The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 260
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
Rio Grande. Cotton, which had to this time been sent via Brownsville
across the Rio Grande into Matamoros for eventual shipment out of
Bagdad, on the Mexican side of the river, was now rerouted through
towns further up the river. Eagle Pass, Laredo, and Rio Grande City
now were the gateways out of Texas for Confederate cotton.
Though acutely aware of the traffic through the Mexican ports,
United States authorities found their hands tied by neutrality laws.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed fifteen years earlier at the
end of the nation's war with Mexico, had specified that the Rio Grande
should be free for the use of both countries. In the Gulf of Mexico
off the mouth of the Rio Grande, ships of England, France, Germany,
and even the United States stood ready to take on Confederate cot-
ton. England in particular wanted to maintain the Matamoros trade
as its textile mills had begun to feel the effects of the Union blockade
of Southern ports. To keep this supply line open or to protect Brit-
ish shipping interest against the French invasion of Mexico, or both,
brought British men-of-war into the western Gulf.2
Mexico too was in the midst of upheaval. The government of Benito
Juarez, only recently empowered as the result of a three-year war of
reform, was in disarray due to the French intervention. Seizing on the
weakness of the central government, factions in the border states were
vying for power. An outbreak of fighting was expected momentarily in
S. B. Brush, a tinsmith and merchant doing business out of Austin,
Texas, was at this time delivering a shipment of cotton via Matamoros,
Bagdad, and Havana to the port of New York. Brush's observations
have been preserved in the pocket diaries which he habitually kept on
Daddysman, The Matamoros Trade: Confederate Commerce, Diplomacy, and Intrigue (Newark, Del.:
University of Delaware Press, 1984) Included in the article by Ellis are illustrations from con-
temporary issues of Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of places and events of the time.
2Delaney, "Matamoros, Port for Texas," 474; Ellis, "Maritime Commerce on the Far Western
Gulf," 172-173; and Daddysman, The Matamoros Trade, 151-161.
SFor background on Mexico's troubles during these turbulent times see Henry Bamford
Parkes, A History of Mexico (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 197o), 242-258, or T R. Fehren-
bach, Fire and Blood (New York: Macmillan Pubhshmg Co., 1973), 403-439-
4Pocket diaries covering the periods December 24, 1863, through March 16, 1864, and Janu-
ary 1, 1865, through August 2, 1865, are in my possession, and transcripts and photocopies of
each have been placed on file at the Austin History Center, Austin Public Library (cited here-
after as AHC), and the Eugene C Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin,
(cited hereafter as BTHC). They are cataloged under the title "Transcription and Photocopies
of Diaries of S. B. Brush " The first diary logs Brush's travels beginning somewhere between
Monterrey and Matamoros, Mexico, and takes him via Matamoros, Bagdad, and Havana to
New York The second begins with Brush on a steamboat on the Mississippi River near Vicks-
burg and follows him via Cairo and Pittsburgh to the Paterson, New Jersey-New York City
area, where he spent several months before returning to Austin via New Orleans, Galveston,
Houston, Hempstead, Brenham, and Bastrop. On this return trip he made a side trip between
Galveston and Matamoros. After a few days in Austin, Brush, with his wife and the two oldest
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/304/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.