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Because Confederate leaders were anxious to avoid the Union blockade and eager to establish desperately needed trade with Europe, Matamoros, Mexico, located about twentysix miles up the Rio Grande opposite Brownsville, Texas, became one of the greatest cotton markets in the world between 1861 and I8 6 5 . Through it the Confederate States, especially Texas, traded more than 320,000 bales of cotton for civilian goods and war supplies during the Civil War. Large, ocean-going vessels unloaded their cargoes and took on cotton in the neutral Mexican waters at the mouth of the river with the assistance of small, light-draft vessels that could navigate the shallow, twisting river to Matamoros. Cargoes of arms and munitions, vital to the Confederate cause, were exchanged for cotton that was hauled by wagons over hundreds of miles of semi-arid land from the cotton growing areas of Texas and other transMississippi Confederate states. This war material was used primarily to supply the forces of the Trans-Mississippi Department, but much of it was carried across the Mississippi by troops from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana who were sent to fight in the East.