Garza War

By: Joe R. Baulch

Type: General Entry

Published: October 1, 1995

The Garza War was an abortive effort in 1891–92 to organize a Texas-based revolution against the Mexican regime of Porfirio Díaz. Catarino E. Garza was a Mexican journalist living in Texas who had for many years launched editorial attacks against Díaz. Garza and his allies recognized no official border, considered themselves Mexicans, and were active in the internal politics of Mexico. On February 3, 1891, Garza's friend and fellow Díaz opponent Ignacio Martínez was killed by Díaz agents on the streets of Laredo. Martínez's assassination, combined with his own experiences with the regime, convinced Garza that he had to take up arms to defeat Díaz. Using Palito Blanco as his intelligence center, Garza reputedly organized a force of revolutionaries in 1891 to invade Mexico. On September 15, 1891, he led a group of twenty-six armed men across the Rio Grande at Mier, Tamaulipas, and proclaimed the "Plan Revolucionario." The revolutionaries returned to Texas after nine days and a brief engagement with Mexican forces. Over the following months, the Garcistas made at least two more incursions into Mexico. According to Garza's own records, by the end of 1891 his army had 63 commanders, 186 officers, and 1,043 soldiers. Reacting swiftly, the Mexican government sent to the border Gen. Lorenzo García, who so brutally suppressed anti-Díaz dissent that his cruelties caused a pro-Garza reaction in Texas. Fearing border war, influential Texans urged South Texans to remain neutral and petitioned the governor for special rangers to drive out Garcistas. By December 1891 United States Army troops had been sent to patrol the border; one short skirmish occurred, at Retamal Springs. The army generally was ineffective, but Garcistas soon left the area as newly appointed special rangers proved effective and potential recruits opted for neutrality. In 1892 Garza reportedly learned that he was wanted by the special rangers and fled Texas.

Matias Romero, "The Garza Raid and Its Lessons," North American Review 155 (September 1892). James B. Wells Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Elliott Gordon Young, Crossing Borders: Race, Nation, Class, and Gender on the South Texas Border, 1877–1911 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1993).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Rebellions, Raids, and Wars
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Boundary Disputes and Ethnic Conflict
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joe R. Baulch, “Garza War,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995

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