Civil War and Revolution on the Rio Grande Frontier: A Narrative and Photographic History

Book Cover Image
Jerry Thompson and Lawrence T. Jones III (Author)


Winner 2004 Kate Broocks Bates Award for Historical Research
Winner 2007 Publications Award — San Antonio Conservation Society


The Civil War on the Rio Grande frontier began in Zapata County only days after the first shots of the bloody conflict were fired at Fort Sumter, and the conflict ended at Palmito Hill more than a month after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Far from Washington and Richmond and the killing fields of the east, this dark corner of the Confederacy has a rich history of Civil War photography. One of the superbly talented photographic artists operating in Matamoros and Brownsville during this epic era was a Prussian named Louis de Planque. With his lens, de Planque skillfully captured the leading personalities of the era, including Servando Canales, Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, Mariano Escobedo, Tomás Mejía, Richard King, Mifflin Kenedy, and John S. "Rip" Ford.

A richly illustrated history, Civil War and Revolution on the Rio Grande Frontier contains more than 125 of the best images taken by de Planque and other photographers, the vast majority having never been published. From numerous archives and private collections, these images include everything from the destruction following the killer hurricane of 1867 to gripping views of the heart-wrenching hanging of an American army deserter and three unfortunate followers of Cortina, who happened to get caught on the wrong side of the river. Also included are rare scenes of Brownsville, Matamoros, and vice-ridden Bagdad, as well as Juaristas, Imperialistas, Cortinistas, Confederates, Federals, Unionists, cotton traders, journalists, merchants, socialites, de Planque himself, and more than one bandit.

Accompanying these striking images is a sweeping and comprehensive narrative that superbly chronicles the historic events that engulfed this raw and vast frontier during this tumultuous era. Representing a significant historical achievement, the book is prodigiously researched, wonderfully detailed, lively, evocative, and reads like a mesmerizing novel. This sweeping saga of a war-torn frontier is written with amazing insight, as well as balance and objectivity. Civil War and Revolution on the Rio Grande Frontier is a wonderful book that is certain to delight academic and general readers alike.

Jerry Thompson is an authority on the Civil War in the Southwest and the history of the Rio Grande frontier.

Lawrence T. Jones III is a recognized expert on early Texas photography, as well as on the American West.