Somervell was born June 11, 1796 in Aquasco, Prince George’s County, Maryland to James and Elizabeth (Magruder). In 1817 he relocated to Louisiana. He was a planter of St. Landry Parish. He later moved to Missouri in the early 1820s before finally moving to Texas in 1833 where he was granted land in Stephen F. Austin’s colony.
In 1835 Somervell joined participated in the Siege of Béxar, marching from Gonzales. On March 12, 1836 he enrolled in the newly formed Army of the Republic of Texas. He was elected lieutenant colonel of the first regiment of Texas Volunteers. He remained with the army until June 7, 1836, having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. He later served as the Secretary of War for a brief time, on the cabinet of David G. Burnet.
During the 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas, as well as the second, he represented Colorado and Austin (where he later served as county clerk) counties. He was elected brigadier general on November 18, 1839.
Following the invasion of San Antonio by Mexican forces led by Ráfael Vásquez) in 1842, Sam Houston gave him command of the volunteers that had gathered to face the invaders. There was a delay however, as the volunteers favored Edward Burleson. The delay allowed Vásquez to return to Mexico.
In September 1842, another Mexican invasion took place in San Antonio, this time led by Adrián Woll, and Somervell was once again selected to lead the volunteers. This resulted in the Somervell Expedition. It is believed that Sam Houston chose Somervell to lead these defense forces as he did not want war with Mexico, and he knew that Somervell moved slowly, and would not cross into Mexican territory.
Somervell died on January 20, 1854. He drowned and his body was found cling to the wreck of a boat that was carrying a large sum of money. In his will he named James Franklin Perry as his executor, although Perry would himself have passed away by this time. The Majority of his wealth was left to his brother James.
Somervell County, Texas is named for Alexander Somervell.
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- User, Super. "Travis County Clerk - Affidavit from Alexander Somervell". countyclerk.traviscountytx.gov. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
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- "University of Houston Digital Library: Early Texas Documents: Bill from Alexander Somervell to Nestor Clay". digital.lib.uh.edu. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
- "TSHA | Saluria, TX". www.tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
- "Biographies of Somervell County, Texas". genealogytrails.com. Retrieved 2021-05-26.