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Title: George Washington Chilton (photo)  Source: Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library George Washington Chilton (1828–1883)
Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs,
DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries,
Southern Methodist University

CHILTON, GEORGE WASHINGTON (1828–1883). George Washington Chilton, Confederate Army officer, was born on June 4, 1828, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He briefly attended Howard College at Marion, Alabama, but with the outbreak of the Mexican War he enlisted as a private in Capt. Christopher B. Acklin's Company B of Col. John C. Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles. After being discharged on September 13, 1846, he returned to Alabama, where he was admitted to the bar in 1848 and set up practice in Talladega. Chilton moved to Texas in 1851 and became an attorney in Tyler. The following year he married Ella Goodman of Tyler; the couple had two children. Chilton was a fiery orator, a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, and outspoken in his proslavery beliefs. He favored reopening the African slave trade and believed that every white man should own a black to perform menial labor, thus saving the energies of the "master race" for "self-improvement." The owner of five slaves, Chilton believed that a life of physical labor was God's will for the black race and that slavery was an improvement over a life of barbarism in Africa. Chilton was elected as a delegate to the Secession Convention, served from January 28 until February 4, 1861, and then was elected major of Col. Elkanah Greer's Third Texas Cavalry regiment. Samuel Barron, a trooper in the regiment, said of Chilton that "whenever an opportunity offered, [he] showed himself to be brave and gallant." Chilton commanded a battalion of the regiment at the battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri, on August 10, 1861, and received a slight gunshot wound to the head at the battle of Chustenahlah, Indian Territory, in December 1861. When the regiment's one-year enlistment period expired on May 8, 1862, new elections for officers were held, and J. J. A. Barker was elected to Chilton's place. For the last year of the war Colonel Chilton served as ordnance officer on the staff of Gen. Hamilton P. Bee. After the war he was elected to the United States House of Representatives but was refused his seat by the radical majority in Congress. In 1876 he was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket. Chilton died in 1883 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler. He was the father of United States senator Horace Chilton.


Samuel Barron, The Lone Star Defenders: A Chronicle of the Third Texas Cavalry, Ross' Brigade (New York: Neale, 1908; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1964). Douglas Hale, "The Third Texas Cavalry: A Socioeconomic Profile of a Confederate Regiment," Military History of the Southwest 19 (Spring 1989). Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907).

Thomas W. Cutrer


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas W. Cutrer, "CHILTON, GEORGE WASHINGTON," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 31, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on January 18, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.