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Governor Pease launches Callahan expedition

July
05
1855

On this day in 1855, Governor Elisha Pease authorized James Hughes Callahan to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico for the alleged purpose of punishing Apache Indians who raided in Texas and then fled to Mexico. The expedition may have been an attempt by Texas slaveholders to capture runaway slaves who were being permitted to settle in Mexico. Governor Santiago Vidaurri of Nuevo León y Coahuila had rebuffed the slaveholders' emissary and ordered his troops to prepare for invasion. Callahan crossed into Mexico on October 1-2 and encountered a Mexican detachment at the Rio Escondito near Piedras Negras. There were casualties on both sides. Callahan retreated to Piedras Negras, captured the town, and burned it. American forces across the river covered his retreat. Historians have long argued about the real purpose of the operation. In 1876 the Claims Commission settled claims originating from the expedition, awarding 150 Mexican citizens a total of $50,000 in damages.

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