HOW TEXAS WENT DOWN IN FLAMES

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by Julia Robb
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Sam Houston told us not to do it.

And Houston was the sitting governor when he opposed Texas joining the Confederacy, as well as hero of San Jacinto, twice President of the Republic of Texas and a former U.S. (TX) senator.

Joining the Confederacy would ruin the state, Houston warned, then ordered Texan Rangers to guard the federal arsenal in San Antonio.220px-SHouston_2

Texas secession leaders, Houston said, should “learn to respect and support one government before they talk of starting another.”

Texas didn’t listen.

In February, 1861, the state legislature appointed a special Texas “Secession Convention” which met and voted 166 to eight to secede from the Union.

Houston did everything he could to stop the convention meeting and fumed about “the mob upstairs,” which was meeting in the legislative chambers at the state capitol.

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A referendum supported the convention; 46,153 votes to 14,747.

After the popular vote, Houston refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederate government.

A few days later, on March 17, 1861, Houston went to his office one morning and found newly-sworn in governor Edmund Clark sitting at his desk.

“Well, governor, you are an early riser,” Houston said, according to James L. Haley’s Sam Houston.

Everybody knows the end of this story.

We not only lost the war, Texas was economically destroyed.

If Texans had not rounded up wild longhorns and driven them to Northern markets–a stroke of genius–Texas would have suffered many more years than it did.

Moreover, of the 90,000 Texans who fought for the Confederacy–many of them on the frontier, against the tribes–about 24,000 were killed; somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s husband.

About 2,132 white Texans fought for the Union, as did 47 black men.

And the way Texas got to this point was not pretty.

It was a rigged war.

Seventy percent of the secession convention delegates were slave owners.

Population in Texas in 1860 totaled 604,000, but only 20,000 white males owned slaves, half of those owning less than three.

Moreover, mobs targeted Texans who opposed secession, burning their houses, and sometimes even murdering them, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In Cook County, Confederate supporters hung 40 (supposed) Union sympathizers and shot two.

In Gillespie County, Confederate supporters hung fifty (supposed) Union sympathizers.

When I was young, I romanticized this war. I think all Southern kids do; we loved the gallantry, the underdog fighting overwhelming odds, bravery.

My three-times great-grandfather, Littleton James Hegler, was killed fighting with the South Carolina Volunteers (Confederacy) and one of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy until he was captured.

Union officers gave my ancestor (I think his last name was McClung) an ultimatum: Join the Union or go to a POW camp.

He joined the Union, but after the war would never wear anything blue.

I guess we know where his heart was.

But I don’t romanticize anymore.

It’s too hard to deny dead bodies stink in the sun, wounds cause pain, gangrene eats flesh until it stops hearts, being forced to stop on the march and relieve bowel-ridden dysentery is humiliating, and eating nothing but hardtack for days on end is a terrible punishment.

My guess? Most Civil War soldiers would have given anything for a good meal and 12 hours sleep.

Also, slavery was a terrible evil and needed to be abolished. Badly.

Personally, the thing I admire most in life is courage, and the rebs had it in abundance.

Hood’s Texas Brigade, which fought with Lee’s boys in Virginia, was renowned for its bravery.bmphood

At one point, in 1864, at the Battle of The Wilderness, Lee ordered the Brigade to the front, and they in turn ordered him to the rear.

When the battle line was crumbling, Lee saw the Texans coming to the front and cried “Hurrah for Texas!”

Lee began leading Texans in a charge.

The Texans, unwilling to risk their idol in battle, stopped and gathered around him, yelling “Lee to the rear!”

They held his horse until he withdrew.

Stuff like that makes Texans proud.

I don’t think most Confederates fought for slavery.

Most of them fought because they weren’t going to let the Yankees tell them what to do.

Not the best reasoning for a shooting war.

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Julia Robb is the author of Scalp Mountain and Saint of the Burning Heart, eBooks for sale at amazon.com. She can be reached at juliarobb.com, juliarobbmar@aol.com, venturegalleries.com, goodreads, pinterest, twitter, Facebook, iamatexan.com and amazon author pages.

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8 thoughts on “HOW TEXAS WENT DOWN IN FLAMES

  1. I so enjoy your blog and your books!

    The civil war story in our family is two of my Barnes great grandfather’s brothers returned from the civil war and ate so much, they died. ThIs was in Mississippi.

  2. That is so awful. I know we would have saved all of them if we could have done so. Thank you for the compliment. I will facebook you!

  3. So touching…and all too true. Beautifully written. If they taught the Civil War this way in history classes, there wouldn’t be a lot of people crowing about modern secession.

  4. Nancy West, while it has to be tough going to secede and become a nation in it’s own right, Texans today have a very real THREAT. If we’re going to protect our way of life and what it means to be Texas, we cannot afford to let the Federal government turn us into one of their socialist states.

  5. Well said, Martine. We are in real danger today and we have no idea how much worse it’s about to get. What I’ve heard about what is coming is truly frightening.

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