April is Confederate Heroes and Heritage Month. But Texas history has long forgotten the highest ranking Confederate Tejano in the Valley, Capt. Justo Trevino of Brownsville and his company of Texas Partisan Mounted Volunteers, Texas Cavalry that included 83 Tejanos and Mexican Nationals during the course of the Civil War.
Also, there are at least eight Hispanics that served in the Valley Confederate Coast Guard.
According to Ofelia Olsson, his great niece, Trevino was born near Las Rucias in 1826, and the 1850 Census listed him as a farmer and resident of Brownsville.
With the research help from the Harlingen chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I learned that Justo joined the Confederacy in November 1863 and was elected captain of a company of about 40 Hispanics.
One account has Trevino’s principal duties as patrolling the Valley border, possibly as far as Rio Grande City. If Trevino’s Cavalry was patrolling that far up the border, then his Hispanic soldiers would have also provided extra security for Col. Santos Benavides of Laredo, caravans of wagons loaded with cotton that were being transported to the Mexican seaport, Bagdad, to be exported to England and Europe for muchneeded supplies for the South.
However, according to Dr. Jerry Thompson of Laredo, Capt. Trevino’s Hispanic troops spent most of their time chasing Juan Cortina and his Mexican revolutionaries.
On May 13, 1865, the last land battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Palmetto Hill, was fought about 16 miles out-side of Brownsville. Since the Confederate victory over the Union forces was mainly because of their cavalry out-flanking the Yankee infantry, Capt. Trevino and his cavalry might have been on the battlefield with Confederate Col. Rip Ford of Brownsville and possibly with fellow Confederates from Col. Santos Benavides Laredo company of Tejanos that were led by his two brothers, Capt. Refugio and Capt. Cristobal Benavides.
Jack Ayoub Harlingen