John Austin Wharton (1828 - 1865)

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Death: Died
Cause of death: shot by Col. George Wythe Baylor (CSA) during an argument
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Austin Wharton

John Austin Wharton (July 23, 1828 – April 6, 1865) was a lawyer, plantation owner, and Confederate general during the American Civil War. He is considered one of the Confederacy's best tactical cavalry commanders.

Early life

Wharton was born near Nashville, Tennessee, as the only child of Sarah Groce Wharton and William H. Wharton, later a leading politician during the Texas Revolution. When he was still an infant, the family moved to what became Brazoria County, Texas. In 1846, Wharton enrolled at South Carolina College. Two years later, he married Eliza Penelope Johnson, the daughter of David Johnson, the Governor of South Carolina.

After graduating in 1850, Wharton returned to Texas and studied law, establishing his practice in Brazoria. He became a wealthy plantation owner and slave owner. In 1860, he supported John C. Breckinridge's candidacy for the Presidency and served as an elector.

Civil War

An ardent secessionist, Wharton enlisted in the Confederate Army as captain of Company B, Eighth Texas Cavalry, also known as "Terry's Texas Rangers." Commissioned as colonel of the regiment, Wharton fought with distinction at Shiloh, where he was wounded. Wharton served under Gen. Braxton Bragg during the 1862 invasion of eastern Kentucky. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 18, 1862, and was again wounded, this time at Murfreesboro.

Wharton again distinguished himself at Chickamauga and was promoted to the rank of major general. He was assigned to the Trans-Mississippi Department in Louisiana in February 1864, leading the cavalry under Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor during the Red River Campaign.

Shortly before the end of the war in 1865, a fellow Confederate cavalry officer, Col. George Wythe Baylor (1832–1916) (brother of Confederate Arizona Governor Colonel John Baylor) killed Wharton in Houston, Texas, over a simmering dispute on military matters. The incident began with an argument on the street outside of the Fannin Hotel, the headquarters of Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder. The two officers had quarreled in the past, but this time Wharton came into Magruder's quarters and, as Baylor later claimed, called Baylor a liar. Baylor shot the unarmed Wharton, killing him instantly. His grave is in the state cemetery in Austin, Texas.


Wharton and Wharton County in Texas are named after Wharton and his father, William Harris Wharton.

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Maj. General John A. Wharton (CSA)'s Timeline

July 23, 1828
Age 19
Texas, United States
Age 25
Clute, Brazoria, Texas, United States
April 6, 1865
Age 36
Austin, Travis, Texas, United States