El Confederado
El Confederado
Date of birth:Early 19th Century
Date of death:1866
Occupation:Cavalry officer (former)
Status:Haunting the Border
"I saw him I did, El Confederado. He was sittin' on a black horse and he had eyes red as hellfire. I looked into them, and I saw what hell looked like."
―Caravaneer describing El Confederado.
Even in a post-apocalyptic world, there are some things that just don’t seem natural, things that are unsettling enough they are best left undiscussed. These things challenge conventional thinking, and if they are accepted as reality, they make reality much harder to accept. Such is the case of one of the Mexican Border’s most infamous legends, the eerie and ominous spirit known as El Confederado. The supposed spirit of a slain Southern soldier, raised again to roam the border in search of his lost colors, his story, if it is taken as anything more than a moonshine induced yarn is one that has struck fear and terror into the hearts of many a traveler, bandit, and townsman for decades.


The story of the post-War border's most famous ghost story begins as many a ghost story does, in a cave. Cueva Herradura in the Sierra Madre Mountains about two hundred miles south of the Texas border. The legend agrees that one night in the 2160s, a band of comancheros took shelter in the cave either due to the rain or to hide out from a posse on their heels. One of the man, who most stories name Diego Seville was wearing a jacket with a patch on the shoulder, a patch of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, the stars, and bars. Being taken to smoking marijuana, he was the farthest back in the cave, his thought being to save his comrades the odor of cannabis smoke. Suddenly he broke into screaming as he was jerked back deep into the cave, his friends heard him shrieking and fired wildly before running down to find his mangled body missing an arm without a single bullet wound. They followed the trail of blood and found Diego's arm, with the patch ripped off the jacket. They couldn't explain what happened until they heard a moaning voice and the whinnying of a horse.

In the torchlight they then saw a figure in front of them, a man mounted on horseback in a gray uniform. A sword at his side and a gun on his hip, he dropped a piece of cloth on the ground, the patch bearing the battle flag. The figure spoke then spoke eerily "This ain't the one stolen from me, but for General Shelby I shall find it." And galloped through the band of comancheros and out the cave, into the cold black night. Scared to death, the comancheros searched the cave and found in it another skeleton in a tattered uniform, and deduced it to be the skeleton of the ghostly horseman. The comancheros fled the cave and the ghastly encounter along with the stories of Seville's death was spread far and wide.

General Joseph Shelby
Further sightings of this ghost popped up after the Cueva Herradura incident. Stories of caravans waylaid or ransacked and travelers accosted by this horseman and occasionally killed. His being is a mystery, according to the stories he was one of General Jo Shelby's men who fled to Mexico to escape the Yankee army after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The ghost is allegedly a cavalry major who was disgraced after the battle flag of his unit was lost in combat near Cresta Confederada with supporters of Benito Juarez. He survived but was expelled from Shelby's unit with the loss of his colors and many of his men. It was said that he left Shelby's force and went after the flag, hoping to regain favor in the general's eyes after recovering the flag.

However, he died in Cueva Herradura, leaving his quest incomplete and condemning his soul to linger on earth until he recovers the flag that he lost in bloody combat. When Seville and his comrades entered the cave, they awoke his spirit and released him in the post-War world to hunt down his lost battle flag and wreak havoc upon those who he believes stole it. His worst fury, however, is on those who bear the colors of the nation that invaded and pillaged his homeland before driving him into Mexico. It is said that any who carry or adorn themselves with that starry rag are doomed if they have an encounter with the phantom. This ghostly horseman has become a legend in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Texas, and wherever else he is spotted. While most report only being frightened by the phantom, there are plenty of stories of men being injured or even killed when El Confederado thought them to be Yankee troops or believed they had his lost flag.


El Confederado as he is called in Mexico, is described most commonly as a horseman. While many stories have him dismounting from his horse, very few have him ever without a horse. He is described as pale and ghostly in an immaculate gray uniform with the single star of a Major. He wears a cap-and-ball revolver in cavalry style (with the butt of the gun facing forward) on his right hip and a sword dangles on his left. He sports a mustache and well-kept hair and appears to have been in his mid-30s when the war broke out. His eyes are a source of contention, some stories say they are pupil-less white orbs. Others say they are almond colored like a person's, and others claim them to be hellfire red. He speaks in an accent that suggests he was from the Upper South, probably from Missouri since he was in Jo Shelby's corps. However several sightings from Texas claim that his accent is unmistakably Texan and occasionally it is described as Cajun.

His horse is another debated source of contention. Most stories from Nuevo Leon and West Texas say he rides a pale white horse with white pupil-less eyes. Most stories from Eastern Texas and Tamaulipas claim his horse his midnight black with red eyes. As a rule of thumb, red eyes are more common to West Texas and Nuevo Leon sightings and white without pupils more common to East Texas and Tamaulipas sightings. This is likely due to the fact that the spirit is viewed more as a malevolent entity seeking to destroy any who bear the Yankee flag or carry his in the east where as in the West he is viewed more as a tortured soul who never gave up the fight for Southern Independence or his search for his flag. His legend is likely more favorable in the west due to the Second Confederacy based in Laredo where he is viewed as the spirit of a slain brother instead of a ravaging ghost as he is in Tamaulipas and the Corpse Coast.


The legend of El Confederado is clear that the spirit wanders the plains in search of the bearers of flags. In western stories his main preoccupation seems to be in killing, haunting, injuring, or frightening those who bear the flag of the former United States as a means of continuing the War Between the States. This is likely due again to the presence of the Second Confederate States of America being in the western part of the border. In the eastern part of the border, where the legend began his preoccupation seems to be in hunting down those who bear the Confederate battle flag as his spirit will never rest until he has the one lost to him by the Mexican revolutionaries. Legend says he is unable to tell which one is his and thus assumes that they all are, boding ill for those who carry it or wear it, although if one leaves it and runs then they are normally safe.

Both eastern and western stories agree that El Confederado rides around on his horse, looking out for those who bear the flags he hunts. Many report seeing him overlooking the countryside on a high point and then vanishing into thin air. It is generally agreed that the ghost wants nothing to do with those who do not bear the flag he is after. For those who do bear it, they are generally approached head-on on the road, as El Confederado seems to have an aversion to settlements. He oftentimes speaks a word of warning and a demand for the flag, pointing to it with his saber. If the flag is not given to him then oftentimes he will attack and maim or kill the bearer of it or he will find his dreams haunted and illness will commonly befall him. If the flag is the American flag then he makes no demands for it and normally attacks the bearer of it or proceeds to haunt him. His voice is said to still retain traces of accent but to be loud and deep with a tempo that upsets animals, causing them to scatter.

Notable Sightings

  • The Cueva Herradura incident - The first sighting of El Confederado occurred in the 2160s when the comanchero, Diego Seville was allegedly killed by El Confederado over the patch he was wearing on his jacket. His friends found his mangled body, severed arm, and removed patch before seeing the ghost themselves. They fired upon him with small arms to no avail, he rode out into the night.
  • The Las Palomas Incident - Among the first sightings in Texas occurred in 2171 outside of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management area near Mercedes. A caravan reported being stopped by a rider with red eyes on a black horse that too had red eyes. The rider had a gray uniform on and beckoned a caravan guard wearing a belt buckle adorned with the Confederate flag to come forward in an accent that sounded Texan. The caravan guard was ordered to drop it, he refused and was raised into the air by an invisible power and thrashed about before being dropped on the ground. The caravan opened fire and El Confederado ceased. The guard wasn't too badly hurt but had horrible nightmares for a week and woke up with cuts on his arms and legs. A week after the incident he died, seemingly from nothing. He was buried with the belt and belt buckle the ghost wanted wrapped around the wooden cross made for him.
  • The Santa Rosa Incident - This story is originated from a young boy who was found to be the sole survivor of a slave caravan that was ransacked outside of Santa Rosa. The young boy, who had been kidnapped the day before, had been moving with the caravan towards Santa Rosa where he was to be sold by his slaver captors. However they were supposedly stopped when the lead slaver heard the naying of a horse and was suddenly assailed by a rider on a black horse with red eyes. The man was dressed in an old, grey confederate uniform and was wielding a large cavalry sabre, which he used to bisect the lead slaver and promptly went after the others, hacking and slashing slavers and slaves alike until only the boy remained. The ghost then supposedly spoke to the boy asking if he had seen a confederate flag, when the boy said he hadn't the rider rode off into the night. It wasn't until morning that a group of friendly merchants came along and rescued the young boy, they were the ones who would later pass on the boy's tale.
  • The Highlands Expedition Encounter- A later sighting in 2281, this story originates from the explorer Pedro Salvidar and is retold in his companion Lazlo's bestseller, Lost in the Highlands. The two men were riding through the rain on road in the Highlands at night, a bad combination if there ever was one. In the distance, they both saw a rider standing stationary in the middle of the road. As Pedro and Lazlo came near the man, they saw that he was wearing a gray uniform and an elegant saber at his side. Unusually for a sighting, the rider also wore a felt C.S.A. cavalry hat that cast his face in shadow. Coming in front of him, Pedro asked the rider to stand aside. The rider responded "in a voice like cracking ice (with a twang)", asking whose flag did they bear. After some confusion, Pedro squeaked out that his flag was the Pope's (of Soto la Marina). The rider shook his head, saying it was the "wrong one" and rode past the two, leaving a cold presence. This is a particularly unusual encounter in that it's one of the few times el Confederado has not slain at least one of his witnesses. Pedro attributes it to protection given to him from the Lord, but it may simply be because they had a completely unrelated flag. Nonetheless, the encounter made both Pedro and Lazlo need a change of pants.