Talk:Nueces massacre

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Hollywood should film this remarkable episode of history! (talk) 19:26, 17 May 2012 (UTC)


Campbell, Randolph B. Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Kamphoefner, Walter D. "New Perspectives on Texas Germans and the Confederacy." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 102, no. 4 (April 1999): 440-455. (accessed February 11, 2013).

Marten, James. Texas Divided: Loyatly and Dissent in the Lone Star State, 1856-1874. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.

McGowen, Stanley S. "Battle or Massacre?: The Incident on the Nueces, August 10, 1862." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 104, no. 1 (July, 2000): 64-86. (accessed February 11, 2013).

Shook, Robert W. "The Battle of the Nueces, August 10, 1862." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 66, no. 1 (July, 1962): 31-42. (accessed February 11, 2013).

Wooster, Ralph A. Civil War Texas: A History and a Guide. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1999.

--Stonecm (talk) 01:26, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Outline for new additions[edit]

Nueces Massacre Outline I. Stub Introduction: This is the brief summary before the article proper. Will mostly be the existing first paragraph, but there will be a few sentences as an addendum on the outrage that followed (Marten, 120). There may also be a reference to continued 21st century dispute between descendants in the area on justification for the incident (McGowen, 85-86).

II. Background:

A. German Population in Texas a. German immigrant or recent (first or second generation) descendant population reached approximately 20,000 in Texas around 1860 (Campbell, 207). b. Settlement Patterns: Though Germans lived most areas, they settled heavily in the Hill Country along the Guadalupe, Colorado, and Brazos rivers (Struve, 3). The settlement can be described as a “geographic triangle” between San Antonio, Seguin, and New Braunfels in South-Central (at the time known as western Texas) Texas (Shook, 31). A series of counties in this region, mentioned in the existing second paragraph, was known as the “German Belt” and Germans ran the municipalities (Campbell, 207-208). c. Political disposition of Germans: i. Germans were a complex population, but generally were apathetic or antagonistic to slavery (Kamphoefner, 449). Those who were slave owners kept them more as servants than as a connection to cotton-culture, and were not wedded to the system (Kamphoefner 442-444). ii. This population was augmented by a very liberal and republican group of Germans, known as achtundvierzieger or forty-eighters. These were the immigrants from the failed revolutions of 1848 and were vehemently opposed to slavery. In 1854 at the Saengerfest (a festival) in San Antonio they actually authored a political platform calling for its abolition, later called the “San Antonio Platform” (Marten, 27) iii. This animosity between Anglo-Texans and Germans simmered through the 1850’s and the disputes were only magnified by the Civil War (Marten, 31). B. Disputatious Germans and Violence between 1861 and August 1862 a. Confederate Point of View: On declaration of war, Germans were mostly, to outward appearances, passive (Wooster, 37). Confederate officials, however, saw the German population as an internal threat. They sensed a lack of support for the Confederate cause among the Germans and even celebration at Union victories (McGowen, 68). There was also fear about German-run local militias arming and organizing these potential threats (McGowen, 67). b. German Actions: Most Germans did nothing of the sort and were apathetic to the cause (Marten, 115). Confederate fears were not, however, entirely unfounded. In June 1861, several forty-eighters organized the Union Loyal League. Though purportedly established to protect the Hill country counties from Indians and outlaws, it was rumored, and probably was, the enforcement arm of German unionist sentiment (McGowen, 67-69). The Union Loyal League even created strategies to break out federal soldiers from Camp Verde (McGowen, 72). c. The Draft and Response i. The Confederate Conscription Act was passed in early 1862. This section will be covered in the existing second paragraph. ii. The Confederate response to German opposition, as well as earlier disputes (see above), was to have General Bee dispatch Captain James Duff, and impose martial law on Gillespie County in late May 1862 (Shook, 32 and McGowen, 75). Captain Duff was viewed by his troops as unfit for command and overly aggressive, though this does explain his arrest and execution of two German immigrants (McGowen, 76). Considering the Confederate response, and the difficulty in living in the Confederacy as active unionists, several German-Americans took this last affront as a reason to leave. iii. Frederick “Fritz” Teneger and his Union Loyal League associates planned to leave Texas by way of Mexico. They would eventually make their way to New Orleans and join the Union effort (Shook, 35).

III. Flight and Battle a. Departure i. 61 German-Americans, led by Fritz Teneger departed from Turtle Creek near Kerrville between August 1st, and August 3rd, 1862 (Shook, 35). ii. Informed of their intentions, Captain Duff dispatched Lieutenant Colin McRae with approximately 96 men in pursuit on August 3rd, 1862 (McGowen, 77). b. The Engagement i. Lt. McRae made contact with the German camp at the banks of the Nueces River in a small prairie. Lt. McRae organized a pincer to surround the German camp and attacked just after 1:00 a.m. (McGowen, 77-78). ii. The battle ensues. It ends with a Confederate charge on the camp and the flight, serious wounding, or death of all the Germans (McGowen, 78-80). IV. Casualties and Aftermath

a. Confederate Losses: These numbered two dead and eighteen wounded, including Lt. McRae (Shook, 39). b. German-American Losses: Reports on casualties for the vanquished were sparse and inconclusive (McGowen, 81-82). A reasonable conclusion is that nineteen Germans died outright in the assault on the camp (Campbell, 265). How the Confederates dealt with the wounded and fleeing is what gave this conflict the apt title of massacre. Nine badly wounded Germans were killed following the battle by the Confederate cavalrymen and nine more were pursued to the Rio Grande where they too perished (Campbell, 265). c. Those that survived both the battle and the pursuit either hid out in Texas, fled to Mexico, or eventually joined Union forces like the Union First Texas Cavalry (Shook, 41). The engagement at the Nueces River, though gaining the Confederate administration the ire of other Germans, did mark the general end of overt and distracting unionism among this group (Shook, 42).

V. Legacy a. Texas Germans were some of the largest celebrants of Union victory (Kamphoefner, 451) b. Local German-Americans erected the “Treue der Union” monument (use existing fifth paragraph) on January 20, 1866 as the only monument to unionism erected by locals on former Confederate territory (Kamphoefner, 440, 451) c. Battle or Massacre? i. The well-armed state of the Germans, based on McRae’s reports of recovered arms, and their intention to fight for the Union supports the less common moniker Battle of Nueces (McGowen, 83-84). ii. Viewed in the light of the repression and killing of 18 German-Americans in an execution-style seem unnecessary (McGowen, 85-86). iii. Continued dispute (McGowen, 85-86) ATTENTION OTHER EDITORS: As part of Wikipedia's education project, I will be adding this information in a more complete form over the next few months. Criticism and suggestions are welcome, but beware of large adjustments. New source: Walter Struve, Germans and Texans, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996). Stonecm (talk) 23:28, 1 March 2013 (UTC)


Nueces Massacre
Part of American Civil War
Treue der Union monument
Date August 10, 1862
Location Nueces River
Result Confederate victory, execution or flight of all German Texans
Confederate States of America Texas-German Unionists
Commanders and leaders
Hamilton Bee, James Duff, Colin McRae[1] Fritz Teneger[2]
96[1] 61[2]
Casualties and losses
2 dead, 18 wounded[3] 37 dead, unknown wounded and fled[4]

The Nueces Massacre was a violent confrontation between Confederate soldiers and German Texans [5] on August 10, 1862 in Kinney County, Texas. Many first-generation immigrants from Germany settled in Central Texas in a region known as the Hill Country. They tended to support the Union and were opposed to the institution of slavery. Because of these sentiments, the Confederate States of America imposed martial law on Central Texas. A group of Germans, fleeing from the Hill Country to Mexico and onward after that to Union-controlled New Orleans, was confronted by a company of Confederate soldiers on the banks of the Nueces River. The result of the confrontation represented an end to overt German resistance to Confederate governance in Texas, but it also fueled outrage among the German-Texan population.[6] Disputes over the confrontation and the efficacy of Confederate actions after the battle, according to historian Stanley McGowen, continue to plague the Hill Country into the 21st century. [7]


Approximate map of Texas Hill Country

Germans immigrated to Texas as early as 1836.[8] By 1860, the German population in Texas, predominantly first-generation immigrants, reached an approximate level of 20,000 across the entire state.[9] Though Germans lived throughout Texas, they settled heavily in an area known as the Hill Country.[8] The exact dimensions of Hill Country are not concrete, but historian Robert Shook describes it as mostly existing in a “geographic triangle” between San Antonio, Seguin, and New Braunfels in South-Central Texas.[10] Germans settled so heavily in this area, that the counties of Gillespie[11], Kerr, Kendall, Medina, and Bexar[12] comprised a “German Belt” in which Germans played a crucial role in running the municipalities.[13]

During the antebellum period, Germans displayed a complex set of opinions on slavery secession. There were several Germans who owned slaves, albeit as servants and not in cotton culture, and some eventually supported Texas secession from the United States.[14] Most Germans, however were apathetic to slavery. A vocal minority of Germans was actively antagonistic to the institution of slavery.[15] These antagonistic Germans included a group of liberal and republican-minded Germans known as Achtundvierziger or Forty-Eighters. Many Forty-Eighters supported federal authority and opposed slavery.[16] Many Anglo Texans found this to be an affront to a legal institution. The German opposition to slavery in particular led to an animosity between the two groups throughout the 1850s. These importance of these disputes were magnified by Texas secession from the United States in March of 1861 and the start of the American Civil War on April 12, 1861.[17]

Unionists throughout the Confederate States, including Germans, resisted the imposition of conscription in 1862

Upon the commencement of the war, Germans projected an outward appearance passivity to the conflict.[18] Confederate officials, however, saw the German population as an internal threat. The most adamant supporters of the Union were Tejanos and the German Texans both from Central Texas and the counties of the Texas Hill Country[19]. They had some evidence for that suspicion. During the state wide vote on secession, German-heavy counties represented some of the few to garner a majority vote against secession.[20] Several reports in the beginning of 1862 even alleged that German communities celebrated Union victories.[21] The state government also feared German-run local militias armed and organized these potential threats.[22]

The Union Loyal League, organized by several Forty-Eighters, was one such militia.[21] The actual purpose of the league is still a debated issue. Historians Robert Shook and Stanley McGowen acknowledge, as German Texans maintained at the time, that the group’s expressed purpose was to defend the Hill Country from Indians and outlaws.[21][23] Confederates, they confirm, considered the Union Loyal League the enforcement arm of German-Unionist sentiment.[24][25] Confederate officers even implicated the organization in strategies to free Union soldiers from Camp Verde.[26]

With a need for more soldiers, the Confederacy established a draft. The Germans did not want to fight against the Union and objected to being drafted. Buildup to this event began in the spring of 1862 with the initiation of a Confederate conscription for Texans, to which many German Texans voiced their objection.[27] The Confederate Conscription Act of 1862 turned general German objection into open opposition.[28] Because of this opposition, General Hamilton Bee dispatched Captain James Duff to Gillespie County. In late May 1862, Captain Duff imposed martial law.[29] While in Gillespie County, Captain Duff arrested and executed two Germans.[30] The harsh conduct convinced several Germans to leave Texas.[31] Frederick “Fritz” Teneger and his Union Loyal League associates planned a departure. Their goal was to enter Mexico, and then to make their way to Union-controlled New Orleans.[2]

Flight and Battle[edit]

Between August 1st, and August 3rd, 1862, sixty-one German Texans, led by Fritz Teneger, departed from Turtle Creek headed southwest for the Mexican border.[2] Informed of their intentions, Captain Duff dispatched Lieutenant Colin McRae with approximately 96 men in pursuit on August 3, 1862.[1] After six days, Lieutenant McRae and his men spied the German Texans in a small prairie along the Nueces River on August ninth.[1] Lieutenant McRae then formulated an attack plan to commence later in the evening. He divided his force into two companies to surround the camp. At approximately 1:00a.m. on August 10, 1862, the Confederates closed into the camp.[32] At first, however, even surprise and planning did not favor the Confederates. Two Germans wandering from the camp encountered the force.[3] The Confederates fired on these two Germans, which alerted the camp to the assault. Alerted to the assault, the Germans beat back the first Confederate charge.[33] Several Germans, however, were disheartened by the Confederate presence, and fled the field. Numbers vary, but Stanley McGowen estimates that twenty-three to twenty-eight Germans fled throughout the early morning hours.[34] This reduced the German contingent by over a third. A second charge closer to dawn routed the Germans and led to the flight (at least five Germans fled near the end of the battle, including Teneger), serious incapacitation, or death of all German combatants.[35]

Casualties and Aftermath[edit]

The Confederate losses, out of the 96-man force, counted two soldiers dead and eighteen wounded, including Lieutenant McRae.[3] Reports on the casualties for the vanquished Germans were sparse and inconclusive.[36]. In 1962, historian Robert Shook tallied the German casualties at thirty killed and twenty wounded.[3] A more recent conclusion in 2003, made by historian Randolph Campbell, is that 19 Germans died outright in the assaults on the camp.[4] That, however, was not the final tally for German Texans’ losses. Following the battle, Confederate soldiers killed nine badly-wounded Germans outright; cavalrymen pursued nine more to the Rio Grande where they likewise killed the fleeing Germans.[4] The total German casualty report then comes to approximately thirty-seven killed and unknown totals for wounded among those who fled and survived. The swift and brutal response by the Confederate military coupled with the post-engagement killing of wounded Germans caused the incident to be given the moniker of massacre.[37]

Several Germans did survive the engagement and ensuing manhunt. These combatants either hid out in Texas, fled to Mexico and California, or eventually joined Union forces in New Orleans as member of the Union First Texas Cavalry.[38] More importantly, however, was how the incident affected the German community in Texas for the rest of the war. Though Confederate actions met with some ire and loud objections from other Germans Texans, the incident marked the general end to overt German Unionism in Texas for the remainder of the war.[39]


Treue der Union monument

Upon cessation of hostilities in 1865, Germans emerged as some of the most exuberant celebrants of Union victory.[40] The German-language Treue der Union Monument (loyalty to the Union), in Comfort, Texas, was dedicated on August 10, 1866 to commemorate those who died at the 1862 Nueces massacre. With the exception of those drowned in the Rio Grande, the remains of the deceased are buried at the site of the monument.[41] It was the only monument to unionism dedicated by locals in former Confederate territory.[40]

1866 story and illustration of Texan-German Unionists' funeral after the end of the American Civil War.

Battle or Massacre?

The proper title for the incident, the Battle of Nueces or the Nueces Massacre, has been a feuded issue nearly since the engagement itself. Recently, historian Stanley McGowen has addressed both sides of the debate. He recognizes that the Germans were, judging by their ability to repulse a superior force, well-armed. Furthermore, they were actively supporting what was at the time an enemy cause. The initial engagement, he affirms, can be called the Battle of the Nueces.[42] The execution of Germans following the battle, he states, lends credence to the title Nueces Massacre. No name has garnered definitive support, and McGowen admits the debate on Confederate and German actions still goes on amongst descendants on both sides of the incident.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d McGowen 2000, p. 77.
  2. ^ a b c d Shook 1962, p. 35.
  3. ^ a b c d Shook 1962, p. 39.
  4. ^ a b c Campbell 2003, p. 265.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Marten 1990, p. 120.
  7. ^ a b McGowen 2000, pp. 85-86.
  8. ^ a b Struve 1996, p. 3.
  9. ^ Campbell 2003, p. 207.
  10. ^ Shook 1962, p. 31.
  11. ^ Gillespie County , Texas Handbook Online, accessed 3 Jul 2008
  12. ^ "The Nueces Massacre", August 10, 1862, Texas Genealogy Web.
  13. ^ Campbell 2003, pp. 207-208.
  14. ^ Kamphoefner 1999, pp. 442-444.
  15. ^ Kamphoefner 1999, p. 449.
  16. ^ Marten 1990, p. 27.
  17. ^ Marten 1990, p. 31.
  18. ^ Wooster 1999, p. 37.
  19. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - HILL COUNTRY
  20. ^ Kamphoefner 1999, pp. 444-445.
  21. ^ a b c McGowen 2000, p. 68.
  22. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 67.
  23. ^ Shook 1962, p. 32.
  24. ^ McGowen 2000, pp. 67-69.
  25. ^ Shook 1962, pp. 32-34.
  26. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 72.
  27. ^ "The Impact of the American Civil War-A Chapter in a Study of Texas Land Settlement Practices and the Impact on Texas Czechs"
  28. ^ Marten 1990, p. 114.
  29. ^ Shook 1962, pp. 32-33.
  30. ^ McGowen 2000, pp. 75-76.
  31. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 76.
  32. ^ McGowen 2000, pp. 77-78.
  33. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 78.
  34. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 79.
  35. ^ McGowen 2000, p. 78-80.
  36. ^ McGowen 2000, pp. 81-82.
  37. ^ Marten 1990, pp. 119-120.
  38. ^ Shook 1962, p. 41.
  39. ^ Marten 1990, pp. 120-121.
  40. ^ a b Kamphoefner 1999, p. 451.
  41. ^ "Marker-Treue Der Union Monument". Texas Historic Markers. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  42. ^ McGowen 2000, pp. 83-84.


  • Campbell, Randolph B. (2003). Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Marten, James (1990). Texas Divided: Loyalty and Dissent in the Lone Star State, 1856-1874. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. 
  • Struve, Walter (1996). Germans and Texans. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. 
  • Wooster, Ralph A. (1999). Civil War Texas: A History and a Guide. Austin, Texas: Texas State Historical Association. 

END OF DRAFT Stonecm (talk) 04:10, 19 March 2013 (UTC) Stonecm (talk) 15:06, 7 April 2013 (UTC)