Courage and Contradiction: Civil War Stories of Williamson County
Only 15 years after Texas joined the Union they were faced with the possibility of secession. Many Texans, including governor and veteran of the Texas Revolution Sam Houston, opposed secession from the United States. Williamson County was moving away from its former days as a struggling land of pioneers towards a new prosperity, but the Civil War would prove to be an incredible setback.
While only one fifth of Texans were slaveholders, seventy percent of the men at the Secession Convention owned slaves. These attendees, fearful for their physical safety and financial security, voted for Texas to secede from the Union with 46,129 voting for secession and 14,697 voting against. On March 2, 1861, Texas formally seceded from the Union it fought for so long to join. Sam Houston was quickly removed from office when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.
Though few battles took place in Texas, the effects of the war were felt across the state. A blockade of the port in Galveston restricted the import of supplies into the state. Local farms lacked the resources and physical labor needed to maintain production. Families, as well as soldiers, struggled with hunger and a shortage of supplies.
Ultimately, almost 90,000 Texans fought in the Civil War. Many of these soldiers, particularly those from Williamson County, fought valiantly for Texas despite their opposition to secession. The end of the war was just the beginning for the war-ravaged southern states. The Reconstruction brought political distress, unemployment, and poverty.
Click here to view a map of the Wilco Grays troop movements.