In my story, For Love or Money, a past historical event is very important.
Immediately after the Civil War, Texas was in chaos. This was at least partly due to the hasty disbanding of the Confederate army at the end of the war. There were 60,000 troops in Texas in the spring of 1865. Morale was horrible. Many Confederate soldiers deserted and plundered.
When word reached Austin that the Confederate forces had surrendered to Grant, rather than stay and face the uncertainty of their status under the Reconstruction government, Governor Pendleton Murrah and several other Confederate officials fled into Mexico. Most other state officials were removed from office. Union occupation troops were on the way, and Texas temporarily was denied readmission to the Union.
During this time of disorganization and fear, violence became common. Mobs and bands of outlaws, many of them army deserters, contributed to the turbulence. In the capital, Austin, citizens got together in an attempt to protect the people and their property.
Captain George R. Freeman, a Confederate veteran, organized a small company of volunteers in May, 1865, to protect the state capital until the Union army could get there.
The city was in turmoil, and a mob had taken control of the streets, plundering stores and causing riots and general havoc. Freeman’s volunteers restored a measure of peace, and they then disbanded with an agreement to gather again if needed. A church bell would sound the alarm if necessary.
On the night of June 11, Freeman was informed that a gang planned to rob the state treasury. The bell tolled, and about twenty of the volunteers gathered.
By the time the volunteers arrived at the treasury building, the estimated fifty robbers of the gang were already inside, breaking into the safes. A brief gun battle broke out. One of the robbers was gravely wounded. Freeman was shot in the arm.
The thieves got away with more than $17,000 in specie, that is, in gold and silver coins. A later audit report stated that a total of $27,525 in specie had been located in the treasury at the time of the robbery, as well as $800 in Louisiana bank bills. Several million dollars of U.S. bonds and other securities were also in the vault, but the robbers didn’t take them.
Before he died, the wounded robber told the outnumbered volunteers that the leader of the gang was “Captain Rapp,” but this man was never caught. No other members of the gang were ever captured, and the loot was not recovered, though some money was found outside. Federal troops arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, and it took a while to restore order. Ex-Confederates were granted amnesty if they promised to support the Union in the future, but it wasn’t until March 30, 1870 that Texas’s representatives were once again allowed to take their seats in Congress.
What does all this have to do with my story? You’ll have to read Seven Brides for Seven Texans to find out!