(Photo from the Newton Gresham Library, SHSU)
Thomas Jewett "T.J." Goree was born in Marion, Perry County, Alabama on November 14, 1835 to Dr. Langston James and Sarah Williams (Kittrell) Goree. The eldest of five brothers and a sister, he was educated at Howard Colledge in Marion. In 1850, when T.J. was fifteen, the family moved to Huntsville, Walker County, Texas. There he attended Baylor College (then at Independence, Texas), where he earned both his academic and law degree. In 1858 he formed a law partnership with William P. Rogers, later colonel of the 2nd Texas Infantry.
At the commencement of the war T.J. set out for Virginia in May 1861, not wanting to miss out on the first and possibly only major action. While on the way there he happened to cross paths with James Longstreet, who had just resigned from the U.S. Army and was also travelling east. As Longstreet wrote in his memoir: "At Galveston we took a small inland sailing-craft. . . . Aboard this little vessel I first met T. J. Goree, an intelligent, clever Texan, who afterwards joined me at Richmond, and served in faithful duty as my aide-de-camp from Bull Run to Appomattox Court-House."
Appointed his aide-de-camp, T.J. followed Longstreet throughout every battle and campaign. He was never wounded, but often riding through the thick of the fight, had several horses shot from under him and came out with bullet holes through his clothing. His saddle and accouterments were struck 17 times in the battle of Williamsburg alone. At Antietam he helped man the Washington Artillery's guns with other members of Longstreet's staff; and at Chattanooga T.J. led a detail of sharpshooters from Longstreet's Corps. Brig. Gen. G. Moxley Sorrel, Longstreet's chief of staff, said of Goree: "The General was fortunate in having an officer so careful, observing, and intelligent. His conduct on all occasions was excellent and his intrepidity during exposure in battle could always be counted on."
He also corresponded with many other officers and generals in Lee's army. Goree's letters written during the war have been published in Longstreet's Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J. Goree edited by Thomas W. Cutrer.
With the surrender at Appomattox, T.J. accompanied Longstreet in the trek to Greensboro, Alabama, where the two finally parted, Longstreet going to Mississippi and T.J. back to Texas. They did, however, remain close friends and often corresponded with one another in postwar years.
After his return home, T.J. oversaw Raven Hill Plantation near Huntsville, which his mother had purchased from Sam Houston in 1858. He married Elizabeth Thomas Nolley, the acting principal of Andrew Female College, on June 25, 1868. Together they had five children. Continuing to practice law in 1873, he was later appointed superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville in 1877; and eventually superintendent of penitentiaries, serving in that position for fourteen years. In 1891 he became the general agent for the Birmingham Iron Company in New Birmingham, Texas; and in 1893 he was assistant general manager of the Texas Land & Loan Company of Galveston.
Thomas J. Goree died of pneumonia in Galveston on March 5, 1905, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville.