CHEVALLIE, MICHAEL HANCOCK

Harold J. Weiss, Jr.

CHEVALLIE, MICHAEL HANCOCK (1822–1852). Michael Hancock Chevallie (Chevaille, Chevalier), Texas Ranger and leader of Chevallie's Battalion in the Mexican War, was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1822. Although less known than John Coffee Hays, Benjamin McCulloch, and Samuel H. Walker, Chevallie and Robert A. Gillespie contributed their share of action to produce the heroic images of the early Texas Rangers. Chevallie joined the rangers in the early days of their role as citizen soldiers. His skills fitted the ranger creed: ride, shoot, and fight, with weapons and fists. In a story that is often cited in ranger histories, an Englishman complained to a general that Chevallie had beaten him. The officer exclaimed, "Keep a sharp look out or he will beat you again." By 1841 Chevallie had entered Texas and was in the field with Hays's rangers. He scouted, escorted colonists, took part in the struggle against Mexican cavalry near Laredo in 1841, and engaged Comanches at Paint Rock.

Obituary of Michael Hancock Chevallie
Obituary of Michael Hancock Chevallie. Courtesy of the Richmond Dispatch, August 18, 1852. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Entrance to the Stockton Rural Cemetery
Entrance to the Stockton Rural Cemetery. Courtesy of Edward Thorpe. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1845 he joined Gillespie's company of Texas Mounted Rangers as first lieutenant. These troops entered federal service under Gen. Zachary Taylor for the protection of the frontier. Then came several years of service with Hays's rangers. As a major of the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, under Colonel Hays, Chevallie took part in the assault on Monterrey in 1846. In this battle rangers carried out a frontal charge and took Federation Hill, which commanded the Saltillo road. Chevallie's battalion, mustered into federal service on April 25, 1847, escorted supply wagons and fought Mexican guerrillas in northern Mexico for General Taylor. In addition, the battalion tried to protect Mexicans from Apache and Comanche raids. Chevallie's troops, composed of five companies, most with over 100 men each, never fought as a unit. Company commanders were Henry W. Baylor, Walter P. Lane, Robert N. Taylor, James B. Reed (Reid), and George W. Adams. Disagreements between Gen. John E. Wool and Major Chevallie made the latter resign his commission on August 31, 1847. Lane was promoted to major and commanded the battalion to the end of the war. When Hays formed another regiment to keep communication and supply lines open between Veracruz and Mexico City for the armed forces under Gen. Winfield Scott, Chevallie rejoined him. Although not formally listed in the chain of command of Hays's new regiment, he was still called major and ably carried out his duties as contract buyer and commissary officer. As a "civilian-along-for-a-fight," Chevallie was praised for his quick-thinking actions in engagements with Mexican guerrillas at Teotihuacán and Zacualtipán. His admiration for Hays brought him to blows with another ranger who was impersonating Colonel Hays. After the Mexican War Chevallie and others stayed in Mexico and hunted for Indian scalps for bounties from the Mexican government. Chevallie emigrated to California in 1849 and died in Stockton, California, on July 9, 1852. He is buried in Stockton Rural Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

John S. Ford, Rip Ford's Texas, ed. Stephen B. Oates (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). James K. Greer, Colonel Jack Hayes: Texas Frontier Leader and California Builder (New York: Dutton, 1952; rev. ed., Waco: Morrison, 1974). William J. Hughes, Rebellious Ranger: Rip Ford and the Old Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964). Richmond Dispatch, August 18, 1852. Frederick Wilkins, The Highly Irregular Irregulars: Texas Rangers in the Mexican War (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Harold J. Weiss, Jr., "CHEVALLIE, MICHAEL HANCOCK," accessed September 17, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fch52.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on April 4, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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