William Henry Tebbs was born in 1821 in Prince William County, Virginia. He became a doctor, moving to Mason County, Kentucky where he married Martha Anderson. He moved to Platte County, Missouri, and in 1854 to Jefferson County, Kansas, where he and his brother Obidiah opened a hotel in Ozawkie.
Dr. Tebbs served on the First Kansas Territorial Legislature in 1855 (labelled the “Bogus Legislature” by free-state opponents) and became a member of the pro-slavery “National Democratic Party”. After the Kansas free-soil victory in 1857 he moved his family to Hamburg, Arkansas, where he continued his medical practice.
After Arkansas seceded from the Union, Tebbs joined Arkansas lawyer Van Manning in recruiting what became the nucleus of the 3rd Arkansas infantry Regiment. Tebbs became captain of Company A, the “Arkansas Travellers,” which included his brother Obidiah. Originally rejected by the Confederate government, Tebbs and Manning enlisted the help of Arkansas politician Albert Rust, whose two brothers were in the regiment. Rust succeeded in gaining acceptance of the 3rd and became its colonel.
Tebbs accompanied the regiment to Virginia, where it took part in Lee’s Cheat Mountain Campaign, Jackson’s Valley Campaign, the Battle of Seven Pines, the Siege of Harpers Ferry, and the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg. He became lieutenant colonel of the regiment in 1862. But the campaigning took a toll on Tebbs’ health, and he resigned on January 11, 1863, shortly after the Confederate victory at Fredericksburg.
Tebbs died in St. Louis, Missouri, in November of 1866, and is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.