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 »

LAS ÁGUILAS NEGRAS [THE BLACK EAGLES]

James P. Spencer
Portrait of Juan N. Cortina
Portrait of Juan N. Cortina. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

LAS ÁGUILAS NEGRAS [THE BLACK EAGLES]. Also referred to as the Eagles, Las Águilas Negras was the name given by Juan Cortina to his private spy network and militia, which was active from 1859 to 1875. Seeing himself as the protector of Tejanos in South Texas against legal harassment and abuse at the hands of Anglo Texans, Cortina first organized his militia in the fall of 1859. Following the defeat of a Mexican militia company from Matamoros, Mexico, and a militia of twenty Brownsville citizens called the Brownsville Tigers near Rancho del Carmen, more volunteers joined Cortina’s militia. Given the name Las Águilas Negras, the militia was predominantly Mexicans, including sixty men who escaped from the jail in Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas, Cortina’s militia also contained a number of Tejanos, some of whom were well-educated and came from landowning families in the area, and eleven Tampacuas Indians from near Reynosa, Mexico. Since the militia counted among their ranks Mexican army veterans, including Cortina, and army deserters, Las Águilas Negras were well-trained and disciplined. The militia also benefited from the patronage of sympathetic Mexicans in Reynosa and Matamoros, as well as the Matamoros-based English mercantile firm of Hale and Company, who provided money, provisions, and weapons. Las Águilas Negras were armed with Sharps rifles and pistols and had in their possession a cannon and a howitzer obtained after they were left in the field by fleeing Brownsville Tigers and Mexican militiamen. Cortina’s espionage network and fighters engaged in militant activities throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but Las Águilas Negras ceased in 1875 when Juan Cortina was captured by the Mexican government.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Jerry Thompson, Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007).

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.

Citation

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

Handbook of Texas Online, James P. Spencer, "LAS ÁGUILAS NEGRAS [THE BLACK EAGLES]," accessed July 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qya01.

Uploaded on March 11, 2020. 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...