Texas A&M International University history professor Dr. Jerry D. Thompson recently published his 15th book, the latest in a growing series of works he has produced portraying Texas' History.
Fifty Miles and a Fight: Major Samuel Peter Heintzelman's Journal of Texas and the Cortina War is an edited version of Major Samuel Peter Heintzelman's diary that depicts with detail the events that took place in Texas a few years before the Civil War, including the Cortina War.
The Cortina War arose in 1859 in Brownsville, Texas, after a 35 year-old illiterate rancher named Juan Nepomuceno Cortina led 75 angry raiders into Brownsville to fight what he determined to be social injustice.
"Cortina was fed up with the racism, discrimination, and political corruption in Brownsville," Thompson said. "He is normally referred to as a bandit. I refer to him as social bandit. He broke the law, but he was reacting to many of the evils of the Brownsville legal establishment."
Heintzelman's diary provides an insight into frontier army life, military and diplomatic maneuvers along the United States-Mexico border and the impending secession crisis.
Bruce J. Dinges of the Arizona Historical Society has said, "Thompson's impressive introduction and notes are exhaustively and superbly researched in both primary and secondary sources. Fifty Miles and a Fight is a delightfully informative account of those crucial and traumatic years before the Civil War."
Thompson said he hopes the book will make a scholarly contribution and provide much needed information about South Texas between 1859 and 1860.
"Heintzelman was a critical but an objective observer," Thompson said.
Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Thompson is one of the most resourceful historians of the Civil War in the Southwest.
Among previous books that Thompson has produced are A Wild and Vivid Land: An Illustrated History of the South Texas Border, Ghost Towns and Camp Fires on the Rio Grande, Into the Far, Wild Country, True Tales of the Old Southwest, and From Desert to Bayou: The Civil War Journal and Sketches of Morgan Wolfe Merrick.
For further information, please contact the University's College of Arts and Humanities at 326-2460. University office hours are 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.