GOD & TEXAS: The Battle of Palmetto
The Battle of Palmetto Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas, is often referred to as the last battle of the American Civil War. Sometimes called the Battle of Palmetto Hill, or the Battle of Palmeto Ranch, it occurred on May 12 – 13, 1865. It was a fight that should not have happened.
To this day, the debate rages as to when the Civil War finally ended. Most will point to Palm Sunday April 9, 1865, in Appomattox, Virginia, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his command to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. While skirmishes continued for a while, the surrender in Appomattox ended the Confederate Army as an organized force. But this good news traveled slowly in 1865.
Union Colonel Theodore H. Barrett commanded 800 troops in deep South Texas. Knowing that the war would probably end soon, he had a gentlemen’s agreement with Colonel John S. “Rip” Ford and other Confederate commanders that they would not fight without orders from above. They knew that the Confederate forces were exhausted and the end of the war was near.
It was well known that 30 year-old Barrett had aspirations to run for national political office when the war ended. Though he had many notable commendations for service to the United States military, he had never actually led forces into a battle. Many feel that he attacked the surprised Confederates with the belief that taking the Port of Brownsville for the Federals would prove his legitimacy as an accomplished commander.
On May 12, Barrett attacked the unsuspecting Confederate army. Because many of the Rebels had already left ranks for home, Ford could only muster 350 men to defend themselves. The two-day battle was intense and bloody, but the Confederate army ultimately defeated the Union troops. Sadly, no one actually won anything, and there was much sorrow on both sides.
As a result of this last and avoidable official battle of the Civil War, about 30 Federal soldiers died. And Union Private John Jefferson Williams of the 34th Regiment Indiana Infantry has been memorialized as the last soldier to die in the Civil War. He was buried in the Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.
War is always ugly, and often preventable. But when pride and selfish motives lead to war, that’s sin. The current war in Russia/Ukraine, and the saber-rattling of China and North Korea, boasts of the same narcissistic attitude of Colonel Barrett. In pride and arrogance, Lucifer himself stirred an unnecessary battle in Heaven for control over God (Ezekiel 28; Revelation 12). The Devil lost and was kicked out of Heaven. Though Christ has defeated Satan at the Cross, lives are still being needlessly lost today in the battle of life because they have not heard this Good News.
In the New Year 2023, get the Good News out that Jesus was born and died, and has risen to new life triumphant. The war has been won! “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV).
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