The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 414
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
ginning and deteriorated as the war progressed. Even when accurate
the news might not be credited, for it was never an easy task to sort out
truth from rumor. In 1864, when Austin had virtually lost touch with
the fighting east of the Mississippi, a frustrated Richardson complained
that it was "impossible to know what to believe." For Austinites (al-
though hardly for them alone) the cis-Mississippi war unfolded in a
highly distorted, often chaotic fashion that bears only modest resem-
blance to the carefully reconstructed, coherent picture found in histori-
In the foreground of the view eastward from the capital city was the
trans-Mississippi war, which intermittently overshadowed the major
theaters of conflict. Austinites followed with particular concern the suc-
cessive Yankee thrusts toward Texas-and celebrated the victories that
repelled them. News of these clashes was often fresher, fuller, more ac-
curate, and seemed of greater urgency than reports of the major fight-
ing. Austinites knew that the war east of the Mississippi was of momen-
tous consequence, but they also grew detached from it late in the
conflict to a degree unimaginable had the fighting directly threatened
While the Civil War was a searing experience that cut through every
American community, the way it was perceived varied from one com-
munity to another. When reading letters written by Austinites during
the war and the newspapers published locally, one is struck by the fre-
quent expression of themes like the sense of isolation from the rest of
the Confederacy, frustration at the sea of misinformation, anxiety over
the safety of Texas and Austin, and pride and sadness at the fate of
Austin men in arms. Themes like these shaped the community's experi-
ence during the conflict and played a major role in defining the Civil
War for its residents.
18 State Gazette (Austin), Aug 3, 1864.
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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/m1/478/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.