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Post Confederates in Mexico: Captain James Box
Created by John Eipper on 04/17/17 3:08 AM

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Confederates in Mexico: Captain James Box (Richard Hancock, USA, 04/17/17 3:08 am)

I found Clyde McMorrow's April 8 posting on Confederates in Brazil very interesting. The same thing happened in Mexico. My grandfather William Box Hancock related a similar story about Confederates migrating to Mexico. He dictated "The Early Life of W. B. Hancock" to his wife Bertha Monagin Hancock in 1934 and this story was typed out in 1942.

Grandfather's Uncle Jim Box went to Mexico in the 1830s and was commissioned a captain in the Mexican army. As a reward for his services, the Mexican government gave him a liberal concession of land in the state of Durango. He engaged in mining and became a famous Indian fighter. Because of the upcoming civil war, he was able to organize a colony of his people and their friends to go to Durango and share the land given him by the Mexican government. This group suffered an attack of smallpox on the trip to Durango and a number of them lost their lives. Later they suffered from Indian attacks and other ill luck before reaching Durango. The colony soon broke up and returned to Texas.

Captain Jim Box refused to return and Uncle Frank sent his wife and baby back with her parents. Uncle Frank soon became homesick for his family and decided to return also. This was an extremely dangerous 700-mile journey. He supplied himself with tortillas and dried beef and started home, riding at night to avoid both Indians and Mexicans. He hid out in thickets during the day. He soon ate up all his food but was able to kill rabbits with rocks. He did not shoot his gun because he feared that the sound would bring on the Indians. He made this trip to San Antonio safely.

Captain Jim Box wrote a story of his experiences in Mexico which was published as a book in New York. I found this book at the University of California at Berkley's rare-book collection. It could only be read at the library and I didn't have the time to do this. Uncle Frank told Grandfather about a strange experience that Captain Box and his friend had when he was captured by Indians, who planned to burn him at the stake. As a last resort, he gave them the Masonic sign of distress. An old Indian Chief recognized the sign and the Indians took them close to a Mexican town and released them. Capitan Box eventually died on his Durango ranch from mountain dysentery.

My Grandfather drove cattle up the Great Western Trail to Dodge City, Kansas five years straight (1879-1884). This constituted the bulk of this 100-page manuscript. He had many other interesting experiences, but he felt that his trail-ride experiences were the only thing that would be valuable for posterity.

My father told of other happenings which could have been included to make a full-length book.

JE comments:  Another great Wild West family narrative from Richard Hancock!  Richard, a reprint of Captain James Box's Adventures and Explorations in New and Old Mexico is available from Amazon.  I'm going to order myself a copy: 


I am especially curious about the chronology of Captain B's time in Mexico.  Did he emigrate shortly before the US Civil War?  That would be unusual, as few in 1861 believed the war would amount to more than a battle or two.

Note the "Old" Mexico in the title.  As a child in Missouri in the 1970s, I recall how the locals referred to the country as Old Mexico, as distinguished from the US state of "New" Mexico and plain old (not Old) Mexico, which of course is a town in Missouri.  I wonder if this is still the practice.

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