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 Confederates, at war's end, flee to Mexico

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MessageSujet: Confederates, at war's end, flee to Mexico    Mar 21 Fév - 22:15

By Murphy Givens
Posted December 14, 2011 at 3 a.m.



CORPUS CHRISTI — After Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a group of Confederate officers decided to ask for volunteers to cross the Rio Grande, conquer the country up to the Sierra Madre mountains, then form their own government.

The officers asked Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner to command them. As Buckner delayed in giving an answer, the Confederate troops drifted away, most returning home, and there were no volunteers for the Sierra Madre venture. Several Confederate officers decided to go anyway.

In Austin, Gov. Pendleton Murrah, the 10th governor of Texas, discussed a plan of exile with Gen. Alexander Watkins Terrell on June 17, 1865. They feared the victorious Yankees would exact revenge against Confederates of high rank.

During the war, Terrell led the 34th Texas Cavalry — Terrell's Texas Cavalry — in the Red River Campaign in northern Louisiana.

When Terrell's party left for Mexico, Gov. Murrah, though he was in bad health, went along. He died of consumption at Monterrey on Aug. 4. At San Antonio, the Texas Confederates joined others fleeing into exile from Louisiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. The Confederate refugees included prominent politicians, such as Gov. Henry Allen of Louisiana, Thomas Reynolds of Missouri, former Governors Trusten Polk of Missouri, Charles Morehead of Kentucky, Thomas Moore of Louisiana, and Edward Clark, who completed Sam Houston's term as governor in 1861.

Besides Terrell, there were several Confederate generals and colonels, including J.B. Magruder, William Hardeman, Wilburn King, all from Texas. There were also Sterling Price, E. Kirby Smith, Thomas Hindman of Arkansas, William Preston of Kentucky. From South Texas, there were Gen. Hamilton Bee and Col. P.N. Luckett. Many prominent families also went south, some with their slaves.

When Terrell's party reached Roma, they learned that Union cavalry was approaching with orders to capture or kill Confederates trying to enter Mexico. They raced to reach a ford on the river above Roma ahead of Union pursuit and crossed into Mexico.

Henry Maltby's newspaper, The Ranchero, which had been at Corpus Christi but was moved to Matamoros, reported on July 23, 1865, that "a large number of distinguished Confederates have passed through Monterrey for the city of Mexico." Gov, Murrah, before he died, gave Terrell a letter of introduction to Maximilian, the French-imposed emperor of Mexico. Murrah asked Maximilian for consideration for Terrell and William Hardeman, who were instructed to look for a suitable place where Confederate exiles could settle.

Gen. Terrell rode to Mexico City, stayed at the Hotel Iturbide, and was granted an audience with Maximilian at the emperor's residence at Chapultepec Castle. Maximilian gave him the rank equivalent to colonel in the French army in Mexico. Gen. Magruder, George Flournoy, and William Hardeman, known as "Gotch," also served in Maximilian's army. In respect to Terrell's mission, Maximilian opened Mexico to colonization by former Confederates. He granted them freedom of worship, exempted them from paying taxes for a year, and offered each head of family 640 acres. He even allowed them to keep their slaves in an "apprenticeship."

Confederates in exile found various occupations in Mexico. Wilburn Hill King, who also fought in the Red River campaign, began a sugar plantation. Gov. Henry Allen of Louisiana established an English-language newspaper called the Mexican Times. Matthew Maury, the first naval officer of the Confederacy, was appointed commissioner of colonization. John Henry Brown, the later historian, was chosen to survey lands for colonization.

Hamilton Bee planted cotton. Sterling Price built a bamboo house and tried his hand at becoming a coffee planter.

The most prominent Confederate colony was at Villa Carlota, named for the Emperor's wife, west of Veracruz on the road to Mexico City. It was described as a poverty-stricken village of crudely made clapboard houses and crumbling adobe, with loose pigs foraging in the yards. Many Confederate expatriates lived in the vicinity. Another colony was at Tuxpan, between San Luis Potosi and Tampico. Other Texas families located in Monterrey, Saltillo and Mexico City.

J. Williamson Moses, a former Ranger and a mustanger in South Texas, went to work operating a steam engine at a sawmill near Saltillo. In his memoirs, Moses wrote that there were many Texas families living in Mexico after the war. "We did sometimes hear the English language and could bring up home subjects." Moses found the people of Mexico "generally, almost universally, kind and considerate," though it was a dangerous, unstable time.

Maximilian's regime, backed by French forces, was under attack by Benito Juárez and his ally Porfirio Diaz. The former Confederates had to move cautiously in the conflict. Terrell heard that an agreement had been reached between U.S. President Andrew Johnson and Napoleon III of France. Napoleon, they heard, had agreed to withdraw all French forces in Mexico supporting Maximilian if the United States would not intervene to enforce the Monroe Doctrine.

That would leave Terrell and other Confederates in Maximilian's army with the choice of leaving with the French or becoming subject to the tender mercies of Juárista soldiers. The Confederates were also dismayed by Maximilian's so-called Black Decree, which ordered the imperialist army to shoot all armed Juáristas within 24 hours of their capture.

In the fighting, Maximilian was cornered and captured at Querétaro. He died on June 19, 1867, before a firing squad at Cerro de las Campanas — "Hill of the Bells." Most Confederate exiles returned to the U.S. Having backed Maximilian, they were the losers in another civil war — and exiled a second time.

Terrell slipped out of Mexico posing as "Colonel Monroe." He wore a sombrero and faded gray uniform and returned to Texas. This returning Confederate exile went on to a distinguished career. He was elected to the Texas Legislature, authored legislation to build a new state capitol, served as U.S. envoy to the Ottoman Empire and, as a university regent, became known as the father of the University of Texas. Terrell died in 1912 and was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin.

Voir le site en ligne : http://www.caller.com/news/2011/dec/14/confederates-at-wars-end-flee-to-mexico/
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