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    [The Maximilian Affair] Three Letters by Luis Galan, totaling 10pp., 8.25" x 10.5", Rosas, dated July 9th and 20th, and August 12, 1865, to Jesus de la Garza relaying news of the military, commerce, and intervention by the United States. In a the letter dated July 9, Galan informs de la Garza that the Texans are cooperating with Juan Nepomuceno Cortina: "... Word from Cortinas is that the forces of the north are at Matamoros on the other side of the river and they are going to attack the plaza [Matamoros], that he had a talk planned (on July 10th) with the American in command... says Mejia has 1500 men and Olvera and Lopes have about that many in Camargo... It is said that the government of the United States has asked Napoleon [III] to remove all his troops within three months or war will be declared by the United States on France..." He goes on to relay difficulties between two other Mexican military leaders who are organizing troops both with the same goals, but not in cooperation with one another. On July 20 he writes to say that it is a shame that robbery has become so prevalent in de la Garza's region [Musquiz] as a result of the Americans who were residing there as a result of leaving Texas. He relays news of the French army: "...word from Monterrey is that 400 French left for Matamoros, leaving only a garrison of 300... from Villaldama comes word that the Yankeys [sic] and Cortinas have occupied Matamoros... and from Monterrey there is news that 5000 French are on route from San Luis Potosi..." In his next letter, dated August 20, he writes: "... as of July 28th Escobado sent orders to Garza Melo from Soledad Hacienda, to march to Monterrey, where he is going with his forces... that his troops are in good shape, that by the 8th he will be in Linares... the President decided that the governor of Coahuila would take command of the state entirely independent of Nuevo Leon, naming Aguirre commander of the military... the garrison at Monterrey should be large by now with the troops from Saltillo plus 1000 under Lopez or Olvera from Matamoros..." In the same letter he notes with regards to commerce: "...I believe there are more sales now than when there was more traffic and more money... imports, not only for Piedras Negras but many of them coming from Texas which for 15 pesos paid under the table to an employee of customs gets them across... defrauding the government of duties... At Eagle Pass a large company of troops came from the North, were there a few days and returned to Laredo. In Brownsville there are fifteen thousand Negroes. Cortinas has his customs office established on the other side of the river in Brownsville where the dealers must go to pay duties, or otherwise risk what may befall them on the road..."

    In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juarez declared a cease to all interest payments made on European debts owed by Mexico; angering Great Britain, Spain and France. The United States was in the midst of the Civil War, leaving the path clear for France, under the rule of Napoleon III, to intervene and set up the puppet monarchy of Emperor Maximilian. Despite the common goal of wanting to rid themselves of foreign rule, the Mexican forces could not organize and ally themselves sufficiently to accomplish the task. This is interesting correspondence comes just after the end of the American Civil War, and speaks of a strange alliance between Mexican outlaw and folk hero Juan Nepomuceno Cortina (sometimes written Cortinas) and the American forces. Cortina would continue the struggle against the French in Central Mexico, and eventually bear witness to Maximilian's execution at Queretero.

    Juan Nepomuceno Cortina (1824-1894) was the son of an aristocratic family who had inherited a large grant in the Rio Grande valley, including the Brownsville region. During the Mexican American War he served under Mariano Arista during the battles of Resaca de la Palma and Palo Alto. After the war, he returned to the northern borderlands and would be indicted on at least two occasions for stealing cattle. Cortina lived by his own moral code and had earned the adoration of the Mexican populace for his empathy in their plight against Anglo rule that often found them stripped of their land because of ignorance of the law. During the Civil War, Cortina sometimes aided the Union army, which could explain why he is able to find support in the struggle against French forces as stated in these letters.

    Luis Galan was the son of Captain Juan Jose Galan. The Galan family were influential land owners along the border. This small archive represents a ground level view into the day-to-day goings on along the borders as the interests of the French, American, and Mexican forces collided. All three letters are very clean, with two having a bit of paper loss along right margin affecting a few words; otherwise near fine. From the Taking of Texas Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    14th Saturday
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