The War’s not Over ’Til It’s Over

confederate-general-kirby-smith-loc-06080r-blogGeneral Robert E. Lee surrendered the Northern Army of Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse on April 12. Three days later President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston followed suit officially surrendering his army of 30,000 in North Carolina on May 3. But, as weary veterans from the north and south went home and the nation mourned the killing of the president, one full general of the Confederate army, Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, was fighting to keep his part of the Confederacy independent. Isolated on the western side of the Mississippi because of the Union’s control of the river, Smith had successfully kept the Union from sacking Texas with his defeat of Gen. Nathaniel Banks in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana of 1864. Smith’s effort at leading the rebel cause of independence in Texas began to disintegrate as his troops began to go home. In a last ditch effort, Smith left his headquarters in Shreveport, Louisiana on a stagecoach for Houston, Texas, on May 18, 1865, to try and rally support to keep the war going. But, while on his way, with word of Lee’s surrender reached the region, the troops all but went home. In his absence, his subordinates surrendered in New Orleans on May 26.  Officially, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith did not surrender until he did so to U.S. Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby on June 2, in Galveston Bay, aboard the USS Fort Jackson, almost two months after Lee’s truce with Grant at Appomattox.

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