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Cortina attacks Brownsville
September 28, 1859
On this day in 1859, Juan Cortina rode into Brownsville and seized control of the town. Cortina had established himself as a champion of Mexicans living along the border in the years after the Mexican War. The incident that ignited the first so-called Cortina War occurred on July 13, 1859, when Cortina saw the Brownsville city marshall, Robert Shears, brutally arrest a Hispanic who had once been employed by Cortina. Cortina shot the marshall in the impending confrontation and rode out of town with the prisoner. Early on the morning of September 28, 1859, he rode into Brownsville again, this time at the head of some forty to eighty men, and seized control of the town. Five men, including the city jailer, were shot during the raid, as Cortina and his men raced through the streets shouting "Death to the Americans" and "Viva Mexico." Over the next several years Cortina fought Texas Rangers and U.S. regulars. His band threatened the stability of the Valley until 1861, when he was finally defeated. Thereafter he confined his activities to Mexico, where he died in 1894.
Presidio commander resumes post after arrest
September 28, 1769
On this day in 1769, Capt. Rafael Martínez Pacheco resumed his post as commander of San Agustín de Ahumada Presidio (El Orcoquisac) on the lower Trinity River. He had originally been appointed commander in 1763 and had maintained cordial relations with the Franciscans and the Indians, but the soldiers regarded his command as cruel and arrogant. All but five soldiers deserted by August 28, 1764, and fled to Natchitoches. Governor Ángel de Martos y Navarrete then ordered Lt. Marcos Ruiz and twenty men to El Orcoquisac to arrest Martínez, but the commander and a handful of supporters barricaded themselves within his quarters and refused to surrender. After three days of unsuccessful negotiations, Ruiz and his men set fire to the presidio; Martínez escaped through a secret passage and fled to San Antonio. Ruiz served briefly as commander before his arrest on charges of burning a royal presidio. Hugo Oconór came to San Antonio in 1765 to investigate the matter, cleared Martínez of responsibility for the trouble, and restored him to his post. After the abandonment of San Agustín de Ahumada in 1770, Martínez became commandant of Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio at La Bahía and, later, governor ad interim of Texas.
Rebel wife and diarist dies
September 28, 1917
On this day in 1917, diarist Elizabeth Scott Neblett died in Anderson, Texas. “Lizzie,” born in Mississippi in 1833, grew up a southern belle in Grimes County and married William H. Neblett, a planter and aspiring attorney, in 1852. From 1852 until 1863 she kept a diary that revealed an intimate portrait of southern culture and her own bitterness about a woman’s place in society. “Fame can never be mine,” she wrote. “I am a woman! A woman!” Her letters to her husband during the Civil War discussed varied topics that ranged from the economics of their plantation to the use of artificial birth control. They had six children, and often Lizzie’s writings addressed the hardships of childbirth and childrearing. Her journal and letters were finally published in 2001.
posted by Jeff 9.28.2011 The Texas State Historical Association