Released: 9/29/2021| Publisher: The University of Oklahoma Press | Formats: Hardcover & Kindle (288 Pages)

A vast and desolate region, the Texas–New Mexico borderlands have long been an ideal setting for intrigue and illegal dealings—never more so than in the lawless early days of cattle trafficking and trade among the Plains tribes and Comancheros. This book takes us to the borderlands in the 1860s and 1870s for an in-depth look at Union-Confederate skullduggery amid the infamous Comanche-Comanchero trade in stolen Texas livestock.

In 1862, the Confederates abandoned New Mexico Territory and Texas west of the Pecos River, fully expecting to return someday. Meanwhile, administered by Union troops under martial law, the region became a hotbed of Rebel exiles and spies, who gathered intelligence, disrupted federal supply lines, and plotted to retake the Southwest. Using a treasure trove of previously unexplored documents, authors James Bailey Blackshear and Glen Sample Ely trace the complicated network of relationships that drew both Texas cattlemen and Comancheros into these borderlands, revealing the urban elite who were heavily involved in both the legal and illegal transactions that fueled the region’s economy.

Confederates and Comancheros deftly weaves a complex tale of Texan overreachand New Mexican resistance, explores cattle drives and cattle rustling, and details shady government contracts and bloody frontier justice. Peopled with Rebels and bluecoats, Comanches and Comancheros, Texas cattlemen and New Mexican merchants, opportunistic Indian agents and Anglo arms dealers, this book illustrates how central these contested borderlands were to the history of the American West.

"Confederates and Comancheros braids two of our greatest stories, the Civil War and the Wars for the West,into a spirited and engaging tale. Riding between the Blue and the Grey in these years were little-known allies, enemies, and trading partners: Comancheros, Comanches, Ciboleros, and Apaches, who appear in these pages as essential players in a borderlands epic."

- James Brooks, Author of Captives and Cousins: Slavery Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands
 "A great tale well told. The narrative is crisp and intelligent, the scholarship is meticulous. This detailed account of the Union's Civil War defense of New Mexico is interwoven with a carefully documented view of the Comanchero trade involving all strata of New Mexico citizenry, from the wagon driver to the business and political elite."

- Thomas Ty Smith, Author of The Old Army in the Big Bend: The Last Cavalry Frontier, 1911-1921
 "James Blackshear and Glen Sample Ely thoroughly reimagine the Comanchero trade that brought stolen Texas livestock to New Mexico in exchange for guns, ammunition, and trade goods for the Plains Indians. The authors reveal the remarkable extent to which Anglo and Hispano merchant elites, prominent politicians, and government officials from Santa Fe and Las Vegas backed expeditions to the Llano Estacado in pursuit of this ethically suspect enterprise."

- Rick Hendricks, Co-author of Pueblo Sovereignty: Indian Land and Water In New Mexico and Texas
An "important new study .... Deftly . . . makes fresh and notable contributions to the historiography of the nineteenth-century American West. Deeply researched and expansive in scope .... Confederates and Comancheros admirably fills a major time and subject matter in the literature's coverage of the American Civil War. Highly recommended."

- Civil War Books and Authors

Westerners International

1st Place, Co-Founders Best Book Award

Will Rogers Medallion Award

1st Place, Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award

Released: 3/18/2016| Publisher: The University of Oklahoma Press | Formats: Hardcover, Kindle & E-Book (272 Pages)

Motorists traveling along State Highway 104 north of Tucumcari, New Mexico, may notice a sign indicating the location of Fort Bascom. The post itself is long gone, its adobe walls washed away. In 1863, the United States, fearing a second Confederate invasion of New Mexico Territory from Texas, built Fort Bascom. Until 1874, the troops stationed at this site on the Eroded Plains along the Canadian River defended Hispanic and Anglo-American settlements in eastern New Mexico and far western Texas against Comanches and other Southern Plains Indians.

In Fort Bascom, James Bailey Blackshear presents the definitive history of this critical outpost in the American Southwest, along with a detailed view of army life on the late-nineteenth-century western frontier. Located in the middle of what General William T. Sherman called “an awful country,” Fort Bascom’s hardships went beyond the army’s efforts to control the Comanches and Kiowas. Blackshear shows the difficulties of maintaining a post in a harsh environment where scarce water and forage, long supply lines, poorly constructed facilities, and monotonous duty tested soldiers’ endurance.

Fort Bascom also describes the social aspects of a frontier assignment and the impact of the Comanchero trade on military personnel and objectives, showing just how difficult it was for the army to subdue the Southern Plains Indians. Crucial to this enterprise were logistics, including procurement from civilian contractors of everything from beef to hay. Blackshear examines the strong links between New Mexican Comancheros and Comanches, detailing how the lure of illegal profits drew former military personnel into this black-market economy and revealing the influence of the Comanchero trade on Southwestern history.This first full account of the unique challenges soldiers faced on the Texas frontier during and after the Civil War restores Fort Bascom to its rightful place in the history of the U.S. military and of U.S.-Indian relations in the American Southwest.


“A significant contribution to frontier military history, this well-documented and readable book establishes the importance of Fort Bascom within the violent struggle to control and terminate commerce between the Comanches and New Mexican Comancheros. The story of Fort Bascom’s role in the history of the Southwest has never before been told in such detail.”

-Leo Oliva, author of Fort Dodge: Sentry of the Western Plains
 “James B. Blackshear has come forward with an engaging account of Fort Bascom, a forgotten military outpost in New Mexico Territory along the Canadian River. Based on extensive archival research, Fort Bascom reveals much new information on the U.S. Army’s complex role in the histories of violence and trade in a region where the United States, Comanches, Kiowas, and Comancheros competed for positions of power.”

—Marc Simmons, numerous history books concerning New Mexico’s history
Highlighted by tenacious archival research, Blackshear’s study shows that those interested in nineteenth-century Texas history must incorporate Fort Bascom, which for all practical purposes served as the Lone Star State’s “northernmost frontier fort” (159) until the establishment of Fort Elliot in 1875, into their world view.”

-Robert Wooster, Southwestern Historical Quarterly