|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
a city and the county-seat of Cameron county, Texas, U.S.A., situated near the S. extremity of the state, on the Rio Grande river about 22 m. above its mouth, and opposite Matamoras, Mexico. Pop. (1890) 6134; (1900) 6305, including 2462 foreign-born and 18 negroes; (1910) 10,517. It is served by the St Louis, Brownsville & Mexico, and the Rio Grande railways, being connected by the former with Houston and Galveston and by the latter with Point Isabel on the Gulf coast. Its chief importance lies in its being the commercial and distributing centre for a rich and extensive agricultural region in southern Texas and northern Mexico, and an important market for rice, sugar-cane, fruit, vegetables and live-stock. It has a United States custom house, the Cameron county court house, a Roman Catholic cathedral, St Joseph's College (Roman Catholic), and the Incarnate Word Academy (Roman Catholic). Before the Mexican War there was a small Mexican settlement on the site of Brownsville. In March 1846 General Zachary Taylor erected fortifications here, and upon his withdrawal to Point Isabel, left a small garrison in command of Major Jacob Brown. The fort was assaulted by General Arista and shelled by batteries from the Mexican shore, and at last on the 10th of May was relieved by General Taylor, who in advancing to its aid had won the battles of Palo Alto (8th of May) and Resaca de la Palma (9th of May). The fort, originally named Fort Taylor, was renamed Fort Brown, by order of General Taylor, in memory of Major Brown, who was mortally wounded during the bombardment. In 1859 Brownsville was captured by a band of Mexican raiders under Juan Nepomuceno Cortina. During the Civil War, until its temporary occupation by Federal forces in 1863, and subsequent effective blockade, it was an active centre of operations of Confederate blockade runners. At Palmetto Ranch, near the battlefield of Palo Alto, took place (13th of May 1865), more than a month after General Lee's surrender, the last engagement between Federal and Confederate troops in the Civil War. In Brownsville, on the night of the 13th of August 1906, certain persons unknown fired into houses and at citizens on the streets, killing one man and injuring two. Suspicion pointed to negro soldiers of Companies B, C and D of the 25th Infantry, stationed at Fort Brown, and as it appeared that the culprits were being shielded by their comrades by a "conspiracy of silence," President Roosevelt dismissed the 170 men of the three companies "without honor." Both in Congress and in the press a bitter attack was made on the president for his action. In 1907 the military reservation of Fort Brown was transferred to the Department of Agriculture. In March 1909 Congress provided for a commission of army officers to report as to the eligibility of members of the negro regiments for re-enlistment.