Texas in the Confederacy: An Experiment in Nation Building

By Clayton E. Jewett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Bleeding Frontier Indian Conflict, 1861—1862

In early 1861, Atascosa County resident Jose A. Navarro wrote a letter to his son revealing the complex situation between Texas and the Indians. “The Indians are aware of our political differences, ” he said, and view Texas “as much revolutionized and weakened as Mexico.” With that belief, Navarro warned, “they will rush, without doubt to redden their spears in human blood, with that ferocity and savageness which they breathe in their blood- shot eyes.” Navarro feared that if Texans did not resist the Indians in armed fashion and pursue them into their territory, a "destructive Indian war" would lead to the ruin of Texas. Most Texans viewed the Indians as a ruthless race bent on destruction and death, and believed only the adoption of offensive action could successfully counter the Indian threat. 1.

Scholarship addressing the relationship between Anglo-Americans and Indians during the Civil War has generally focused on the conflict between Indian nations and the Confederacy. Historians have emphasized divisions between slaveholders and non—slaveholders and the Indians' military contribution to the Confederate cause. The examination of Texas's relationship with the Indians, though, reveals tensions within the Confederacy that are more complex than many historians have previously believed. 2.

Texas's trouble with the Indians existed before the days of the republic. Although Indians played a significant role in the development of Texas by

____________________
1.
Southern Intelligencer, Mar. 27, 1861. Throughout the chapter I employ the term Indian instead of Native American. Though some scholars may oppose this term, my work is written from the perspective of nineteenth-century Texas, and this is the term used in the press, personal correspondence, and official correspondence of that era.
2.
Thomas, Confederate Nation; Annie Heloise Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist; R. Halliburton Jr., Red over Black: Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians; Wilfred Knight, Red Fox: Stand Watie and the Confederate Indian Nations during the Civil War Years in Indian Territory; Nancy Hobson, “Samuel Bell Maxey as Confederate Commander of Indian Territory”; John C. Waugh, Sam Bell Maxey and the Confederate Indians.

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