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Many Texans were “Treue der Union”

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

“Treue der Union”. These are words that memorialize a group of young Texas men who were loyal to the Union during the Civil War. It’s a sad story that has a New Braunfels connection through the three sons of Wilhelm and Caroline Brückisch.

Wilhelm Brückisch was born in 1802 in Postelwitz, Silesia (Prussia). He was a scientific beekeeper. In 1853 he was persuaded by Ferdinand Lindheimer, botanist and editor of the “Neu Braunfelser Zeitung”, to come to Texas. Lindheimer had observed that a lack of bees in the area had kept the fruit from being pollinated and fruit production was affected.

Brückisch, then 51 years old, came with his wife Caroline, sons Carl, Theodore, Wilhelm, and daughters, Wilhelmine and Marie. Along with the family came several hives of Italian black bees. They settled in Hortontown close to the Breustedt family with whom they became close friends. (See www.sophienburg.com Oct. 6 ‘09) Wilhelm Brückisch is given credit as the first person in Texas to become interested in the commercialization of bees.

The sad story of the family began right before the Civil War. The  Brückish sons were against secession and they were not alone. They did not agree with Texas’ vote to join the Confederacy and would not sign the oath of allegiance to a government that condoned slavery. An interesting story in the family tells of Confederate troops looking for Union sympathizers. Going to their neighbor’s house, the boys hid in Mrs. Breustedt’s cellar under the front porch. She placed her rocking chair over the trap door and began shucking corn with the shucks falling over the trap door. They escaped detection when the Confederates came looking. (from Arthur Lee Richter, g-g-grandson, and Claudia Skoog, g-g-granddaughter of Wilhelm Brückisch)

A way to escape conscription came about when a group of 18 men in the Texas Hill Country (Bettina, Luckenbach, Sisterdale, Tusculum, Kerrville, and Comfort) organized the Union Loyal League, its purpose to remain loyal to the United States. This League was part of a state organization “whose goal was to restore the Federal government in Texas”. (Rodman Underwood, “Death on the Nueces”)

The Hill country group was made up mostly of Germans commonly called “Freethinkers”, a movement in Germany as early as the 1700s. Freethinkers were   intellectuals and students who believed in the scientific study of human nature and openly fought against ignorance, social injustice, superstition, and were fleeing from political and religious tyranny. They were advocates of freedom for all and against slavery.

After the German revolution of 1848, many freethinkers emigrated to Texas and gathered together in the Hill Country and when the Civil War broke out, they were against secession. Many considered their controversial utopian ideas suspect. One can only imagine how the freethinker ideas were received in Texas where the state voted to secede from the Union by a vote of 46,129 to 14,697, and all predominantly German communities in Texas voted against secession, except New Braunfels.(see www.sophienburg.com Apr 14,’09)

It is believed that the Brückisch boys went with this Hill Country group that was to proceed south across the Edwards Plateau, across the Medina, Frio, and W. Nueces rivers, and across the Rio Grande into Mexico. Near the Nueces River, however, on August 10, 1862, forty men were ambushed by Confederates. It was known as the “Battle of the Nueces”. Family legend places the three boys at this battle, but Theodore escaped and was executed later.

It was not until three years later that the bones of those killed in this battle and others were gathered and brought to Comfort. A white marble monument was erected in Comfort honoring the memory of 68 men. Theodore Brückisch’s name is on the monument.

Driving up the hill to the monument, a US flag with 36 stars flies perpetually at half-mast.  Treue der Union!

Scientific Beekeeper Wilhelm Brückisch