The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 334
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
quently beaten unmercifully, and shot down like wild beasts, without
any provocation, followed with hounds, and maltreated in every way."
In the area of East Texas between the Neches and Sabine rivers, Strong
found that the freedmen were still being held in slavery. Former Con-
federate soldiers, clad in their old uniforms, roamed about the country-
side, armed to the teeth and ready to resume the fight against the
Yankees. Strong had traveled in other Southern states, but nowhere
had he witnessed the bitterness and open resistance to federal au-
thority that he observed in Texas. In his report to General Howard,
Strong concluded that without the U.S. Army "the condition of the
freed people would be worse beyond comparison than it was before the
war and when they were held in bondage."
Strong was not alone in his analysis of the postwar state of affairs in
Texas. Gen. Philip Sheridan gained the most notoriety of any contem-
porary observer when he remarked that if he owned both hell and
Texas, he "would rent Texas out and live in hell!"' General Howard
paid a high compliment to Edgar Gregory, his appointee as commis-
sioner of the Texas Freedmen's Bureau, saying that Gregory "was so
fearless that I sent him to Texas." If any Northerner had believed that
reconstructing Southern states could be accomplished with ease, that
assessment would not have applied to Texas.
Conservative Southerners naturally denied that blacks were the vic-
tims of widespread violence, but virtually all modern scholars have
accepted the reports of Strong, Sheridan, Howard, and others as es-
sentially accurate. Early students of Reconstruction, following the lead
of William Dunning, attempted to downplay the violence and place
the blame for it with Republican policymakers or Union troops. But
even Dunning-school scholars such as Charles W. Ramsdell could not
deny that Texas was a very bloody place at certain times during
2W. E. Strong to O O Howard, Jan. i, 1866, In Message from the President of the United States
together with the Reports of the Assstant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, made since December I,
1865, S Exec. Doc. 27, 39th Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial 1238), 81-82, 83 (1st and 2nd quotations),
84-85, 86 (3rd quotation). See also Claude Elliott, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas," South-
western historical Quarterly, LVI (July, 1952), 1-24.
SQuoted in Paul Andrew Hutton, Phil Sheridan and His Army (Lincoln University of Ne-
braska Press, 1985), 22.
SQuoted mi William S. McFeely, Yankee Stepfather- General O O. Howard and the Freedmen (New
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1968), 68 (quotation), 69.
5Charles W. Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas (New York Columbia University, 1910),
127-133; Claude Elliott, Leathercoat: The Life History of a Texas Patriot (San Antonio- Standard
Printing Co, 1938), 147-160; W. C. Nunn, Texas Under the Carpetbaggers (Austin University of
Texas Press, 1962), 8, Ernest Wallace, Texas in Turmozl: The Saga of Texas, 1849-1875 (Austin:
Steck-Vaughan Co., 1965), 150-159.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/390/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.