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Political Map of the United States in 1850
Political Map of the United States in 1850. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

CIVIL WAR. The sectional controversies that divided the North and South in the 1850s deeply troubled Texans (see ANTEBELLUM TEXAS). While most Texans had a strong attachment to the Union that they worked so hard to join in 1845, they expressed increasing concern over the attacks upon Southern institutions by Northern political leaders. Although only one Texas family in four owned slaves, most Texans opposed any interference with the institution of slavery, which they believed necessary for the continued growth of the state.

Samuel Houston
Samuel Houston. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Many Texans considered the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency (November 1860) as a threat to slavery. They urged Governor Sam Houston to call a convention of the people to determine what course of action the state should take. Houston, devoted both to Texas and the Union, paid little heed to these requests, refusing to take any step that might aid secession. The demands for a convention increased, however, with the secession of South Carolina in December 1860 and the calling of state secession conventions in Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana in early January. A group of secessionist leaders, including O. M. Roberts, John S. (Rip) Ford, George M. Flournoy, and William P. Rogers, issued an address to the people calling for the election of delegates to a state Secession Convention in early January. Houston attempted to forestall the convention by calling a special session of the legislature and recommending that it refuse to recognize the convention. Instead, the legislature gave approval to the convention, on the condition that the people ratify its outcome by a final vote.

Texas Ordinance of Secession
Texas Ordinance of Secession. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The convention, which assembled in Austin on January 28, 1861, was dominated by secessionists. On February 1 the delegates adopted an ordinance of secession by a vote of 166 to 8. This ordinance was approved by the voters of the state, 46,153 to 14,747, on February 23. The convention reassembled in early March, declared Texas out of the Union, and adopted a measure uniting the state with other Southern states in the newly formed Confederate States of America. Governor Houston, who refused to recognize the authority of the convention to take this action, refused to take an oath of allegiance to the new government, whereupon the convention declared the office of governor vacant and elevated Lieutenant Governor Edward Clark to the position. President Lincoln offered to send troops to assist Houston if he would resist the convention, but Houston rejected the offer rather than bring on civil conflict within the state. He retired to his home in Huntsville, where he died on July 26, 1863.

David E. Twiggs Surrenders San Antonio
David E. Twiggs Surrenders San Antonio. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

While the campaign for ratification of the secession ordinance was being waged in mid-February, the Committee of Public Safety assembled by the secession convention took steps to take over federal property in the state (see COMMITTEES OF PUBLIC SAFETY). The committee opened negotiations with Maj. Gen. David E. Twiggs, the commander of United States troops stationed in Texas. Twiggs, an aging Georgian in poor health, was awaiting orders from the War Department. On the morning of February 16, Benjamin McCulloch, a veteran Texas Ranger and Mexican War hero and now colonel of Texas cavalry, led at least 500 volunteers into San Antonio, where they surrounded Twiggs and his headquarters garrison. Twiggs agreed to surrender all federal property in Texas and evacuate the 2,700 Union troops scattered in frontier forts throughout the state.

Bombardment of Fort Sumter
Painting, Bombardment of Fort Sumter by Currier & Ives. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

The Committee of Public Safety authorized the recruiting of volunteer troops during late February and March 1861. In addition to troops recruited by Ben McCulloch, regiments of cavalry were enrolled by Henry E. McCulloch, Ben's younger brother, and John S. Ford, veteran ranger captain and explorer. The firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861 and the subsequent call for volunteers by Confederate president Jefferson Davis stimulated efforts by Texas authorities to raise additional troops. Governor Clark divided the state first into six and later into eleven military districts for recruiting and organizing the troops requested by Confederate authorities.

Texan Cavalry Soldiers
Texan Cavalry Soldiers. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

By the end of 1861, 25,000 Texans were in the Confederate army. Two-thirds of these were in the cavalry, the branch of service preferred by Texans. Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle of the British Coldstream Guards, who visited Texas during the war, observed this fondness for cavalry service: "it was found very difficult to raise infantry in Texas," he said, "as no Texan walks a yard if he can help it." Governor Clark observed that "the predilection of Texans for cavalry service, founded as it is upon their peerless horsemanship, is so powerful that they are unwilling in many instances to engage in service of any other description unless required by actual necessity."

Francis R. Lubbock
Francis R. Lubbock. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Francis R. Lubbock, who defeated Clark by a narrow margin in the 1861 gubernatorial election, worked closely with Confederate authorities to meet manpower needs as the war expanded. Recruitment became more difficult as some of the early enthusiasm waned. The passage of a general conscription law by the Confederate Congress in April 1862 momentarily gave impetus to volunteering. Under this law all white males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five were liable for military service. In September the upper age limit was raised to forty-five, and in February 1864 the age limits were extended to seventeen and fifty. The Confederate conscription laws did contain many exemptions, however, and for a time conscripted men could hire substitutes.

Approximately 90,000 Texans saw military service in the war. Governor Lubbock reported to the legislature in November 1863 that the army numbered 90,000 Texas residents, but this figure seems high for Texans in service at any one time. The 1860 federal census lists 92,145 white males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years living in the state. Allowing for a slight increase in population during the four years of the war and considering that some Texans younger than eighteen and older than fifty served, one may say that between 100,000 and 110,000 Texans were potential soldiers.

Col. John Salmon Ford
Col. John Salmon Ford. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Two-thirds of the Texans enrolled in the military spent the war in the Southwest, either defending the state from Indian attacks and Union invasion or participating in expansionist moves into New Mexico Territory. One regiment, recruited mainly in the Houston area, served under the colorful Rip Ford in South Texas. Ford commanded the military district of the Rio Grande, which extended from the mouth of the river for more than 1,000 miles to above El Paso. During the course of the war, Ford's men battled Union invaders, hostile Comanches, and Mexican raiders led by Juan N. Cortina.

Other Texas regiments patrolled North and West Texas. In May 1861 Col. William C. Young and the Eleventh Texas Cavalry, recruited in North Texas, crossed the Red River and captured federal forts Arbuckle, Cobb, and Washita. Another regiment, enrolled originally as state troops and known as the Frontier Regiment, patrolled Northwest Texas between the Red River and the Rio Grande. The regiment, commanded first by Col. James M. Norris and later Col. James E. McCord, was transferred to Confederate service as the Forty-sixth Texas Cavalry. Part of the regiment was later moved to the Houston area, and its place on the frontier was taken by state troops commanded by Brig. Gen. James W. Throckmorton, who was appointed commander of the northern military district by state authorities.

Civil War in the West Map
Civil War in the West Map. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Texans played a major role in Confederate efforts to expand into New Mexico Territory. In June 1861 four companies of Ford's cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. John R. Baylor, were ordered to occupy the extreme western part of Texas. Baylor reached Fort Bliss at El Paso in early July and later in the month moved into New Mexico. He occupied the small town of Mesilla, located on the left bank of the Rio Grande about forty miles north of El Paso. After a small skirmish, federal troops commanded by Maj. Isaac Lynde surrendered Fort Fillmore, on the opposite bank of the Rio Grande. On August 1, 1861, Baylor decreed the existence of the Confederate Territory of Arizona, with its capital at Mesilla and himself as the military governor.

Henry H. Sibley
Henry H. Sibley. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
New Mexico Campaign Map (1862)
New Mexico Campaign Map (1862). Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Meanwhile, Henry H. Sibley, a West Point graduate and veteran soldier, convinced President Davis that the Confederates could capture New Mexico and Arizona. Sibley was commissioned brigadier general with orders to raise and equip a brigade of cavalry to drive federal forces from New Mexico. In August he established his headquarters in San Antonio, where he began recruiting men for the "Army of New Mexico." In early November the brigade, consisting of three regiments, began the long march to El Paso, nearly 700 miles distant. Sibley's brigade reached El Paso on December 14. On January 11, 1862, it marched to Mesilla, where Sibley assumed the command of Baylor's forces. Sibley moved northward along the west bank of the Rio Grande to Fort Craig, where he encountered Union forces commanded by Col. Edward R. S. Canby, perhaps Sibley's brother-in-law. The Confederates won a battle at nearby Valverde ford but were not strong enough to capture the fort (see VALVERDE, BATTLE OF). Sibley decided to bypass the fort and move northward to capture Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Morale in his army was low. Commissary supplies were virtually exhausted, the weather was bitterly cold, and many of the men were highly critical of Sibley himself. On March 26 his men fought a spirited battle with Colorado militia at Apache Canyon to the east of Santa Fe. Two days later a larger battle was fought in Glorieta Pass (see GLORIETA, BATTLE OF) between federals led by Col. Maj. John M. Chivington and Texans commanded by Col. William R. Scurry. In the fierce engagement the Texans drove the federals from the field. Late that afternoon, however, Scurry's supply train was captured by Union forces. The loss of the supply train was a major blow to Sibley's plans. With Union forces receiving reinforcements from Colorado and California, Sibley determined to retreat down the Rio Grande. By early May the Confederates were back at Fort Bliss, where Sibley issued an address praising his men for their sacrifices. Many of the Texans who served under Sibley blamed the commander for their failure and expressed the view that better leadership would have brought success to the campaign.

The defense of the Texas coastline was more successful than the New Mexico invasion. Brig. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, commander of the Texas district from April to September 1861, organized defense companies, authorized the use of slave labor for building fortifications, and worked to secure heavy cannons for coastal defense. His successor as district commander, Brig. Gen. Paul Octave Hébert, also made efforts to secure heavy ordnance, but with only limited success. Hébert concluded that he would be unable to prevent a landing on the coast and determined to fight the enemy in the interior.

Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan
Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan by J.B. Elliott. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In November 1861 Union naval forces began a series of harassing activities along the Texas coast. The Confederate patrol schooner Royal Yacht was partially burned, and Confederate positions near Aransas Pass, Port Lavaca, and Indianola were shelled. The naval blockade of the Texas coastline was intensified in 1862; the United States bark Arthur, commanded by Lt. John W. Kittredge, was especially active along the middle coast. In August Kittredge, commanding a small flotilla, attempted to capture Corpus Christi but was repulsed by Confederates commanded by Maj. Alfred M. Hobby. Another, more successful, Union force commanded by Lt. Frederick Crocker destroyed a small fort at Sabine Pass and burned the railroad bridge at Taylor's Bayou.

Galveston Flotilla Attack
Galveston Flotilla Attack. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Battle of Galveston
Battle of Galveston. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
John Bankhead Magruder
John Bankhead Magruder. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
U.S.S. Harriet Lane
U.S.S. Harriet Lane by Clary Ray. Courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Navy.

The main Union attack against the Texas coast in 1862 was aimed at the state's largest seaport, Galveston (see GALVESTON, BATTLE OF). On October 4, 1862, a small Union fleet commanded by W. B. Renshaw sailed into Galveston harbor. Confederate artillery at Fort Point opened fire but was quickly silenced by superior Union gunpower. Renshaw demanded and received the surrender of the city. The loss of Galveston was followed by a change in Confederate command in Texas. General Hébert, who had never been popular with Texans, was replaced by Gen. John Bankhead Magruder, a Virginian with a reputation as an aggressive soldier. Magruder quickly made plans for the recapture of Galveston. He called for land forces to move across the railroad bridge from the mainland at night to surprise Union garrison troops, while two river steamers converted to gunboats, the Bayou City and the Neptune, sailed into the harbor to attack federal warships. The Confederate assault began shortly after midnight on New Year's Day, 1863. At 1:00 A.M., while federal troops slept, Magruder led his forces across the railroad bridge connecting the island and the mainland. Between 4:00 and 5:00 A.M., Confederate artillery opened fire on federal ships and positions along the waterfront. The two Confederate gunboats attacked the Union fleet soon thereafter. The Neptune was hit by a shell from the U.S.S. Harriet Lane, veered into shallow water, and sank. The Bayou City meanwhile moved alongside the Harriet Lane. The "Horse Marines" stormed aboard, captured the vessel, and hauled down her colors. Other Union ships in the harbor had troubles of their own. The Union flagship, the Westfield, ran aground on Pelican Spit, and efforts by a sister ship, the Clifton, to move her were unsuccessful. Three other small Union vessels, Sachem, Owasco, and Corypheus, fired on Confederate troops near the waterfront without much success. In the midst of the excitement, the Westfield was rocked by an internal explosion caused by premature detonation as her commander, Renshaw, prepared to destroy the ship rather than risk capture. The explosion killed Renshaw and fourteen crewmen. Union naval forces now pulled out of the harbor, and the Union infantry soon surrendered to Magruder. Galveston was once again in Confederate possession.

Map of Texas Coast Naval Engagement with Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks
Map of Texas Coast Naval Engagement with Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Union naval forces continued to maintain a blockade of the Texas coastline throughout the war, but its effectiveness is difficult to measure. Ships loaded with cotton sailed out of Galveston and other Texas ports several times a week, while other vessels sailing from Havana and Caribbean ports returned with trade goods, munitions, and Enfield rifles. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, the Texas blockade runners, like those elsewhere in the South, were never adequately directed and organized for the highest degree of efficiency. Furthermore, the number of Union warships in the blockade increased with each passing month of the war. In an effort to tighten control of the Texas coastline, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, the Union commander of the Department of the Gulf, with headquarters in New Orleans, planned a major operation in the fall of 1863. He intended to land a large military force near Sabine Pass, march overland to Houston, and capture Galveston. To this effort he assigned 4,000 troops of the Nineteenth Army Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin. Transport vessels carrying the troops were to be protected by four light-draft gunboats, the Clifton, Sachem, Arizona, and Granite City.

Battle of Sabine Pass
Battle of Sabine Pass. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The Union fleet appeared off the upper Texas coast in early September. Franklin planned to move his gunboats up the narrow channel at Sabine Pass, knock out the guns of the small Confederate fort guarding the waterway, and bring his transport vessels into Sabine Lake, where landings could be made. The only obstacle was the rough earthwork fortification known locally as Fort Griffin and defended by a battery of Confederate artillery of forty-seven men commanded by Lt. Richard W. Dowling, an Irish barkeeper from Houston. On September 8, 1863, the four Union gunboats entered the channel and opened fire on Fort Griffin. The six cannon from the Confederate installation responded with high accuracy, firing 107 rounds in thirty-five minutes. The Sachem was hit on the third or fourth round and driven up against the Louisiana side of the channel, a helpless wreck. The Confederates then turned their fire on the Clifton. A cannonball cut her tiller rope, throwing her out of control, and she soon ran aground. Many of the crew jumped overboard and made it to shore, where they were captured by the Confederates. The two other Union gunboats, the Arizona and the Granite City, turned and withdrew from the pass. General Franklin, overestimating the size and nature of the Confederate defense, ordered a withdrawal back to New Orleans. Dowling and his men were awarded medals by the Confederate government for their victory.

Evacuation of Brownsville
Evacuation of Brownsville. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Union troops were temporarily more successful in southern Texas. In November 1863, 7,000 soldiers commanded by General Banks landed at the mouth of the Rio Grande and captured Brownsville, cutting the important trade between Texas and Mexico. Banks then sent one wing of his army upriver to capture Rio Grande City and another column along the coast to capture Corpus Christi, Aransas Pass, and the Matagorda peninsula. General Magruder called upon state and Confederate authorities for additional forces to halt the advance. Fortunately for the Confederacy, many of Banks's troops were transferred to Louisiana, where a major Union offensive was planned for the spring of 1864. This allowed Confederate and state troops commanded by John S. Ford to retake most of the area occupied by Union forces. In the summer of 1864 Ford recaptured Brownsville and reopened the vital trade link with Mexico. By the end of the war the only Union holding on the lower Texas coast was Brazos Island.

Union campaigns in Arkansas and Louisiana in 1864 involved thousands of Texans. In March, General Banks moved an army of 27,000 men and a naval flotilla up the Red River toward Shreveport. He hoped to link up with federal troops under Gen. Frederick Steele, who was moving southward from Little Rock, and then extend federal control over Northeast Texas. In an effort to prevent this, Texas troops in Indian Territory commanded by Brig. Gen. Samuel Maxey-Gano's Brigade, Walker's Choctaw brigade, and Krumbhaar's battery, which was attached to Gano's brigade-were moved to Arkansas, where they joined Sterling Price in halting the Union advance at Camden.

Nathaniel P. Banks and Richard Taylor
Nathaniel P. Banks and Richard Taylor. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Banks, meanwhile, continued his advance in northwest Louisiana. On April 8, 1864, part of his army was defeated at Sabine Crossroads, near Mansfield, by Confederates under the command of Richard Taylor. Texans played a major role in the battle, which halted Banks's advance. Confederates resumed the attack the next day at Pleasant Hill, fourteen miles to the south, but superior Union numbers prevented a Southern victory (see RED RIVER CAMPAIGN). Once again Texas units-including Walker's Texas Division; Thomas Green's cavalry, which consisted of five brigades in three divisions led by Hamilton P. Bee, James Patrick Major, and William Steele; and Polignac's Brigade-figured prominently in the fighting. Green, one of the most popular of all the Texans, was killed three days later while leading an attack on the retreating federals at Blair's Landing. Banks continued to retreat and in mid-May crossed the Atchafalaya River, thus ending attempts to invade Northeast Texas.

Albert Sydney Johnston
Albert Sydney Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Terry's Texas Rangers
Terry's Texas Rangers. Courtesy of the Portal to Texas History.
Flag of Granbury's Texas Brigade
Flag of Granbury's Texas Brigade. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The large battles of the Civil War were fought beyond the Mississippi River, far from Texas. The state contributed thousands of men who participated in the great battles of the war. Texan Albert Sidney Johnston was killed in the battle of Shiloh in April 1862 while commanding a major Confederate army. Another Texas officer, Gen. John Bell Hood, lost the use of an arm at Gettysburg and a leg at Chickamauga. The Texas Brigade, originally commanded by Hood, had one of the finest reputations of any military unit. The brigade, including the First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas Infantry regiments, fought with honor at Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. A Texas regiment, the Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, distinguished itself on battlefields in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and South and North Carolina. Another brigade, commanded late in the war by Lawrence Sullivan Ross, won praise for combat in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. Granbury's Texas Brigade, commanded by Waco lawyer Col. Hiram B. Granbury, also saw extensive action in Georgia and Tennessee. Granbury himself was killed in the futile Confederate assault at Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864. Ector's Brigade, consisting of the Tenth, Eleventh, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Texas Dismounted Cavalry and commanded by Brig. Gen. Mathew Duncan Ector, saw action in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia and participated in Hood's invasion of Tennessee.

The task of recruiting and equipping the thousands of Texans in military service required diligent efforts by state authorities. Francis R. Lubbock, who served as governor during the first half of the war, was a most capable and energetic chief executive. At his request the legislature provided for reorganization of the state militia system, passed a revenue act raising taxes, and established the Military Board of Texas, which had power to purchase military supplies and establish ordnance foundries and arms factories. Lubbock met frequently with Confederate political and military leaders in efforts to provide better cooperation in the war. Although Texas and the Southwest were cut off from the rest of the South with the fall of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863, Lubbock continued to emphasize the need for unity in support of the Confederacy.

Pendleton Murrah
Pendleton Murrah. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Edmund Kirby Smith
Edmund Kirby Smith. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The governor entered the military in December 1863 and did not seek reelection. In the contest to choose his successor, Pendleton Murrah, a Harrison County lawyer and former state legislator, defeated Thomas Jefferson Chambers, four-time gubernatorial candidate and pioneer Gulf Coast rancher. The election centered upon support for the war effort. Although Murrah was less well known than Chambers, the Marshall lawyer benefited from Chambers's reputation as a political maverick and a critic of Jefferson Davis's administration. Most Texans regarded Murrah as the safer candidate. In office Murrah soon found himself involved in controversy with Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. The disagreements related to a variety of relationships between the state and the central Confederate authority, including conscription laws, impressment of slave labor, transfer of Texas troops outside the war area, and supply matters. Particularly bitter was the controversy over government purchase of cotton, a disagreement that divided Smith, who had set up the national Cotton Bureau for purchasing and selling cotton, and Murrah, who developed a state plan for the same purpose. The matter was resolved in a meeting between Smith and Murrah at Hempstead in June 1864. Shortly thereafter, the governor requested that the people of Texas deliver their cotton to the army's agents for compensation and declared that the state would no longer compete with the military for the cotton.

German Unionists in Texas
German Unionists in Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Texan Unionists Targeted for Dissent
Texan Unionists Targeted for Dissent. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The majority of Texans approved the efforts of governors Clark, Lubbock, and Murrah to support the Confederacy. Even so, Unionism remained strong in some sections of the state. This was especially true in some of the German counties in the Hill Country and in a group of counties north of Dallas. Some of the early Texas Unionists such as James W. Throckmorton, who cast one of the eight votes against secession in the Secession Convention, and Ben H. Epperson, a leader of East Texans opposed to secession, accepted the Confederacy after Fort Sumter and vigorously supported the Southern cause. Others, such as David G. Burnet, Elisha M. Pease, and Sam Houston, withdrew from public life and attempted to avoid controversy. Another group left the state or attempted to do so. Some of these, such as S. M. Swenson, the father of Swedish migration to Texas, and William Marsh Rice, a native of Massachusetts who made a fortune in the mercantile business in Texas, quietly left. Others joined the Union army in their efforts to defeat the Confederacy. Though most of the Mexican Americans from Texas who fought in the war joined the Confederate Army, some joined the Union Army, partly in memory of the events of the Texas Revolution and its aftermath. The Second Texas Cavalry (U.S.), for example, was made up of mostly Texas Mexicans and Mexican nationals; the unit suffered a high desertion rate (see MEXICAN TEXANS IN THE CIVIL WAR). Some 2,132 whites and forty-seven blacks from Texas served in the Union Army. The best known of the Texans who supported the Union were Edmund J. Davis, a district judge who organized and commanded the First Texas Cavalry Regiment (Union), and Andrew J. Hamilton, Texas legislator and congressman, whom Lincoln appointed military governor of Texas after the war.

The Great Hanging at Gainesville
The Great Hanging at Gainesville. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Texas Confederates dealt harshly with those attempting to assist the enemy. In August 1862 Fritz Tegener led sixty-five Unionists, mostly Germans from the Hill Country, in an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Rio Grande and flee from Texas. They were overtaken near the Nueces River by state troops commanded by Lt. C. D. McRae. Thirty-five of the Unionists were killed, and several others were wounded in the battle of the Nueces. Another fifty Union sympathizers were hanged in Gillespie County several weeks later. The greatest roundup of suspected Unionists occurred in Cooke and Grayson counties, north of Dallas. A citizens' court at Gainesville tried 150 individuals for Unionist activities. Some confessed, some were convicted, and thirty-nine were executed in what contemporaries called the Great Hanging at Gainesville.

The life of ordinary Texans was much affected by the war. Although the state suffered less economically than other Confederate states, many adjustments were necessary. The blockade resulted in shortages of many commodities, especially coffee, medicine, clothing, shoes, and farm implements. Homespun clothing was worn as in early days; Governor Lubbock was inaugurated in a homespun suit. The British visitor Colonel Fremantle reported that "the loss of coffee afflicts the Confederates even more than the loss of spirits; and they exercise their ingenuity in devising substitutes, which are not generally very successful." These substitutes included barley, corn, okra, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Salt was so scarce that some Texans dug up the floors of their smokehouses and leached the dirt to recover the salt drippings. Thorns were used for pins, willow-bark extract and red pepper were mixed to substitute for quinine, and pieces of wallpaper served as writing paper. Several Texas newspapers suspended or discontinued operations for periods of time due to the lack of paper.

Texas Coastal Cotton Trade
Texas Coastal Cotton Trade. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

On the other hand, trade with Mexico made more materials available to Texas than to other Confederate states. In return for cotton, Texans received military supplies, medicines, dry goods, food, iron goods, liquor, coffee, and tobacco. Matamoros, on the Rio Grande across from Brownsville, and Bagdad, Tamaulipas, a seaport village at the mouth of the Rio Grande, were the centers of this activity, in which hundreds of vessels from Europe and the United States engaged in a flourishing business. The trade was interrupted from time to time by Union military activities along the lower Texas coast, but even so it provided many items needed by Texans during the war.

The war brought other changes to Texas. Some adjustments were made in agriculture as farmers planted more corn to meet food needs and requests of the government to reduce cotton production. The absence of men away at the war front placed greater responsibilities and burdens upon women and children, who assumed increased duties. The shortage of free labor was partially offset by the increase in the number of slaves sent from other Southern states to Texas in an attempt to avoid the invading enemy armies. On occasion, military units were assigned harvesting duties.

Texas Railroad Map 1860
Texas Railroad Map 1860. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Transportation was seriously affected by the war. The outbreak of fighting halted all railroad building for seven years, and difficulties in maintaining rolling stock caused existing service to be interrupted. General Magruder ordered segments of the Eastern Texas road and the Texas and New Orleans torn up for coastal fortifications. Several miles of track between Swanson's Landing and Jonesville in East Texas was taken up and relaid eastward from Marshall to Waskom for military purposes. Stagecoach lines continued to operate, but coaches were overcrowded and behind schedule. Roads and bridges suffered from lack of repair as labor and materials were diverted elsewhere.

Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville
Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

The requirements of the military and the impact of the blockade caused rapid expansion of manufacturing in the state. The Texas State Military Board had the promotion of manufacturing as one of its responsibilities. Under its direction a percussion-cap factory and a cannon foundry were established in Austin. The board established a textile mill in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. During the war three million yards of cotton and wool cloth was produced at the Huntsville facility. The Confederate quartermaster department operated, or contracted for, facilities at Houston, Dallas, Austin, Tyler, Rusk, Paris, Jefferson, Marshall, Waco, and Hempstead for the manufacture of clothing, shoes, iron products, wagons, tents, harness, and saddles. A major ordnance works was established at Tyler, and smaller plants were located in or near Rusk, Jefferson, Houston, and Galveston (see GUN MANUFACTURE DURING THE CIVIL WAR). A beef-packing plant at Jefferson provided meat for the Confederate Army.

Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Battle of Palmito Map
Battle of Palmito Map. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Gordon Granger
Gordon Granger. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Although political and military leaders attempted to keep up the morale of Texans, military defeats in Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia in late 1864 caused increased anxiety in the state. Newspaper editorials urged civilians to remain calm, and Governor Murrah and General Smith asked Texans to continue the struggle. News of Robert E. Lee's surrender in April 1865, followed by that of Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, made further resistance appear futile. Rip Ford defeated Union troops in the battle of Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, on May 13, 1865, the last battle of the war. From captured prisoners Ford learned that Confederate forces were surrendering all over the South. Kirby Smith attempted to keep his command intact, but found his soldiers heading for their homes. Some Texans, including Murrah and former governor Clark, joined other Confederates fleeing to Mexico. On June 2, 1865, generals Smith and Magruder signed the formal terms of surrender for their commands, and on June 19 (Juneteenth) Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with Union forces of occupation. Reconstruction was in the offing. The Civil War had ended.





Allen Coleman Ashcraft, Texas, 1860–1866: The Lone Star State in the Civil War (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1960). Alwyn Barr, "Texas Coastal Defense, 1861–1865," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (July 1961). Walter L. Buenger, Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984). Vera Lea Dugas, A Social and Economic History of Texas in the Civil War and Reconstruction Periods (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1963). Robert Pattison Felgar, Texas in the War for Southern Independence, 1861–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1935). Fredericka Meiners, The Texas Governorship, 1861–1865: Biography of an Office (Ph.D. dissertation, Rice University, 1974). Stephen B. Oates, "Texas under the Secessionists," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 67 (October 1963). Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies (Washington: Department of the Navy, 1894–1927). David Paul Smith, Frontier Defense in the Civil War: Texas' Rangers and Rebels (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Ralph A. and Robert Wooster, "`Rarin' For a Fight': Texans in the Confederate Army," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 84 (April 1981).

Ralph A. Wooster

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Ralph A. Wooster, "CIVIL WAR," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on November 25, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.