Fighting for the Confederacy: The White Male
Population of Harrison County in the Civil War
RANDOLPH B. CAMPBELL*
HARRISON COUNTY, LOCATED ON THE LOUISIANA BORDER IN NORTHEAST
Texas, was among the most "Southern" of the state's counties dur-
ing the antebellum years. Natives of the South headed more than 90
percent of its households in 1860, and 61 percent of those households
owned at least one of the county's 8,784 slaves, the largest population
of bondsmen living in any Texas county at that time. Harrison had 146
planters, that is, owners of twenty or more slaves, and 85 percent of the
county's farmers grew cotton. The 1859 cotton crop was 21,440o bales,
the second largest grown in any Texas county. When the secession cri-
sis began in November 186o, Harrison County was one of the first to
call for a convention to consider leaving the Union, and on February
23, 1861, its voters overwhelmingly endorsed disunion 866 to 44.
This amounted to 95 percent support for secession among those who
Secession, of course, soon led to war. When word of the firing on
Fort Sumter reached Marshall, the county seat of Harrison, on April 17,
1861, the town resounded with cannon fire and patriotic speeches. And
the county's young men prepared to fight.2 Few, however, would have
* Randolph B. Campbell is a regents professor of history at the University of North Texas. He
is currently writing a general history of Texas to be published by Oxford University Press. The
author wishes to thank his colleague, Richard G. Lowe, for assistance at every stage in the prepa-
ration of this article.
' Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850-i88o
(Austin- Texas State Historical Association, 1983), 24-27, 52, 19o-191; United States Bureau of
the Census, Agriculture of the United States in x86o; Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth
Census (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864), 140-151, 240-242. (The cotton crop
produced in San Augustine County in 1859 appears to have been the second largest in the state
because it was reported incorrectly at 31,342 bales. The actual crop was 3,142 bales, far fewer
than Harrison County produced.) Walter L. Buenger, Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1984), 164, shows that it was not uncommon for Texas counties to
support secession by 95 percent or more of the total vote cast.
2 Campbell, Southern Community in Crisis, 200.
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. CIV, NO. 1
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed April 30, 2016.