Col. Santos Benavides
Hispanics served in Confederate units such as the Benavides Regiments, commanded by Colonel Santos Benavides and the 10th Texas Cavalry,
commanded by Major Leonides M. Martin.
According to the historian Jerry Don Thompson, significant numbers of Hispanics also served in the 55th Alabama Infantry, Manigault's Battalion of South Carolina Artillery, 6th Missouri Infantry, the Chalmetle Regiment of Louisiana Infantry, and the Second Texas Mounted Rifles. Other Confederate unites which contained large numbers of Hispanics included Vigil's Independent Companies - Cavalry, the Louisiana Zouaves 1st Florida Cavalry, the Spanish Legion of the European Brigade, the Spanish Guard (part of the Home Guard of Mobile, Alabama), and four independent New Mexico militia companies known by their commanders names (Gonzales, Martinez, Tafolla, and Perea). Also see 1st Florida Cavalry, Confederate Army and Captain Joseph De La Garza Confederate Army from San Antonio.
An estimated 2,550 fought in the ranks of the Confederacy.
After the hasty retreat of the bulk of the Confederate forces from the lower Rio Grande Valley, the only sizable Rebel force remaining to defend the area around Laredo, Texas was commanded by Colonel Santos Benavides. This unit was better known as the "Benavides Regiment."
Santos Benavides, the son of José Jesús and Margarita (Ramón) Benavides, was born on November 1, 1823 in Laredo, Texas. and was a great-great-grandson of Tomas Sanchez de la Barrera y Garza who founded Laredo. As a young man he first tasted the sting of battle during Mexico's Federalist-Centralist wars which ravaged the Rio Grande Valley from 1838 to 1840. In 1856 he became Major of Loredo and at the time of the Civil War, he had become a leading politician and financial figure in the area. He rose quickly in the Confederate ranks from Captain to Colonel. Commanding his own regiment, he was the highest ranking Mexican-American in the Confederate Army. although Generals Hamilton Lee, Slaughter, and Magruder recommended promotion for Benavides to Brigadier General, Colonel John "Rip" Ford was against such a decision, feeling it would diminish his role in the Rio Grande exploits.
In March of 1864, Confederate brigadier General Hamilton P. Lee asked Colonel benavides to ride to Brownsville to save the 100 man post which was under siege from elements of the Union's XIII Corps. Included in this group was the 2nd Texas Union Calvary, a Brownsville unit newly formed of Unionist Mexican-Texans. the 33rd Calvary commanded by Colonel Benavides rose to the occasion, and drove the Union forces back. A month after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appamatox, the Civil War ended for Santos Benavides, his two courageous brothers, and the Mexican-Texans of the Lone Star State. "Tejanos" (As the Mexican Americans from Texas are called) had been among the first to take up arms for the Confederacy and were among the last to surrender.
Note: It should not be forgotten that many more Hispanics served as non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. It should be emphasized that since Confederate records are frequently fragmentary, this list of officers
certainly is not complete. The following includes officers serving in State units as well as those in regular CSA units. A few names may appear twice, if they served in more than one unit, been promoted, or if there were two soldiers by the same name. For a much more complete listing of Hispanic Confederates
(officers and enlisted men), see a roster (ninety pages) compiled by Cuban exile, John O'Donnell-Rosales, (also a descendant of a Hispanic Confederate and member of the SCV). It has been called "a must for genealogist", especially if Texas, Lousiana, and Florida are your areas of interest. To get your own copy,
order from: Clearfield Company, Inc., 200 E. Eager Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 or call (410) 625-9004. Request book number 9362. "You can send a check or call and use your credit card. Cost is $18.00 plus shipping ($3.50 first book, $1.25 each additional book). MD add 5% sales tax, MI add 6% sales tax.". (Ordering
information given only as a courtesy, we make no benefit from sales)
One special addition to this list, even though he has no Hispanic last name, is the Cuban revolutionary journalist John Thrasher, who was Superintendant of the Confederate Press Association. He had an American father and a Cuban mother. This and other information on Hispanic Confederates comes from Sterling Price Camp member Darryl Brock. Like John Thrasher, Darryl is of mixed Anglo-Hispanic roots (Puerto Rico) and has taken up the pen for the cause of the South. His upcoming book, "Hispanics of the Gray and Blue", due out in 1999, will bring light on a subject that has been far too long neglected. His fact sheet, by the same title, is a preview of some of that material.
2nd Lt. Julien J. Acosta, Co I 8th Florida Infantry
Hispanic Surnamed Missouri Confederates
Pvt. Ferdinand Alvarez is listed as serving in both Co A, Boone's Reg't, Missouri Mounted Infantry and Co. G, 9th Missouri Infantry. Ferdinand
Alavarez was reportably a resident of St. Louis according to an article in the "St. Louis Republican". The article list Alvarez, as one of the 49 Confederate Guerillas, under command of Capt. Nathaniel Ferguson, that was captured 20 Aug 1862 near Manchester (along Meramec River in St. Louis County)(There is also
a Pvt. F. A. Alvarez, which may be the same individual, that served in Von Phul's Company, Missouri Light Artillery).
"Hispanics in Gray and Blue"
This fact sheet is prepared by the Education Committee of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for distribution by its members to professors, teachers, librarians, principals, superintendents, ethnic leaders, city officials, members of the press, and other groups interested in promoting an understanding of Hispanic contributions to United States history. The SCV hopes this information will enrich the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This sheet may be freely copied and distributed without permission or notice; if republished in part or whole, please credit the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
• The Cuban patriot Narciso López approached Mexican War heroes Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee in 1848 with the request to head a liberation army to free Cuba from Spain -- Lee seriously considered the offer, but turned it down.
• José Agustín Quintero, a Cuban poet and revolutionary, ably served Confederate President Jefferson Davis as the C.S. Commissioner to Northern Mexico, ensuring critical supplies from Europe flowed through Mexican ports to the CSA.
• Santiago Vidaurri, governor of the border states of Coahuila and Nuevo León, offered to secede northern Mexico and join the Confederacy; Jefferson Davis declined, afraid the valuable "neutral" Mexican ports would be then blockaded.
• The Spanish inventor Narciso Monturiol offered the Confederacy his advanced submarine Ictineo to smash the Federal blockade. Never purchased, Jules Verne apparently based the Nautilus on this, the world's most advanced vessel of the day.
• Ambrosio José González, a famous Cuban revolutionary, served Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard as his artillery officer in Charleston; earlier, in New York, he helped design the modern Cuban and (inversed) Puerto Rican flags.
• The Mexican Santos Benavides, a former Texas ranger, commanded the Confederate 33rd Texas Cavalry, a Mexican- American unit which defeated the Union in the 1864 Battle of Laredo, Texas. He became the only Mexican C.S. colonel.
• Thomas Jordan, a Confederate general responsible for early codes used in spying on Washington, after the war led the Cuban revolutionary army as Commander-in-Chief, training its generals and in 1870 routing the Spaniards at two-to-one odds.
• Lola Sanchez, of a Cuban family living near St. Augustine, had her sisters serve dinner to visiting Federals, while she raced out at night and warned the nearest Confederate camp. The Yankees thus lost a general, his unit and a gunboat the next day.
• Loretta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban woman, claimed to have fought in the war disguised as a Confederate soldier, Lt. Harry Buford. She chronicled her amazing and harrowing adventures in an account called The Woman in Battle.
• James Hamilton Tomb, a Confederate engineer on the innovative semi-submarine ship David, accepted a post-war offer from the Brazilian emperor as technical expert on torpedoes (submarine mines) in the Paraguayan War of 1865-1870.
• Hunter Davidson, a Confederate torpedo (submarine mine) scientist, assumed the head of the Argentine Torpedo and Hydrographic Bureau for some years, training its leadership, and retired to Asunción, Paraguay, where he is buried.
• John Randolph Tucker, head of the Charleston Confederate Naval Squadron, accepted a post-war position as Vice-Admiral heading the combined Peruvian-Chilean fleets in a Pacific conflict against Spanish coastal incursions.
• John Newland Maffitt, who before the war captured illegal slave-trading ships, served the Confederacy as the CSS Florida's commander. Afterwards, he served in the Paraguayan war and commanded the Cuban gun-runner Hornet.
• Thomas Jefferson Page, a Confederate naval commander who learned of the war's end in Cuba after sailing the ironclad CSS Stonewall from Spain, settled in Argentina, his son becoming an Argentine naval commander, his grandson an admiral.
• Mexican service influenced Confederate general Stonewall Jackson; he often spoke Spanish endearments to his wife, Anna. • After the war, many prominent governors and other Confederates established a colony, Carlotta, in Mexico.
More Info? Check Out These Fine Books
• Richard H. Bradford, The Virginius Affair, 1980
• Light Townsend Cummins, Spanish Observers and the American Revolution, 1775-1783, 1991
• James W. Daddysman, The Matamoros Trade: Confederate Commerce, Diplomacy and Intrigue, 1984
• Ella Lonn, Foreigners in the Confederacy, 1965 (reprint, 1940 edition)
• Andrew Rolle, The Lost Cause: The Confederate Exodus to Mexico, 1965
• Ronnie C. Tyler, Santiago Vidaurri and the Southern Confederacy, 1973
• Frank de Varona (ed.), Hispanic Presence in the United States: Historical Beginnings, 1993
• David Werlich, Admiral of the Amazon: John Randolph Tucker - His Confederate Colleagues and Peru, 1990