Today in Texas History – May 13

From the Annals of Senseless Combat –  In 1865, the last battle of the Civil War was fought near Brownsville at Palmito Ranch.  Union and Confederate commanders had previously reached a local truce thinking that a confrontation in the what appeared to be the waning days of the war over non-strategic ground in south Texas would be a waste of time, ammunition and most importantly lives.  Despite this on May 11, Col. Theo. H Barrett sent 300 mostly Black troops to take possession of Brownsville.  The Union force surprised about 150 Confederate cavalrymen and quickly routed them.  However, later in the afternoon the Confederates engaged the Union in a skirmish.  The Union commanders assumed that the Confederates had received reinforcements and quickly withdrew.  On May 13, Col. John “Rip” Ford arrived with artillery and assumed command.  The Confederates opened up with the cannons and an ensuing cavalry charge.  The Union troops were quickly routed and fell back to Brazos Island.  Approximately 30 unfortunate Union soldiers were killed in the meaningless and unnecessary battle.  After capturing some Union troops, the Confederates learned of the surrender of Lee and Johnston.  This small battle is only remembered because it was the last actual battle of the Civil War.


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