The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Book Reviews

Perhaps one of the most important contributions of these new studies is the
fact that Hunt and Tucker dispel one of the bigger myths growing from previous
scholarship on the battle. Prior, very superficial, studies have attempted to
chronicle the battle by repeating the idea that originated with the Confederate
commander in the conflict, the venerable Col. John S. "Rip" Ford, that the Con-
federates in the Lower Rio Grande Valley did not know at the time of the battle
that the war had ended. In fact, on May 1, a passenger on a steamer heading up
the Rio Grande tossed a copy of the New Orleans Times to Confederates camped
at Palmetto Ranch that not only gave a detailed account of Lee's surrender, but
President Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre and the fact that Gen. Joseph
E. Johnston had surrendered his army in North Carolina. The land baron and
riverboat captain Richard King had written a friend from Brownsville in late
April that the war was over. If King knew the war was over, his friend Ford was
certain to have known.
What was at stake was honor, money, and perhaps a bit of racism. With a stub-
born reluctance to admit defeat, Ford asserted that the dignity and manhood of
his men had to be defended. Having previously proclaimed that he would never
capitulate to "a mongrel force of Abolitionists, negroes, plundering Mexicans,
and perfidious renegades" who would "murder and rob ... with impunity," Ford
was not about to surrender to invading black troops. (John Salmon Ford, Rip
Ford's Texas, ed. Stephen B. Oates, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963, p.
347.) Ever more important was the large quantity of Richard King and Mifflin
Kenedy's cotton stacked in Brownsville waiting to be sent across the river to
Matamoros. If Ford did not hold off the invading Federal force, the cotton
would be confiscated by the Yankees and thousands of dollars lost.
Hunt's reference to the supporters of Benito Juarez should be to Juaristas not
Juarezistas. (p. 24), but such distractions are minor and insignificant. With an
abundance of high drama, both books make for exciting and compelling read-
ing. The two books contain a great deal of valuable information gleaned from
primary sources. Although one would wish for a bit more information on the
cotton trade and how it contributed to the various events on the Rio Grande, in-
cluding the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, both books are certain to have wide ap-
peal for general readers and academics alike. Anyone interested in Civil War
history, Texas history, or the history of the United States-Mexico border, will
want these books. They help to complete an important chapter in the bloodiest
of all American wars on a disputed river in a dark corner of the Confederacy, far
from the centers of power in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia.
Texas A&M International University Jerry Thompson
The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877. Paul H. Carlson. (College Station: Texas A&M
University Press, 2002. Pp. 177. Illustrations, maps, preface, notes, bibliog-
raphy, index. ISBN 1-58544-253-4. $24.94, cloth.)
Just before three o'clock in the afternoon of July 26, 1877, Capt. Nicholas M.
Nolan, Lt. Charles L. Cooper, a runaway from Boston seeking adventure, forty
enlisted men from Company A, Tenth Cavalry, and twenty-two buffalo hunters
left their rendezvous point at Double Lakes (present Lynn County), Texas, in

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed November 26, 2014.