While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" 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 »


Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

WEST, JOHN CAMDEN, JR. (1834–1927). John Camden West, Jr., lawyer and Confederate soldier, was born in Camden, South Carolina, on April 12, 1834, the son of John Camden and Nancy Clark (Eccles) West. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1854 and the next year moved to Texas to join his brother, Charles S. West, who had moved there some years earlier. In 1856 West briefly returned to South Carolina to marry Mary Eliza Stark of Columbia on April 14; they became the parents of three children. West read law in his brother's office and passed the Texas bar in 1858. He moved to Waco in 1859 to become headmaster of the Waco and Trinity River Classical School (see WACO UNIVERSITY). In April 1861 West enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in Company E, Fourth Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade. In May, Jefferson Davis appointed him to the provisional Confederate government as District Attorney of the Confederate State for the Western District of Texas. West resigned and enlisted in Speight's Regiment in March 1862, but Davis again appointed him district attorney when the permanent government was established. Determined to see action in the Civil War, West again resigned his position and reenlisted with Company E, Fourth Regiment, in April 1863; he fought at Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Knoxville before being honorably discharged in February 1864. After his discharge West returned to Waco and set up a law practice. He published his war letters and the diary he kept of his experiences in the army in a volume entitled A Texan in Search of a Fight (1901). The book, which provided valuable insight into life as an enlisted soldier, became a collector's item; it was reprinted in 1969. West was a longtime member of the Waco Bar Association and of the Baptist church. The last surviving member of Company E, West died in Waco on July 12, 1927, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1927. John C. West, A Texan in Search of a Fight (Waco: Hill, 1901; rpt., Waco: Texian Press, 1969). Mamie Yeary, Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray (McGregor, Texas, 1912; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1986).

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, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "WEST, JOHN CAMDEN, JR.," accessed April 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwe50.

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...