Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…


Attempt to kidnap alleged Union spy fails

October 16th, 1861

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Image taken at random from the related Handbook of Texas entry, Wulff, Anton Friedrich

On this day in 1861, six men attempted to kidnap Anton Wulff, a German-born merchant in Presidio del Norte whom Lt. Col. John R. Baylor had declared to be a Union spy. The attempt, which failed, resulted in the deaths of two Confederates and one Mexican. Wulff, born in Hamburg in 1822, settled in San Antonio in 1848. He eventually opened businesses in Fredericksburg, Laredo, Coke County, and Presidio del Norte. In 1857, possibly because of rising anti-German and pro-secession sentiment in San Antonio, Wulff moved his family and business to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande at Presidio del Norte, where he supplied both United States and Confederate garrisons at Fort Davis with hay and corn. Baylor, commanding the Second Texas Mounted Rifles at Fort Bliss, called Wulff a spy and ordered that he be enticed into Texas and arrested. After the botched kidnapping attempt, Wulff moved to Monterrey and in 1863 took his family to Hamburg, where they remained until near the end of the Civil War. They returned to San Antonio, where Wulff built his famous "castle" on King William Street in 1870. Wulff died in 1894.

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