Cotton Times: The Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail
The Rio Grande Valley of Texas played an important role in global economic trade during the US Civil War. Once the Rio Grande became the natural and international border between the US and Mexico at the end of the Mexican American War in 1848, it became an international waterway and therefore neutral territory during the US Civil War in 1861 – 1865. When President Lincoln put his blockade on the Confederacy, the only way Texans and people from states such as Louisiana and Arkansas could get their cotton to market was to take their cotton across the Rio Grande into Mexico and take their bales of cotton down the river either by steamboat or by wagon to Bagdad at the mouth of the river where ships from all over the world were waited to purchase this cotton. Citizens of the region viewed these times as “Los Algodones” or “Cotton Times.” Not only did this trade allowed the Confederacy to continue funding its operations but several regional merchants were able to get rich from this trade.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools Program (CHAPS), "Cotton Times: The Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail" (2020). Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Recordings. 2.