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New Braunfels newspaper influenced secession effort

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Fourth of July Parade
When: 9:15 a.m. Monday
Where: Main Plaza, New Braunfels

Another Fourth of July celebration is coming up Monday. Flags will be waving, music will be saluting the United States of America and The Sophienburg’s annual parade downtown to the Main Plaza will be open to patriots of all ages.

The first Fourth of July celebration in New Braunfels was in 1846, soon after Texas became a state. Since then, New Braunfels has celebrated the Declaration of Independence with much enthusiasm.

Rapid social and technological changes took place in the three decades from the 1820s to the 1850s. Then the Union began to unravel. Rumblings of internal conflict began to be heard between the industrial North and agricultural South, and union became disunion.

Causes of this conflict were many, but in the end, disagreements about states’ rights and slavery were primary. The South believed that seceding from the Union was the solution to all the problems. Those states formed their own Confederacy.

New Braunfels was the only predominantly German town in Texas that voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.

There is no doubt about the influence Neu Braunfelser Zeitung Editor Ferdinand Lindheimer had on local election results. Lindheimer led the charge for secession locally. In the end, 239 voted in favor of secession and 86 voted against. Texas voted overwhelmingly to secede and join the Confederacy, thereby becoming the seventh state to do so.

For a complete account of the events of the Civil War in Comal County, check out these books, of which can be found at Sophie’s Shop:

  • “New Braunfels, Comal County Texas” by Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Myra Lee Adams Goff offers a thumbnail, uncomplicated account of the events in a concise manner.
  • Once you have the basics, read further details translated by Oscar Haas in his book “History of New Braunfels and Comal County.” After that, two books about the Civil War are for sale. Wilfred Schlather’s book, “War Between the States Participants from Comal County” fills you in on just that.
  • The second book recently released by Dr. Francis R. Horne is ” Comal County Texas in the Civil War, as reported in the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung from 1859 to 1865.” Sophienburg volunteer Margot Hendricks spent many hours translating articles from the Zeitung from German to English.

Horne has chosen some of Lindheimer’s editorials relating to the war and events in the state. Lindheimer was very influential in Comal County; however, not all agreed with his opinions about secession. For example, local abolitionists threw his printing press into the Comal for backing the Confederacy. He fished it out and kept on printing.

In 1860, Lindheimer backed Breckenridge against Lincoln for president, and ultimately, Lincoln received no votes in Comal County. Meanwhile, many cities in north Texas were set on fire. Lindheimer and most editors were convinced the fires were set by abolitionists. Lindheimer tells us that when Gov. Sam Houston spoke at the Comal County Courthouse against secession, there was no applause from the audience.

Horne chooses editorials and events before the war and to the end of the war that help the reader have a better understanding of Lindheimer’s political views. To really understand why Comal County voted to be part of the Confederacy, read this interesting collection of editorials and local and state events.

On June 19, 1865, a United States flag was hoisted over Comal County Courthouse. Troubles were not over, but the Confederacy was. Soon after, on Fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence was once more observed with great ceremony. Shots from a cannon proclaimed the festive day. A huge American flag was once again hoisted on Sophienburg Hill.

Joachim Pantermuehl, center, is surrounded by his seven sons who fought for the Confederacy. Female at top is unidentified. Top left are Joachim Jr., Fritz, Christian, Wilhelm, Carl, Heinrich and Johann. All survived the war.

Remember: Fourth of July Parade Monday, July 4, Main Plaza at 9:15 a.m.!