Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 42
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42 TEAS AMANA 199-199
first post office was established in 1850. Catholic orders
headquartered in France established Ursuline Acade-
my for girls in 1851 and St. Mary's for boys in 1852. Four
public schools opened in San Antonio in 1853, one for
boys and one for girls on either side of the river.
Streets, which were practically impassable in wet
weather, received some improvements in 1857, includ-
ing the installation of several bridges. Gas lights were
installed in 1860.
The Menger Hotel, two-and-a half stories high and
constructed of fine cut stone, opened in 1859 on Alamo
Plaza. The hotel, with an on-premises brewery, was fa-
mous for wild game dinners, which sometimes included
turtles plucked straight from the San Antonio River.
The threat of Indian raids was greatly diminished by
the establishment in 1854 of two Indian reservations:
one in Young County near the town of Graham, and the
other about 40 miles away in Throckmorton County on
the Clear Fork of the Brazos. There were still raids, but
they were infrequent in Central Texas, and they mostly
struck at the least-protected frontier outposts.
In 1860, the population of Austin was 3,493; Travis
County had 8,080 residents. San Antonio's population
was 8,235; Bexar County totaled 14,454 residents, more
than double the 6,052 who lived there in 1850. McLennan
County was home to 6,206. Altogether, the counties that
make up Central Texas were home to 98,919 people in
1860. The population of the entire state was 604,215, with
the foreign-born making up approximately three-quar-
ters of the total and representing almost every country
of Western Europe.
During the 1850s, most Texans were small farmers,
and most owned no slaves. Cotton and corn were lead-
ing crops, however, and as cotton grew more profita-
ble, slavery increased. By 1860, the statewide
production of cotton reached 431,000 bales.
As the clouds of war gathered in the East, Texas
slave-holders became more uneasy. Their personal fi-
nances were on the line, since considerable money was
invested in slaves. In the German areas of Central
Texas, sentiment was overwhelmingly against slavery
and, therefore, pro-Union.
The number of slaves in the state had increased
from 443 owned by 69 slaveholders in Austin's colony in
1825 to 182,566 owned by 21,878 slaveholders in 1860.
While the vast majority of slaveholders were white, a
few free blacks also owned slaves.
Most Texas slaves lived along the Gulf Coast or in
the river valleys of East Texas, providing labor on large
plantations whose principal crops were cotton, corn and
sugar. But about half the slaves in Texas lived on small-
er farms, as was the case in much of Central Texas,
where there was some breakdown in class barriers as
slaves and owners worked together in the fields.
Baptist and Methodists sent missionaries to conduct
church services for slaves. But white ministers had little
understanding of the slaves' condition or feelings. Hom-
er Thrall, a Methodist, expressed the beliefs of most
white Protestant ministers when he said, "Slavery is not
only innocent but scriptural and right and . . . it is our
imperative duty to protect and perpetuate this institu-
tion as a blessing to both races" because "a state of
bondage is the normal state of the African race." Slaves
often held their own services on the sly at night.
In addition to the rural slaves in Central Texas, sev-
eral hundred lived in Austin, San Antonio and other
large towns. Most urban slaves were house servants,
but some worked as cooks and waiters, in the construc-
tion trades, as barbers, teamsters, or coachmen. Some
had jobs in flour mills, sawmills, brickyards and other
Generally, slaves who broke the law suffered
harsher penalties than did free men. But even those
who were not abused were subject to the inhuman
cruelty inherent in the very idea of one human's own-
ership of another. When life within the "peculiar institu-
tion" became unbearable, many escaped, or attempted
to escape. In Texas, Mexico was a popular destination,
since that country was known to abhor slavery. Others
fled to the comparative safety of the anti-slavery states
north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
In the Deep South, the talk of secession turned to ac-
tion on Dec. 20, 1860, when South Carolina left the
Union. Texas soon followed the rush to leave the Union,
despite opposition by Gov. Sam Houston. When Houston
refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confeder-
ate States of America that was required of all officials,
the office of governor was declared vacant and Lt. Gov.
Edward Clark assumed the governorship. The com-
mander of federal forces in Texas, Maj. Gen. D. E.
Twiggs, a Southerner by birth and a Confederate sym-
pathizer, surrendered the federal posts and forts and
about 2,700 troops to state authorities.
On March 2, 1861, 25 years to the day that Texas de-
clared her independence from Mexico, the official proc-
lamation was read. Texas had cast her lot with the
Confederacy for better or worse.
The Confederate Years
Although the fighting never reached Central Texas,
the Civil War affected almost every aspect of the resi-
dents' lives. Texas was vital to the Confederate cause,
serving as the link to the ports in Mexico. With Union
troops blockading ports in the Confederate states, cot-
ton, the most available item of value in the state, was
exported through Mexico.
Cotton from the Brazos Valley and North Texas was
taken to Millican near present-day Bryan in Brazos
County, the northernmost railroad terminus when the
war began. From there it was shipped by rail to
Houston, where it was transported over the "Cotton
Road" by wagons to Brownsville. It was then moved
across the Rio Grande to the Mexican port of Bagdad
and loaded onto ships. The return trip brought back
military supplies and merchandise for distribution
across the Confederate states.
More than 60,000 Texans wore Confederate gray;
military companies were organized in practically every
county. The Central Texas county of Robertson was typ-
ical: Five troop companies were organized as soon as
secession was approved. Commanders included W. P.
Townsend, a Mexican War veteran, with a company of
70 men. Townsend's troops became Company C of the
4th Texas Regiment, which in turn became part of the
legendary Hood's Texas Brigade. Company B of the 4th
Texas came from Travis County, while Company F was
raised in Bexar County. Hood's Brigade fought with
Robert E. Lee's army at the battles of Chickamauga,
Gettysburg and Wilderness and the second battle of Ma-
nassas. After observing the 4th Texas in battle, Hood
had high praise for their bravery, saying, "I could dou-
ble-quick the Fourth Texas to the gates of Hell and nev-
er break their line." Also in Hood's Brigade were Cos. C
and G of the 5th Texas from Leon and Milam counties,
respectively. Of the 4,500 Texans who served in Hood's
Brigade, only some 550 survived.
The Robertson County war effort included establish-
ing a mill to make flour, cotton and wool cloth. Cotton
cards, medicines, flour, bacon and salt were furnished
to soldiers' families, also.
Salado, Bell County, was the headquarters of the
27th Brigade, Texas State Troops, under the command
of the former empresario, Brig. Gen. Sterling Clack
Robertson. The Texas Lancers were organized in Bell
County in April 1862. The 27th Brigade moved to Camer-
on in 1863, with Brig. Gen. H. P. Hale commanding. In
all, Bell County sent 12 troop companies into the fight-
ing. Goods were supplied to the war effort from Bell
County flour mills, a hat factory, a tanyard, leather
works, blacksmith shops, a cabinet shop and beef-
slaughter pens in the county.
The Milam County Guards were organized in May
1861, followed by the San Andres Light Horse Company
and the Milam Guards in June. The previously men-
tioned Co. G of the 5th Texas Regiment was originally
organized as the Milam County Grays.
When Brig. Gen. Henry H. Sibley raised a Confeder-
ate force in San Antonio in 1861 to drive the Union
forces out of New Mexico, two companies from Milam
County and one each from Falls, Comal, Travis and Wil-
liamson counties joined, along with others from across
the state. Sibley's Brigade won the battle of Valverde on
Feb. 21, 1862, then took Albuquerque without a fight.
But, after winning a Pyrrhic victory at Glorieta Pass on
March 28 after furious, bloody hand-to-hand fighting,
Sibley was forced to retreat back to Texas after
Union forces captured the Confederate supply
train. When Sibley's Brigade got to Texas in July, it
had 1,000 fewer men: About five hundred had
TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/46/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.