Military in Spanish Texas

Texas in the Mexican War

Texas in World War I

Texas in Recent Wars
Military in Mexican Texas

Indian Wars and Texas

Texas in World War II

Military Museums and Programs in Texas
Texas Revolution and Republic

Texas in the Spanish-American War

Texas in the Cold War

Tensions were high when the Civil War began, and Texans responded in impressive numbers. By the end of 1861, more than 25,000 had joined the Confederate army. During the course of the war, nearly 90,000 Texans served in the military. The National Park Service estimates that by war's end more than 20,000 Hispanics fought in the Civil War nationwide: some for the Union and some for the Confederacy. Thousands more civilians lent hearts and hands on the home front. They distinguished themselves in every major campaign of the war from New Mexico to Pennsylvania. Texas forces figured prominently at celebrated battle sites such as Gettysburg, Antietam, Second Manassas, Wilson's Creek, The Wilderness, Vicksburg, Corinth, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Glorieta Pass, Pea Ridge, Gaine's Mill, Franklin, and Mansfield. Leaders of the Texas forces included legendary figures John Bell Hood, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Bankhead Magruder, Patrick Cleburne, and Ben McCulloch. 

In Texas, Confederate and state forces repulsed Union invaders at Brownsville, Sabine Pass, Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Laredo, and sustained naval bombardments in several coastal areas. They fought frontier and border raiders, evaded federal blockades, protected internal trade routes and operated prisoner of war camps. 

The Civil War came to an end in Texas. Soldiers fought the last land battle at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville more than a month after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy at Galveston on June 2, 1865 was, as Capt. Benjamin Franklin Sands of the United States Navy noted, “the closing act of the Great Rebellion.” Just a few weeks later on June 19, Gen. Gordon Granger, commander of U.S. troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and ended slavery in Texas by issuing an order that the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect in Texas later to become known as Juneteenth.


Ongoing Civil War Projects

Park Day

Since 2008, the THC, in conjunction with the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s South Texas Refuge Complex, and with support from the Brownsville Historical Association, and the Cameron County Historical Commission, have worked together to increase visitation to the battlefield.

In an effort to continue the enhanced interpretation and preservation of the "Last Land Battle" of the American Civil War, the THC hosts Park Day at Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark. Park Day is an annual event sponsored by the American Battlefield Trust, which enlists the aid of volunteers to clean and repair the grounds of America's battlefields each April. At participating sites, volunteers receive a free water bottle (while supplies last) and have the opportunity to hear historians interpret the battle.

Park Day 2023 is scheduled for Saturday, April 15 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. beginning at the Battle of Palmito Ranch state historical marker 16 miles east of Brownsville on Boca Chica Blvd.

For more information about this annual event contact the THC's Military Sites Program Coordinator at militaryhistory@thc.texas.gov.


Palmito Ranch National Historic Landmark

Since 2007, the THC has researched Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHL and engaged in national and regional partnership development focused on increasing interpretation at this historic site. Palmito Ranch Battlefield NHL, near Brownsville in southeastern Cameron County, lies in the Texas Tropical Trail Region, which showcases the heritage, natural beauty, and rich culture of South Texas for the benefit and enjoyment of Texans and travelers.

Exploring the Boundaries of Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark Radio Broadcast Repeater Project

Standing on historic ground and hearing the stories of those who came before us puts people in a perfect frame of mind to consider their cultural heritage and the importance of preserving it for future generations. To that end, the THC and its supporters established a Radio Broadcast Repeater System in 2011 that makes available locally on 1610 AM, the history of the battlefield to tourists driving the length of the national historic landmark on State Hwy 4 (Boca Chica Rd).

While in South Texas, in addition to exploring Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark, consider visiting more sites that tell the story of Texas in the Civil War. The CHAPS Program at the University of Texas-Pan American has initiated a community engagement project to launch the first Civil War Trail in the state of Texas. Master scholars and published authors have been brought in to consult with Texas Historical Commission experts as well as regional university professors, National Park Service personnel, historians/historical commission leaders, museum curators, ecotourism developers, preservation architects and elected city officials. Located on the south Texas border region known as the Rio Grande Valley, this trail traverses a five-county region along the Rio Grande between Brownsville and Laredo with a few sites inland where applicable. Learn more here.

USFWS, South Texas Refuge Complex opens new Interpretive Platform

Through another successful project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the THC is happy to announce that the South Texas Refuge Complex has fully funded and constructed a new Interpretive Platform in the core-battlefield area. The site provides heritage tourists with a 360-degree view of the battlefield, and has several low-profile wayside signs. Pictured below, Refuge Manager Bryan Winton provides Park Day 2014 attendees with a tour of the USFWS’s new interpretive platform.

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Palmito Ranch Commemoration: May 12–13, 2015

The Cameron County Historical Commission (CHC) took the lead in organizing the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Last Land Battle of the Civil War. The Cameron CHC's Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee over the past four years has embraced partners in preservation, to create regional programming for heritage tourists through symposiums, outreach, research, and its sesquicentennial observance ceremony of the battle on May 12, 2015. You can contact the Cameron CHC's Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee directly for more details.

Whether you are a Civil War history enthusiast or a curious heritage tourist to all the intriguing sites the Texas Tropical Trail Region has to offer you, be sure not to miss the last land battle of the Civil War. Also, consider downloading the THC's Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark (PDF) brochure to learn more about the battlefield.


Texas Civil War Monuments Fund

You may find the scope of Texas' military past surprising. When asked to name a military site in Texas, you might naturally remember the Alamo. But there's so much more. For example, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, the last land battle of the American Civil War, took place near Brownsville. Texas has a rich military history just waiting to be discovered. Would you like to help?

In September 2007, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) established the Texas Civil War Monuments Fund to continue the work begun in 1961by the Texas Civil War Centennial Commission and the Texas State Historical Survey Committee (the THC’s predecessor), to honor the contributions and sacrifices of Texas forces during the Civil War.

The First Monument: the Texas State Memorial at Vicksburg

In November 1961, the Texas Civil War Centennial Commission and the Texas State Historical Survey Committee initiated a commemorative series of granite monuments by dedicating the first and largest of the original Centennial monuments at the Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi). Over the next three and a half years, these two preservation-minded organizations placed Texas Civil War Monuments on battlefields across the nation, preserving the memories of the contributions made by our state’s military units during the Civil War.

The initial goal of the THC’s Texas Civil War Monuments Fund was to honor Texas soldiers at two Kentucky battlefields: Rowletts Station (2008) and Richmond (2009). Thanks to continued support of the Fund, we have placed three additional monuments: Corinth, Mississippi in 2010, Gaines’ Mill, Virginia in 2012, and most recently, Second Manassas, Virginia dedicated on September 6, 2012.

The Next Monument-Glorieta Pass (NM)

The Texas Historical Commission is working with the Civil War Trust to install and dedicate its next monument, this one for the Battle of Glorieta Pass, New Mexico. For more information on this project or to donate to the overall monuments' fund please contact the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission.

At the following Texas Civil War Monuments, our military heritage is recognized in our state and beyond:

  1. Vicksburg, Mississippi
  2. Chickamauga, Georgia
  3. Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
  4. Mansfield, Louisiana
  5. Antietam, Maryland
  6. Pea Ridge, Arkansas
  7. Bentonville, North Carolina
  8. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  9. Fort Donelson, Tennessee
  10. Shiloh, Tennessee
  11. Anthony, Texas (commemorates the overall Arizona-New Mexico Campaign)
  12. The Wilderness, Virginia
  13. Galveston, Texas
  14. Raymond, Mississippi
  15. Rowletts, Kentucky
  16. Richmond, Kentucky
  17. Corinth, Mississippi
  18. Gaines' Mill, Virginia
  19. Second Manassas, Virginia

Sesquicentennial of Texas in The Civil War Commemoration

The Texas Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Initiative (2011-2015) encompassed the implementation––through existing Texas Historical Commission (THC) staff and resources––of compelling commemorative projects that showcased THC assets that tell the story of the State of Texas’ involvement in the American Civil War. In addition to working with Civil War related sites in THC’s Historic sites Division and the creation of a Battle of Palmito Ranch Brochure, THC staff engaged in the projects listed below.