Notes and Documents
"Let us have 500 good determined Texans"
Richard King's Account of the Union Invasion of South
Texas, November 2, 1863, to January 20, 1864
BRUCE S. CHEESEMAN*
H ISTORIANS OF THE CIVIL WAR IN SOUTH TEXAS HAVE NATURALLY
focused on the Confederate cotton trade along the border with
Mexico, the Union invasion to destroy it, and Rip Ford's legendary "Cav-
alry of the West" campaign.' Richard King, riverman, steamboat captain
and entrepreneur, livestock capitalist, and founder of King Ranch,
played a vital role in what the Mexicans called Los Algodones, the cotton
boom on the Rio Grande during the Civil War.2 As a principal partner in
both the Brownsville steamboat firm of M. Kenedy & Company, as well as
* Bruce S. Cheeseman holds an M.A. in American History from Texas A&M University, and
earned his undergraduate degree from Pfeiffer College in North Carolina. Since 1988 he has
been a consulting archivist and historian with King Ranch, Inc. He has published articles in The
North Carolina Historical Review, The Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and Texas Studies.
Dunng his association with King Ranch, he has written and lectured widely on a diverse range of
subjects pertaining to the Ranch's history. His essay, Perfectly Exhausted with Pleasure- The x881
Kzng-Kenedy Excursion Train to Laredo, was published in 1992 by The Book Club of Texas. He also
coauthored with Al Lowman "The Book of all Christendom". Tom Lea, Carl Hertzog and the Making of
The King Ranch (Kmingsville: King Ranch, Inc., 1992). His most recent book is My Dear Henrietta:
Hzram Chamberlain's Letters to His Daughter, I846-1866 (Kingsville: King Ranch, Inc., 1993). He
wishes to thank Dr. Thomas H. Kreneck and Alva D. Neer of Texas A&M University-Corpus
Christi for their assistance in the preparation of this article.
SJames W Daddysman, The Matamoros Trade: Confederate Commerce, Diplomacy, and Intrigue
(Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1986); James A. Irby, Backdoor at Bagdad: The Civil War on the
Rao Grande (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1977); Milo Kearney and Anthony Knopp, Boom and
Bust: The Historical Cycles of Matamoros and Brownsville (Austin: Eakin Press, 1991); Frank Lawrence
Owsley, King Cotton Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959);John Salmon Ford, Rap
Ford's Texas, edited with an Introduction and Commentary by Stephen B. Oates (Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1963); Robert Delaney, "Matamoros, Port for Texas during the Civil War,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 58 (Apr., 1955), 473-480 (cited hereafter as SHQ); Ronnie C.
Tyler, "Cotton on the Border, 1861-1865," ibid., 73 (Apr., 1970), 465-477; and, L. Tuffly Ellis,
"Maritime Commerce on the Far Western Gulf, 1861-1865," ibid., 77 (Oct., 1973), 167-226.
2 Born to Irish immigrant parents in New York City, Richard King (1824-1885) was appren-
ticed to a Manhattan jeweler at the age of nine. Two years later he ran away and shipped as a
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed April 26, 2015.