The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 150
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ably would have initiated serious border fighting that might have
escalated into a general Mexican-American war similar to that of
After the deposition of Maximilian and the restoration of Benito
Juirez in 1867, thousands of Mexican troops were released on the
northern frontier without compensation or immediate means of live-
lihood." Combined with the traditional Mexican antipathy toward
Texas and Texans, this state of affairs led to increasing depredations on
the horse and cattle herds in the territory between the Nueces River and
the Rio Grande. The appointment of General Juan N. Cortina in 1870
to command a brigade of Mexican federal troops on the line of the
Rio Bravo convinced the Texans that Mexico was determined to
impoverish and depopulate the domain she had lost to Texas in the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Ever since his 1859 raid on Browns-
ville, Texans had considered Cortina the archvillain of the Rio Grande
country. They attributed almost every border ill directly or indirectly
to him." In 1871 the Brownsville Sentinel proclaimed that the depre-
dations were "a popular business with the Mexicans, because it means
harm to the hated Gringo, and will ultimately drive him from the
valley of the Rio Grande."'
General A. McD. McCook, commanding officer of Fort Brown in
1871, informed the State Department of the volatile situation which
prevailed. He explained that the cattle raids on Texas "may lead to a
predatory war on either side or [sic] the river, eventually producing
8Santiago Roel, Nuevo Ledn: apuntes histdricos (7th ed.; Monterrey, 1957), 199-2ol;
Lucian Avery to William H. Seward, October i, 1867, Department of State, Despatches
from Consuls in Matamoros, National Archives Microcopy T-18, Roll 5; Thomas Scott
to Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward, December 27, 1867, ibid. References
to these latter records are hereafter cited as DS, MT-18.
'United States Collector of Customs at Brownsville, John L. Haynes, described Cortina
in this way: "He was considered as the head of that class of people-the robber chief.
Since his arrest in 1875, there was very little raiding." Testimony in Relation to Texas
Border Troubles, House Miscellaneous Documents, 45th Cong., 2nd Sess. (Serial 1820),
Document No. 64, p. 273. The commission sent to Texas in 1872 to, investigate
depredations also concluded that Cortina was the primary culprit-"the terror of the
Texas frontier." Depredations on the Frontiers of Texas, House Executive Documents,
42nd Cong., 3rd Sess. (Serial 1565), Document No. 39, p. 8. But General William T.
Sherman disagreed with the opinion in "Texas that Cortina alone was responsible for the
frontier troubles. He astutely observed: "Cortina is simply a creation. If you kill Cortina,
another like creature will come in his place." Ibid., 35; see also Daily Ranchero (Browns-
ville), September 19, 1870.
5Sentinel (Brownsville), July 14, 1871.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/162/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.