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 »


Aragorn Storm Miller and David Park

RUNNELS, HENRY GEORGE [HAL] (1825–1880). Henry "Hal" George Runnels, Confederate officer, was born on April 25, 1825, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Hiram George Runnels and Obedience A. Smith. Henry was related to several notable men of Texas—including his first cousin, the former governor of Texas, Hardin Richard Runnels. Henry's uncle was Benjamin Fort Smith who fought with Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans and later fought at the battle of San Jacinto. The latter conflict earned him a 640-acre land grant in Texas, which he later conferred to Henry Runnels. Henry's father Hiram was governor of Mississippi from 1833 to 1835 and, after moving the family to Brazoria County, Texas, in 1842, was prominent enough that Runnels County was named after him. On November 5, 1849, Henry G. Runnels married Stella Lewis in Brazoria County. The couple had three children. In 1857 Runnels organized about 100 men in the Houston area to participate in William Walker's attempt to take control of Nicaragua. It is unclear, however, if Runnels in fact went to Nicaragua.

In the late 1850s Runnels was employed as a contractor on the rail line between Liberty and Houston. At the beginning of the Civil War, he organized a militia unit known as the San Jacinto Guards, which was soon incorporated into the Second Texas Infantry Regiment as Company A, with Runnels elected as the captain of the company. In August 1861 he received promotion to major. Runnels participated in the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. On April 25, 2862, the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph published a letter he wrote appealing for medicine and surgical personnel for the Texas regiments engaged in Tennessee and Mississippi.

During the Civil War, Runnels's wife Stella died on October 28, 1864. Sometime before 1870 he married Eliza A. Hennigan. The couple had three boys and three girls. Between 1870 and 1880, Runnels moved his family to San Rafael, Marin County, California, where he worked as a prison guard at San Quentin. He died on September 20, 1880, at the age of fifty-five.


James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Earl W. Fornell, "Texans and Filibusters in the 1850s," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 59 (April 1956). "Letter from Major Runnels, [Houston] Tri-Weekly Telegraph, April 25, 1862, "The Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers: Sharing & preserving the history of the 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment, 1861–1865 (http://www.terrystexasrangers.org/newsclippings/houston_tri_weekly_telegraph/1862_04_25b.htm), accessed April 13, 2011. Organization of the Armies, 1913 Report of the Shiloh National Military Park Commission (http://www.shilohbattlefield.org/commission/Pages/introduction/organization.htm), accessed April 13, 2011. "'Sioux': Pen Name and Biography of William P. Doran, Texas' First War Correspondent," Transcribed and annotated by W. T. Block from Galveston Daily News of Dec. 1, 1901(http://www.wtblock.com/wtblockjr/bill_doran.htm), accessed April 13, 2011.

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, Aragorn Storm Miller and David Park, "RUNNELS, HENRY GEORGE [HAL]," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fru42.

Uploaded on April 15, 2011. Modified on November 14, 2017. 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...