Troubles on the Texas-Mexico border, 1877
Compiled by I. L. Villarta, as interim Mexican commissioner in Washington, D.C., this substantial record of diplomatic exchanges between Mexico and the United States concerns cross-border excursions by both the United States and Mexico, into the other’s territory. The report mainly focuses on incursions by U.S. military forces into Mexico under various pretexts and documents the diplomatic interaction sparked by each incident. These U.S. incursions, not well known except to specialist historians, include those led by MacKenzie (1873), Benavides (1874), McNelly (1875), and Shafter (1877). A Mexican raid into the U.S. is also mentioned, that of Valdés (1877).
During the Civil War, Native American raiders continued the decades-old practice of crossing the Rio Grande from South Texas into Mexico, causing significant damage in the northern Mexican states, especially Chihuahua. Theft of livestock, destruction of ranches, and loss of innocent lives plagued northern Mexican villages and ranches for a good part of the 19th century. Among the raiders were Kickapoo tribespeople who had migrated from the United States to Mexico some decades back. In an effort to defend Mexico's northern frontier against tribes like the Comanche and Kiowa, Mexico negotiated with the Kickapoos, granting them land and annuities. A group of Kickapoo leaders even visited Emperior Maximilian in the 1860s. By the post-Civil War era depredations in Texas originating from Mexico grew into a problem. The U.S. government acted covertly to control such raids.
The Remolino Raid stands as an important moment in the history of cross-border problems along the Texas-Mexico border. R. S. MacKenzie’s raid occurred on May 18, 1873, when his troops attacked several Native American villages at Remolino, Coahuila, in northern Mexico. U.S. troops were not normally permitted in Mexico, which was considered a violation of national sovereignty by the Mexican government. In 1873, property damage on the U.S. side, with livestock losses and other property losses caused by Kickapoos coming from Mexico, purportedly reached a staggering $48 million. In response President Grant ordered the Fourth United States Cavalry, led by Col. Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, to Fort Clark in the southern Rio Grande area in January 1873. On May 17, 1873, the raiders crossed the border and surprised the Kickapoo, Lipan, and Mescalero villages near Remolino, Mexico. A clear violation of Mexican sovereignty, Mackenzie's actions were praised by the Texas legislature as well as Secretary of War William Belknap and Gen. Philip H. Sheridan. In the aftermath, the Kickapoos agreed to return to the United States in exchange for the release of their people that had been captured by the U.S. By 1874, a majority of the tribe had resettled at Fort Sill in Indian Territory.
Details on the Refugio Benavides raid were fewer. Although Benavides did receive permission to cross into Mexico if necessary, it is not clear that he ever did so, although the permission granted him caused the diplomatic fracas discussed herein. William Rufus Shafter led three raids into Mexico against Native Americans between 1876 and 1878. Pedro Advíncula Valdés, (a.k.a. Colonel Winker), a Mexican force all to himself along the border with Texas, crossed the Rio Grande several times. McNelly’s raid took place in November, 1875, with the help of Captain Randlet, near Camargo. The whole affair was purportedly authorized by Texas Governor Richard Coke.
Quite rare in the market. Only two copies sold in the last twenty years per RBH.