The Texas in the Civil War Message Board

Re: Prison Canyon, Camp Verde, Texas


The US Army post at Camp Verde was continuously garrisoned until March 7, 1861, when the Confederate forces captured it. The surrender of Camp Verde to the Confederates is detailed in the book With the Border Ruffians written by R.H. Williams , a Confederate sergeant who was present at the surrender. “A sergeants’ guard received us and escorted us into the fort, outside which I saw strong picket defenses had been thrown up and I made sure we were in for a fight. Lieutenant Hill, the officer in command, received us very stiffly and said that he meant to hold his post to the last. He had received orders to retire, as we afterwards learned, but put on a better face to gain better terms. … When [Captain] Paul offered to let all officers and men march out with their horses, arms and personal property, which was what he had been fighting for, Hill at once agreed and the terms were forthwith settled. Hill was to march out next day and report himself and his command at San Antonio. So at two o’clock that day, he marched out and we took possession of the fort, the stores, ammunition, twelve mules, eighty camels, and two Egyptian camel drivers, for all of which I had to give a receipt.”

Some 600 Union soldiers captured leaving Texas early in the Civil War were confined in “Prison Canyon” immediately southwest of the camp. Some accounts say the Camp Verde soldiers were taken to this stockade. This prisoner of war camp featured 3 cliffs, described as "very difficult to ascend" surrounding the confinement area. Prisoners, held from Aug. 1861 until sometime in 1862, were allowed to build shacks and get adequate exercise with little risk of escape.

"Since the purchase of
the Masonic Temple by the
Walters, many people
have wanted to know about
the Prison Canyon and
what it'has meant to the
history of the county. We
asked "Buck" Nowlin,
who was born and reared
in the area, for the facts. It
seems that after the Fort
was built at Camp Verde,
the military needed a place
to secure the prisoners
who were brought there. A
building was erected near
the confluence of Prison
Creek and Verde Creek,
near the entrance to the
canyon, which is a series of
high bluffs. The foundation
of the prison, built of
native stone, was still
evident a few years ago.
Many, many years later,
G.L. Rowsey built a
beautiful ranch house on
the banks of Prison
Canyon Creek, and gave
the ranch the name. He
built a series of lakes in the
creek, one of which was
directly in front of the
house. Several people
have lived there, including
the family of Louise and
J.W.Young, Jr. But with
three children attending
Kerrville schools, the
Youngs sold the place and
moved to town. It's an
intriguing name, and
Stanley Banks "Camel
Trails in Texas" tells a lot
about the area."


State Historical Marker # 5265000682,

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Prison Canyon, Camp Verde, Texas
Re: Prison Canyon, Camp Verde, Texas
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Re: Prison Canyon, Camp Verde, Texas