Peg Leg: The Improbable Life of a Texas Hero, Thomas William Ward, 1807-1872

Overview


Irish-born Thomas William (“Peg Leg”) Ward ventured to Texas in 1835 to fight in the Texas Revolution, but in his first day of action his right leg was hit by Mexican cannon fire in and amputated. Four years later he lost his right arm to cannon fire in an accident. Though confronted with an unending problem of mobility and tormented by pain in his residual leg, Ward surmounted his horrific injuries to become a notable public figure.

Ward’s public career spanned three decades ...

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Overview


Irish-born Thomas William (“Peg Leg”) Ward ventured to Texas in 1835 to fight in the Texas Revolution, but in his first day of action his right leg was hit by Mexican cannon fire in and amputated. Four years later he lost his right arm to cannon fire in an accident. Though confronted with an unending problem of mobility and tormented by pain in his residual leg, Ward surmounted his horrific injuries to become a notable public figure.

Ward’s public career spanned three decades and a multiplicity of responsibilities—military officer, three-time mayor of Austin, presidential appointments as U.S. Consul to Panama and a federal customs official in Texas—but it was as Texas land commissioner during the 1840s that he particularly made his mark. At a time when land was the principal asset of the Texas republic and the magnet that attracted immigrants, he fought to remedy the land system’s many defects and to fulfill the promise of free land to those who settled and fought for Texas.

If Ward had a remarkable career, his life was nonetheless troubled by symptoms comparable to those experienced by recent war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder—a hair-trigger temper, an impulse to violence, and marital discord. His wife, Susan Ward, though deeply in love with him at the start, eventually left him and accused him in two bitterly fought court cases of verbal, psychological, and physical abuse. To many of his fellow Texans, however, Ward remained a hero who had sacrificed his leg for a noble cause—independence from Mexico.

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Editorial Reviews

Jerry Thompson

"Rich in high drama and exceptionally well written—one of the most compelling and forceful pieces of research I have read in years." --Jerry Thompson, Regents Professor of History, Texas A&M International University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780876112373
  • Publisher: Texas State Historical Association
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


DAVID C. HUMPHREY, historian, has written three books and many articles on U.S. and Texas history and has won several awards, most recently from the Texas State Historical Association and the East Texas Historical Association. He lives in Annandale, Virginia.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments IX

Part 1 Peg, Leg, 1807-1845

Introduction 3

1 From Dublin to New Orleans 7

2 The Storming of San Antonio 18

3 With Green's Brigade 31

4 Launching Houston 42

5 "Autocrat of the Land Office" 56

6 "Old Peg" and the Archive War 72

7 Recovery and Reform 92

Part 2 Peg Leg and Susan, 1844-1874

8 Susan 113

9 Downfall 124

10 A Time of Troubles 144

11 On the Isthmus 156

12 In Jeopardy 167

13 The Watermelon War and the Commodore 178

14 Reunion and Separation 192

15 Civil Wars 211

16 Final Years 231

Retrospect 247

Appendix 255

Notes 259

Bibliography 313

Index 329

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