Description[Cortina Wars]. John S. "Rip" Ford's Manuscript Copy of Orders Received During the Cortina War. One page, 8" x 12", Fort Brown [Texas], "Head Quarters Brownsville Expedition," December 17, 1859. Orders directing Texas Rangers, along with Federal troops, to spread out north and east of Brownsville in search of rebel leader Juan Cortina during the Cortina War.
Major Samuel Heintzelman issued these "Orders No. 1" to Major Rip Ford, Captain William Tobin, and Captain George Stoneman. According to the orders, "Major Ford and Captain Tobin of the Texas Rangers" had "expressed a desire to co-operate with the U.S. troops in the operations against the marauders under Cortinas." Thus, as Major Heintzelman ordered, the "following arrangements will go into effect."
These arrangements stipulated that Tobin was to "proceed with sixty men toward Point Isabel, and attack and disperse any men he may meet in a hostile attitude," while Ford was to "take sixty men and proceed to the Fresnos, and there intercept any who may attempt to escape in that direction." Meanwhile, Captain George Stoneman of the U.S. 2nd Cavalry was to move to Las Norias. The orders also list the amount of rations each group was to take (Tobin, five days rations; Ford and Stoneman, four days rations each), as well as times of departure (e.g., Ford was to leave "at dark").
These orders were given only days after Major Heintzelman and his Federal troops arrived in the lower Rio Grande Valley in response to hostile activities led by Juan Cortina. Cortina, accusing the Anglos of seizing land belonging to Mexican Americans, had been leading many poor Mexicans near Brownsville in a series of raids against Anglo Texans. Tensions substantially increased in the summer of 1859 in Brownsville-the beginning of the so-called Cortina War.
As Cortina's force increased to around 400 earlier in November, the Texas Rangers became involved when Tobin and Ford's two companies arrived in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Major Samuel Heintzelman and his Federal soldiers arrived on December 13, only days before these orders were issued. The sweep ordered from this directive, however, did not uncover Cortina. A few days later when the units were back together, they encountered Cortina's force at the Battle of Rio Grande City on December 27, decisively defeating him. Cortina retreated south across the Mexican border, but remained a constant threat for several years. Uneven toning along two folds. Docketing reads, "Cortinas War / Maj. Heintzelman to John S. Ford."
[Transcribed as written.]
Head Quarters Brownsville Expedition
Fort Brown Texas
December 17th, 1859.
Major Ford and Captain Tobin of the Texas Rangers having expressed a desire to co-operate with the U.S. troops in the operations against the marauders under Cortinas the following arrangements will go into effect.
Captain Tobin will proceed with sixty men toward Point Isabel, and attack and disperse any men he may meet in a hostile attitude,
Major Ford will take sixty men and proceed to the Fresnos, and there intercept any who may attempt to escape in that direction.
Captain Stoneman 2nd Cavalry with his Company will proceed to Las Norias, and there watch the roads for the same purpose.
Captain Tobin will take five days and Major Ford and Captain Stoneman each four days rations. The three parties will each be furnished with a guide.
The first detachment will leave today at one o'clock P.M. the second today at dark, and Captain Stoneman at day light tomorrow.
By order of Major Heintzelman
2nd Lt. 1st Inft.
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