,Notes aid Documetts
two /attle of favestom Cetters
Edited by DORMAN H. WINFREY
AMONG THE INTERESTING manuscripts on deposit in the Ar-
chives of the Texas State Library are those pertaining to
George Cupples (1816-1895), surgeon who came to Texas
in 1844 when Ashbel Smith suggested the locality around San
Antonio as ideal for the health of Cupples' wife. Two letters
in the Cupples Collection give a first-hand account of the battle
of Galveston as witnessed by Dr. Cupples on January i, 1863.'
Cupples was a member of Castro's Colony and served during
the Mexican War as surgeon with John C. (Jack) Hays' 2nd
Regiment. During the Civil War, in December, 1862, Cupples be-
came medical director of the Eastern Military Sub-District of
Texas.2 Later he was made medical director and inspector of the
Cavalry Corps in the 'Trans-Mississippi Department.
In San Antonio Cupples held positions of county commissioner,
alderman, city health physician, president of the board of health,
and president of the Bexar County Medical Society. He was or-
ganizer and first president of the Texas Medical Association in
1853 and was active in national and international medical associa-
tions. Cupples, who died in San Antonio on April 19, 1895, is
credited with being the first doctor in Texas to use anesthetics.3
The following two letters from the George Cupples Collection
were written at Galveston while the surgeon was medical director
of the Eastern Military Sub-District of Texas. The letter written on
iFor a full account of the battle of Galveston see Charles C. Cumberland, "The
Confederate Loss and Recapture of Galveston, 1862-1863," Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, LI, 109-130.
2Pat Ireland Nixon, A History of the Texas Medical Association, 1853-1953
(Austin, 1953), 21.
lIbid. Additional biographical information on Cupples may be found in two other
books by Dr. Nixon, A Century of Medicine in San Antonio (San Antonio, 1936)
and Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528-1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1946).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed June 1, 2015.