Capt James Hughes Callahan

Capt James Hughes Callahan

Jefferson, Jackson County, Georgia, USA
Death 7 Apr 1856 (aged 41)
Comal County, Texas, USA
Burial Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 9434686 · View Source
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Captain Callahan was a member of the Georgia Battalion that arrived in Texas in December 1835 to help Texas fight for its independence.

Although most of the Georgia Battalion was killed during the Goliad Massacre, Captain Callahan survived because he had been involved in the Battle of Refugio (which took place shortly before the Battle of Coleto Creek where most of the men led by Colonel James Fannin were captured by the Mexican Army) and had escaped to Victoria where the Mexican Army captured him and assigned him to build a floating bridge across the Guadalupe River.

Callahan lived in Gonzales County immediately after Texas became a republic. On 26 March 1843, he married Sarah Medissa Day. Together, they had six children: Wesley Hughes Callahan, James Sanford Callahan, Josiah Ashbury Callahan, Mahala Caroline Callahan, Armiseda Catherine Callahan, and William Milford Callahan.

Captain Callahan was one of the first Texas Rangers and participated in many scouts and battles to protect his fellow Texans.

In the 1850s, he and his family started a new settlement (called Callahan's settlement) located on the Martin's Fork of the Blanco River (just north of present day Blanco, Texas).

When the Indians living in Mexico increased their raids and depredations west and north of San Antonio in 1855, Texas Governor Elisha M. Pease asked Captain Callahan to organize a company of Texas Rangers to provide protection to the settlements being threatened (letter dated 5 July 1855). The company was mustered into service to Texas on 20 July 1855 for a period of three months.

Captain Callahan soon concluded that the only way to stop the Indian (specifically Lipans) raids and depredations was to track them to their homes.

Governor Pease had authorized him to follow the marauding Indians and "chastise them wherever they may be found." In a 7 September 1855 letter to Governor Pease, Captain Callahan informed him that he was planning to do exactly that.

On 15 September 1855, Captain Callahan mustered into service two additional companies of mounted volunteers at the Leona River (the companies were commanded by Captains Nathaniel Benton and William R. Henry). All three companies together totaled about 130 men.

Following information provided by his scouts, the three companies of the Callahan Expedition crossed the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass, Texas, on the first and second of October 1855. On 3 October 1855, they started their march to the Indian's main camp on the Rio Sabinas. The Expedition, however, was ambushed by the Mexican Army and Indians about twenty miles from Eagle Pass.

After an intense battle, Captain Callahan ordered his men back to Piedras Negras (the town across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass). Before he was able to cross his men and horses to the Texas side of the river (the Rio Grande was at an extreme flood stage), a force of 1,000+ Mexicans and Indians threatened to attack his men at Piedras Negras. To prevent the attack, Captain Callahan ordered his men to set fire to buildings near his position on the bank of the Rio Grande. He credited this tactic for saving the lives of his men who safely crossed the river - about 20 horses were lost to the Mexican Army during the crossing of the river.

Governor Pease and United States Secretary of State William Marcy and many others supported Captain Callahan's crossing into Mexico in pursuit of the Lipans. Prior to the Callahan Expedition, the Lipans had escaped with their plunder by crossing the Rio Grande which they knew could not be crossed by federal troops due to neutrality laws. Texas and United States authorities also justified the burning of Piedras Negras by citing the fact that Mexican authorities had given Captain Callahan permission to cross into Mexico to chastise the Lipans but then ambushed his Expedition in an effort to massacre all three companies of Rangers and volunteers.

Captain Callahan's company was mustered out of service on 20 October 1855 - at the end of their three months of service to Texas. About five months later, Captain Callahan and one of his friends, Maulheel Johnson, were murdered during a confrontation with a neighbor (the Woodson Blassingame family). The date was 7 April 1856. On 14 April 1856, a large group of men shot to death the two Blassingames who had murdered Captain Callahan and his friend. None of the men involved in killing the Blassingames was ever convicted of a crime.

In February 1858, the Texas Legislature honored Captain Callahan by naming a county after him.

His service to the State of Texas was also recognized during the Texas Centennial Celebration when Captain Callahan, Sarah Callahan, and William Callahan's bodies were moved from unmarked graves near present-day Blanco, Texas, to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on 24 January 1931. Photographs of the Callahans' monument at the Texas State Cemetery are part of this Memorial.

The story of Captain James Hughes Callahan is the story of Texas.


Note: The engraving on the headstone should read: James Hughes Callahan born in Jackson County, Georgia, and died in 1856; Sarah Medissa (not Medisa) also died in 1856.

  • Maintained by: Escondido
  • Originally Created by: Bev
  • Added: 7 Sep 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9434686
  • Escondido
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Capt James Hughes Callahan (10 Sep 1814–7 Apr 1856), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9434686, citing Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Escondido (contributor 49078045) .