Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nueces River Massacre

JANICE:  The Treue der Union Monument in Comfort, Texas, may be the only Union memorial in the South. It is the burial place of thirty-four German immigrants who died in the Nueces River Massacre during the Civil War for their loyalty to the Union and their refusal to fight for slavery. They were on the right side.

In August of 1862 some sixty German Texans from Comfort and surroundings decided to flee to Mexico and from there to New Orleans where they could join the Union Army. Confederate soldiers followed and, with a full moon still in the sky, attacked their camp on the Nueces River. Thirty-four Germans were killed, including prisoners, and their bodies left to rot in the August sun. After the war was over their bones were brought back to Comfort for burial.

Tom and I recently traveled to Comfort to attend the 150th Anniversary of the Nueces River Massacre and to sign our book, Sophie's War, a historical novel based on this tragedy.

Sophie's father is a political cartoonist who expresses his Unionist views in a San Antonio newspaper. Since Texas has seceded from the Union, his life is in danger. Sophie pleads with him to keep his opinions to himself. But he refuses, saying, "That is why we left Germany – so we could be free to say what we think." Sophie must find a way to save her family.

And we must find a way to have peace on earth. As T.R. Fehrenbach said in a previous ceremony at the Treue der Union Monument, "Will we never learn that violence solves nothing."