While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Jerry Thompson

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.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jerry Thompson, "VIDAL, ADRIAN J.," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fvi14.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...