An active place during the Civil War, Austin was the site of the Secession Convention, March 2, 1861, and legislative sessions which lasted until June 1865. City visitors during the early 1860s included lobbyists, cotton speculators, military leaders, and businessmen seeking to aid the war effort. Five stage lines and a pony express to the railhead at Brenham provided communications. Also located here was the Texas Military Board, an agency created to obtain arms and munitions for 33 militia districts.
A city arsenal was set up on Waller Creek in southeast Austin. A gun cap factory in the old Land Office on 11th Street made 14,000 shells a day, and a foundry produced guns and cannon. Factories for shoes and gunpowder, and a sewing room in the basement of the capitol, furnished goods for the Confederate Army. The city also maintained a military fort.
During the war citizens endured Indian raids, epidemics of fever and diphtheria, rumors of slave uprisings, and a scarcity of food. Hotels refused room and board, even to state legislatures, unless payment was made in gold, silver, or goods such as nails and tobacco. As a result, some lawmakers lived in their wagons and cooked over open fires.