While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Thomas W. Cutrer

LANG, WILLIS L. (1830–1862). Willis L. Lang, planter, Texas Ranger, and Confederate Army officer, the youngest of five children of William A. and Temperance (Thurman) Lang, was born on November 29, 1830, in Wayne County, Mississippi. He and his brother William W. Lang were educated in their family's plantation school and subsequently attended Oakland College in Claiborne County. The two brothers divided the honor of graduating first in their class of 1848. Willis read law in the office of his brother-in-law, Thomas P. Faulkner, in Alabama, but upon the death of his father in 1849 he returned to Mississippi to administer the plantation. Two years of failed crops, however, induced him to move to Texas. With seventy-five slaves and his agricultural implements, Lang settled twelve miles from the Falls County community of Marlin by February 20, 1856. In April 1860 he enlisted as what he called a "high private" in Capt. J. M. Smith's company of "Waco Rangers"; he served until the following September on a campaign against marauding Kickapoos and Comanches. As Lang had expected, the company did not get into an Indian fight but enjoyed "a grand buffalo hunt." Lawrence Sullivan Ross became the company's captain in an election held on May 20, and Lang was elected lieutenant.

At the time of secession from the Union Lang raised a company of lancers for Confederate service. This unit was mustered into the army at Camp Sibley near San Antonio on September 2, 1861, as Company B of Gen. Thomas Green's Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers. At the battle of Valverde on February 21, 1862, Lang suffered a severe wound and was left behind at the Socorro Hospital when Gen. Henry H. Sibley's army moved up the Rio Grande toward Albuquerque. Suffering intense pain and conscious of the fact that recovery was impossible, Lang ordered his body servant to bring him his revolver, with which he committed suicide on March 2, 1862. A typescript of his diary is located in the Barker Texas History Center, at the University of Texas at Austin.


Thomas W. Cutrer, ed., "`My Wild Hunt After Indians': The Journal of Willis L. Lang, 23 April-7 September 1860," Military History of the Southwest 21 (Spring 1991). Martin Hardwick Hall, The Confederate Army of New Mexico (Austin: Presidial Press, 1978). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "LANG, WILLIS L.," accessed June 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla30.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 15, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...