Confederates and Comancheros
Skullduggery and Double-Dealing in the Texas–New Mexico Borderlands
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
288 Pages | 6 x 9 | 10 b&w illus., 4 maps; 1 table
In 1862, the Confederates abandoned New Mexico Territory and Texas west of the Pecos River, fully expecting to return someday. Meanwhile, administered by Union troops under martial law, the region became a hotbed of Rebel exiles and spies, who gathered intelligence, disrupted federal supply lines, and plotted to retake the Southwest. Using a treasure trove of previously unexplored documents, authors James Bailey Blackshear and Glen Sample Ely trace the complicated network of relationships that drew both Texas cattlemen and Comancheros into these borderlands, revealing the urban elite who were heavily involved in both the legal and illegal transactions that fueled the region’s economy.
Confederates and Comancheros deftly weaves a complex tale of Texan overreach and New Mexican resistance, explores cattle drives and cattle rustling, and details shady government contracts and bloody frontier justice. Peopled with Rebels and bluecoats, Comanches and Comancheros, Texas cattlemen and New Mexican merchants, opportunistic Indian agents and Anglo arms dealers, this book illustrates how central these contested borderlands were to the history of the American West.
“Comancheros, the New Mexico merchants who traded, often illegally with Comanches and other Southern Plains nations, have been highly fictionalized over the years. But. James Bailey Blackshear and Glen Sample Ely, historians knowns for their works about frontier Texas and New Mexico, correct that oversight and in the process deliver a highly readable and detailed look at the mostly illicit trade. With impeccable scholarship, the authors focus on the Civil War era and provide a lively look at assorted characters, few of them completely reputable, and put the dealings, shootings, legal procedures, raids, spies, killings and cattle drives in perspective. Along the way, Blackshear and Ely also correct some longstanding myths. Fascinating and a whole lot of fun to read. “—Western Writers of America, The Roundup
“James Blackshear and Glen Ely’s collaboration on the complicated struggle for control of the Texas-New Mexico borderlands in the Civil War era does much to illuminate the complex webs of conflict and cooperation among the various groups living on and around the Llano Estacado. Part economic history, part military history, and part ethnography, the work seeks to restore the Comancheros, largely Hispanic merchants and herders who traded extensively with the Comanche empire, to their rightful place in history…anyone interested in the far reaches of the Civil War in the Texas-New Mexico borderlands will benefit from a careful reading of Confederates and Comancheros. Both authors are to be commended for using their extensive expertise in the region to draw back the curtain on the economic activity that motivated many of the actions and reactions in the theater. The book further proves that the Civil War and the subsequent conquest of the American West are two acts that cannot be disentangled in the historical record, and will remain forever linked in history just as strongly as the disparate communities the enterprising Comancheros bound together."—H-Net Reviews