in the Confederacy
New Mexico Volunteers
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
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
from the lower Rio Grande Valley, the only sizeable 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 tested 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 Laredo 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
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 Appomattox, 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.
Over 13,000 Hispanics served under the Confederacy
Documented by Mr. John O'Donnel-Rosales, Author of
"Hispanic Confederates from the Gulf Coast States"