June 20, 1865 was a dark day in Houston as Union troops arrived to begin the post- Civil War occupation.
Approximately 50,000 Yankee soldiers spread out across Texas to drive home a painfully clear message: The South had lost the war and those that had fought on the wrong side had no rights the victors were bound to respect. The long nightmare known as Reconstruction would last for nine years until the popular election of Richard Coke as governor in 1874.
The dictatorship of Gen. Philip Sheridan in ocupied Texas officially ended on November 26, 1867 four months after President Andrew Johnson reassigned him
His absolute authority over the conquered Confederate states of Texas and Louisiana allowed “Little Phil,” who stopped growing at five feet five inches, to indulge his battle-hardened prejudices against secessionists. Sheridan even went so far as to ignore the pleas of frontier settlers for protection against the Comanches.
The story of Gen. Sheridan and how he ran roughshod over the former Confederates is the subject of “This Week in Texas History” for the week of Wednesday, November 20 through Tuesday, November 26.
Andrew Jackson Hamilton, provisional governor of occupied Texas, warned conquered Confederates on September 11, 1865 against being misled by “the same deadly doctrines.”
An outspoken opponent of slavery and secession, Hamilton fought on the northern side in the Civil War. As the leader of the moderate wing of Republican Party in Texas, he butted heads with Edmund J. Davis, the Radical architect of Reconstruction, and reversed his position on giving the vote to the former slaves.
On July 28, 1876, the Texas legislature passed a resolution of condolence in memory of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 260-plus men of the 7th Cavalry killed the previous month in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Lawmakers tactfully omitted any mention of Custer’s role in the Reconstruction occupation of Texas or the fact that the famous “boy general” fought on the other side in the Civil War.