In November of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the Union Army arrived in Calhoun County. Union and Texas troops rarely met on the field of battle in Texas, as most of the war was concentrated in the east and south of the country. The Union wanted to take Fort Esperanza that was located on Pass Cavallo, the entrance to Matagorda Bay.
On the morning of December 26, 1863, the Union Army and Texas Rangers met on the banks of Chocolate Bayou. The Union Army was trying to get to Lavaca, current day Port Lavaca, via the Norris Bridge over Chocolate Bayou. What occurred next was told similarly by both sides, stating that the group of 40 Texas Rangers tried to set fire to the bridge when they saw the large infantry approaching. Union soldiers put out the fire and started firing shells at the Texans. The Rangers stood their ground until their captain gave orders to retreat, considering there were 40 of them versus three thousand Union soldiers. The Texans scattered in all directions on horseback, giving them advantage over the Union infantry. Attributing to the lack of casualties was a herd of cows on a distant hill that the Union Army mistook as the enemy. They trained their guns on this herd and shot all of the cows.
The only fatality during the battle was a Union officer felled by a musket shot through the thigh. This
brief encounter at the Battle of Norris Bridge was one of the rare engagements of armies on the Texas front. Norris Bridge was named after A.W. Norris, who purchased the bridge property in 1857 and operated the bridge on a toll basis. In addition to the damage to the bridge by the Texans, Norris' nearby house was vandalized by the Union Army.