Tuesday, February 15, 2011

John Malveaux of MusicUNTOLD: 'Our Victory in Texas'

[Union Army Soldier of African Descent]

John Malveaux of MusicUNTOLD sends this Black History Essay on Union Army Troops of African Descent at the Close of the Civil War:

On April 3, 1865, the 25th Army Corps comprised of exclusively United States Colored Troops regiments, captured Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. Thirteen regiments of African descent were at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to witness General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. The Confederate government in Texas, however, refused to submit to Federal authority. The Rebel governor of the state, Pendleton Murrah, sought to make Texas the seat of the Confederacy.

In May 1865, among the Union troops on occupation duty along the Gulf Coast of Texas were seven United States Colored Troops regiments. On May 22, the 25th Army Corps received embarkation orders. Thomas Morris Chester, an African American War correspondent, wrote: “That the negro corps, under General Weitzel, has received marching orders is well known throughout their camps, and they are beginning to put on the war-paint with the impression that they are going to Texas. They look forward to the period of embarkation with a great deal of satisfaction.” By the first week in June 1865, thousands of soldiers in this “Negro Corps” that had captured Richmond had arrived in Texas.

Governor Murrah summonsed his two top generals, John McGruder and Kirby Smith, and asked if it was possible to defeat this “Negro Corps.” The desertion rate in their armies was extremely high, and the generals said they could fight a sustained campaign. Murrah expressed that he could not tolerate the humiliation of surrendering to “Negro” troops and requested an escort into Mexico. In the early morning of June 15, 1865, Governor Murrah along with his two top generals, McGruder and Smith, accompanied by 10,000 Confederate troops crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. Chased out of Texas by African descent soldiers, they abandoned the Lone Star state. On the next day June 16, the lieutenant governor surrendered Texas to the Union forces; and the last state in rebellion was brought back into the Union. The Union was preserved and the last group of slaves declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation was liberated by a Federal Army that was made of mostly of African descent soldiers.

Juneteenth is not when the word got to Texas. It is when African descent soldiers brought Texas back into the Union and thus freed slaves by saving the Union. We are indeed celebrating our victory over the Texas Rebels when we celebrate Juneteenth.

Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas by Jerry Thompson
Thomas Morris Chester, Black Correspondent: His Dispatches from the Virginia Front edited by R.J.M. Blackett

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