Union States - Confederate States:
Over 13,000 Hispanics served under the Confederacy Documented by Mr.
John O'Donnel-Rosales, Author of "Hispanic Confederates from the
Gulf Coast States" (book out of print)
Only book put out by the Government was "Vaqueros in Blue and Grey",
and it is out of print.
(as of 1998, the government put out over 40,000 books on non Hispanics)
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Other Hispanics served in Confederate units such
Benavides Regiments, commanded by Colonel Santos Benavides
and the 10th Texas Cavalry, commanded by Major Leonides M. Martin.
According to the historian Jerry Don Thompson, significant numbers of
Hispanics also served in the 55th Alabama Infantry, Manigault's Battalion
of South Carolina Artillery, 6th Missouri Infantry, the Chalmetle Regiment
of Louisiana Infantry, and the Second Texas Mounted Rifles. Other Confederate
unites which contained large numbers of Hispanics included
Vigil's Independent Companies
- Cavalry, the
Louisiana Zouaves 1st Florida
Cavalry, the Spanish Legion of the European Brigade, the Spanish Guard
(part of the Home Guard of Mobile, Alabama), and four independent New Mexico
militia companies known by their commanders names (Gonzales, Martinez,
Tafolla, and Perea). Also see
1st Florida Cavalry, Confederate Army
and Captain Joseph
De La Garza Confederate Army from San Antonio.
The conflict in Texas deeply divided the Mexican-Texans.
An estimated 2,550 fought in the ranks of the Confederacy, while 950, including
some Mexican nationals, fought for the Union.
In many ways, by 1863, the Civil War in South
Texas had become a civil war within a civil war. It was now Texan against
Texan, Mexican-Texan against Mexican-Texan. After the hasty retreat of
the bulk of the Confederate forces from the lower Rio Grande Valley, the
only sizable Rebel force remaining to defend the area around Laredo, Texas
was commanded by Colonel Santos Benavides. This unit was better known as
the "Benavides Regiment."
Santos Benavides was born
on November 1, 1823 in Laredo, Texas. As a young man he first tasted the
sting of battle during Mexico's Federalist-Centralist wars which ravaged
the Rio Grande Valley from 1838 to 1840. In 1856 he became Major of Loredo
and at the time of the Civil War, he had become a leading politician and
financial figure in the area. He rose quickly in the Confederate ranks from
Captain to Colonel. Commanding his own regiment, he was the highest ranking
Mexican-American in the Confederate Army. although Generals Hamilton Lee,
Slaughter, and Magruder recommended promotion for Benavides to Brigadier
General, Colonel John "Rip" Ford was against such a decision, feeling it
would diminish his role in the Rio Grande exploits.
In March of 1864, Confederate brigadier General Hamilton P. Lee asked
Colonel benavides to ride to Brownsville to save the 100 man post which was
under siege from elements of the Union's XIII Corps. Included in this group
was the 2nd Texas Union Calvary, a Brownsville unit newly formed of Unionist
Mexican-Texans. the 33rd Calvary commanded by Colonel Benavides rose to the
occasion, and drove the Union forces back. A month after General Robert E.
Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appamatox, the Civil War ended for
Santos Benavides, his two courageous brothers, and the Mexican-Texans of
the Lone Star State. "Tejanos" (As the Mexican Americans from Texas are called)
had been among the first to take up arms for the Confederacy and were among
the last to surrender.
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