Thursday, February 9, 2017

Civil War and Texas

Today is the birthday of my great grandfather on my father's side, William Sandord Rogers 1850-1879 (W. Sam as he was known, according to my grandfather, his son.)

I already posted about his life a few years ago, Here.  This time I'd like to consider his life through the lens of a southerner surviving the Civil War and Reconstruction.

He had been just 11 years old when the conflict started and Texas finally decided to succeed from the Union.

Huntsville TX 1870s
I'm including excerpts from the Wikepedia post on "Texas during the Civil War"
The U.S. state of Texas declared its secession from the United States of America on February 1, 1861, and joined the Confederate States on March 2, 1861, after it replaced its governor, Sam Houston, when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. Some Texan military units fought in the Civil War east of the Mississippi River, but Texas was most useful for supplying soldiers and horses for Confederate forces. Texas' supply role lasted until mid-1863, after which time Union gunboats controlled the Mississippi River, making large transfers of men, horses or cattle impossible. Some cotton was sold in Mexico, but most of the crop became useless because of the Union naval blockade of Galveston, Houston, and other ports.
And Wikepedia continues:
At this time, blacks comprised 30 percent of the state's population, and they were overwhelmingly enslaved. According to one Texan, keeping them enslaved was the primary goal of the state in joining the Confederacy...(not all Texans had slaves however.)
...Despite the prevailing view of the vast majority of the state's politicians and the delegates to the Secession Convention, there were a significant number of Texans who opposed secession. The referendum on the issue indicated that some 25% favored remaining in the Union at the time the question was originally considered.
The largest concentration of anti-secession sentiment was among the German Texan population in the Texas Hill Country, and in some of the counties of North Texas. In the latter region, most of the residents were originally from states of the Upper South. Some of the leaders initially opposed to secession accepted the Confederate cause once the matter was decided, some withdrew from public life, others left the state, and a few even joined the Union army. Confederate conscription laws forced most men of military age into the Confederate army, regardless of their sentiment. However, at least 2000 Texans joined the Union ranks.
 Many Unionists were executed.
 Sam Houston...
After his ouster from the governor's office, Houston maintained a low public profile until his death in July 1863. Houston later wrote a friend: "There comes a time a man's section is his country...I stand with mine. I was a conservative citizen of the United States...I am now a conservative citizen of the Southern Confederacy."
Who was in the army from Texas?
... In 1862 the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, passed a conscription law that ordered all men from 18 to 45 years of age to be placed into military service except ministers, state, city, county officers, and certain slave owners; all persons holding 20 slaves or more were exempt from Confederate conscription under the "Twenty Nigger Law".
 Even then, the richer people (who owned enough slaves) were not required to fight.
University Ave, Huntsville TX 1870s

The end of the war
...In the spring of 1865, Texas contained over 60,000 soldiers of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi under General Edmund Kirby Smith. As garrison troops far removed from the main theaters of the war, morale had deteriorated to the point of frequent desertion and thievery.  News of the surrender of Lee and other Confederate generals east of the Mississippi finally reached Texas around April 20.
---The haste to disband the army, combined with the pressing need to protect Confederate property from Union confiscation, created general mayhem.... Both government and private stores were raided extensively in Tyler, Marshall, Huntsville, Gonzales, Hempstead, La Grange, and Brownsville. ...By May 27, half of the original confederate forces in Texas had deserted or been disbanded, and formal order had disappeared into lawlessness in many areas of Texas.
... Federal troops did not arrive in Texas to restore order until June 19, 1865, when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union soldiers arrived on Galveston Island to take possession of the state and enforce the new freedoms of former slaves. The Texas holiday Juneteenth commemorates this date. The Stars and Stripes were not raised over Austin until June 25
 President Andrew Johnson appointed Union General Andrew J. Hamilton, a prominent politician before the war, as the provisional governor on June 17. He granted amnesty to ex-confederates if they promised to support the Union in the future, appointing some to office. On March 30, 1870, the United States Congress permitted Texas' representatives to take their seat in Congress,[30] although Texas did not meet all the formal requirements for readmission.
That is quite enough quoting. I just wanted to have a picture of the background of the Civil War for Texas.

Huntsville is in the southeastern part of the state.
The city had its beginning about 1836, when Pleasant and Ephraim Gray opened a trading post on the site. Ephraim Gray became first postmaster in 1837, naming it after his former home town, Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama.
W. Sam's father (George Washington Rogers) was among the wealthy families in early Huntsville, Walker County, Texas. I talk about him HERE and his fighting in 1846 in the Mexican-American War for Texas independence against Mexico here.  He died in 1864 from tuberculosis which he contracted while wounded in Mexico. I don't think he was able to fight at all in the Civil War.

W. Sam's grandfather was Micajah Clack Rogers, a founding father of Huntsville, as I mentioned Here.

I'll continue the story of the Rogers family during and after the Civil War, in a few days.

Today's quote:


Thought becomes action becomes the order of things, but no straight road takes you there.
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