|JAMES REILY (1811-1863)-Lawyer, diplomat, legislator, Confederate Army Officer.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio on July 3,1811, the second of five children of John and Nancy (Hunter) Reily. He had an excellent secondary education and received a bachelor's degree in 1829 from Miami University, where his father was a trustee. He began the study of law at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. According to the customs of the times, Reily boarded in the home of his mentor, Judge Robert Todd .Reily became a great favorite of Todd's daughter Mary, who he "petted and spoiled excessively". Mary grew up to marry Abraham Lincoln of Kentucky.
James Reily married Ellen Hart Ross, a grandneice of Henry Clay, in Lexington on March 4, 1834. at about the same time he was converted from the Episcopal faith. He was also a Mason. After his admission to the bar, he established a practice in Vicksburg, Mississippi, during the summer of 1835, and there his son John was born.
Sometime after March 2,1836, he moved to Texas, where he received a headright of 1,280 acres. He settled his family in Nacogdoches and served as a major in the Army of the Republic of Texas and aide-de-camp to T.J.Rusk. Reily is listed in the Nacogdoches Mounted Gaurds, 2nd Regiment, 3rd Brigade Texas Militia, Col. Wm. Sparks in command. By January 1838 Reily had become Rusk's law partner and when Rusk was elected chief justice of the state Supreme Court, they moved their offices to Houston, the capital of the republic. This partnership continued until the summer of 1839, when Reily went into partnership with James Love. About this time Reily served as captain of a volunteer infantry company, the Milam Guards.
Reily was one of the founders of Christ Church in Houston in March of 1839, and served several terms as vestyman. He was elected a member of the board of trustees. That year he was appointed by President Mirabeau B. Lamar to sell $1 million in Texas government bonds in New Orleans but was unsuccessful. In 1840 Reily was nominated by Lamar for district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District,but opposition from the Senate led to a withdrawal of the nomination. When the Supreme Court commenced it's first session on January 13, 1840, Reily was on the roll of attorneys certified to practice before that high tribunal. He was nominated for the post of District Attorney of the Fifth Jucicial District on February 1,1840, but the Senate failed to confurm him by a vote of nine to one. On October 15 the same year he was initiated into Holland Lodge No. 1.A.F.& A.M. The census of 1840 shows that he owned one town lot in Houston, one slave, two gold watches and one pleasure carriage. He went to Kentucky and returned home to engage in private practice and to make plans to visit Great Britian in April or May 1845. With the beginning of his second administration, in December 1841
, Sam Houston named Anson Jones his secretary of State and James Reily replaced Barnard Bee as minister to the United States. On January 26, 1842, Jones gave Reily his instructions.Reily reported to his government that John Tyler, who became president on the death of William Henry Harrison, in April 1841, was in favor of annexation, which was becoming increasingly popular with the Congress. To Reily, Tyler explained that he wished to conclude the matters at once but that he must have the consent of the Senate and that as matters stood it seemed best to mediate with Mexico in an attempt to bring about peace between that country and Texas. Instead of peace in 1842 there came Mexican invasions in March and again in September. On July 20, 1842 upon reily's resignation, Sam Houston nominated Issac Van Zandt as charge de' affaires to the United States. Van Zandt wrote on December 23, 1842, that Tyler and a majority of his cabinet were in favor of annexation but they feared that they; could not secure the necessary two-thirds vote in the senate to ratify a treaty. Reily represented Harris County in the House of Representatives of the 5th Congress of the Republic of Texas, 1840-41, and was appointed by Sam Houston as charge d' affaires for the republic in Washington, D.C., where he arrived on March 8, 1842. He negotiated with Daniel Webster a treaty of amity, commerce and navigation, which the United States failed to ratify. Although Houston reappointed him to the same post, Reily's confermation failed because of his outspoken opposition to annexation.
During the Mexican War Reily commanded a Texas Regiment. On May 6,1852, he served as chairman of the state Whig party convention but soon thereafter broke with the party because its presidential nominee, Winfield Scott, opposed slavery.Reily was elected to the House of the Fifth Texas Legislature, 1853-54, as a Democrat and later, under the administration of James Buchanan, was an ardent secessionist.
On August 20, 1861, he accepted a commission as colonel of the 4th Texas Mounted Volunteers. This regiment served in Gen. Sibley's Brigade. with Lt. Col. William Read (dirty shirt) Scurry as second in command. The first unit to join Sibley was William Polk Hardeman's Company A, 4th Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers, which was mustered into Confederate service for the "war" on August 27. By September 20, Colonel James Reily's 4th Regiment, which was mustered in the Alamo Plaza, had reached its full complement of ten companies and traing was begun at Camp Sibley, which was on the west bank of Salado Creek about six miles east of San Antonio on the Austin road. After the briefest of training, Sibley was ready to march his command to Fort Bliss. On Oct.22, Colonel Reily assembled his 4th Regiment at Camp Sibley and delivered an eloquent speech followed by his reading of a stirring prayer written by Alexander Gregg, Episcopal Bishop of Texas. Reily's 4th Regiment reached Fort Bliss on December 17, but was sent to encamp at Willow Bar in Confederate Arizona. On Christmas Day Colonel Reily bade farewell to his troops. Reily's first assignment was a diplomatic mission to Chihuahua and Sonora from January through April 1862, and thus he missed his regiments involvement in the battles of Valverde and Glorieta. His son, John, however served in those conflicts as first lieutentant and commander of the artillary of his father's regiment. Reily was killed April 14, 1863 at the Battle of Bayou Tech near Franklin,La. Reily knew his wound was mortal and told his men they could not afford to take the time to carry him off. He asked them to leave him to die on the battlefield. When his men returned they found that he had proped himself up against a tree. With his hands crossed over his chest and a cloth placed over his face, he had prepared himself for death. Another noble leader is gone but not forgotten. Col. James Reily is buried at Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky.
James Reily Document
4th Texas Mounted Volunteers History
Texans in the Civil War