SHARING THE STORIES OF NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT'S AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS
EXPERIENCE IN TEXAS
With the surrender of Lee’s army on April 9, 1865, the 29th Connecticut was ordered out of the Virginia Theater to Texas. After moving through City Point, the regiment sailed for Texas on June 10th, 1865. The regiment arrived on Brazos Santiago Island on the 3rd of July. The infantry regiment then marched to Brownsville, where they would serve until October when their military service ended and they returned to Hartford.
The 29th Connecticut Regiment was sent to Texas to be stationed near the US/Mexico border because the French had taken advantage of the Americans being distracted by the Civil War to install a puppet emperor, Maximilian, on the throne of Mexico. When the war ended, the US military sent troops to the border to demonstrate American willingness to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. However, the soldiers who had just endured years of sacrifice fighting in the Civil War wanted nothing more than to go home, and had enlisted to save the Union, not oust a French emperor from Mexico. The Johnson Administration, therefore, turned to African American troops.
The thousands of African American soldiers in Texas suffered under the brutal conditions of the summer heat and heavy rains, with members of the 29th having to stand in water for two days, and having to pay ten cents for a canteen of water. Pension records of men from the 29th detail the privations suffered during this time, and there was great relief when they were ordered home to Connecticut.