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General Vicente Filisola's Analysis of Jose Urrea's Military Diary: A Forgotten 1838 Publication by an Eyewitness to the Texas Revolution
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- Gregg Dimmick
After reading this fascinating account of the Mexican army in Texas, readers may well need to reevaluate their opinions of the Mexican army’s generals. In spite of the fact that the work is obviously biased and at times blatantly unfair, Filisola makes valid points that will make one wonder if Urrea deserves the high respect that has been generally accorded him by Texan scholars.
Illustrations, one of the rarest books on American birds, established John Cassin (1813-1869) as the leading American ornithologist of his day. Now, in a superb facsimile edition from Wind River Press, Illustrations is available for less than the original subscription price nearly 140 years ago. Its value is enhanced by a new introduction by Robert McCracken Peck, who provides the first comprehensive biography of Cassin.
As the most prominent Tejano military figure during the war, and an important political figure thereafter, Seguín made enemies among the newly arriving Anglo-Americans unaware of the contributions of numerous Tejanos to the Texas cause. His opposition to land-grabbers in the San Antonio area and the machinations of political enemies while serving as mayor of San Antonio forced him to seek safety in Mexico, where he was impressed into military service. Among his controversial actions during his six-year exile were involvement in Gen. Adrián Woll’s occupation of San Antonio in September 1842 and command of a Mexican cavalry company during the Mexican War.
After his return to Texas in 1848, he became involved in San Antonio politics and was a founding member of the Bexar County Democratic Party. He served as an election precinct chairman and as Wilson County judge during Reconstruction before finally retiring in 1870 to Nuevo Laredo, where two of his sons had set up residence. He died in the Mexican border town in 1890.
Jesús F. de la Teja has written the most extensive biographical study yet done on this controversial Tejano, who deserves a place among the more familiar names in the litany of the illustrious patriots of the Texas Revolution. Here is a wealth of information for serious historians but, even more, a readable and informative account for any person interested in early Texas history. This reprint edition of the out-of-print classic contains a new introduction.
The Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862: The Accounts of Thomas Barrett and George Washington Diamond
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- George Washington Diamond, Thomas Barrett
In what may have been the single largest outbreak of vigilante violence in American history, forty suspected Unionists were hanged at Gainesville, Texas, in October 1862. Civil War tensions had been running high. The Cooke County community located just across the Red River from Indian Territory was split between natives of the Deep South who often supported the Confederacy and natives of the Upper South and Midwest who were sometimes indifferent or hostile to it. When active resistance to conscription into the Confederate army combined with long-running rumors of an invasion of North Texas by Kansas Jayhawkers and their Indian allies, many of the former decided action must be taken.
More than 150 suspected Unionists were arrested and put before a “citizen’s court” of twelve jurors. The trial was marked by acrimony and violence, which included the lynching of fourteen men by an angry mob. Minister Thomas C. Barrett served on that jury and attempted to mitigate the vengeful rage of his neighbors. He had some success in the matter, but after two high-profile assassinations, the hangings continued. His 1885 memoir of the trial and the hangings is collected in this volume. Also collected here is the account based on records of the citizen’s court completed in 1876 by George Washington Diamond, whose brother, James J. Diamond, helped organize the trial. Placed together in one volume, these writings offer important insight into the tensions that tore apart American communities during the Civil War era. Renowned Civil War historian Richard B. McCaslin provides an introduction, while L. D. Clark, a descendant of one of the men hanged, reveals the extent to which tensions remain in Gainesville even generations later.
The Reminiscences of Major General Zenas R. Bliss, 1854-1876: From the Texas Frontier to the Civil War and Back Again
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- Ben E. Pingenot, Jerry Thompson, Robert Wooster, Thomas Smith
Bliss's memoirs serve as a rare and important window into Texas' military, political, cultural, and geographical history. The memoirs cover Bliss's graduation at West Point in 1854, his antebellum service at Fort Duncan, Camp Hudson, and Fort Davis, as well as his return to the Texas frontier in 1870, and end with his duties at Fort Davis in 1876. Details also describe his capture by Texas Confederate forces in 1861, his tribulations as a prisoner of war, and his subsequent Civil War experiences as a Union regimental commander at Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, and Petersburg, where he was at the battle of the Crater. For gallantry at Fredericksburg, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While commanding buffalo soldiers at Fort Duncan in 1870, Bliss conceived the idea of enlisting Seminole-Negro Indians from Mexico as army scouts. After successfully lobbying the departmental commander and the War Department for approval, Bliss formed the first band of Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts in August of 1870. The unit served the army with extraordinary devotion and distinction until 1912.
Bliss served in Texas longer than any other army officer (twenty-three years) and rose in rank from second lieutenant to departmental commander. Possessing a keen sense of humor, an eye for detail, and a boisterous social nature, his lively account of the people and places of the antebellum and post-Civil War Texas frontier is among the very best of Texas history.
Here it is presented in English for the first time, along with more than fifty letters that Almonte wrote during his inspection. This documentation offers crucial new insights on Texas affairs and will change the way historians regard Mexico’s attitudes toward the foreign colonists and their revolution of 18351836.
When Santa Anna marched an army north to crush the Texas rebellion, Almonte was by his side as a special advisor. He kept a journal, lost at the Battle of San Jacinto, which is presented here with full annotation. Almonte’s role in the 1836 campaign is examined, as well as his subsequent activities that relate to Texas. Through Almonte’s Texas we gain an overdue appreciation of this man who played a leading role in the history of Texas and Mexico.
Fifty Miles and a Fight magnifies the brutal nature of the Texas Rangers, a portrayal not readily evident in other sources. Not only does Heintzelman, who was placed in command of the Brownsville Expedition with orders to crush Cortina, record his disdain and distrust of the Rangers, but also their indiscriminate killing of both mexicanos and tejanos. Heintzelman's journal, which reads like a Zane Grey thriller, provides a detailed and vivid account of the battles at El Ebonal and Rio Grande City as well as glimpses into the filibustering activities of the shadowy Knights of the Golden Circle, who were hoping to expand the Cortina War into a larger conflict that would lead to the eventual annexation of Mexico and the creation of a slave empire south of the Rio Grande. Heintzelman's impressions of his senior commander, Col. Robert E. Lee, are also noteworthy.
A real jewel of soldiering on the Southwestern frontier, Heintzelman's journal begins on a sunny and optimistic New Orleans day, April 17, 1859, with his family on its way to Texas, and ends on a depressingly cool and overcast December 31, 1861, also in the Crescent City, with secession fever sweeping the South and the nation on the verge of war.
This facsimile edition of the original 1856 printing of W. B. Parker's Notes Taken During the Expedition Commanded by Capt. R. B. Marcy, U.S.A., Through Unexplored Texas, in the Summer and Fall of 1854 balances romantic impressions with scientific fact.