For all its support of the Confederate aims, Dallas had little direct part to play in the Civil War other than sending a good proportion of its male populace to fight. In 1861 an army cantonment was established at what is now the fair grounds, and in 1862 Dallas became headquarters for grain procurement in North Texas. Maxime Guillot left his carriage factory long enough that year to manage a pistol factory in Lancaster (these rare pieces are much more valuable to collectors now than they were to the Confederacy). In December 1864 citizens built, with contributions, a “Soldiers Home,” a hotel for warriors on leave—inflation being so bad Confederate money was almost useless. A local historian later told of a steamboat captain who nosed his boat to the
shore at a woodyard and hailed the owner, “How’ll you trade, dollars for wood?” and the answer was, “Cord for cord!”)
Toward the very end, things got so bad in the Dallas quartermaster corps that Confederate soldiers were stealing cotton and hijacking wagons as they approached the supply grounds.
After the end of the war Dallas, like most Texas towns, went through an uneasy period endangered by outlaws and restless ex-soldiers who, in some cases, made the citizens look forward to the coming of federal troops. The U. S. Army made its first appearance in December 1865 when a 250 man detachment of cavalry, being sent to Sherman, camped for a few days on Cumberland Hill-about where the Cumberland Hill School would be built twenty years later.
One interesting consequence of the war in Dallas was the establishment of several “Freedman’s Towns” around the country. Out of these grew black communities along Alpha and Noel roads north of the city, and Little Egypt, which persisted near Northwest highway and Abrams Road until the 1960s. Other black communities were along Ten Mile Creek and Bonnie View Road in South Dallas, where freed slaves first camped, then farmed near their former masters.
Photo: Cumberland Hill area. Courtesy Dallas Municipal Engineering Department.
Article courtesy Dallas: The Deciding Years-a Historical Portrait by A. C. Greene.