Thursday, May 12, 2016
"Boys, we have done finely. We will let well enough alone, and retire."
These were the words of Col. John "Rip" Ford to his men following the Battle of Palmetto Ranch which begun on today's date, May 12 in 1865. This was the final battle of the American Civil war which was begun for reasons that are not clear.
The Troops in Texas
As he Civil War drew to a close, there were troops spread out all over the country. More than a full month after Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox there were still several thousand troops on both sides in Texas. At the southernmost tip of the state where the Rio Grande River empties into the Gulf of Mexico lay Brazos Santiago Island wherein was stationed 2,000 Union troops. Among these were the 62nd and 87th U.S. Colored Infantry, the 34th Indiana and a small number of loyal Texans who had signed on for cavalry service but were dismounted for lack of horses. Facing them across the bay and some miles inland, were some 1,200 men left by March 31 under the command of Confederate Brig. Gen. James E. Slaughter.
Barrett Moves Against the Rebels
These troops had been observing a kind of unofficial truce for some time. But for reasons that are unknown Union Colonel Theodore H. Barrett (below) ordered an attack on a Confederate camp near Fort Brown. It has been suggested that Barrett may have been looking to get
The Battle of Palmetto Ranch
Branson's men left at 8:30 that morning traversing 112 miles to Palmetto Ranch, arriving at noon. Once there they immediately fell into a skirmish with Capt. W. N. Robinson's 190 man company of Texas Cavalry Battalion, The two sides exchanged gunfire, but nobody was injured. After this brief exchange, the rebels fell back. Branson's men did not pursue, but instead moved into the ranch and made their dinner. In the meantime, Robinson sent word of the attack back to Brownsville, where Col. Ford (below) began gathering up as many men
The Last Man Killed....