Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CORTINA, Juan Nepomuceno (cor-tee'-nah), Mexican soldier, born in La Higuera, near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, 15 June, 1830. He began life as a farm laborer. When the American troops entered Mexico in 1846 he organized a band of cowboys for guerilla warfare. This band was afterward incorporated in the Mexican army and took part in the battles of Palo Alto and Angostura, where Cortina was dangerously wounded. At the close of the war he had the rank of captain, but was not permitted to enter the regular army, and became a smuggler. On one occasion he had promised certain Texan dealers to smuggle a large cargo of goods into Matamoros, and, as the Mexican authorities were making preparations to prevent it, he entered Matamoros alone, took away with him the custom-house collector, and forced him to escort the cargo into Matamoros. In 1856, while assisting the liberal revolutionists, he entered the town of Burgos and shot the mayor and other officers. Even some members of his own party asked in congress that Cortina and others should be sentenced to death in 1857. He was now a general, and sided with Comonfort, but was attacked and defeated by General Hinojosa near Cerralbo, and took refuge in United States territory, where he remained until 1859. He then served under General Vidaurri, but would not submit to military discipline. He and Canales governed in the frontier, appointing and discharging military or civil authorities at will, burning settlements, and committing other depredations, until 1863. Cortina remained faithful to the Republican Party during the first year of the French invasion, joined Vidaurri to defend Maximilian in 1864, refused to go to the City of Mexico when called there in 1865, and again sided with the republicans in 1867. President Juarez appointed him in 1869 federal chief of Tamaulipas; but he revolted in 1874 in favor of the Plan de Tuxtepec, and gave shelter to General Diaz, then a fugitive, to whom he offered money and soldiers. After the revolution was ended in 1876, Diaz ordered General Canales to capture and shoot Cortina; but Canales only arrested him and took him to the City of Mexico, early in 1877, where he has been kept ever since in the military prison of Santiago Tlaltelolco, without being tried or sentenced.
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