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 »


William James Battle

WAGGENER, LESLIE (1841–1896). Leslie Waggener, Confederate soldier, professor of English, and university president, was born in Trenton, Todd County, Kentucky, on September 11, 1841, the son of S. T. and Elizabeth (Ross) Waggener. He graduated from Bethel College, Russellville, Kentucky, in 1860 and from Harvard University in 1861. While serving as a private in the Confederate Army he was badly wounded at Shiloh but was saved by his faithful servant, promoted to lieutenant, and again wounded at Chickamauga; he again recovered and took part in the famous Hundred Days' March from Dalton to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1864. At one time he served as adjutant of his regiment and later as assistant adjutant of his brigade. After the war Waggener became principal of the preparatory department of Bethel College, professor of English in the same college in 1870, chairman of the faculty in 1873, and president in 1876. His success was so conspicuous that he was elected professor of English and history in the first faculty of the University of Texas. In this capacity he served from 1883 until 1888, when he was relieved of teaching history. From 1884 until 1894 he was also, by annual faculty election, chairman of the faculty. When the office of president was established, he was elected president ad interim and served for the school year 1895–96. Waggener was a great influence in the development of the University of Texas. The university had two million acres of land and great hopes, but very little actual money. Against all the difficulties of the first years-lack of operating funds, hostilities of church colleges, and wide-spread indifference-the chairman of the faculty was the natural leader, but he was hampered by the fact that his office was annual and, though it conferred responsibility, did not carry authority. Waggener's courage and high standards sustained the university through a difficult period and prepared the way for later development. He married Fannie Pendleton on June 27, 1867; they had seven children. In 1875 Waggener was made LL.D. by Georgetown College, Kentucky, and in 1895 he was elected president of the Texas State Teachers Association. He was a Mason and a Baptist. He died at Manitou Springs, Colorado, on August 19, 1896, and was buried in Austin. Waggener Hall on the University of Texas campus was named in his honor in October 1932.

Austin Daily Statesman, October 25, 1896. Daily Texan, April 15, 1932. Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Carl John Eckhardt, One Hundred Faithful to the University of Texas at Austin (197–?). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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, William James Battle, "WAGGENER, LESLIE," accessed May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwa06.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. 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...