War of the Rebellion: Serial 041 Page 0440 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX.

Search Civil War Official Records

CHAP. XXXVIII.

small garrison by Vidal, who it was supposed was acting in concert with the hundreds of renegades and deserters harbored on the other side of the Rio Grande.

A detachment of 10 men of Company A, under Lieutenant [J. R.] Vinton, was immediately sent on the River road, to ascertain the whereabouts of Vidal and his party, with orders not to engaged him, but to fall back and report. At 10 o'clock Lieutenant Vinton returned, and reported that he had been pursued by a party of at least 70 men to within half a mile of the post. I formed all the men under my command, and found the whole number not more than 30, exclusive of Captain Cummings' company of six-months' volunteers, in whom I had but little faith, and who were placed to watch the main ferry at the Garritta. Immediate steps were taken by the general, the major, and myself to get as many of the citizens of Brownsville under arms as possible, and in a short time they responded to the number of something more than 100, prominent among whom were several influential citizens from the interior.

In a short time arms were placed in the hands of all who were without any, ammunition was issued, the two siege guns were placed in position and manned, and a detachment was sent to watch the renegades at Freeport. All the cavalry were used in throwing a line of pickets around the town, and 3 different couriers were sent by different roads to overtake and order immediately back the three companies of my regiment that had moved that morning. Vidal and his party having ascertained that his approach was discovered, moved off, and, as was learned next morning, crossed the river into Mexico some 9 miles above town, after having committed several atrocious murders on unoffending citizens and soldiers.

In connection with the escape of Vidal, I would say that had the cavalry force, small as it was, been still in the garrison, he would certainly have been captured and his party annihilated. By daylight the three companies returned to the post, and were immediately dispatched in various directions to try and cut off Vidal, but, as already stated, without success. One of the scouts under Captain Taylor, arriving at the point at which he crossed within a few minutes after he had done so, evidence enough was there given to show that we could depend but little upon the assistance of the authorities of Tamaulipas, as Captain Taylor saw on the other bank a large body of cavalry, composed, as was afterward ascertained, of renegades and deserters from Bexas and other counties in Texas. Captain Taylor's party was entirely too small to attempt the crossing of the river in the face of this command, and he returned to the garrison.

Information having been received by the brigadier-general commanding that an attempt would be made on the night of the 29th to capture the town and post of Fort Brown, by a combined movement on the part of all the Yankee sympathizers in and about Matamoras, the day of the 29th was spent in perfecting the arrangements to raise a force to meet the attempt, and that night the citizens again volunteered nobly, and by 10 o'clock my command was in position, and numbered, all told, about 300 men. Each man was eager for the fray, and had the authorities of Matamoras not prevented the crossing of the horde quartered in their city, I am satisfied the whole party would have been destroyed. During the succeeding days, the 30th and 31st October, and 1st November, citizens and soldiers were kept under arms; the whole country was in a state of excitement; Cummings' company showed that little or no dependence could be placed upon them, and I was satisfied that we were