Sunday, February 27, 2011

OCTOBER 28, 1863.--Mutiny of Vidal.

OCTOBER 28, 1863.--Mutiny of Vidal.[1]

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

  First Division, Army of Texas.

  HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, ARMY OF TEXAS,  Fort Brown, Tex., October 28, 1863.

  The Comdg. 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 Capt.'s 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 absolute 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,

  E. R. TARVER, Aide-de-Camp, and Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.



  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


  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 Regt. 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 Capt. Vidal by

  Privates Dashiell and Litteral, of Company A, Thirty-third Regt.

  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 Capt. 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 Dashiell, 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 Capt. Cummings. Ten men of the cavalry

  were dispatched, under Lieut. 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 Brig.-Gen. Slaughter, Col. Duff,

  Maj. [George A.] Magruder, jr., of the general's staff, and Capt.

  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;

  Capt. 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 Capt.

  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 Col. 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 Duff's 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 Gen. 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, Brig.-Gen., Provisional Army Confederate States.

 Capt. EDMUND P. TURNER, Assistant Adjutant-Gen., District of Texas, &c.



  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 mouth of

  the river, for reasons inexplicable to me, turned traitor to his country,

  and, at the head of his company, increased by addition 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

  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, Brig.-Gen., Provisional Army Confederate States.

  MATAMORAS, October 28, 1863.

  Gen. H. P. BEE, Fort Brown:

  SIR: With much regret I am informed by your letter of to-day of the

  rebellion of Capt. 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


  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


  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 officers, 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, Brig.-Gen., Provisional Army Confederate States.



  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 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, and hope in two weeks to be able to order the Thirty-third

  Regt. 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.

  Brig.-Gen. Slaughter will leave to-day for Houston. He is well

  posted on all matters here, and will personally explain to the general


  With great respect,

 H. P. BEE,  Brig.-Gen. Capt.

 EDMUND P. TURNER, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 26, pt. I,  pp.  447- 452.


[1] VIDAL, ADRIÁN J. (1840–1865). Adrián J. Vidal, soldier in both the Confederate and Union armies and insurrectionist with Juan N. Cortina in Mexico, the son of Col. Luis and Petra (Vela) Vidal, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, in 1840. After the death of his father, his mother took the boy to Mier. There she met the prosperous entrepreneur Mifflin Kenedy and later moved to Brownsville, where the two were married in 1852. As a young man Vidal learned to pilot steamboats on the Rio Grande with his stepfather but gained a reputation as a habitual gambler and drunkard. In 1860 he was living in Brownsville with his mother, stepfather, and eight brothers and sisters. He was only twenty-one when the Civil War engulfed the Rio Grande frontier. He enlisted as a private in a Confederate company in San Antonio in October 1862, was promoted to lieutenant and eventually captain, and was placed in command of a company of militia at Boca del Río to guard the entrance to the Rio Grande. He was recognized for bravery by Confederate authorities for his capture of a federal gunboat and crew there. Unable to obtain adequate supplies and clothing while in the Confederate Army and frustrated with his inability to communicate in English with his superiors, Vidal led a mutiny in October 1863. Gen. Hamilton P. Bee sent two privates to recall Vidal and his company to Brownsville. Private D. H. Dashiell, son of the Texas adjutant general, was killed, and Private Litteral was wounded. Litteral escaped and reported to Bee. The Confederate troops waited at Brownsville for Vidal's attack, but it never came. Vidal and his men passed within a mile of Brownsville and plundered neighboring ranches, where they killed several Confederate sympathizers

During the federal occupation of the lower Rio Grande valley in November 1863, Vidal enlisted in the Union Army along with many of the same men who had previously served with him in the Confederate Army. As a commissioned captain in command of "Vidal's Independent Partisan Rangers," the wily Vidal acted as the eyes of the Union Army in the Valley, scouting as far upriver as Roma and north to the Nueces. After continued struggle with the army bureaucracy, in which he experienced the sting of discrimination and was frustrated with his inability to keep the records required of a company commander, Vidal attempted to resign from the Union Army in May 1864, in order to join his family in Brownsville. By the time army headquarters finally consented to an honorable discharge, Vidal, with most of his men, had fled into Mexico. There he joined Cortina and the Juaristas to do battle with the Imperialists and quickly gained a reputation for summarily executing captives. In June 1865 he was captured by the Imperialists at Camargo. His stepfather was said to have gone to Camargo to offer a sizable ransom for Vidal's release, but Vidal was hastily executed. Kenedy brought his body back to Brownsville for burial.


Jerry Don Thompson, "Mutiny and Desertion on the Rio Grande: The Strange Saga of Captain Adrian J. Vidal," Military History of Texas and the Southwest 12 (1974). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Jerry Thompson


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