Along the Nueces River in Texas
August 11, 1862
Reports have slowly filtered in today of a most awful engagement along the banks of the Nueces River outside of Bracketville, Texas. According to sources, on August 1, 1862, a band of about 65 “Unionists”, mostly German settlers loyal to the United States, having emigrated to the Texas Hill Country in the mid-1800’s, began a journey to cross the Rio Grande River into Mexico to avoid conscription into the Confederate States army. Civilians all, the men believed they would soon be captured and impressed into Confederate service under the Confederate Conscription Act if they stayed, and thus began a difficult journey of several hundred miles across brush and desert. The Unionists apparently were led to believe that if they foreswore conflict, and simply left Texas, they could travel in peace. Capt. John Sansom travelled as a guest of the Unionists, and having escaped, his is one of the few accounts of the “battle.”
A Confederate search party under command of a Capt. James Duff and Lt. C.D. McRae began tracking the Unionist band, and swiftly caught up with them along the Nueces River a few miles West of Uvalde, Texas. The Unionists apparently travelled at a slow pace, unaware of any approaching Confederate force. Early on Sunday morning August 10th, the Unionists were attacked without warning under cover of darkness by the band of about 100 Confederate soldiers. Nineteen of the Unionists were killed in the ensuing short-lived battle. Many were wounded, some surrendered, and others escaped.
According to unofficial reports, nine wounded Unionist prisoners were summarily executed by Capt. Duff’s soldiers a few hours later. Mr. RH. Williams, a British citizen travelling with the Confederate troops also reports, the results of the battle. Family members of the Unionists also reported being forbidden to retrieve the bodies of their dead from the battlefield.
The Massacre on the Nueces surely will be reported with the scorn and condemnation it deserves.
Note: Eight more survivors of the battle were tracked and captured and shot two months later as they tried to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico. The Battle of the Nueces is commemorated by the Treue der Union monument in the town of Comfort, Texas, under which the remains of the Unionists were buried after being retrieved by their families in 1865.