The Last Battle of the Civil War Palmetto (Palmito) Hill

On the morning of June 18, 1865, readers of the New York Times awoke to find a shocking and unexpected story in their daily paper.

From the Rio Grande An Indiana Regiment Cut to Pieces—Eighty Survivors out of Three Hundred Men—Maximilian's Soldiers with the Rebels

There had been many such stories over the past four years and a good number in just the last few months. But this one was especially unanticipated. The grim headlines spoke for themselves.

According to notations on the back of this picture, at this battle was Jehu Phillips of Helenwood, Tennessee. This is possible as many of the Tennessee Union Volunteer regiments consolidated with Indiana Infantry regiments during the closing years of the war. I have some of the pension applications given by Jehu but nothing regarding his widow filling pensions as of yet. Grandfather of Joseph Phillips below. Here in 1949 my grandfather stands beside the monument erected in memory of this Battle near Brownsville, Texas. Both Jehu Phillips and his son Riley Phillips of Helenwood served in the Union Army.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, the New York Times reported a most surprising piece of news. On May 12-13, the last battle of the Civil War had been fought at the southernmost tip of Texas—resulting in a Confederate victory. Although Palmetto Ranch did nothing to change the war's outcome, it added the final irony to a conflict replete with ironies, unexpected successes, and lost opportunities. For these reasons, it has become both one of the most forgotten and most mythologized battles of the Civil War.

 

In this book, Jeffrey Hunt draws on previously unstudied letters and court martial records to offer a full and accurate account of the battle of Palmetto Ranch. As he recreates the events of the fighting that pitted the United States' 62nd Colored Troops and the 34th Indiana Veteran Volunteer Infantry against Texas cavalry and artillery battalions commanded by Colonel John S. "Rip" Ford, Hunt lays to rest many misconceptions about the battle. In particular, he reveals that the Texans were fully aware of events in the East—and still willing to fight for Southern independence. He also demonstrates that, far from fleeing the battle in a panic as some have asserted, the African American 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry troops played a vital role in preventing the Union defeat from becoming a rout.

 

Read more accounts of the Battle by the CHARRO Radio Club website

 

University of Texas Press - The Last Battle of the Civil War Palmetto

 

 

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