?"Won't we never get out of this state??": western soldiers in post-civil war Texas, 1865-1866



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Texas A&M University


After the Civil War, the government needed to send an occupation force into Texas to help rebuild the state government and confront the French Imperialist forces that had invaded Mexico. Unfortunately, the government was required to use volunteers because the Regular Army was not yet prepared to handle such a mission. Using citizen soldiers for peacetime occupation was a break from past military tradition, and the men did not appreciate such an act. Historians of Reconstruction Texas have focused on state politics, the rampant violence in the state throughout this period, and the role of freedmen in situating themselves to an uncertain and hostile society. Studies of the military in post-Civil War Texas have examined the army?s role in the state?s political reconstruction, but largely ignore the soldiers. Additionally, these works tend to over-generalize the experience and relations of the troops and Texans. This thesis looks at Western citizen soldiers, comprising the Fourth and Thirteenth Army Corps as well as two cavalry divisions, stationed in Texas after the war from the Rio Grande to San Antonio to Marshall. Beginning with the unit?s receiving official orders to proceed to Texas after the surrender of the principal Confederate forces in 1865, it follows the movements from wartime positions in Tennessee and Alabama to peacetime posts within Texas. The study examines Texan-soldier relations as they differed from place to place. It also investigates the Westerners? peacetime occupation duties and the conditions endured in Texas. The thesis argues that there was diversity in both the Western volunteers? experiences and relations with occupied Texans, and it was not as monolithic as past historians have suggested. Specifically, this study endeavors to supplement the existing historiography of the army in Texas during Reconstruction. Broadly, this thesis also hopes to be a more general look at the use of citizen soldiers for postwar occupation duty.