Shelby's Mexican Expedition

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SHELBY'S MEXICAN EXPEDITION. After the downfall of the Confederacy in April 1865, Gen. Joseph O. Shelby called on his men to follow him into Mexico rather than surrender. With one thousand men, including four generals and the governors of Texas, Kentucky, and Louisiana, Shelby crossed the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas, to Piedras Negras, in northeastern Mexico. Their plan was to enlist in the army of Emperor Maximilian. En route to Monterrey, Shelby's expedition was assaulted by rebel guerrillas supporting Benito Juárez.

At Monterrey, the expedition broke up, with parts going to Canada, British Honduras, the Mexican state of Sonora, and parts even joining the French army in Mexico. Shelby, with the remnant of his men, marched to Mexico City. Maximilian refused the offer of Shelby's sword, fearing the displeasure of the United States. The Confederates attempted to establish a colony on land given them by the Empress Carlota. The overthrow of Maximilian and his execution on 19 June 1867 made the colony untenable, and most of the Confederate exiles returned to the United States or went elsewhere.


Edwards, John N. Shelby's Expedition to Mexico. Kansas City, Mo., 1872.

O'Flaherty, Daniel. General Jo Shelby, Undefeated Rebel. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1954.

Shalhope, Robert E. "Race, Class, Slavery, and the Antebellum Southern Mind." The Journal of Southern History 37 (1971): 557–574.

Paul I.Wellman/a. r.

See alsoCivil War ; Mexico, Confederate Migration to ; Mexico, French in ; Mexico, Relations with .