A Walk Through Time
The Revolution, Part 1
Perhaps Texas might have become, and remained, a Mexican State, had the Mexicans maintained a republican form of government. But the Republic had disappeared. Santa Anna had abandoned the liberal party, and was making strides toward absolute power. The Constitution of 1824 had been swept away, and the mass of the people disarmed. The last republican leader who held out against the usuper was Governor Garcia, of Zacatecas. Santa Anna was completely victorious in a bloody battle fought near that city on the 11th of May 1835, killing some two thousand republicans, and taking twenty-seven hundres prisoners. Early in April General Cos dispersed the Legislature of Coahuila and Texas, then in session in Monclova; and in July General Ugartechea was sent to San Antonio with a garrison to over-awe the Texans. On the 8th of August the Plan of Toluca was formally proclaimed, investing the President with dictatorial powers. In a Mexican revolution, the following is the order of proceeding: 1. A grito, or grumbling at the existing order of things, 2. a pronunciado, or denunciation of these evils at a public meeting of the disaffected, 3. A plan is proposed for relief. This plan derives its name from the place in which it originated, as the Plan of Vera Cruz; of Iguala; of Toluca.
The revolution in Mexico was completed on the 3rd of October 1835, when Santa Anna issued a decreee suspending the functions of all State Legislatures, thus centralizing all power in the supreme government at the capital.
The state of chaos in Coahuila left Texas comparatively without civil governement, though a few of the alcaldes still exercised their functions. But the troubles with the Indians, and the unsettled state of the country, rendered it necessary to have some means of communication between different settlements. This led to the formation of Committees of Safety in several of the municipalities. On the 17th of July a number of delegates from adjoining municipalities met at San Felipe, and organized an administrative council, or committee.
At this period, when the public mind was unsettled, Austin re-appeared in Texas, having been released from his long confinement. At Brazoria he was greeted by a thousand citizens, who anxiously awaited his advice. His observation of the progress of events at the Mexican capital had satisfied him that the time had arrived for the Texans to act with promptness and vigor. He was immediately elected Chairman of the administrative council. To secure concert of action throughtout the province, he advised the assembling of delegates from all municipalities, for a general consultation. The election was held on the 3rd of October.
Soon after the arrival of Ugartechea at San Antonio, he sent Captain Tenorio with about twenty men to Anahuac. A misunderstanding took place between Tenorio and the party of Texans under W. B. Travis. The Mexican officers and soldiers were arrested and disarmed; but the administrative council at San Felipe, after investigation, restored Tenorio and his men to liberty, and returned their arms and papers.
Under instructions from headquarters, Colonel Ugartechea ordered the civil authorities in Texas to arrest certain citizens, who were obnoxious to the centralists. Santa Anna was especially anxous to secure his former friend, Zavalla, and to capture him, sent a schooner, under Captains Thompson, into the Brazos river. A party of Texands, however under Captain Hurd, captured Thompson and sent him to New Orleans, where he was tried for piracy. He was acquitted of the charge and subsequently became an officer in the navy of Texas.
Gonzalos has been denominated the Lexington of Texas. A cannon had been given the citizens for defence against the Indians. Ugartechea sent Captain Castanado with one hundred and fifty men, to deize this gun and carry it to San Antonio. The Texans rallied under Captain Albert Martin, and resolved to retain it. On the 29th of September, the ferry boats were brought to the east side of the river, and a position taken to prevent the Mexicans from crossing. By the 30th , the Texan force, at first small had increased to one hundred, and on the 1st of October, to one hundred and sixty-eight. A military organization took place. John H. Moore was elected Colonel, and J. W. E. Wallace, Lieutenant Colonel. The Texans manned the cannon, and on the 2nd of October, crossed the river with a view of attacking the Mexicans. Castanado asked for a parley, proclaimed himself a Republican, and wanted to know for what the Texans were fighting. Colonel Moore replied, and submitted to Castanado the choice of either surrendering to the Texans, or joining their ranks. He declined both alternatives, and the Texans immediately prepared for an attack. The fight opened with a discharge from the cannon. Castanado precipitately retreated towards San Antonio, and the Texans returned in triumph to Gonzales.
As soon as news of the affair at Gonzales reached lower Caney, Captain George Collingsworth collected a few men among the planters of Brazoria and Matagorda Counties, for the capture of Goliad. On the evening in which this party reached the neighborhood of the town they fortunately fell in with B. R. Milam, who had escaped from a Mexican prison and was making his way to Texas. He at once entered the ranks as a private soldier, and was foremost in the assault. The attack was made on the night of October 8th. The garrison was taken completely by surprise, and surrendered after a short engagement. The Texans took twenty-five prisoners, several pieces of artillery, three hundred stand of arms, and about ten thousand dollars in money. The place was left in command of Captain Philip Dimmit.
On the 3 rd of November Captain westover captured a Mexican garrison of twenty men, at Lipantitlan, on the Nueces river. After Captain Westover had paroled the prisoners, he was attacked by about seventy Mexicans, whom he defeated after a sharp conflict of half an hour. The Mexicans suffered severe loss; one Texan was wounded.