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Barthelow Bee Cortinas Cruz Cummings Dashiell Duff King Litteral Magruder Rabb Robinson Ruiz Tarver Viadal Vinton Winston

Report of Mutiny of Adrian V. Vidal, Fort Brown, Texas.

Reports of Brig. Gen. H. P. Bee, C. S. Army, commanding First Division, Army of Texas.

Fort Brown, Tex., October 28, 1863.

The Commanding Officer, Ringgold Barracks:
SIR: I am directed by the brigadier-general commanding to inform you that the company of Capt. A. I. Vidal, led by him in person, have proved themselves base traitors, and have rebelled against the military and civil authorities of our country, and, after murdering several inoffensive citizens and 2 of their comrades, have passed up the river, forcing the rancheros on the roads into their ranks, and have raised once more the standard of the traitor Cortinas.

Under these circumstances, the brigadier-general commanding directs that you use your utmost endeavor to arrest their further progress, and, if possible, to capture them. Their numbers are supposed to be at present about 60. I am also further directed by the brigadier-general commanding to say that-in case the companies of Captains Robinson and Rabb have left their stations, pursuant to late instructions, that you dispatch an express after them, with orders to countermarch immediately to this (Fort Brown) point, and, if practicable, to take the River road, and, if necessary and possible, act in conjunction with the troops from this point.

In conclusion, I am directed to remind you of the absolnte necessity of prompt action in this matter, and that he expects vigilance and energy from all the officers and men of this command; that this attempt at insurrection may be speedily crushed out, and a proper punishment meted out to the traitors.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

Aide-de-Camp, and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


Fort Brown, Tex., October 28, 1863.

SIR: I hasten to lay before the major-general commanding a history of the grave events which have kept the garrison and city under arms for two days and nights. I premise by saying that I was aware of a feverish state of public feeling on both sides of the river, arising from the local political questions in Matamoras as well as the question of French intervention, but I did not imagine that either of these ideas was used as a cloak by other parties to cover a design for the capture of this garrison.

You are aware that I have had a company of Mexican citizens, under command of Capt. Adrian I. Vidal, stationed at the mouth of the Rio Grande, which has done good service. Owing to the march of the Thirty-third Regiment and the light battery, it became necessary to order that company into Fort Brown, leaving only a picket of observation. On Tuesday [Monday], the 26th, the three companies of cavalry marched--the light battery having preceded it several days. Toward evening of that day, renewed orders were sent to Captain Vidal by Privates Dashiell and Litteral, of Company A, Thirty-third Regiment. Soon after dark, I was informed confidentially that I was to be attacked during the night by men from below, consisting of Vidal's company and renegades and deserters from Matamoras. In half an hour after, Litteral arrived at headquarters most grievously wounded (shot through the face), and informed me that about 14 miles below he met Captain Vidal with his whole company, some 60 men, and delivered his orders. The two men of Company A then countermarched with the command, which halted at a ranch some 2 miles on the march. Vidal there dismounted the command to get supper, when instantly a fire was opened on these two soldiers, killing IDashiell, and wounding, as stated, Litteral, who fortunately made his escape and reached me. I found myself with but 19 men of Company A and a volunteer company of citizens, under Captain Cummings. Ten men of the cavalry were dispatched, under Lieutenant Vinton, to proceed on the road to the mouth of the river, and ascertain the truth of this statement. I then called on the citizens of Brownsville to rally to my aid, but before anything like an approximation to organization or order could be made, the pickets under Vinton were driven in to within 1 mile of the town.

Fully satisfied, then, that Vidal and his whole company were traitors, I, with the able assistance of Brigadier-General Slaughter, Colonel Duff, Major [George A] Magruder, jr., of the general's staff and Captain Winston, was enabled, with the cordial assistance of the citizens, to get the two heavy guns into a favorable position, and something like order and organization among the men. Couriers were immediately sent to recall the three companies of cavalry encamped on Palo Alto Prairie, and the night passed off with every available man I could arm standing in line of battle. By 12 o'clock to-day I became satisfied that my enemy was Vidal's company alone, increased by a few rancheros from either side, and by this time the excitement has quieted down, although the citizens are all on duty to-night.

I regret to say that, as far as heard from, the following are the victims of this infamous young traitor: Dashiell, a gallant young soldier, the son of the respected and accomplished adjutant-general of the State of Texas; Captain King, who for many years lived at Galveston, and was incarcerated for months during this war at Fort Lafayette; Mr. Barthelow, former sheriff of Cameron County and a member of Captain Cummings' company; Mr. Cruz, a trustworthy friend of his country, much esteemed, and Litteral, wounded.

I promptly notified Governor Ruiz, of Tamaulipas, of this occurrence, and herewith inclose his reply, which I am sure will give pleasure to the general, as evincing prompt and cordial efforts to render us assistance. I am happy to state that Colonel Cortinas has up to this time captured 22 of Vidal's party, who had crossed the river, and has them prisoners.

I am confident that it was Vidal's determination to attack and plunder Brownsville, and I also believe that there existed a plan to aid the movement with the renegades and disaffected on both sides of the river, and that the plan was frustrated by the impetuosity of Vidal, who mistook by one day the departure of Duffs command. That it was settled to take advantage of the weak garrison and slaughter it, I have no doubt.

Under all these circumstances, I have taken the responsibility of retaining the companies of the Thirty-third ordered to the interior, and shall keep them here until I hear from the general commanding.

The fact that the warehouses are filled with valuable supplies for the army, awaiting transportation (all of which is used as fast as it comes); that the valuable trade in cotton would cease in a short time from the danger of its transportation on the adjacent roads, connected with the many elements of danger from the traitors in Matamoras and the disaffected on this side of the river, satisfies me that when the troops are removed the trade should also be removed, and that the commanding general can form no idea of the critical condition of things here. Owing to these causes, I have taken this responsibility with every confidence that I have done right.

I really had but 19 soldiers last night when my pickets were run in, and yet millions of property, invaluable to the soldiers of our army, and the plunder of the city was the stake for which Vidal played.

I am sustained in my action by the opinion of General Slaughter and the officers who have lately arrived from the interior, and trust it may meet the approval of the commanding general.

Prompt measures are being taken to follow Vidal, and crush this movement before it becomes an organization, and I hope to do it.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

H. P. BEE,
Brigadier-General, Provisional Army Confederate States.

Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Texas



Fort Brown, Tex., October 28, 1863.

His Excellency Brig. Gen. MANUEL RUIZ,
Governor of the State of Tamaulipas, Matamoras, Mexico:
SIR: I hasten to inform you of the occurrences of last night in this vicinity, believing, as I do, that they involve the peace of both sides of the river.

Capt. Adrian I. Vidal, who commanded a company at the month of the river, for reasons inexplicable to me, turned traitor to his country, and, at the head of his company, increased by additions from the lower ranches on both sides of the river, marched upon Brownsville, with the avowed intention of plunder and rapine, He passed within. 1 mile of town about 3 o'clock this morning, and will seek, perhaps, to cross the river into Mexico. I have sent all my available cavalry in pursuit, and, with great respect, request that you will dispatch troops to intercept him, should he do so. I am satisfied that this movement is connected with incipient, or, perhaps, matured plans for a renewal of the scenes of which Matamoras was the victim two years ago. I am certain that one who would violate his allegiance, to plunder his own people, would not be likely to be more lenient in a foreign country, and the cause of humanity and justice both appeal for prompt and united action. I will cheerfully co-operate with you in this as every other occasion concerning the quiet of this frontier.

Since writing the above, I am informed that two parties of Americans left Matamoras early this morning, and took the direction of up the river. They are known to be men who were supported by the consul of the United States at Matamoras, and, although they may be engaged in their proper business, it is possible that they seek to violate the neutrality of Mexico by joining with Vidal for depredations on this side of the river. May I ask you to inquire into it?

With great respect, your obedient servant,

H. P. BEE,
Brigadier-General, Provisional Army Confederate States.

October 28, 1863.

General H. P. BEE,
Fort Brown:
SIR: With much regret I am informed by your letter of to-day of the rebellion of Captain Vidal and his company, which took place last night at the mouth of the river. I at once gave orders that all the troops on the line should unite in pursuing the insurrectionists, and from this city will immediately set forth two detachments of cavalry to reconnoiter the left bank of the Rio Grande.

Do not doubt that I am resolved to sustain public order as the best means we can take on this frontier for the security of its inhabitants, following without resting all who seek to disturb it, and severely punishing them according to our laws.

Of all circumstances that transpire it will give me pleasure to inform you, and you will greatly oblige me by giving me prompt notice of what you may learn, that the combined effort of our forces may give the best results.

I am, general, with great respect and esteem, your obedient servant,



Fort Brown, Tex., October 30, 1863.

His Excellency Brig. Gen. MANUEL RUIZ, Governor of the State of Tamaulipas, Matamoras, Mexico:
SIR: I am credibly informed that--thanks to the vigilance and activity of the troops under your command--a portion of the band of Vidal, which crossed into Mexico, have been captured.

I have the honor to inclose a summary of the investigations conducted before the mayor of the city,* and in the name of humanity, in the name of the desolate wives and orphan children that the desolating tracks of this vandal have caused, and especially in the name of the best interests of the people on both sides of the Rio Grande, do I ask that you will cause these murderers to be delivered up to me. The victims number at least 10, but so far there has been but time to examine into the causes of the deaths of King and Dashiell.

The list of names sent is necessarily imperfect, and should there be prisoners not on the list, I will furnish you the proofs of their complicity with Vidal, if you will send me their names. The papers herewith sent, being originals, I request will be returned after they have served their purpose.

It is reported that Vidal himself is in Matamoras. May I ask that you will cause him to be found, if there?

I beg leave to express the thanks of the people of this city and myself for the cordial support which has been extended to me by you in this unfortunate affair, and, while I rely with confidence on a continuance of these good offices, I assure you of my earnest intention to shield and protect the innocent while I will punish the guilty.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

H. P. BEE, Brigadier-General,
Provisional Army Confederate States.

*-Not Found

Fort Brown, October 31, 1863.

SIR: The Vidalistas have dispersed; over 20 have been captured by Cortinas, under the orders of Governor Ruiz. Vidal himself is hiding in Matamoras. The danger of the effects of this outbreak has passed. I have offered a large reward for the capture of Vidal, which, I trust, the general will indorse, as the effect of his prompt punishment would be all-important. This outbreak has been potent in its lessons to us. I offer the following suggestions: That an order issue prohibiting the crossing of cotton at any point on the Rio Grande below Laredo--make it absolute; all goods now in Matamoras for Government account to be forwarded as rapidly as possible, and no more to be received there; make Eagle Pass the point of delivery; as soon as this can be done, withdraw the troops and guard the upper line. The road by King's ranch will be impracticable for ox-wagons after this month; it is even so now, as there is no grass. I shall act on these suggestions so far as the goods here are concerned, amid hope in two weeks to be able to order the Thirty-third Regiment into the interior. This post can be defended against internal and external enemies, but, when the Yankees are added, the force will be destroyed. They will find an enemy in every thicket, and, therefore, the sooner they get away the better, as it is not in the power of the general to defend all of the State.

Brigadier-General Slaughter will leave to-day for Houston. He is well posted on all matters here, aud will personally explain to the general commanding.

With great respect,

H. P. BEE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

SOURCE: Official Records, Series 1, Volume 26, Part 1.

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