Current Exhibit

The Civil War and Texas

A Guide to Manuscript Collections

In The Texas Collection

Background

Texas was unlike any other state that succeeded from the Union and entered the Confederate States of America in 1861. It was the most western of the 13 Confederate States, the only southern state sharing a border with a foreign and hostile nation Mexico, and the only state to have been a sovereign nation (1836-1845). It was the largest state geographically in the Confederacy and had a minority population of German and Spanish speaking citizens. Additionally, it was the fastest growing state in population from 1850 to 1860 with an increase of over 390,000 in population (1850 -- 212,592 to 1860 -- 604,215). (1)

In 1861, newly elected and aging Governor Sam Houston was not a secessionist advocate nor did he lead the movement in Texas. The secessionist question was finally decided by a state convention and a ballot vote.

Prior to Lincoln’s election as President, the over 600,000 Texans were more concerned with Mexico, the economy, Texas’ debt, the ever present Indian raids and skirmishes along the expansive western frontier, Indian Territory to the north, and Texas’ former claim over the New Mexico Territory.

On March 2, 1861, Governor Sam Houston issued a declarative four paragraph proclamation. The pertinent paragraph is the third “Now therefore, I Sam Houston, Governor of the State of Texas, do hereby issue my proclamation declaring that a large majority of votes returned and counted of said election are in favor of “Secession” of the State of Texas from the United States of America.” (2) Governor Houston was removed from office on March 18 when he did not answer the roll call at the State Capital. On March 31, he departed Austin for his farm on Galveston Bay with his family. Throughout the duration of the war there were a minority of Union sympathizers in Texas.

It is difficult to provide an accurate count of the number of Texans who fought in the Civil War as there has been no official census of the Texas Muster Rolls. A reasonable estimate places those serving at 88,000, with 58,000 in the cavalry and 30,000 in the infantry and artillery (3). Texas soldiers fought in most major engagements such as the Battles of Corinth, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and The Wilderness to name a few. After the fall of Vicksburg, the majority of Texans served in the Trans Mississippi states and in Texas to protect the coastline, borders and frontier. The last battle of the Civil War and a victory for the Texas troops was at Palmito Ranch on May 13, 1865. It is estimated that approximately 24,000 Texans died during the war from wounds and diseases.

Civil War Collections

The Texas Collection’s Civil War archival holdings are primarily focused on Texas. This rich resource consists of letters, journals, diaries, military documents, reports, muser rolls, and reunion information. Soldier’s papers from Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Caronia are also included in this list as these men may have settled in Texas after the war. In addition, there is a Union soldier’s account as he was stationed in south Texas for a short period during the war.

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Works Cited and Used:

1. Texas Almanac: 2014-2015 (Denton, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 2014), 415.

2. Confederate Military History Extended Edition, vol. XV Texas (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1989), 28.

3. John A. Wooster, Texas and Texans in the Civil War (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 1995), 32.

4. Ibid., 185.