Texas General Land Office: Treue der Union--German Texan Unionists.

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Everyone loves to give the two following descriptions of that:
1. The Germans were basically Union Patriots
2. The Confederates were evil and hated the Germans

This article seems to point in a different direction that, they didn't want to be conscripted like in Germany on top of loyalty to the Union and them being anti-slavery crusaders, (never mind the original 1840's immigrants likely passed conscript age). But I find it interesting the bit of one leader of the German Unionists, (I can't remember just who off hand), got in the papers and was threatening to burn Austin to the ground if Texas didn't rejoin the Union is missing from the article. Nothing will ensure a massacre more than a threat to burn one side's capitol to force the whole State into a course of action that's unpopular.

On a side note, I wonder if the Republic of Texas Consulate in Antwerp is still standing.
 

FedericoFCavada

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
There were very many German Texans who served in the Confederacy--both in the armies that served far beyond Texas, those that fought closer to Texas, and those who served in the TST too. There were others who just wanted to be left well enough alone. There were others who, due to their immigrant status and the oath they took to the United States when they became citizens, thought that the Union should command their political loyalties.

Recall that the "Treue der Union" monument--a rather unique monument to Unionists in a former Confederate State, particularly one of the first seven to secede--stands in Comfort, TX. That town was settled by so-called "Free Thinkers"--die gedenken sind frei and they did not have much truck with slavery, very much unlike a goodly sized portion of the rest of Texas.

The conscription of young men into the Prussian army, particularly during and after the 1848 revolutions was mighty unpopular and did serve as a "push factor" inducing immigration to America. Doubtless conscription to serve an army that most of their counties had voted against--secession did not prevail handily in every Texas county--rankled. Then too, living out in the back of beyond, farmers probably resented the loss of their sons too. Certainly many frontier settlers requested that Austin allow military service in the TST so that Indian depredations would not utterly ruin them.

There were so-called "Partisan Rangers" who did serve to enforce the will and demands of the secessionists, which did ratchet up political tensions. Some of the more outlandish "fire-eater" pro-secessionists were Texas politicians. An admittedly extreme example being South Carolina-born cider-and-whiskey-drinking Louis Trezevant Wigfall
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwi04

As for Lone Star Republic consular buildings, the one in London still stands:
https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-embassy-of-the-republic-of-texas-london-england
Antwerp? I'm not really sure... During WWII the port of Antwerp really took a beating from German V-1 and V-2 missiles. The purpose of the German Unternehmen Herbstnebel--Ardennes Offensive/ Battle of the Bulge campaign was to deprive Antwerp's port to the Allies.... By that point, the lines of supply and logistics were stretched all the way from the original Normandy beach head clear across northern France. Short of physically re-taking Antwerp, they relied on the so-called "vengeance weapons" that in turn led to a concerted anti-aircraft/ missile interdiction struggle that is unfortunately little remembered today.
 

Lampasas Bill

Corporal
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
I recently found a book titled Germans in the Civil War: The Letters They Wrote Home. It is a selection of letters collected in Germany that have never before been published in this country. One letter is by Ernst Cramer, the brother-in-law of Ferdinand Simon, whose documents are featured in the Texas General Land Office article linked to above.

Cramer was one of the leaders of the Germans at the Battle of the Nueces. On Oct. 30, 1862, he wrote from Monterey, Mexico, to his family in Schwienfurt, Germany, telling them about his harrowing escape. In April, 1862, after the predominantly German districts around his home in Comfort, Texas, were put under martial law, all residents were ordered to appear before the provost within ten days and swear allegiance to the Confederacy on penalty of loss of their property. "Then it was, he wrote, that I really began to know people. Excepting a very few, all took the oath, and also betrayed their officers [in the Unionist militia]. All officers had to immediately flee for their lives. If anyone told me eight days before that such a thing could be possible, I could conscientiously have shot him."

"I had prudently sold my property to my father-in-law sometime before. And now, with a number of my friends, I departed into the mountains. There was Kuchler--two brothers by the name of Degener about my own age. . . . Franz & Moritz Weiss [the sons of my ggg grandmother, Louise Roggenbucke]--Ernst Beseler--Wilhelm Telgman--Emil Schreiner--all educated young men of fine families."

They were hunted by soldiers but avoided capture. While they were in hiding, all men in the district up to age 35 were ordered into the service. "A death penalty if they did not appear. That made it more lively in our mountains. One by one we were joined by acquaintances until we numbered 20."

With Confederate troops closing in, they set out for Mexico and were soon joined by an additional 40 Germans and five Americans. They believed they were safe and halted to rest on the Nueces River, a day's ride from the border. An hour before sunrise on Aug. 10, 1862, they were awakened by a shot. "Immediately after came another & another. We leaped to our feet and were met with a volley of about 100 shots. Leopold fell dead and four others were wounded. Then all became quiet. We held a consultation and decided to fortify ourselves as well as we could. That was quickly done and then followed a deadly stillness that was almost unbearable. I had given my word to . . . cover the right wing and was fully determined to stay and die at my post if need be. The chances to make escape seemed impossible. . . . And to add to our despair, the men who had joined us . . . deserted their posts one by one. At the end of the day, of the 68 men we had only 32 were with us. And now the soldiers charged. Three times they assailed us and each time we drove them back. Hugo and Heilmar, his brother, fell. Hugo's back was shattered by two bullets. He came to me, crawling, to bid me farewell. W. Telgman had been shot through the body sometime before, but kept his place bravely and continued to fight."

"We rested about one hour and a half. But after another attack we realized that we could not maintain our position. Kuchler, Moritz Weiss and I were the only ones not wounded. Of my closest friends Simon had a shot through the ribs. Franz [Weiss] had a shot through the heel and one through the lower part of the leg. I had a shot through my pants and a shot had torn away all of the front of my shirt, but did not touch the skin. Of the others 6 were severely wounded."

The Confederates suffered heavy casualties and had fallen back, so Cramer's party made their escape, trying to leave no trace. Six or eight men who had deserted earlier joined them. Badly in need of water, they halted at noon. Cramer and a companion left the wounded men and went to search for water but had to return to the battlefield to find any. “About two hours after dark we came to the water. As soon as we had satisfied our thirst we felt ourselves strong again. We emptied our powder horns and filled them with water. We meant then to continue our search for the wounded. Just then ten men appeared. They had been to the water but had hidden themselves at our approach. As the soldiers were still not more than 150 steps away--I suggested that we empty and clean every article that could be used to hold water. . . .

Cramer went ahead for four or five miles hoping to shoot a deer at dawn but had no luck and rejoined his wounded comrades who had waited in hiding. “All of the wounded were there excepting Simon. He had become too weak to continue with them. I was almost frantic--was too anxious about him to be able to take any rest. It was a bright moonlight night and I hunted for him throughout the whole night. I had no success--he was nowhere to be found. I felt convinced he was dead. I came back to our camp completely exhausted. I had had nothing to eat for three days. . . .

On the 4th day the soldiers withdrew. Then I went back to the battlefield to search for my friends and perhaps to see them once again. The sight was horrible beyond description. They had been stripped of their clothing and the bodies had been piled up one over the other in a large heap. Those who were still living when we were forced to leave them had been lined up and used as targets. Their faces and bodies completely riddled with bullets. It was heartrending and I could not linger there.

The next day Cramer and four others set out for Comfort, where they arrived eight days later and went into hiding. “It was too dangerous for me to attempt to go home. Everyone was under suspicion. If anyone had even been suspected of giving aid to one of us they would have been taken and hanged. One hundred people had been hanged in less than that many days. Relatives of those who had been with us were especially watched. . . . Through an earlier companion, Richard Brotze, I managed to secure a horse with the understanding that I leave immediately for the Rio Grande. He insisted on that and I could not blame him for had I been seen with his horse he would have immediately been hanged.

“I still had many dangers to face before I could get to the Mexican border and heard the whistle of many a bullet. Kuchler left again shortly after I did, together with Moritz and Franz [Weiss] and ten other good friends of mine. They had no trouble until they reached the Rio Grande. Just at the river they were attacked and under heavy fire had to leave their horses and ammunition behind. They had to swim the Rio Grande. Franz was shot and Moritz went to his aid and both were drowned. Four others were killed while swimming.” [In all, eight men died at the Rio Grande on Oct. 18, 1862.]

“I have heard nothing of my family. I think, however, that no harm has come to them. If Texas is still in the hands of the Confederacy in the spring I feel that I must bring my family here. Our families are defenseless against attacks of Indians as well as at the mercy of all marauders. Because now all between the ages of 16 and 45 are called. Death and confiscation of their property, the penalty.

I am in great need of money and wish to draw on you for $100, hoping that the unfortunate and unhappy position in which I find myself will excuse it. . . . Should, however, I be unfortunate and be killed, then, of course, the money will be lost to you.”

Ernst Cramer was eventually reunited with his wife and family. He settled in Mexico and operated a mill in Piedras Negras. He later moved to California and eventually to Idaho, where he died in 1916

Cramer's brother-in-law, Ferdinand Simon (featured in the Texas Land Office article) was captured and taken to San Antonio, where he was charged with “levying war” against the Confederacy and “secretly & covertly & in violation of the laws” attempting to leave the country. He was sentenced to hang but remained a prisoner until the end of the war, after which he returned to farming and died in 1878.

The unfortunate Weis brothers, Franz and Moritz, are memorialized on the “True der Union” monument in Comfort, Texas. They were the adopted sons of Oscar von Roggenbuck. After their father's death in Germany, their mother had married Oscar von Roggenbuck, my g-g-g grandfather. Roggenbuck had been a career officer in the Prussian Army. He backed the failed revolution of 1848 then fled with his family to Comfort, Texas, where my roots run deep.

I hope you've enjoyed these excerpts from this unique first-person account.
 
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