Cristóbal Benavides, son of José Jesús Benavides and Tomasa Cameros, was born on April 3, 1839, in Laredo. He was also the great–great–grandson of Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera y Garza, who had established the village of Laredo in 1755. Benavides received his education in Laredo and Corpus Christi, and before the Civil War was a stockman who built up a sizable ranch. With the coming of the Civil War he enlisted as a sergeant in a company of local Tejanos being raised by his half-brother, Santos Benavides. Within a year he had achieved the rank of lieutenant. The company commanded by Santos was then reorganized into a unit called Benavides' Regiment. Cristóbal Benavides was promoted to captain and given command of a company in his brother's regiment. On March 19, 1864, he fought to defend Laredo against Union forces that had advanced upriver from Brownsville intent on seizing or destroying some 5,000 bales of cotton stacked in St. Augustine Plaza in Laredo. Benavides later served under Col. John S. Ford in the 1864 Confederate Rio Grande expedition to drive Union forces out of the lower Rio Grande valley. On June 23, 1864, in the lower Valley at Las Rucias, he led an attack against a Union outpost. After having his horse shot from under him in the daring charge, he was singled out for bravery. At the end of the war, Benavides, along with his brothers, were among the last to surrender.
After the war Benavides married Lamar Bee, daughter of Confederate general Hamilton P. Bee. Six daughters and four sons were born of the marriage. Although his brother Santos served in the Texas legislature and another half-brother, Refugio Benavides, was elected several times as mayor of Laredo, Cristóbal Benavides concentrated more on his sheep and cattle ranch and on his mercantile business than on politics. By 1890 he had become one of the wealthiest men in Webb County. He died on September 2, 1904. In the late 1930s his remains were removed from the Old Laredo Cemetery and interred in the Laredo Catholic Cemetery, where family members erected an impressive monument in his honor.