Civil War and Reconstruction

For Texans on all sides, the Civil War brought hardships. Although only a few battles were fought in Texas, the effect of the war was widespread. Traffic through the port at Galveston was stopped by a Union blockade early in the war. There was fighting in the city.

Barriers to trade continued until the war’s end. Imports from northern factories stopped and transportation networks were damaged. Union blockades made it difficult for cotton growers to export their crops. The residents of Texas suffered from shortages of many kinds.

There was an increase in the number of slaves in Texas. Many refugees fleeing battles in the Deep South came to Texas, bringing slaves with them. Slaves were still demanded to work hard throughout the war.

In cities and rural areas, women did the work usually done by men who were away at war. Women took on significant new roles of farmer and provider. They needed to care for their families alone, in a time of hardship and shortages. For women whose husbands died during the war, that role continued after the war’s end.

Differences in political belief also created problems for many Texans during the war. Opposition to secession was common among recent German immigrants and among many Tejanos and Mexican Texans. In 1862, three dozen Union sympathizers were massacred near the Nueces River while trying to flee to Mexico.

The war ended with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. The official news did not reach Texas for weeks. It arrived on June 19, 1865 when General Gordon Granger and Union forces arrived to occupy the state and to order the emancipation of all slaves in Texas. Reconstruction had begun.

Source: Civil War and Reconstruction
Courtesy Texas Our Texas, Texas PBS

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