January 12, 1864: Fighting in Matamoros

Juan Cortina

There is a great book waiting to be written about the Civil War along the Mexican border.  Full of intrigue and smuggling with two civil wars raging,  Union vs. Confederate and the French and their Mexican sympathizers v. the Juaristas, it is a tale full of color and drama that has received shockingly little scholarly treatment.

On January 12, 1864 fighting broke out in Matamoros between the French and the Juaristas which would rage for two days.  US Consul Leonard Pierce, Jr. sent an urgent message for aid to the Union General Francis J. Herron commanding the garrison in Brownsville, Texas:

“General: A battle is now raging in the streets of this City between the forces of Governor Manuel Ruiz and Col. Juan N. Cortina. My person and family are in great danger as the road between here and the ferry is said to be infested with robbers. I have also about $1,000,000 in specie and a large amount of other valuable property under my charge in the consulate, and from the well-known character of Cortina and his followers, I fear the city will be plundered. I therefore earnestly request that you will send a sufficient
force to protect myself and property and to transport the money within the limits of the United States at the earliest possible moment.”

Herron acted quickly, sending Colonel Henry Bertram with five companies of the 20th Wisconsin to protect the ferry and the consulate.  The consulate was unmolested as the fighting raged from January 12-14, 1864.  Cortina, leading the Juaristas, ultimately prevailed, proclaimed himself governor and the town was plundered as Pierce had predicted.

Published in: on January 12, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

One Comment

  1. […] a recent post about fighting in Matamoras on January 12-14, 1864, go here to read it, I mentioned that the leader of the Juarista forces was Colonel Juan Cortina.  A […]


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: