Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Texas and France in the Civil War

I couldn't believe my good luck when I came across an old diary kept by a man in 1863 and 1864. He wrote it for his daughters, he said, in case anything happened to him. He was kind of hoping someone would take the dairy from his belongings and would deliver it to the girls in Austin, Texas.

Well, this man was a staunch Unionist in a the land of the CSA, so he might have felt a bit lonesome. Asked to go to Brownsville, TX, to serve as a commissioner of the provisional (Union) court, he left Austin on December 11, 1863 and rode and walked to San Antonio, and next a tiny town called Roma on the border with Mexico, where he crossed the Rio Grande. From there he went to Camargo in Mexico to avoid Rebels and on into Matamoros and back across the Rio Grande into Brownsville.

It seems that France had just taken over Mexico. President Lincoln was afraid France might strike a lucrative deal with the Rebels in Texas over cotton. France might supply weapons or it might even supply soldiers. So the Union Army needed to establish some kind of a toehold in Texas. The diarist also had a son who was a Lt. in the Union Army. He got to see this young man from time to time.

A wild man, a CSA officer by the name of RIP Ford was advancing on Union folks at Brownsville, so they and thousands of hangers-on, got in steam and sail boats for a flight to New Orleans. It was a rough trip.

When I quit reading, the diarist was cooling his heels in the beautiful city of New Orleans while he is waiting for his next move. He names names and discusses famous people of his time. I don't know what it is next because I do not have that part of the diary yet. But I will get it.

The entire diary would be a good backdrop for a Civil War epic, especially if I give the young Lt. a a pretty Southern belle for a girlfriend, and she turns out to be a spy. And just before the firing squad puts its collective finger on the trigger . . .

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