‘Confederates and Comancheros’ Book Review

Confederates and Comancheros: Skullduggery and Double-Dealing within the Texas–New Mexico Borderlands, by James Bailey Blackshear and Glen Pattern Ely, College of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2021, $32.95

Whereas the American Civil Warfare could have been a easy battle of blue in opposition to grey within the Japanese and Western theaters of operation, the trans-Mississippi West spanned a spread of extra difficult shades. In Confederates and Comancheros Texans James Blackshear and Glen Ely mix their analysis to concentrate on the borderlands between Union-controlled New Mexico Territory and the Accomplice state of Texas—to be extra particular, the roughly 1,800-square-mile space between the Rio Grande and the Canadian River, encompassing the Pecos River and the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains), the place few aside from Comanches and Kiowas dared enterprise.

Including one other wild card to the deck was Mexico, caught up in a warfare of its personal between Austrian-born Emperor Maximilian’s backers and Mexican republicans below Benito Juárez. Amid these contending sides, exploiting the chaos to steal from or commerce with any and all events, have been bands of freebooters referred to as the Comancheros.

Within the wake of Accomplice Brig. Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley’s failed 1862 invasion of New Mexico Territory, Union Brig. Gen. James Henry Carleton arrived in drive that August to put New Mexico Territory and Texas’ trans-Pecos below martial legislation. Though the territory’s predominately Mexican-American inhabitants had already had their fill of Texan invasions since 1841, there remained sufficient secessionist sympathizers to assist such Insurgent spies because the aptly named Henry Skillman from reconnoitering either side of the border regardless of Union efforts to catch him, all in hoped-for preparation of a renewed Texan effort that by no means materialized. Navy exercise within the territory centered on skirmishes with the Indians and pursuit of the Comancheros, each of whom discovered their most worthwhile forex within the cattle drives they raided—the Comancheros usually including to their beef inventory by way of commerce with the Indians in firearms and items.

Maybe the largest shock Confederates and Comancheros has to supply is a listing of Comancheros, their workers and bondholders, revealing that these “renegade” bands, when not stealing, rustling or kidnapping, have been fencing their ill-gotten items to patrons on both aspect the Pecos. The Comancheros have been partaking so broadly in such exercise, each on and off the books, as to make them an integral a part of the regional economic system. Altering occasions lastly caught up with them, nevertheless, with the defeats of the Confederacy in 1865 and lingering Indian resistance within the late 1870s. By the Eighteen Eighties Quahadi Comanche warfare chief Quanah Parker was a cattle baron himself, siding with New Mexican authorities and the revamped Texas Rangers in shutting down the Comancheros for good.

—Jon Guttman

Confederates and comancheros

Skullduggery and Double-Dealing within the Texas–New Mexico Borderlands

By James Bailey Blackshear and Glen Pattern Ely

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