Historical Reprints History LAST HOPE OF THE CONFEDERACY


Catalog # SKU0762
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name John Tyler & E. T. Miller & Charles Ramsdell



TGS Historical Reprint Series



In the last days of the summer of 1863 Major John Tyler, son of an ex-President of the United States, and at that time an aid on the staff of General Sterling Price, C. S. A., was making the slow and toilsome journey from his headquarters at Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to Austin, Texas. This had been a disastrous summer for the Confederacy. At Gettysburg General Lee had been thrust back and put a second time upon the defensive in Virginia; Vicksburg had been lost, the Mississippi had been seized by the Federals and the Trans-Mississippi Department cut off from Richmond.

In the Trans-Mississippi Department itself, the whole of Missouri, nearly of Arkansas, and the most important part of Louisiana were in the hands of the Union forces. Texas alone was untouched by the enemy. In this desperate situation men's eyes again and again turned anxiously to Europe for some indications of the promised intervention in behalf of "King Cotton" that would secure them independence. This intervention once so confidently expected had for a brief time seemed at hand when, in the latter part of 1862, Napoleon III had addressed notes to England and Russia suggesting friendly joint offers of mediation in the American conflict; and even when this opportunity had come to nothing through the hesitation of England and Russia and the positive refusal of Lincoln and Seward to entertain the suggestion, confidence was still high in the good intentions of the French emperor. But months passed on, the inexorable enemy pushed his lines farther and farther into Confederate territory, and Napoleon III, now busied with Mexico, remained inactive as to mediation, though still protesting his good will.

Some time after Major Tyler arrived at Austin he presented a lengthy memorial to "His Excellency the Governor, the Governor-elect, and the Authorities of the State of Texas." The essential part of that memorial is printed below. It is an appeal for Texas to take the initiative in demanding protection of France upon the basis of the guarantees in the Louisiana Purchase Treaty of 1803, on the assumption that Texas was a part of the Territory of Louisiana at that time. Obviously, the importance of the memorial lies quite as much in its origin as in its content. With whom did the plan originate? Was it Major Tyler's own independent scheme, or was Tyler only an agent of higher authorities? Could the plan have been prompted by the tortuous counsels of Napoleon III or by some of his officials in Mexico? Did it originate with the hard-pressed Confederate authorities at Richmond or with the military commanders of the Trans-Mississippi Department?

The whole memorial is based upon the belief, confidently expressed, that the French emperor is willing enough to intervene, if given the proper opportunity. There were not wanting proofs that the independence of the Confederate States was an important desideratum of his larger policies. Is it possible that Napoleon III had inspired Tyler's plan? If we accept the argument of the memorial, namely, that because of the diplomatic situation the French emperor was in no position to take the initiative but must await an appeal founded upon some definite obligation, such an assumption would do no violence to our knowledge of Napoleon's tactics. Just a year before the French consul at Galveston, M. Théron, had sent a note to Governor Lubbock suggesting that Texas might find it desirable to withdraw from the Confederacy and re-establish the old Republic-presumably under the protection of France-a suggestion which Lubbock denounced as evidence of "an incipient intrigue" and revealed to Jefferson Davis, who promptly expelled Théron from Confederate territory. However, it could not be found that the French consul had been inspired from Paris.

It is not likely that the French would have gone to Arkansas to secure an agent. There is nothing to show that the officials in Mexico had anything to do with Tyler's mission; for, though rumors were abroad that Marshal Bazaine had some sort of instructions to co-operate with the Confederate authorities or those of Texas if a favorable opportunity offered, these rumors have never yet been substantiated. A search through the archives of Paris or Mexico might reveal more of Napoleon's intentions.

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When General Lee surrendered, in early April, 1865, that part of the Confederacy east of the Mississippi was already overwhelmed and exhausted. In the Trans-Mississippi Department, however, a large area comprising western Louisiana, parts of Arkansas, and the whole of Texas was still almost untouched by invasion. The Federal forces having been kept at bay here through the war, it seemed probable that a severe struggle would be necessary for the reduction of the Confederates in this region; yet, within six weeks from the surrender at Appomattox the Trans-Mississippi Department presented a scene of universal disorder and confusion nothing short of anarchy-and that, too, without the advance of a single Federal soldier. In reality the defences of this department, and particularly of Texas, with which we are here concerned, formed simply a thin shell incapable of sustaining any heavy or prolonged attack.

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Although General Lee surrendered early in April, 1865, the break-up of the Confederacy did not occur in Texas until the end of May. Disorganization of all authority followed, and in the general confusion confederate and state property was appropriated by disbanded soldiers and even the state treasury at Austin was looted. The loss of property, however, was small and the disorder little when viewed against the background of bitter disappointment and uncertainty of the future which the people of the state felt on account of the downfall of the Confederacy.

Historical Reprint - From 1863

Softbound, 5x8, 98 pages

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