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The Seventh Star of the Confederacy: Texas during the Civil War

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Chapter 1: The Impact of New Studies about Texas and Texans on Civil War Historiography by Alwyn Barr

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Chapter 1

The Impact of New Studies about Texas and Texans on Civil War Historiography

by Alwyn Barr

The Civil War in Texas and Texans in the war have continued to attract both professional and non-professional historians. Especially notable in recent years are the first modern general history of those topics by Ralph Wooster and the first volume providing a visual sense of the people involved in the conflict across the Lone Star State by Carl Moneyhon and Bobby Roberts.1 Thoughtful summaries of historical writings also have appeared in important essays by Randolph B. Campbell and Walter F. Bell. Campbell discussed a broader era from 1846 to 1876 with a focus on non-military topics including “population, the frontier, the economy . . . , social life and social structure, and politics.” He also raised the key questions of how much change occurred and how much continuity remained.2 Bell began after secession and concentrated primarily on writings about military campaigns and leadership, political and economic activities including Confederate-state tensions, and Confederate efforts to control or eliminate Union sentiment.3

 

Chapter 2: The Civil War and the Lone Star State: A Brief Overview by Archie P. McDonald

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Chapter 2

The Civil War and the Lone Star State: A Brief Overview

by Archie P. McDonald

Union with the United States lost its luster for many Texans during the decade of the 1850s. Against the backdrop of such separating wedges as disagreement with the enforcement of the Compromise of 1850 and resulting disenchantment over their loss of so much western land, the strident activity of abolitionists, and especially the violence in Kansas, many Texans reflected their Southern heritage by affirming their belief in states’ rights, especially as that related to slavery, and their acceptance of the principle of secession as the ultimate expression of that right.

Hardin R. Runnels’s victory over Sam Houston in the governor’s race in 1857 can be traced to this feeling, but Houston’s victory in 1859 over Runnels came despite it. The legislature’s selection of Louis T. Wigfall, an ardent fire-eater and secession advocate, to Houston’s seat in the Senate signifies the mood of the majority more than does the election of “Old Sam Jacinto” to the governorship. He won that office with hard campaigning, which invoked memories of his past leadership, but he never masked his true feelings—he was first and last a Union man.

 

Chapter 3: The Impending Crisis: A Texas Perspective on the Causes of the Civil War by James M. Smallwood

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Chapter 3

The Impending Crisis: A Texas Perspective on the Causes of the Civil War

by James M. Smallwood

Although various economic, political, and social factors help explain the coming of the Civil War, it had only one predominant cause: slavery. Like their Southern brethren, Texans certainly understood the importance slavery played in stirring wartime sentiments. No single event stressed this point more clearly than the Secession Convention of Texas, where elected delegates spelled out in detail their reasons for leaving the Union on February 1, 1861. One need only consider their “Declaration of Causes” to understand that slavery and its extension was the basic cause of the war.1

Illustration 2 The Southern Confederacy a fact!!! Acknowledged by a mighty prince and faithful ally. Courtesy Library of Congress

In their declaration of causes why the state was leaving the Union, Texas secessionists asserted that when their state joined the Union, “she was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—[and that] the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits . . . should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy [the Union]. . . . But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them? The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretenses and disguises has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power . . . as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding states.”

 

Chapter 4: The Knights of the Golden Circle in Texas, 1858–1861: An Analysis of the First (Military) Degree Knights by Linda S. Hudson

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Chapter 4

The Knights of the Golden Circle in Texas, 1858–1861: An Analysis of the First (Military) Degree Knights

by Linda S. Hudson

According to Gen. George W. L. Bickley, national president of the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC), the organization was begun by prominent Kentuckians on July 4, 1854, to aid the spread of slavery. The association was created as a reaction to the Republican Party that organized to limit the spread of slave labor into Kansas after the United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854). Republican Party propagandists during the American Civil War claimed the KGC, as it was most often called, was formed for the purpose of bringing about secession and creating a slave empire reaching from the slave states to the equator. In Texas, KGC members were pro-slavery territorial expansionists and they helped bring about secession. However, rather than being part of a larger conspiracy, these men were moved by a series of events toward secession. After Abraham Lincoln’s presidential victory in November 1860, Texas Military Knights helped bring about secession to protect their expansionist goals and slave property from the abolitionist threat they thought lay ahead. Although seldom identified as KGC, Texas members played a significant role in secession. Men who were Knights led the call for a state convention, dominated the secession convention, brought about the surrender of Federal forces, and then commanded the first military units in state service.1

 

Chapter 5: Frontier Defense: Enlistment Patterns for the Texas Frontier Regiments in the Civil War by John W. Gorman

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Chapter 5

Frontier Defense: Enlistment Patterns for the Texas Frontier Regiments in the Civil War

by John W. Gorman

The American Civil War is one of the defining moments in American history. It completely altered American society, settled the issue of slavery once and for all, and, in a very real sense, shaped the future development of the United States. Almost immediately in its aftermath, the United States began an unprecedented period of growth that would, within thirty years, see it emerge as an industrial power and a major player in the international arena. But the Civil War was also the most destructive war in American history, lasting over four years, with over 618,000 killed in action, and with almost every person and family deeply affected by the tragic realities of war. For these reasons the Civil War has received a significant amount of attention from historians, who primarily have focused on the military and political aspects of the war.1 But, with the advent of social history in the 1960s, historians began to explore the effects of the war on individual communities and to delve into the lives of the individuals who served and the communities that supported them.2

 

Chapter 6: Reckoning at the River: Unionists and Secessionists on the Nueces, August 10, 1862 by Mary Jo O’Rear

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Chapter 6

Reckoning at the River: Unionists and Secessionists on the Nueces, August 10, 1862

by Mary Jo O’Rear

The sun beat heavily on the shoulders of the Confederate cavalrymen, causing fresh sweat to soak their already sodden shirts as they rode down grassy hills and crossed rock-encrusted streambeds in the German Hill Country of Texas. In early August 1862, Confederate military leaders had dispatched Lt. Colin D. McRae to command this unit, which included among its members James Duff’s Partisan Rangers.

Prior to this mission, Duff’s men had been camped on the Pedernales River, resting in the shade of live oak trees along its banks and harvesting fish from its slow-moving current. Outside of a few scouting patrols into the hills and the occasional remand of prisoners to Fredericksburg or San Antonio, the men had been enjoying a well-earned break from their normal duties.1

Following the secession of Texas and the removal of Federal troops from the state in February 1861, the borderlands had become vulnerable. Comanche warriors had attacked ranches along the Frio River, slaughtered cattle by the Medina River, and killed homesteaders living along the entire frontier region. The government responded by hastily ordering out ranging companies, but these small forces proved ineffective against such adversaries. It was not until late December that the legislature passed a bill for frontier cavalry, allowing Texans who supported the Confederacy the opportunity to embrace military service close to home.2

 

Chapter 7: Without a Fight: The Eighty-four-day Union Occupation of Galveston, Texas by Donald Willett

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Chapter 7

Without a Fight: The Eighty-four-day Union Occupation of Galveston, Texas

by Donald Willett 1

Galveston is a feisty little seaport with a colorful and bizarre history. In the early 1800s, the island was the home port for the United States’ most famous pirate, Jean Lafitte. At the turn of the century, the city survived the greatest natural catastrophe in North American history, the Hurricane of 1900. Forty-seven years later, the famous port in the Gulf of Mexico had a bird’s eye view of the greatest man-made catastrophe in North America, the Texas City explosion of 1947. The port city was an active participant in the American Civil War. During the war, Confederate and Union forces fought a pitched battle for control the city. The Battle of Galveston was the most important military action of the Civil War in Texas. Details of the actual battle (when the Confederates recaptured Galveston) are well documented by Edward Cotham, Jr., in Battle of the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston (1998) and by Donald Frazier in Cottonclads!: The Battle of Galveston and the Defense of the Texas Coast (1998). Both historians admirably describe the military aspects of the event.2 From their studies, we learn that on New Year’s Day, 1863, Texas Confederates used a two-pronged attack to defeat Union naval and army forces that occupied the “Queen City of the Gulf.” One prong marched across the wooden railroad bridge onto the island and attacked Union forces located near the harbor front. The second prong, made up of the famous Texas cottonclads, steamed down Galveston Bay from Houston, sailed into the harbor, captured one Federal warship, forced the retreating naval forces to scuttle their flagship and strand their army colleagues, forcing them to surrender unconditionally to the numerically superior Confederate forces. While both Cotham and Frazier provide an excellent account of the military operations involved in the battle, they do not detail the occupation of Galveston. This study attempts to fill that void.

 

Chapter 9: Hide Your Daughters: The Yankees Have Arrived in the Coastal Bend, 1863 by Charles D. Spurlin

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Chapter 9

Hide Your Daughters: The Yankees Have Arrived in the Coastal Bend, 1863

by Charles D. Spurlin

At the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861, Texas policymakers considered Matagorda Bay, a major inlet in Southeast Texas separated from the Gulf of Mexico by Matagorda Peninsula and Matagorda Island, as a likely place for enemy activity. A contributing factor for this view was an article that appeared in the New York Commercial Advertiser shortly after President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of Southern ports. The newspaper stated that unless Matagorda Bay, Galveston, Brazos Santiago, and the mouth of the Rio Grande were blockaded the Federal government could not expect success in foiling Confederate trade. The principal reason the paper gave for listing Matagorda Bay was the extensive shipment of goods passing over the bay’s water from the ports at Indianola and Port Lavaca, or Lavaca, as the town was known at the time.1

In 1861, Indianola with its deepwater facilities was a significant Texas port, rivaling Galveston for the importation and exportation of products such as cotton, wool, hides, salt, machinery, sugar, molasses, corn, wine, clothing, lumber, and furniture. Some overly optimistic prognosticators even foresaw Indianola eventually surpassing Galveston in shipping. Less consequential than its sister community, but, nevertheless, another vital shipping point was Port Lavaca, a light-draught port situated several miles up the coast from Indianola along the adjoining Lavaca Bay. Besides its attraction as a respectable seaport, Port Lavaca was located on the south end of the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railway that extended from the town some twenty-five miles westward to Victoria on the Guadalupe River. The railroad caused many locals to speculate that Port Lavaca was an ideal location for a Federal invasion.2

 

Chapter 10: Red and White Fighting the Blue: Relations between Texans and Confederate Indians by Charles D. Grear

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Chapter 10

Red and White Fighting the Blue: Relations between Texans and Confederate Indians

by Charles D. Grear

Civil War historians have traditionally focused on battles in the Eastern and Trans-Appalachian theaters of the war, leaving the impression that the war was fought by white men in blue and gray uniforms. Primarily, this assumption is true; white men did make up the bulk of both the Union and Confederate armies. However, in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the war, the organization of armies was more complex. In the Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma, raids and battles raged between Northern and Southern soldiers with their American Indian counterparts, Pins (Union) and Half-bloods (Confederate), and African Americans. During 1864, the Fifth Texas Cavalry Brigade, better known as Gano’s Brigade, a motley group of Confederate Texans led by Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery Gano, fought side by side with the Indian brigade led by Cherokee Chief Brig. Gen. Stand Watie in the Indian Territory. This chapter examines the relationship between the white and Indian soldiers, particularly the Cherokee, and provides a much-needed study into the role of race relationships in the Trans-Mississippi during the Civil War. Specific aspects include how they interacted, how well they fought as a division, and their reaction to fighting black Union soldiers.1

 

Chapter 11: Defending the Lone Star: The Texas Cavalry in the Red River Campaign by Gary D. Joiner

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Chapter 11

Defending the Lone Star: The Texas Cavalry in the Red River Campaign1

by Gary D. Joiner

In March 1864, Union forces began the fifth attempt to invade Texas in fewer than fifteen months. The commander of the Union Department of the Gulf, based in New Orleans, was Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Prentiss Banks. With aspirations for the presidency, he was at that time arguably more popular than Abraham Lincoln. Banks needed a stunning, or at least well-publicized, victory to vault him into office. The Union navy had failed at Galveston Bay on New Year’s Day, 1863.2 Banks’s Nineteenth Corps commander, Maj. Gen. William Buel Franklin had failed miserably at Sabine Pass on September 8, 1863.3 He failed again in October and November during the Texas Overland Expedition.4 The fourth attempt at least landed troops on Texas soil, this time on the barrier islands along the coast and at Brownsville during November 1863, but no meaningful attempt was made to strike inland.5 The fifth expedition was the Red River Campaign, resulting in the largest combined-arms operation west of the Mississippi River during the Civil War. All of these events convinced Texans that they were high on the priority list for Union invasion and they were not mistaken.

 

Chapter 12: Prison City, Camp Ford: Largest Confederate Prisoner-of-war Camp in the Trans-Mississippi by James M. Smallwood

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Chapter 12

Prison City, Camp Ford: Largest Confederate Prisoner-of-war Camp in the Trans-Mississippi

by James M. Smallwood

Once the Civil War began, both North and South established detention camps for captives. Well-known Confederate holding centers were in Richmond, Macon, Savannah, Raleigh, Goldsborough, and Andersonville, the last considered notorious because of its high death rate. In the Trans-Mississippi Theater, Camp Ford in Smith County near Tyler became the biggest of the prison camps west of the Mississippi. At one time it held more than 5,200 men, perhaps as many as 5,550 when it reached its peak occupation in May of 1864.1 Four miles northeast of Tyler, Camp Ford originated as a training center for Confederate volunteers and, later, for conscripts. Established in April of 1862, it was named in honor of the noted Texan, Col. John S. Ford. Other temporary training sites once dotted the Smith County countryside, but Camp Ford, near Ray’s Creek across from a freshwater spring and near the Tyler–Marshall Road, became a permanent installation when in 1863 it underwent a transformation and emerged as a prisoner-of-war site, one that had the lowest death rate of any large camp during the war.2

 

Chapter 15: On the Edge of First Freedoms: Black Texans and the Civil War by Ronald E. Goodwin and Bruce A. Glasrud

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Chapter 15

On the Edge of First Freedoms: Black Texans and the Civil War

by Ronald E. Goodwin and Bruce A. Glasrud

In many, perhaps most, respects, Texas is a Southern state. Historians examining the Texas antebellum and Civil War eras traditionally turned their attention to how the war and the end of slavery affected white Texans. Few authors discussed the war’s impact on the thousands of African American slaves residing within Texas. This chapter attempts to remedy this oversight by showing the direct impact of the Civil War on the institution of slavery in Texas by looking at the war from the slaves’ perspective. One reason that scholars avoided studying this topic in depth was the limited number of primary resources available that recounted the African Americans’ perspective. Their point of view, however, can be obtained from a close reading of the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Slave Narratives, interviews with ex-slaves taken during the 1930s. These documents not only capture the former slaves’ general recollections of slavery, but also reveal much about slavery during the Civil War. In particular, the interviews with Texas’s former slaves illustrate the master-slave relationship, the nature of slavery during 1861–1865, and, lastly, the slaves’ reactions to their first freedoms.1

 

Chapter 16: Feed the Troops or Fight the Drought: The Dilemma Texas Beef Contractors Faced in 1861–1865 by Carol Taylor

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Chapter 16

Feed the Troops or Fight the Drought: The Dilemma Texas Beef Contractors Faced in 1861–1865

by Carol Taylor

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Confederate veteran A. T. Ball expressed a feeling held by all former Confederate soldiers when he wrote, “If we could have gotten a little something to eat, why, I would be fighting for our beloved South today.” Other Confederate veterans remembered having little or nothing to eat, subsisting on mule meat in the days before the surrender of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, feasting on turnips and green persimmons or parching the corn found on the ground after horses were fed. Without a doubt, the recurring theme of most memoirs and regimental histories of the Southern armies is the lack of food and near starvation of the troops. The deprivation of food was extremely severe east of the Mississippi River where population ratios were higher and arable lands were more likely to be used for the production of cotton than those found west of the Mississippi. Yet, west of the Mississippi River, soldiers complained of a shortage of provisions. Lt. Julius Glesecke of Company G, Fourth Texas Cavalry, Sibley’s Brigade, a predominantly German unit, noted the shortage of provisions as early as the second of November 1861, less than two weeks into the march to Santa Fe.1

 

Chapter 17: Distress, Discontent, and Dissent: Colorado County, Texas, during the Civil War by Bill Stein

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Chapter 17

Distress, Discontent, and Dissent: Colorado County, Texas, during the Civil War

by Bill Stein

At the end of April 1861, little more than two weeks after hostilities between the newly established Confederate States of America and the United States of America erupted at Fort Sumter, Hermann Nagel, an educated and articulate physician living on the northeastern edge of Colorado County, Texas, laid out his personal conflict. He was a Union loyalist who regarded secession as “neither justified nor advantageous, but merely as the most unprompted rebellion there ever was.” However, he felt a sense of duty to defend his new country against invasion from the North. As he put it, “it may come down to it that I myself go off to fight against the so-called invasion of the so-called abolitionists.” He summed up his dilemma with the entirely correct prediction: “It looks like we are in for hard times.” Deprivation, hardship, distress, and grief, generated by that pervasive and comprehensive calamity known as the American Civil War, would soon be more pronounced for Nagel and virtually all of his neighbors. And he, and many others, would be forced to decide whether to serve their new country in a war against their old country, a war they disagreed with, but one which, nonetheless, threatened to bring an invading army to their homeland.1

 

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