A History of Texas in the Civil War

Texas had only been a part of the United States since 1845, barely more than a decade, when tensions connected with slavery began to come to a head. Although the state was conflicted about whether it would ally itself with the Union or the Confederacy, the secessionists won the battle in the state, and it formally seceded on March 2, 1861. During the Civil War, Texas played several significant roles.

Before the Civil War

The Texas Revolution was a war fought between Texas and Mexico, eventually leading to the independence of Texas from Mexico and the creation of the Republic of Texas. The next step was for Texas to become a state, but this caused much conflict between the North and the South, as Texans had voted in favor of allowing slavery there. Eventually, the South won and Texas became a state. The fighting between the North and South got more vicious, with riots, raids, and open talk of states seceding from the Union. As governor of Texas, Sam Houston steadfastly led the state to be loyal to the Union. However, in the end, Texas ended up siding with the South and seceding.

  • Civil War: Most Texans did not own slaves, but they were against the federal government interfering with the right to own slaves if desired.
  • Texas During the Civil War: Texas contributed 135 officers to the Confederate army as well as a huge amount of military supplies and provisions.
  • Civil War: Sacrifice, Valor, and Hope: Gov. Sam Houston lost his office when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.
  • Secession and the Civil War: Texas ratified its action to secede from the Union on Feb. 23, 1861, and the secession was made official on March 2 of that year.
  • History of Sam Houston: Houston did not resist being evicted from office, instead choosing to peacefully exercise his conscience.
  • The Civil War and Texas: Texas was the farthest state to the west of the 13 Confederate states, and it was the only state to share a border with a foreign nation.
  • Mexican-Americans Fought on Both Sides of the U.S. Civil War: Mexican-Americans lived in Texas, California, and New Mexico, and they fought on both sides of the conflict between the states.
  • Civil War People and Events in Texas (PDF): Texas contributed many materials to the Confederacy war effort, including cloth, iron, gunpowder, cannons, and bullets.
  • Why Sam Houston, Texas Hero, Opposed the Civil War: Sam Houston believed that the Union should be preserved at all costs, but he also owned slaves. Houston believed Abraham Lincoln's promise not to interfere with slavery in the states where it already existed, and he did not think that Lincoln's election as president was a good reason to secede from the Union.
  • Civil War and Southlake: Texas seceded from Mexico in 1835, and then, it seceded from the Union in 1861.
  • Texas Civil War Timeline: Texas saw a long and interesting timeline of events that happened before, during, and after the Civil War.

During the Civil War

Texans responded to the call to serve the Confederacy with gusto. More than 25,000 men joined the Confederate army by the end of 1861, and almost 90,000 soldiers from Texas joined to help the Confederate cause during the entire war. Some of the notable leaders in the war hailed from Texas, including John Bell Hood and Ben McCulloch. Union troops invaded some areas and cities in Texas during the war, and Confederate forces fought valiantly. The frontiers of Texas were frequently under siege from Native American attacks during the Civil War, with numerous raids happening because frontier troops were busy with the war. The final battle of the Civil War was fought in Texas at Palmito Ranch, which was near Brownsville.

  • Texas in the Civil War (PDF): Texas was a prominent state in the Civil War for several reasons. Texas was a part of the Confederacy.
  • Fighting on the Fringe: The Civil War in Texas: Because Texas was deeply connected with the South, most Texans agreed that slavery was an important part of their economic stability.
  • Galveston During the Civil War: Galveston was the biggest city in Texas prior to the Civil War, and a busy port was also located there. A federal blockade of the port in 1861 led to many residents abandoning the city until after the war was over.
  • Marshall Civil War History and Today (PDF): Marshall, Texas, was instrumental in providing gunpowder during the Civil War.
  • Life in Civil War East Texas (PDF): Most of east Texas was in favor of secession, with the exception of the county of Angelina.
  • Confederates and Cotton in East Texas (PDF): Union blockades caused serious disruptions in the cotton markets of east Texas during the Civil War, which did not affect cotton producers who were located in western Texas.
  • Victoria, Texas, Units That Served in the Civil War (PDF): Explore the history of Victoria, Texas, as its residents responded to the conflict.
  • Texas in Turmoil: Waco During the Civil War: Waco produced six Confederate generals, which was significant for the small size of this town at the time.
  • Texas Held Unique Spot in Civil War: Explore events that happened involving Union and Confederate troops in Texas during the Civil War.
  • Galveston in the Civil War: Galveston was a busy port on the coast of Gulf of Mexico in 1860, and city residents were mostly in favor of seceding from the Union. Fully enforcing the Union blockade was challenging for Union troops, which made it possible for blockade runners to continue moving cotton and other goods out of the Galveston port.
  • North-Central Texas During the Civil War: There was resistance to secession among those living in north-central Texas, with talk about creating a portion of the state that would be "free soil."
  • Law and the Texas Frontier (PDF): Speaking out against slavery was a dangerous action in some areas of Texas.

After the Civil War

On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met at Appomattox, with Lee surrendering. However, the Battle of Palmito Ranch wasn't fought until May 13 of the same year. On June 2, Confederate Gen. E. Kirby Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department in Galveston. Then, on June 19, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to formally end slavery in Texas, ordering the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. This date has become known as "Juneteenth." The Reconstruction period followed, and there was violence and confusion during this time. Texas rejoined the Union in 1870.

  • Civil War to Centennial (PDF): After the end of the Civil War, Texas rejoined the Union on March 30, 1870.
  • The Civil War and Texas Beef: The demands of feeding soldiers during the Civil War led to the creation of industrial meat processing. Texas steers were plentiful, providing Texans with a commodity the North needed after the Civil War ended.
  • The Civil War and its Aftermath: Diverse Perspectives: There were pockets of opposition to secession in Texas, which led to violence and even vigilante court convictions for 40 Unionists that led to their hangings in 1862.
  • The Army in Texas During Reconstruction, 1865-70 (PDF): Although Sam Houston was against secession, delegates met at a convention to plan the steps necessary to secede from the Union.
  • Civil War and Reconstruction (PDF): When Lincoln was elected president, almost one-third of the population of Austin was slaves working on real estate. Austin was also the location of the secession convention that was held later.
  • Civil War and Reconstruction (PDF): Read notes from a speech given by Sam Houston in 1859 when he talked about his views on slavery and secession.

By: Jim Olenbush