Namesakes

Adams Hill Elementary School

The so-called battle of Adams Hill occurred during the Civil War on May 9, 1861, between federal forces under Lt. Col. Isaac Van Duzer Reeve and Texas Confederate troops under Col. Earl Van Dorn. The confrontation took place on the military road between San Antonio and El Paso, about 15 miles west of downtown San Antonio. Under the terms of the surrender of the Department of Texas, Reeve proceeded from Fort Bliss to the Texas coast to join other federal troops in the evacuation of Texas. Reeve reported the total strength of his command at 320 men.

Upon arriving at Fort Clark, Reeve became aware of the Confederate internment of paroled federal troops in Texas and of concern by Confederate officials in San Antonio that Reeve's force was, in fact, hostile. He nevertheless resolved to continue his march to the coast to evacuate his command in compliance with former Department of Texas commander David Twiggs' terms of surrender. On May 8 Reeve camped his command on the east side of the Medina River opposite Castroville. At midnight, having received further word of Van Dorn's advance from San Antonio with the purpose of confronting the column, Reeve resolved again to push forward to San Antonio.

Upon the advice of Lt. Zenas Randall Bliss, Reeve halted his column on a high hill a few hundred yards from San Lucas Springs. There was a small collection of buildings and corrals, which Reeve supplemented with his wagons for defense purposes. At around 9 that morning, two officers representing Col. Van Dorn arrived under a white flag with the Confederates' demand that Reeve surrender unconditionally. With no actual hostile force in sight and his position a strong one, Reeve declined.

Van Dorn, on the march, soon arrived in full force with a command comprised of nearly 1,370 men and six pieces of artillery. Van Dorn's representative now offered Reeve an opportunity to inspect the Confederate force. Lt. Bliss was sent forward and examined it, then quickly reported the strength of the force to Reeve. The federals' effective strength had been reduced to 270 by sickness, desertion, and stragglers, and Reeve resolved that resistance would be futile and surrendered his command to Van Dorn. The Confederates, satisfied with this turn of events, retired, allowing Reeve to continue his march, under arms, at his own leisure. The federals arrived at San Antonio on May 10, and the next day a Confederate officer was sent to recover all arms and public property.

Period accounts of the confrontation refer to the event as having taken place at San Lucas Springs. Later accounts say Adams Hill. There were no shots fired; it appears that both sides were eager to avoid bloodshed.

-- Kevin R. Young, "Battle of Adams Hill", in Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2009.