State Penitentiary C.S.A. and Texas Civil War Manufacturing

Inmates, slaves, and free men worked in the penitentiary textile factory, which was the main source of cloth goods for the Confederate Southwest. Here, cotton and wool were turned into millions of yards of cloth and yarn. Workers, both paid and unpaid, then turned these materials into uniforms for state troops and Confederate army soldiers. They also made clothing for the families of soldiers. Cloth sales supported 300 inmates and Union prisoners of war who were briefly kept in the penitentiary. As the Union blockade tightened, army requests flooded into the penitentiary textile factory, causing the Confederate government to enforce family cloth rations. Later financial difficulties and worn machinery caused production lag.

The participation of the Texas State Prison in Confederate matters was not an isolated phenomenon. The state's manufacturing industry was greatly influenced by the Civil War. Heavy military demands caused by Texas's 90,000 troops, 2000-mile coastline (frontier to guard), and reduced imports led to a rapid expansion of Texas industry. Arms and munitions plants cropped up across the state, and the state government offered land grants to encourage production. Private industry met the state's need, providing vital supplies for military men and civilians alike. The Confederate quartermaster formed depots and shops for military goods. Production of salt and "king cotton" was increased to trade for scarce items. Ladies' societies even spun and sewed socks and other clothing items to outfit soldiers. A memorial to the Texans who served the Confederacy was erected by the State of Texas in 1963.

Images

Texas State Penitentiary, circa 1873-1875

Texas State Penitentiary, circa 1873-1875

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Huntsville "Walls" Unit

Huntsville "Walls" Unit

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Cite this Page:

Texas Historical Marker, “State Penitentiary C.S.A. and Texas Civil War Manufacturing,” East Texas History, accessed June 26, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/193.

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