Benavides crosses Rio Grande in pursuit of Mexican "Unionists"

September 1st, 1863

On this day in 1863, Maj. Santos Benavides, the highest-ranking Mexican American to serve in the Confederacy, led seventy-nine men of the predominantly Tejano Thirty-third Texas Cavalry across the Rio Grande in pursuit of the bandit Octaviano Zapata. Union agents had recruited Zapata, a former associate of Juan N. Cortina, to lead raids into Texas and thus force Confederate troops to remain in the Rio Grande valley rather than participate in military campaigns in the east. Zapata was also associated with Edmund J. Davis, who was conducting Northern-sponsored military activities in the vicinity of Brownsville and Matamoros. For these reasons, and because his men often flew the American flag during their raids, Zapata's band was often referred to as the "First Regiment of Union Troops." Benavides caught up with Zapata on September 2 near Mier, Tamaulipas. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the Zapatistas dispersed, leaving ten men dead, including Zapata. Benavides later defended Laredo against Davis's First Texas Cavalry, and arranged for the safe passage of Texas cotton to Matamoros during the Union occupation of Brownsville. He died at his Laredo home in 1891.

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Benavides crosses Rio Grande in pursuit of Mexican "Unionists"

September 1st, 1863

On this day in 1863, Maj. Santos Benavides, the highest-ranking Mexican American to serve in the Confederacy, led seventy-nine men of the predominantly Tejano Thirty-third Texas Cavalry across the Rio Grande in pursuit of the bandit Octaviano Zapata. Union agents had recruited Zapata, a former associate of Juan N. Cortina, to lead raids into Texas and thus force Confederate troops to remain in the Rio Grande valley rather than participate in military campaigns in the east. Zapata was also associated with Edmund J. Davis, who was conducting Northern-sponsored military activities in the vicinity of Brownsville and Matamoros. For these reasons, and because his men often flew the American flag during their raids, Zapata's band was often referred to as the "First Regiment of Union Troops." Benavides caught up with Zapata on September 2 near Mier, Tamaulipas. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the Zapatistas dispersed, leaving ten men dead, including Zapata. Benavides later defended Laredo against Davis's First Texas Cavalry, and arranged for the safe passage of Texas cotton to Matamoros during the Union occupation of Brownsville. He died at his Laredo home in 1891.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
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  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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