The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 475
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Matamoros, Port for Texas during the Civil War
vented ships of the Union navy from ascending and watching the
eastern bank, and since, except for a short time in 1863 and
1864,1" Brownsville and other points on that bank were in the
hands of Confederate forces, who, for a while, had cannon at
the mouth capable of sinking any unfriendly vessel,"' it was a
simple expedient to get cotton across the river consigned to
"citizens" of the state of Tamaulipas and receive in return sup-
plies for the war effort of the Confederacy.
Mexican "citizens," then, immediately shipped the cotton to
the textile mills of England, where four million persons were
dependent on it for a livelihood,16 and to France, where six
hundred thousand people were likewise concerned.7 Cotton was
avidly sought by speculators from all parts of Europe and the
interior of Mexico'8 and the trade was extremely profitable
throughout the war. At one time, General Kirby Smith stated
that he was receiving fifty cents per pound in gold for cotton that
cost three or four cents in the interior of the Confederacy"'
and much more money was received for it laid down in New
York and European ports. Of course, the price fluctuated and
140fficial Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebel-
lion (30 vols.; Washington, 1894-1922), Series I, Vol. XX, 647-649; Mahan, The
Gulf and Inland Waters, 188; see also, H. Davenport, "Notes on Early Steamboating
on the Rio Grande," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLIX, 286-289. For the
Banks expedition that occupied Brownsville in 1863, see Official Records, War of
the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. XXVI, Pt. 2; Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel,
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (4 vols.; New York, 1884-1888), III, 571.
150fficial Naval Records, War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. XVII, lo8; General
Records of the Department of State, Consular Dispatches, Record Group 59, Mata-
moros, Vol. VII, April 1, 1862. Union forces occupied Brownsville and other points
along the lower Rio Grande in November, 1863. In July, 1864, however, the Federal
troops evacuated all points except Brazos Santiago, where a small garrison was kept
thereafter. See E. Merton Coulter, The Confederate States of America, x861-1865
(Baton Rouge, 1950), 197.
16Samuel F. Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States (New York, 1936),
363. The New Orleans Sunday Delta of May 25, 1862, reported great distress in
Lancashire. One out of every twenty-four inhabitants was reported as starving. Out
ot the eighty-four factories in the district of Blackburn only eighteen were working
full time, twenty-three had stopped altogether, and twenty-five were operating only
four or five days per week. Seven thousand operatives were wholly unemployed and
the loss in wages was estimated at $30,ooo per week. As late as February 6, 1865,
the New Orleans Times claimed that there was a crisis among the cotton operatives
of England because of the shortage of cotton.
17Bemis, A Diplomatic History of the United States, 366.
1sFor the role of cotton in the Civil War, see Frank L. Owsley, King Cotton
Diplomacy (Chicago, 1931), the standard work on Confederate diplomacy.
19Robert S. Henry, The Story of the Confederacy (New York, 1943), 342.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/568/: accessed July 24, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.