The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 370
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Southwestern Hzstor zcal Quarterly
sixty thousand Union soldiers. On many a day during the four-year
struggle an Austinite perused the newspaper's latest dispatches on the
war only to throw up his hands at finding them "very muddy and con-
flicting," as one reader put it.'
If remoteness from the major theaters of military conflict disrupted
and distorted the flow of information to Texans on the trans-Missis-
sippi frontier, their perceptions of' the fighting were also affected by
intensely felt local and state loyalties. Austinites attached great signifi-
cance to military events that today barely gain notice in comprehensive
histories of the Civil War. The local newspaper hailed the battle of Gal-
veston as "one of the most brilliant achievements of the war" and the
battles of' Mansfield and Pleasant Hill as the most successful-mainly
because they repelled invasions of Texas but also because they featured
the exploits of Austin's hometown hero, Gen. Tom Green. Citizens lav-
ished attention on the glorious victory at Gaines's Mill, Virginia, and
bemoaned the disastrous surrender at Arkansas Post because boys from
the Austin area were heroes of the former and casualties of the latter."
Like Americans in every part of the North and South, Texans viewed
the Civil War through a special lens shaped by geography, technology,
group identity, and other factors. This essay examines how residents of
Texas's capital city sought and obtained information about the military
conflict, what they learned, and how they reacted to it.
It was July 18, 1861, when, for the first time, a company of volun-
teers from Austin and Travis County headed east to fight the Yankees.
One hundred four members of the Tom Green Rifles, their "flag to the
breeze," paraded down Congress Avenue and set out across the Texas
prairie for Virginia.' They soon discovered that just getting to New Or-
leans was a Herculean task; their trek demonstrated just how distant
Austin was from the seat of war.
The company's first objective was the railroad at Brenham, Texas, a
hundred miles east of Austin by rutted dirt roads. There the boys
probably boarded the "down train" on the Washington County Rail-
road for its poky, twenty-five mile jaunt to Hempstead, connecting with
the Houston and Texas Central Railroad train for the final fifty miles to
2Royal '1' Wheeler to Oran M. Rober ts, Feb. 12, 1863 (1st quotation), Correspondence (IV),
Oran M Roberts Papers (BTHC); Tu-Weekly State Gazette (Austm), July 23, 25, 28, 1863, Diary
of Thomas H. Duval, Book No. 2, Apr 16, 1863 (2nd quotation), typescript, 'I homas H. Duval
Papers (BTIHC), cited hereaftel as D)uval Dial y.
' Texas Almanar Extra (Austin), Jan 3 (quotation), 27, 29, 31, Fecb 5, 7, lo, 27, 1863; S. M.
Swenson to R. II Taylor, Feb. 3, 1863, Lettcrbook, Swante Palm Papers (BTIHC), Royal T'
Wheeler to Oran Roberts, Feb. 12, 1863, Correspondence (IV), Roberts Papers, State Gazette
(Austin), Aug 7, 14, 20, 27, Sept 3, io, 1862, Apr. 20, 1864
'State Gazette (Auslin), July 20, 1861 (quotation), Harold B Simpson, Ilood's Texa, Bringade A
Compendium (Hillsboro, Tex: I ill Junmol College Press, 1977), 103-111
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/434/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.