Zapata County

Strong Unionist support existed in Zapata County from the earliest days of the Confederacy in Texas. An influential resident, Antonio Ochoa, rallied several Union supporters and confronted Zapata County Judge Isidro Vela in April 1861 at Carrizo, the county seat for Zapata County. Although the vote to join the Confederacy had been reported as unanimous by county officials, there were several prominent citizens who demanded that Zapata County remain within the Union. After a long meeting, Judge Vela persuaded Ochoa and his supporters to return peacefully to their homes. A mistrust of central authority was inherent in Zapata borne from the principles of individual rights guaranteed by the El Fuero Juzgo, the Spanish Book of Laws in effect since the 6th century, and manifested most prominently in the area through the actions of such important figures as Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, who had launched a strong challenge during the War of Independence against the Spanish authorities declaring Texas independent in 1813. In 1839, in direct defiance to the dictatorial rule of President Antonio López de Santa Ana in Mexico City, Zapata County became the seminal center for the formation of La República del Río Grande hosting the initial gathering of the leaders of the movement at the village of El Uribeño where the republic was proclaimed. Such independence of mind and spirit would contribute to the conflicts in Zapata County during the US Civil War.