A Month After The Confederacy Surrendered, Texans Fought The Last Battle Of The Civil War

The Battle of Palmito Ranch was fought near Brownsville.

By Casey CheekMay 30, 2017 5:45 am

The Memorial Day holiday was created after the American Civil War to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was originally known as Decoration Day.

If it’s been awhile since you brushed up on your Texas history, you might not know that what is recognized as the final battle in the Civil War was fought right here in Texas – in Brownsville in fact.  it took place a month after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army.

Cindy Harriman, Executive Director of the Texas Civil War Museum says Mexico had supported the Confederacy during the war, allowing it to receive goods via Matamoras. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln did not blockade this route, because he did not want to turn the Civil War into an international conflict.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch began when Union forces broke an uneasy truce in May 1865, attacking Confederate positions. French fighters on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande crossed the river to aid the southern forces.

Harriman says Mexico played a greater role in the American Civil War than many people realize.

“The irony is one of the first engagements of the war occurred down in south Texas,” Harriman says “when some Mexicans did not want Texas to side with the Confederacy. [They] came over, and there was a scrap [Texas officer] Rip Ford and the Mexicans got into. And that was two weeks before the firing on Fort Sumter.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Who won the Battle of Palmito Ranch

– Why the Union Army attacked

– What Rip Ford’s role was in Texas history

– What remains of the battlefield