November 1, 1823|
Laredo, Coahuila y Tejas, Mexico, Spanish Empire
|Died||January 9, 1891
Laredo, Texas, US
|Place of burial||Laredo, Texas|
|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
|Service/branch||Confederate States Army|
|Years of service||1861–65 (CSA)|
|Commands held||33rd Texas Cavalry Regiment|
|Other work||Merchant, rancher|
Santos Benavides (November 1, 1823 – November 9, 1891) was a Confederate colonel during the American Civil War. Benavides was the highest-ranking Tejano (Mexican born in Texas) soldier in the Confederate military. Typical of Hispanic Confederates, his ancestry was entirely European, in contrast to Hispanic Unionists, who tended to be mestizo or mixed race.
Benavides was born in Laredo a descendant of Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza, the founder of Laredo. Benavides was elected Mayor of Laredo in 1856 and then became Webb County Judge in 1859. He was a Captain of the 33rd Texas Cavalry, also called Benavides' Regiment, until he was promoted to Colonel in November 1863.
On May 22, 1861, at the Battle of Carrizo (also called Battle of Zapata), Benavides engaged the local Tejano leader Juan Cortina (who had invaded Zapata County, an event usually referred as the Second Cortina War), and drove him back into Mexico. Probably his greatest contribution to the Confederacy was securing passage of Confederate cotton to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1863. Due to the Union blockade of ports along the Gulf of Mexico, shipping cotton to Mexico was one of the few ways the Confederacy was able to earn needed cash. On March 18, 1864, Major Alfred Holt led a force of about two hundred men of the Union First Texas Cavalry who were stationed near Brownsville, Texas under the command of Colonel Edmund J. Davis, who had earlier offered Benavides a Union generalship. Their mission was to destroy five thousand bales of cotton stacked at the San Agustín Plaza in Laredo. Colonel Benavides commanded forty-two men and repelled three Union attacks at the Zacate Creek in what is known as the Battle of Laredo. In May 1865, Benavides' regiment participated in the last battle of the Civil war, the Battle of Palmito Ranch
After the American Civil War ended, he resumed his merchant and ranching activities and remained active in politics. He served three terms in the Texas State Legislature from 1879 to 1885. He died in Laredo and is buried there.
- Jerry Thompson, "BENAVIDES, SANTOS," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed May 28, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
- Webb County Heritage Foundation; War on the Rio Grande
- Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Santos Benavides