The Free State of Van Zandt

During and after the US Civil War, a small Texan county attempted make its own place in the world and ended up going to war with the United States.

Van Zandt County, Bill Loven

Van Zandt County, Bill Loven

During the war in 1861, Texas successfully seceded from the United States Union and joined the Confederate States, but this wasn’t popular with the citizens of Van Zandt county in Texas, where slavery wasn’t a popular ideal, and wanted to remain with the Union. The county attempted to secede from Texas as a result, which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.

Post the War in 1867 (when Texas had re-entered the Union) Van Zandt county tried again, this time wanting to secede from Texas, the Confederate States and the United States, to become their own nation. The County's Commissioners supporting the want of its citizens, approved the secession of Van Zandt, deeming it to be its own free state, and they even penned their own Declaration of Independence.

The US government wanted to quickly quell this free state so it dispatched cavalry from New Orleans to put down Van Zandt, a move that led Van Zandt county to declare war on the United States. The county was well prepared however and won the 'Free State War' against the United States due to the rough terrain the cavalry faced.

The county was keen to celebrate its victory and the group all ended up quite drunk that night, however the Federal troops used this to their advantage and captured the group and put them in the stockade.

While in the stockade, one of the Free State soldiers used a file in his pocket to get out of the stockade, and shortly after they all escaped the stockade and made their way out of Texas in different directions. The Federal Soldiers quickly took back the county after the escape.

In the end, little attempt was made by the government to recapture the prisoners and none were ever arrested as a result.