In the last 130+ years much has been said about the role of Texans in the military campaigns east of the Mississippi from 1861-1865. But not enough attention has been focused on what was happening here at home in Texas during that time.
This two-part documentary addresses this situation by providing an in-depth look at what occurred on the Texas home front during the Civil War. The major military engagements of Galveston, Sabine Pass, South Texas and the Red River Campaign are all included, as is Sibley’s ill-fated invasion of New Mexico.
Besides the military events, this program also looks at the pivotal roles of women, Tejanos, African-Americans and Native Americans, the sacrifices they made and the hardships they endured during the war. Texas was the western breadbasket of the Confederacy, and supplied a good deal of cotton, beef, leather, gunpowder and grain to the war effort. The Federal blockade of the Texas Gulf Coast gave birth to adventurous blockade runners who slipped through the Federal net and ran Texas goods to foreign markets. Later in the war, and extensive cotton trade with Mexico was set up in an effort to bypass the Union naval stranglehold on Texas ports.
Major wartime factories were set up in the Marshall-Tyler area of East Texas and many of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department’s operations were run out of Marshall. Camp Ford, one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Texas, was also located near Tyler.
Frontier defense was a key issue for many Texans. When federal troops left Texas, Indian attacks increased dramatically. Some families “forted up”, other communities provided frontier regiments. Still, the Indians pushed back the line of Texas settlement significantly during the war. Raids like those at Elm Creek terrorized settlers, leading sometimes to heavy-handed and ill-advised Anglo reprisals such as the Battle of Dove Creek.
Being at war also fostered suspicion and paranoia in Texas communities, leading to unfortunate incidents like those at Gainesville and the Nueces River.
Despite such setbacks, Texans had much to be proud of during the Civil War. The Union was never able to successfully invade and hold the Lone Star State. From the Red River to the coast, Texas repelled attack after attack. Economically, Texans fared much better than the rest of the South and few here at home went hungry during the war.
Much of the war effort revolved around women: women kept the ranches, farms and families going during these four years. Many Tejanos served in Confederate regiments, especially in South Texas. The Alabama-Coushatta Indians of East Texas also enlisted and served. African-American slaves did much of the labor that provided the foodstuffs and goods for home and for export, as well as building Confederate fortifications.
This fascinating documentary features historical re-enactments, present-day footage of historical sites, as well as thousands of pictures, paintings, maps, drawings, documents and graphics from archives across the state. Key analysis of events and insight are provided by the top Civil War experts in Texas: Ralph Wooster, Jerry Don Thompson, Mike Campbell, Charles Spurlin, Danny Sessums and Robert Schaadt, among others.