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"Treue der Union" Monument

By Phoenix Macfarlane, University of Texas at San Antonio

During the American Civil War, many German immigrants in the Texas Hill Country supported the United States and were opposed to slavery. Because of the German abolitionist sentiment in this region, the Confederate States of America declared martial law in Central Texas. In August of 1862, a group of approximately 61-68 Hill Country Unionists, composed primarily of German intellectuals, were fleeing to Mexico to escape Confederate martial law. On the morning of August 10, a group of 94 Confederate soldiers ambushed the Unionists. 19 of the Unionists were killed and nine were wounded, while two Confederates were killed and 18 were wounded. The nine wounded Unionists were captured by the Confederates and were executed just a few hours after the battle, known now as the Battle of Nueces or the Nueces Massacre. The brutality of the massacre sent shockwaves throughout the region and essentially marked the end of overt German Unionist resistance for the remainder of the war.

Treue der Union Monument1.jpg

Photo taken by Richard E. Miller, August 9, 2010. Courtesy of

The "Treue der Union" Monument in Comfort, Texas memorializes the 19 German-American Unionists who were killed in the Battle of Nueces, as well as the 9 who were captured and executed by the Confederates and the 7 men who drowned in the Rio Grande as the group continued on towards Mexico.The lot on which the momument stands was paid for on August 19, 1865 by Edward Degener, Eduard Steves, and William Heuermann for the price of $20. On August 20, 1865, three hundred people attended the funeral to honor those who lost their lives in the massacre. The monument was dedicated on August 10, 1866 in Kendall County and has an 1865 US flag with 36 stars, representing the number of US states at the time of the massacre.

Notorious Texas Germans connected to the monument

Jacob Küchler

Jacob Küchler, a German immigrant who came to Texas in 1847 and helped found the community of Bettina, was serving as a guide for the Unionists on their way to Mexico. He survived the battle and continued to guide the other survivors to Mexico, where he lived in exile as a surveyor until 1867 when he returned to Texas. Upon his return, Küchler became involved in politics and was a leading German voice in the Reconstructionist Republican Party.

Edward Degener

Edward Degener was also a German immigrant. He came to Texas in 1850 and settled in Sisterdale in the Hill Country west of San Antonio. During the American Civil War, Degener was loyal to the Union. He was charged by the Confederate government for criticizing them and failing to report other Union sympathizers. Two of his sons were murdered in the Nueces Massacre and they are memorialized at the Treue der Union. After the war, Edward Degener was politically active in the Republican party and served in Congress from 1870 to 1871.

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