The Nueces Massacre: A Civil War Conflict in the Texas Hill Country

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Tony Maples Photography


During the Civil War, those living in the Texas Hill Country did not necessarily agree completely with the Confederacy. Some went out of their way to show their opposition, while others served with the South. The Hill Country experienced a miniature Civil War of its own that turned neighbors against each other, and sadly, led to bloodshed.

Immigrants as Unique as Texas

German Immigrants Heading to New Braunfels in a Covered Wagon in 1844

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The ethnic makeup of those in the Texas Hill Country before and during the Civil War greatly contributed to the divide. German immigrants largely opposed slavery, and hence, where no in favor of Texas joining the Confederacy. Additionally, conscription did not sit well with those who fled their homeland to avoid a draft. As a result of these dissenters supporting the Union, strife and bloodshed broke out, culminating in a massacre.

The Draft and Dissent

Dissenters to the Confederate Draft During the Civil War

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 1862, the South required all white males over 16 to sign up for a draft and pledge their allegiance to the Confederacy. Those in Gillespie and Kerr counties in the Hill Country fought the motion. The resistance proved so strong that the Confederacy put these counties under martial law. Captain James Duff took over the signing of men in the Hill Country, but he did not expect resistance. To try to break those who refused to sign, he ordered homes burned, dozens arrested, and 20 executed in April 1862.

The Nueces Massacre

Nueces River
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The events of April 1862 did not quell the opposition to the Confederacy. In August 1862, 68 men, led by Comfort resident Fritz Tegener, sought to cross the border to Mexico. From there, they would flee to New Orleans, the closest Union-held city to the Texas Hill Country. Captain Duff heard of the plan and set off for the Nueces River to cut off the men in their flight where he overtook them at a campsite by the river. The result was called the “Battle of the Nueces” or “The Nueces Massacre.”

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