The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 146
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Sixth Legislature and to the Secession Convention, where he was se-
lected to present to Sam Houston the ordinance prescribing the oath
to the Confederacy. He was elected major in the Third Texas Cavalry
in August, i861, was wounded in the battle of Chustenahlah, In-
dian Territory, in December, and was not reelected when the regiment
reorganized. He tendered his resignation on May 14, 1862, on the
grounds of physical disability due to "chronic rheumatism and neural-
gic affection of the submaxillary region." By the spring of 1863, how-
ever, Chilton was again in Confederate uniform as brigade ordnance
officer under General Hamilton P. Bee on the Rio Grande frontier?
Bee arrived in Brownsville in January, 1863, to replace Colonel
John S. Ford as commander of the approximately 2,500 Confederate
soldiers from Laredo to the Gulf.2 Bee's forces consisted mainly of
units raised in South Texas from the Anglo and Mexican populations
there. One particularly notorious regiment was known as Duff's Parti-
san Rangers. They had obtained a reputation earlier in the war for
murdering unionists in the Fredericksburg area, and their hatred for
the renegados remained intense. The transfer to the Brownsville re-
gion was a frustrating one for the Partisan Rangers, because hun-
dreds of the despised unionists and Confederate deserters had fled
across the Rio Grande to neutral Mexico and were tantalizingly out of
reach but not out of sight or voice range. Despite frequent protests by
Bee, the Mexican officials in Matamoros and Leonard Pierce, Jr., the
United States consul, continued to harbor all who crossed the river.
During December, 1862, raiding parties from Mexico had crossed the
Rio Grande, robbed a supply train, and murdered Judge Isidro Vela
at his ranch in Zapata County. Bee claimed that the group carried the
United States flag and was part of the First Texas Regiment (U). He
1William S. Speer (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the New West . . . (Marshall, Tex., 1881),
561; Horace Chilton, "Notebook-Diaries of Horace Chilton," V, pt. 2, p. 341, pt. 3, P.
538 (ist quotation), Horace Chilton Papers (Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center,
University of Texas, Austin; cited hereafter as BTHC); State of Texas v Chilton, No.
700oo (Dist. Ct. of Smith County, Sixth Judicial Dist. of Texas, Dec. 19, 1860); Dallas Her-
ald, Feb. 29, Dec. 26, 186o; Texas State Gazette (Austin), Mar. 23, 1861; "George W. Chil-
ton, 3 Texas Cavalry" (2nd quotation), Confederate Military Service Records, Record
Group log9, National Archives.
2Frank C. Pierce, A Brief History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Menasha, Wis.,
1917), 41; Hamilton P. Bee to G. Dickinson, Jan. 6, 1863, War of the Rebellion: A
Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (70 vols.
in 128; Washington, D.C., 188o-19o1), Series I, XV, 993 (the Official Records are cited
hereafter as OR). The situation on the Rio Grande border is also discussed in Bruce M.
Fielder, "The Mexican Connection- Confederate and Union Diplomacy on the Rio
Grande, 1861-1865" (M.A. thesis, North Texas State University, 1978); James A. Irby,
Backdoor at Bagdad: The Civil War on the Rio Grande (El Paso, Tex., 1977), 25-26; Tom
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/180/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.