834 when it was part of Mexico, before the Texas Revolution. His mother Mary Richardson "Polly" Davis (1802-1862) was a relative of CS President Jefferson Davis.
More on the Web
See a lovely set of Priest/Willson photos online from family genealogist Shannon Smyrl.
01/09/1835; San Augustine, MEXICO (now TX)
01/24/1892; burial in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Rusk, TX
1 Davis, Rev. Nicholas A., The Campaign from Texas to Maryland, Houston: Telegraph Book and Job Establishment, 1863, Pg. 142 [AotW citation 1488]
2 Simpson, Harold Brown, Hood's Texas Brigade: a Compendium, Hillsboro: Hill Junior College Press, 1977, pg. 44 [AotW citation 20924]
3 Busey, John W., and Travis W. Busey, Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg: A Comprehensive Record, Jefferson (NC): McFarland & Company, 2017, pg. 1418 [AotW citation 20925]