Horace Randal was born in 1833 in Tennessee, but his family moved to Texas when he was six years old. He was able to obtain an appointment to the United States Military Academy and graduated next to last place in the class of 1854. He would be commissioned a lieutenant in the infantry and spent the next six years in the west seeing action against Apache Indians.
Randal married Julia Bassett in 1858. She would die in childbirth just before the Civil War began in 1861. The newborn wouldn't survive either. He would marry Nannie Taylor in 1862 and they would have one son named Horace, Jr.
Randal and wife Julia
When Texas left the Union, Randal resigned his commission and traveled to Montgomery, Alabama. Confederate President Davis promised Randal a commission as Captain in the Confederate army and ordered Randal to Pensacola, Florida. When Randal received a commission as 1st lieutenant, he returned to Montgomery where he ripped his commission to shreds.
Randal then traveled to Virginia as a private citizen where he served on the staff of Gustavus Smith without pay. Smith asked President Davis to make Randal a captain. Davis admitted a mistake had been made, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He made Randal a 1st lieutenant in the Confederate cavalry.
One Confederate soldier said of Randal, “Colonel Horace Randal, in some respects the most remarkable man I met during the war…He was a classmate of General Stuart at West Point, but had more physical dash than Stuart.”
General John Bell Hood, another classmate of Randal, predicted that Randal would become the greatest cavalry leader of the war if given the chance. Others also mentioned how Randal never bragged on himself or his abilities, but always exhibited modesty.
In the winter, Randal left the army in Virginia and traveled to Texas where he raised the 28th Texas Cavalry and became its colonel. They soon left Texas for Arkansas where they were dismounted and used as infantry. He was placed in charge of a brigade although he was only a colonel.
Kirby Smith, the overall commander of the Trans-Mississippi department wrote Richmond seeking a promotion to brigadier general for Randal. The request was declined because Richmond was too far out of contact with the needs of the department west of the Mississippi River. Smith would have to appoint his own generals.
After the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, his immediate commander Richard Taylor had nothing but high praise for Randal. Kirby Smith decided to promote Randal to brigadier general on his own.
Randal would only see action in one more battle. At the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry he would fall mortally wounded in a flank attack on the Federal’s position on April 30, 1864 and died on May 2. He was 33 years old. Randal rests today in Old Marshall Cemetery, Marshall, Texas. Randal County, Texas is named in his honor.
The grave of Brigadier General Horace Randal