Hispanics in the Confederacy

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Hispanics served in Confederate units such as the 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 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 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 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"