Palmito Ranch, TX
Date(s): May 12-13,
Expedition from Brazos
Since March 1865, a gentleman’s agreement precluded fighting between
Union and Confederate forces on the Rio Grande.
In spite of this agreement, Col. Theodore H.
Barrett, commanding forces at Brazos Santiago, Texas,
dispatched an expedition, composed of 250 men of the 62nd U.S. Colored
Infantry Regiment and 50 men of the 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment under the
command of Lt. Col. David Branson, to
the mainland, on May 11, 1865, to attack reported Rebel outposts and
Prohibited by foul weather from crossing to Point Isabel as
instructed, the expedition crossed to Boca Chica.
Col. Theodore H. Barrett
Col. John S. "Rip" Ford
Detachments from the 62nd U.S.
Colored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment, and 34th Indiana
Detachments from Gidding’s
Regiment, Anderson’s Battalion of Cavalry, and numerous other Confederate
units and southern sympathizers
At 2:00 am, on May 12, the
Lt. Col. David Branson's Union expeditionary force surrounded
the Confederate outpost at White’s Ranch, but found no one there.
Exhausted from being been up most of the night,
Branson hid his command in a thicket and among
weeds on the banks of the Rio Grande and allowed his men to sleep.
Around 8:30 am, people on the Mexican side of the
river informed Confederate forces of the Federals’ location.
led his men off to attack a Confederate camp at Palmito Ranch.
After skirmishing along the way, the Federals
attacked the camp and scattered the Confederates.
Branson and his
men remained at the site to eat and feed their horses but, at 3:00 pm, a sizable
Confederate force appeared, forcing the Federals to retreat to White’s Ranch.
word of his situation to Col. Theodore H. Barrett
on the 13th, Barrett
sent 200 men of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry to reinforce
The augmented force, now commanded by
Barrett, started out towards Palmito Ranch,
skirmishing most of the way.
At Palmito Ranch, they destroyed the rest of the
supplies not torched the day before and continued until they became involved in
a sharp firefight.
After the fighting stopped,
Barrett led his force back to a bluff at Tulosa
on the river where the men could prepare dinner and camp for the night.
At 4:00 pm, a large Confederate cavalry force,
commanded by Col. John S. “Rip” Ford,
attacked the Union camp.
The Confederates hammered the Union line with
In order to avoid a flanking movement, Barrett's
forces retreated to Boca Chica at 8:00 pm, the men embarked at 4:00 am, on the
This was the last battle in the Civil War. Native,
African, and Hispanic Americans were all involved in the fighting.
Resources: Palmito Ranch, TX Civil War
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2 Casualties are
someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.