Union flotilla at Galveston, 1863.
Donated by Cora M. Wilson
Gift of Elizabeth Julian
Few battles actually took place in Texas, but Texas still played a key role in the War between the States. On February 15, 1861, US Major General David E. Twiggs surrendered his 2,700 Union troops in San Antonio. On September 8, 1863, Lieutenant Dick Dowling thwarted a Union invasion of Texas at Sabine Pass on the Texas coastline. Dowling, along with 46 men, repulsed a Union naval attack force of 4 gunboats, 23 transports, and approximately 5,000 troops. He sank 2 boats, captured 350 prisoners, and routed the Union soldiers! Construction of a major supply center was begun in the city of Gonzales in 1863. This fort, now known as Fort Wall, is the only known Confederate Earthwork fortress west of the Mississippi River.
Wooden cabinet of surgical instruments used on Civil War battlefield patients. The surgery kit belonged to Dr. T. B. McCurdy of Lancaster, Texas.
Gift of Berry B. Cobb
Colt Model 1860 Army revolver. This was the primary revolver used by U.S. troops during the Civil War.
Gift of A. P. Johnston
Brass army bugle used during the Civil War.
Gift of Miss Ruth C. Bartlett
Political unrest in America during the 1850s began taking its toll on Texas. By 1860, many Texans were beginning to regret their choice to join the Union. When the Southern Confederacy was created in 1860, Texas began debating their future in the Union. Most Texans supported joining the Confederacy. Others, chiefly Governor Sam Houston, thought it best to simply secede from the Union without joining the Confederacy. On February 23, 1861, Texans voted overwhelmingly to join the Confederacy, which would take place on March 2, exactly 25 years after declaring their independence from Mexico. Governor Houston resigned his office a few days later after refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy.
William H. Gaston, April 1861.
Donated by Gertrude Gaston
Civil War-era lead bullets.
Gift of Dr. William E. Howard
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This act, coupled with the 13th, 14th, and 15th, Amendments to the US Constitution outlawed slavery and gave specific legal rights to the freedmen. However, it was not until June 19, 1865 that news of these events were announced in Texas. To this day, "Juneteenth" is a cause for much celebration in the State of Texas.
Handmade banjo used during the Civil War by Capt. James Pinckney Thomas. The drum is made of bobcat skin. Capt. Thomas served in Company "E", 18 th Texas Cavalry led by John D. Coit under Gen. Granberry, Clebourne Division. It is said of him, "He did more good with that banjo than many a preacher, when he kept the boys in camp nights, with his playing and singing."
Gift of Mike H. Thomas
The last battle of the Civil War was fought near Brownsville on May 11, 1865. The battle of Palmito Ranch was a Confederate victory, but came a month after General Robert E. Lee had formally surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, thus ending the war. News of Lee's surrender arrived after the battle, which caused many of the victorious Texans to flee the state, refusing to surrender or believe they had lost the war.
Tin shot flask with suede pouch.
Gift of Ethel Muse Gillespie