Civil War Times 1860-1865

By: Rylee Hanna

Civil War Battles that Occured in Texas

Battle at Galveston Island

January 1, 1863
With the order of the blockade from President Lincoln, Union soldiers tried to claim Galveston. Galveston at that time was a major import ports for the Texans. It gave them supplies, food, whatever they needed at the time. Union troops under the command of William B. Renshaw traveled to Galveston and captured the city. When word got to the new Confederate General, John B. Magruder, he started to make plans to retake Galveston and control the shipping port again. He thought to line the ships with bales of cotton to protect the soldiers from bullets.
The attack lasted just a day. A group of Confederate soldiers sailed into the harbor on cottonclads, while other troops crossed the bridge connected to the mainland and attacked there. The group on the cottonclads attacked the Union ships, though they were outgunned and outmanned they managed to attack and capture some of the ships. The other group, battled Union forces on land. In the end, the Confederate soldiers were able to recapture Galveston and keep it in Confederate possession for the rest of the war. This was a major win for the Confederacy and for Texas because it allowed shipping in and out of Texas.

Battle at Sabine Pass

September 8, 1863
At a narrow channel along the border of Louisiana and Texas, Union General Nathaniel P. Banks attempted to move his soldiers by ship through the pass. He planned to march north and cut off Texas's railroad connection to Louisiana, if completed successfully, it would be a major blow to the Confederacy. Banks loaded his troops and proceeded across the Sabine Pass.
Confederate Lieutenant Richard Dowling stationed his troops along the opposite side of the pass. As Banks ships started crossing the channel, Dowling's troops started to fire. Confederate soldier sunk two Union ships, ensuring that no other Union ships would try and cross. This was a major win for the Confederacy after facing big losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

Battle at Palmito Ranch

May 13, 1865

On November 1863, Union foces overtook Brownsville hoping to enforce the blockade. The occupied the are until July 30, 1864 when Union forces commanded by John S. Ford and Santos Benavides. The area of Brownsville was a shipping port where cotton was transported out to different places. On April 9, 1865 Confederate general Robert E. Lee signed the surrender of the Confederate Army. Unaware of his surrender, Confederate forces and Union forces fought again for control of the area. Although the Confederates won this skirmish, it was pointless. The war was already over and the Union had won.

Problems and Tensions During Wartime

During the Civil War, there were plenty of problems and tension running in Texas. One of the main problems that Texas faced was the Union blockade. It blocked trading routes and created a shortage of basic supplies and food. It also stopped the export of cotton, the cash crop at the time. This made the Texas economy suffer badly. With no money, no food, and no help, life at home became very difficult.

Also, tensions rose between people who supported the Confederacy and those who didn't. Union supporters in Texas established a secret party called the Peace Party which opposed the Confederate Draft. Confederate vigilantes addressed the problem on their own and killed members of the party. These tensions created a rift in the people of Texas.

Wartime Economy: Economics/Inflation

Texas's economy during wartime suffered badly. With the Union blockade and victories closing ports and land routes there was no way for Texas to export and sell their cotton. This forced many farmers to start growing food crops such as wheat and corn instead of cotton.

Also, with the Confederacy losing the war, the Confederate dollar started losing its value until it was worth nothing by the end of the war. In need of support for the war, the taxes rose and prices on everyday items rose by hundreds of dollars. The people didn't have any money to pay for essentials and suffered badly.

Women & the War Effort

While the men were away fighting the war, most women stayed home to help support the family. Whatever job the husband had, the wife took over. Some women became owner of huge plantations, helped drive cattle, managed farms, and many other things to help out. The women took on all of the responsibilities of the men which was very challenging.

Some women though went and fought in the war. They had to cut their hair and dress like a boy since women were not allowed to fight. Women during the war played a huge role either helping out at home or on the front lines.

Hardships on the Homefront

During the wartime, life at home was hard. With the blockade in place, lots of goods were very hard to get. Clothing for example was very hard to find. Most families had to learn to hand spin wool because it was nearly impossible to find affordable clothing or clothing at all.

Medicine was being sent to the front line for soldiers who needed it leaving sick people at home in need. Women and men started to learn how to use herbs as medicine instead.

Also, everyday items like paper were in short stock. Things such as newspaper lines were discontinued. Life at home during the Civil War was very hard and forced many families to adapt and learn new things in order to survive.

Unionism and Conscientious Objectors

During the Civil War there were many different types of people. Unionists for example supported the Union. They believed in a United States free from slavery and want to stop the westward expansion of slaves. They also believed in the industrial economy and innovation. Unionists in Texas were treated very poorly. If they were suspected of being a Unionist they were usually killed. In Gainesville, Texas, 40 suspected Unionists were hung during the Great Hanging.

Conscientious Objectors on the other hand, believed in peace to solve their problems. They would not fight whether for religious reasons or they just hated fighting. They were often beaten and persecuted for their beliefs and if a Confederate mistook them for a Unionist they were killed. Although the were not fighting in the war they were still sent, usually as a cook. Life in Texas was difficult for Unionists and Conscientious Objectors and added lots of tension and separation.