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For the Army, the People, and Abraham Lincoln: A Yankee Newspaper in Occupied Texas James Marten "The Second number of the Loyal National Union Journal published in this city by soldiers made its appearance today," wrote Lt. Benjamin Mclntyre on March 12, 1864. "It advocates the nomination of Lincoln for the Presidency for a second term.'" Mclntyre's brief diary entry is the only known reference by a soldier to this soldier's newspaper. Yet the Loyal National Union Journal appeared in Brownsville on a weekly basis for nearly three months during the last quarter or so of the brief and relatively uneventful Union occupation of Brownsville and much of the South Texas coast. Although the Rio Grande Expedition began late in 1863 with high hopes and aggressive rhetoric, events elsewhere combined with the paucity of strategic gains in Texas to make this theater of operations a backwater both for the United States and for the resource-strapped Confederacy. As a result, articles in the Union Journal reflected the concerns and attitudes of soldiers who, while they were far from their homes and families, did not have to worry about ducking minie balls and blasts of canister, at least for the time being. Many of the units serving in Texas had fought through the great battles of the western theater in Mississippi and in countless skirmishes in Louisiana; their sojourn in Texas, on the other hand, was short on combat and long on leisure time. These veterans found themselves in South Texas after Union authorities decided to interdict the trade between the blockaded Confederacy and its supporters in northern Mexico. Although Mexico's president Benito Juarez favored the Union in America's internecine conflict, his opponents, including Governor Santiago Vidaurri of the northern province of Tamaulipas, encouraged trade with Texas and the Confederacy across the Rio Grande. A brisk 1 Nannie M. Tilley, ed. , Federals on the Frontier: The Diary ofBenjamin F. Mclntyre, 18621864 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1963), 312. Civil War History, Vol. XXXIX, No. 2, © 1993 by The Kent State University Press A YANKEE NEWSPAPER IN OCCUPIED TEXAS127 commerce resulted, in which Texas cotton bought much-needed foreign goods, including weapons and other military supplies. The sleepy Mexican coastal village of Bagdad grew temporarily into a bustling city, while Matamoros , sixty-five miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande and opposite the Texas town of Brownsville, became the center of the trade.2 Unable to effectively blockade the neutral Mexican coast, the Lincoln administration ordered Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, commanding the Department of the Gulf at New Orleans, to stop the lucrative trade between Texas and Mexico. On November 2, 1863, Maj. Gen. Napoleon Dana led a sixthousand -man invasion force—made up primarily of Thirteenth Corps regiments from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio—onto the sand dunes at Brazos Santiago. The trip to Texas was the first ocean voyage for many of the men; unfortunately, storms battered the fleet during its several days at sea. Lieutenant Mclntyre reported that the troops threw mules and equipment overboard to prevent their ship from swamping. Members of the 67th Indiana "soon lost interest in the rolling waves and with a kind of woebe -gone countenance . . . seated [them]selves near the guard rail where, at each lurch of the vessel" they would "pour out freely large contributions to the inhabitants ofthe deep." When the expedition finally reached land, Major Bruce of the 19th Iowa led the regiment in singing "Old One Hundred"— "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."3 The out-manned Confederates soon evacuated Brownsville, although the major "battle" of the campaign occurred when Federal forces attacked Fort Esperanza, a lightly defended earth-and-timber structure at the northern end of Matagorda Island. The fight followed a seaside march that one veteran described as "among the hardest" his regiment ever made. A fierce "norther"—an ice-cold gale roaring out of the north—accompanied by a rare snowstorm buffeted the Yankees, some of whom kept warm by digging shallow pits in the sand and covering themselves with the still-bloody hides of slaughtered wild cattle. A brief siege ensued, during which Federal and Confederate artillery exchanged...


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