Samuel Wooldridge/Danville Mounted Riflemen

Samuel Dunbar Wooldridge
Photos courtesy of Patricia Whitlock and Carlton Cranor, descendants of Dr. Samuel D. Woolridge



Partially adapted from


by Karen McCann Hett

© Karen McCann Hett  All Rights Reserved 2003-2013

Samuel Dunbar Wooldridge was born September 21, 1823, in Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi, the son of Samuel C. Wooldridge and Elizabeth Ann McDaniel. He moved to Texas in 1850, joining his mother and stepfather, Thomas Hoy, as a resident of Danville, Montgomery County.

Catherine Elizabeth McCan Wooldridge

On April 29, 1852, Dr. Samuel Dunbar Wooldridge and Catherine Elizabeth McCan were married at the Baptist Church in Danville. Montgomery County, Texas. Catherine was the daughter of James McCan and Sarah S. Sally Viser; she was born January 13, 1830, in Alabama, probably in Lawrence County. She moved with her parents at an early age to Mississippi and then moved to Texas with her uncle, William Viser, and his family.

 Samuel D. Wooldridge was a physician, having first attended medical lectures at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1845. He left college and traveled to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he joined Co. G 1st Regiment Mississippi Infantry, on June 6, 1846, in the U.S. War against Mexico. He served as a corporal and as a sergeant, and was discharged at a camp at the mouth of the Rio Grande because of an inguinal hernia, on August 11, 1846.

In 1847, Sam went to New Orleans, where he took a course at the New Orleans Medical College. He applied for bounty land on October 11, 1848, while he was a resident of Hinds County, Mississippi. According to a letter he wrote in later life, he moved to Texas in 1850.

Sam was initiated into San Jacinto Masonic Lodge #106 at Danville on May 22, 1851. In January 1856, San Jacinto Lodge was represented at the 19th Annual Communication at the Grand Lodge at Galveston by S.D. Wooldridge, Worshipful Master. In 1857, he was listed as Past Master of San Jacinto Lodge, having served as the second master after Thomas Carothers.

He remained a lodge member until his death.

Sam and Catherine were enumerated in the 1860 Montgomery County census, at which time his occupation was given as physician.


On May 4, 1861, Samuel was elected captain of the newly formed Danville Mounted Riflemen. Muster rolls from September 1861 and February 1862 survive and are on file in the Texas State Archives. Also on file is a letter from Captain Wooldridge to Adjutant Dashiell, protesting the general order to dismount and to join the Confederate Army as infantry, issued in March 1862.

In protest, Captain Wooldridge took his men to Hempstead to join Colonel George Washington Carter, an independent recruiter and cavalry organizer. Approximately forty-five men from the Danville Riflemen joined Captain Wooldridge's company of the 2nd Regiment, Carter's Brigade, Texas Lancers. It was later to become 24th Regt. Texas Cavalry (Dismounted). The company was formed in April 1862, under regimental commander Col. Francis Collett Wilkes, and was one of three regiments under the command of Colonel Carter.

Additional men joined Captain Wooldridge's company until it numbered about a hundred. They trained at Hempstead, then left in May for Arkansas. They furnished their own horses and equipment, guns and ammunition. The regiments spread out and camped along the way.

In June, while they were still in Texas, many of the men were sick with measles and other camp diseases. A number of them died. They spent several days in Alexandria, Louisiana, re-shoeing their horses. Then they rode on to Arkansas, leaving some men behind in the hospital there.

Upon their arrival in El Dorado, the Second Lancers were dismounted by order of Gen. Thomas C. Hindman. The soldiers got the news on July 28, 1862. At this time, the Second Lancers regiment was designated as the 24th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted). The Third Lancers (which had remained behind in Louisiana) became the 25th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted).

The soldiers were very unhappy about the situation, because Texans didn't want to be parted from their horses. Captain Wooldridge appointed ten men to take the horses back to Texas. These men were called "details."

From El Dorado, the soldiers marched on foot to a camp near Pine Bluff, and there they stayed, training as infantrymen, until September, when they were ordered to march to Ft. Hindman at Arkansas Post. Meanwhile, the 24th Regiment had been assigned to Garland's Brigade.

In October of 1862, Sam was appointed to a board which was to determine what to do with ten sacks of cornmeal which had soured.

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The soldiers spent the fall completing the fort and building winter cabins. There was much sickness among the men because of the unhealthy conditions and polluted water. Many died, and there were funerals from sun up to sun down.

Then a greater threat appeared. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Maj. Gen. John McClernand brought sixty transport ships and 33,000 Union troops up the White River to overcome the 6,000 Confederate defenders.

Along with the other soldiers in his company, Sam was captured at the Battle of Ft. Hindman, Arkansas Post, Arkansas, on January 11, 1863. The prisoners who were commissioned officers were forwarded to St Louis, Missouri.

From the website of Ohio History Central

From there they were sent to Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, on January 27, 1863. There they spent over two months in prison.

On April 6, Samuel was transferred to Ft. Delaware. He was exchanged in the early part of May, and on May 7 was assigned for treatment to General Hospital at Liberty, Virginia, where he was treated for remittent fever (malaria).

We do not know how many days he stayed in the hospital in Virginia, but it seems apparent that he rejoined his troops at some point. The Arkansas Post prisoners were sent from Virginia to Tullahoma, Tennessee, where General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee had been in winter quarters. Because of the depleted ranks of the Confederates, the regiments captured at Arkansas Post were consolidated into a single brigade under General Thos. J. Churchill. 

The soldiers of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Fifth Cavalries Dismounted) were formed into a single regiment under Col. Francis Collett Wilkes, who had been the original colonel of the 24th. There were so few men left now that all Companies A were combined, all Companies B, all Companies C, etc. The senior captain of each was sent back to the Trans-Mississippi Department. Because so many of the privates had died in prisons in the north, there were too many officers for the number of companies that could be formed from the soldiers who were left. Those officers who were not in fighting form were sent back to the other side of the river.

Meanwhile, the Texas boys had spent a considerable amount of time at drill at their station near Wartrace, Tennessee. The actions known as the Tullahoma Campaign took place June 24 through 26, and the Texas soldiers were assigned to defend Hoover’s Gap. During the month of July, the soldiers were in Chattanooga, and the sick were sent to Ringgold, Georgia, to rest and recoup their health.

Captain Wooldridge received his orders to proceed to the Trans-Mississippi Department on July 18, 1863. He was still with the troops on July 31, when he received pay of $140.00 (Confederate dollars) for the month of July.

The pay voucher shows that he was paid in Ringgold.

After this time, Captain Wooldridge's muster rolls show him to be in the Trans-Missisippi by order of General Bragg. There are no muster rolls for Sam after April 1864, but it is likely that he was paroled in Texas by General Kirby-Smith at the close of the War. In late 1865, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States government in Montgomery County and registered as a voter. 

Sam and Catherine were enumerated there in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. They moved to Willis after the demise of Danville, probably before 1880. He continued his practice of medicine in Willis, and in the Montgomery County mortality schedules of 1880, S. D. Wooldridge was reported as the attending physician in several cases, particularly in Enumeration District #121.

In 1883, Sam filed for a Mexican War disability pension, stating that he had suffered an injury while moving baggage. The application was rejected. In March 1887, he applied for pension under the act of January 19, 1887, and was approved.

Samuel died May 18, 1890, and is buried in a fenced plot in Willis Cemetery, just to the right of the main gate.

The following reproduction of the funeral notice for S. D. Wooldridge was provided by Carolyn Terrell.

After her husband's death, Catherine applied for his accrued pension and also filed a widow's pension. Her application was rejected in that year, but was finally approved in December 1897, at the rate of $8.00 per month.

In May of 1908 at the age of 78, Catherine applied to the Texas state government for a Confederate widow's pension. Her application was rejected on the grounds that she was already receiving a pension from another source. Her occupation was given as "seamstress, when able to work."

One year later, Catherine applied to the U.S. government for a duplicate of her widow's pension certificate, due to the loss of the original by fire. She was "on a visit" to her son-in-law, J. B. McMahon, in Jones County. During a family move from Anson to Hamlin, the wagon on which Catherine's trunk had been placed was destroyed by fire. We can only wonder if Catherine's Bible was also lost in that fire.

At about this time, Catherine became a permanent resident of Jones County. She was living there in 1915, when her pension was increased to $20.00 by a Special Act of Congress. In 1920, it was again increased by Special Act to $30.00. She was last paid at a rate of $50.00 per month, to June 4, 1928, and was dropped from the rolls because of her death.

She died on June 8, 1928, and was buried in Hamlin Cemetery in the McMahon family lot at Hamlin, Texas.

Dr. Wooldridge's head stone in the Willis Cemetery had become damaged and had fallen.

Closeup photo of stone before cleaning, from files of descendant Carlton Cranor

Recently, however, the members of San Jacinto Masonic Lodge #106 at Willis repaired and rededicated his stone.

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© Karen McCann Hett  All Rights Reserved 2003-2013
Content Used with Permission on © Barrett Branches

Counter June 9, 2007