The treachery in Texas, the secession of Texas, and the arrest of the United States officers and soldiers serving in Texas. Read before the New-York Historical Society, June 25, 1861. By Major J. T. Sprague, U. S. A. Page: 30 of 36
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REBELLION RECORD, 1860-61.
136 REBELLION RECORD, 1860-61.
Grande in accordance with the understanding
with the State of Texas. The remote stations of
some of the commands prevented their arrival at
Indianola as soon as anticipated, or as soon as
could be desired. In the mean time the political
aspect of events throughout ( ir country was to
those struggling to escape from Texas sad and
discouraging indeed. No instructions, no encouragement,
no sympathy was received from any
quarter by those whose loyalty had been so conspicuously
and faithfully tried. As the determination
of the Government to maintain inviolate
the Constitution and the Union became known,
the acrimony and vindictiveness of the citizens in
this quarter increased in a corresponding ratio.
The surrender of Fort Sumter was received in
San Antonio on the seventeenth of April. There
was no rejoicing among the people. The active
leaders in secession endeavored to infuse into the
populace some expressions of exultation, but the
prevailing sentiment was depression and gloom.
It was the tocsin which aroused the American
people to arms. At this time a detachment of
three hundred infantry, commanded by Major C.
Sibley, United States army, had encamped at
Indianola preparatory to embarkation. The
steamer Star of the West was daily expected to
take the command to New-York. In painful
anxiety these troops were kept in suspense for
many days, surrounded by an active and vindictive
enemy. A steamer was sent to search after
the long looked for vessel, and while under way
an attempt was made to run her ashore, and thus
defeat the object, and would have proved successful
had not the United States officer on board
seized the captain and threatened him with instant
death. Such was the vigilance and power
of secession committees, no man, however humble
or elevated his vocation, dared to express his
favorable sentiments towards the United States
Government by word or deed. The authorities
at Montgomery now finding that the attack upon
Sumter would precipitate an open warfare, despatched
Col. Van Dorn with instructions to arrest
the United States officers and soldiers remaining
Texas. Upon reaching Galveston he learned that
the Star of the West was expected at Indianola,
when he obtained the steamer General Rusk,
placed on board an armed force of volunteers with
artillery awaiting the embarkation of Major Sibley's
command. Approaching her by night he
was hailed and answered: " United States troops
to come on board." He was directed to come
alongside. Col. Van Dorn and his command
were assisted on board, when the captain and
crew were made prisoners of war, and the ship
taken possession of in the name of the confederated
States. Major Sibley ignorant of these
events, and abandoning all hopes of the Star of
the West, chartered two small schooners, the
only vessels in port, and embarked his command
for New-York. Upon getting under way, and
proceeding to the sea, the vessels were found so
crowled with men, women, children, and their
baggage, it was found impossible to manage them,
when an effort was made to obtain another transport.
The delay was fatal. While this was being
accomplished, Col. Van Dorn entered the bay"
with three steamers laden with armed men from:
Galveston, upon which was placed artillery, protected
by cotton-bags. He intercepted this most
unfortunate command, and demanded an unconditional
surrender. Major Sibley and his little
band were helpless; resistance was destruction.
After much delay, terms were made, and arms
were surrendered, and the officers and men were
permitted to return to their Government on parole.
Here again that lovalty which had heretofore distinguished
our soldiers was evinced, for, though
surrounded by an enemy, and threatened with
destruction, they commenced throwing their muskets
overboard, and were only prevented by the
timely interposition of their officers. Upon the
surrender of their arms was conditioned their
obtaining subsistence from day to day. They
denounced the authority that so disgracefully
betrayed them, and turned with pride and exultation
to the Government they had served, and
which they believed would extol their fidelity
and punish the aggressors. While these events,
so disgraceful and disastrous to our arms, were
transpiring at Indianola, all communication was
cut off with San Antonio by the large number of
Texas troops in the field. These troops had congregated
on the coast to capture Major Sibley and
his command in the event of his not embarking.
Col. Waite, at San Antonio, was ignorant of
the fate of the troops at Indianola, as he was of
the command under Brevet Lieut.-Col. Reeve,
Eighth infantry, consisting of three hundred men
and five officers; which had, it was supposed,
left Fort Bliss, on the Rio Grande, early in the
month of April, but in like manner was deprived
of communicating with them. A vague rumor.
had got abroad in the community, that the officers
and men remaining in Texas were to be arrested
and detained as prisoners of war. The
proclamation of the President of the United States
had been received, allowing twenty days for the
laying down of arms. This exasperated the populace,
and changed our heretofore social intercourse
among the citizens to distant coldness
and reserve. We felt that we were in a foreign
land, surrounded by enemies. No communication
was had with the Government at Washington;
indeed, from the well-authenticated reports
received from New-Orleans, and from Montgom
ery, serious doubts were entertained whether the
Government we claimed was in existence. The
telegraph despatches from New-Orleans, of April
twenty-third, announced that Gen. Scott was at
the head of the Virginia troops marching on
Washington, that President Lincoln had fled,
and that sixty thousand men from Virginia and
Maryland were surrounding the Capital. That
the Seventh New-York, and the Massachusetts
regiments, had been cut up in Baltimore; and
that a strong force was being organized in the
North, in opposition to the policy of coercion
adopted by the President of the United States.
The hopes and prospects of our country were
gloomy and discouraging.
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Sprague, John Titcomb. The treachery in Texas, the secession of Texas, and the arrest of the United States officers and soldiers serving in Texas. Read before the New-York Historical Society, June 25, 1861. By Major J. T. Sprague, U. S. A., book, 1862; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6102/m1/30/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .