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Imagine that you are in a battle in which you and your troops are outnumbered. You realize that no one else is coming to help you. You could retreat, but you have promised to fight the battle to the end. Would you stay and fight or would you leave? Why?
The Texas Revolution
The Battle of Gonzales
The first conflict between Mexican troops and Texan colonists came at Gonzales on October 2, 1835, two weeks before the scheduled start of the Consultation at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Colonel Ugartechea the Mexican commander at San Antonio, ordered the people of Gonzales to surrender their small brass cannon. The local official refused. Colonel Ugartechea ordered about 100 soldiers to take the cannon by force.
The people buried the cannon in a peach orchard until reinforcements arrived from the countryside. The Texan forces dug up the cannon and mounted it on a wagon. A local blacksmith quickly forged some ammunition out of iron scraps and pieces of chain. The Texans decorated the front of the cannon with a white flag that bore the words “Come and Take It.”
The fighting at Gonzales started in the early morning. After the brief struggle, the Mexican leaders ordered their troops to withdraw toward San Antonio. One Mexican soldier was killed. No Texans died in the confrontation.
Although the Battle of Gonzales was brief and casualties were light, news of the clash quickly spread throughout Texas. Many colonists who previously had been indifferent about the prospect of fighting were now enthusiastic. At San Antonio, General Cos regarded the actions at Gonzales as the out break of war.
Battle of Gonzales
What : The first battle between the Mexicans and the Texans. The battle that started the Texas Revolution.
When : October 2, 1835
Where : Gonzales, Texas
Why : Because the Mexican were sent to take the cannon away from the colonists of Gonzales.
How was it significant to the Texas Revolution : It was the battle that started the Texas Revolution.
Sam Houston is from Virginia and came to Texas in December 1832 .
He came to Texas because he wanted to start a new life and maybe Texas could become part of the US.
He was involved in the Convention of 1833 where he became Comander-in-chief of the Texas Army.
He is significant to the Texas Revolution because he defeated the Mexican Army at the battle at San Jacinto in April 1836; the battle to end the war.
Another interesting thing about him is he ran away from home when he was 13 and lived with the Cherokee for 3 years.
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is from Veracruz, Mexico and came to Texas in 1836.
He came to Texas because he wanted to stop the Texans from their rebellion against Mexico.
He was involved in the battles of the Alamo, Goliad and San Jacinto.
He is significant to the Texas Revolution because he was the president of Mexico and refused to accept the Mexican Constitution of 1824. He also massacred soldiers at the Alamo and Goliad on Palm Sunday in 1836.
Another interesting thing about him is he forced his Mexican people to be in his army.
Convention of 1836
Many Texans were looking forward to the new convention. During the last week of February - March, elected delegates began arriving at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The town consisted of a few poorly constructed cabins, and tree stumps were still standing in the main street. There was no library, no printing press, and no convention hall. The delegates, who were all male , met in near-freezing weather, in an unfinished building. They hung cloth over the open windows in an attempt to keep out the biting north winds.
Convention of 1836 continued
The Convention of 1836 (a meeting to talk about the issues of Texas) began its work on March 1, 1836, with 59 delegates. Only 2 of the members, Jose Antonio Navarro and Jose Francisco Ruiz, were native Texans. The first work of the convention was to elect Richard Ellis as chairman and H.S. Kimble as secretary of the meeting. A motion was then passed that a committee be created to write a declaration of independence from Mexico. It is generally agreed that the declaration presented the next morning was written by George C. Childress , a recent arrival from Tennessee.
Convention of 1836
What : A meeting of 59 delegates to talk about the issues between Texas and Mexico.
When : March 1, 1836
Where : Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas
Why : to elect the chairman and secretary, and to write a declaration of independence from Mexico
How was this event significant to the Texas Revolution : Because the declaration of independence was written during the convention.
The Convention’s last act was to create an Ad Interim, or temporary government. These officers were to serve until regular election could be held.
George Childress : Wrote the Texas declaration of independence from Mexico.
David Burnet , an early settler and former empresario was chosen as the ad interim President of Texas.
Lorenzo de Zavala was voted the ad interim Vice President of Texas
Sam Houston was voted the Commander and Chief of the regular and volunteer army.
David Burnet George Childress Lorenzo De Zavala Sam Houston
The Texas Declaration of Independence was similar to the U.S. Declaration of Independence written 60 years earlier. The Texas Declaration stated that the government of Santa Anna had violated the liberties guaranteed under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. The declaration charged that Texans had been deprived of freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, the right to bear arms, and the right to petition, or request something from, the government. It stated that Mexico had failed to provide a system of public education. Because the Mexican government had sent a large army, the declaration also noted that the Texans’ protests against these policies were met with force. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by unanimous vote!
The Texas Constitution
After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence the convention turned to writing a constitution for the new republic (a government elected by the people)
For 2 weeks delegates discussed and debated (argued) what the laws should be.
The delegates knew they had to finish it quickly because Santa Anna and his troops were in Texas and he could attack at any moment.
On March 16 the constitution was completed and approved.
What : The constitution is a document that outlines fundamental laws and principles of law; it describes the nature, functions and limits of government.
When : It was written on March 16, 1836 Where: at the Convention of 1836 at Washington on the Brazos.
Three Branches of Government
The Texas Constitution is modeled after the United States Constitution with three branches of government.
The EXECUTIVE branch is the chief governing officer that carries out the laws (the president/ Governor/ Principal)
The LEGISLATIVE branch makes the laws
The JUDICIAL branch is the court that decides if the laws are just or if a person broke the law.
Governor Lt. Governor TX Supreme Court
On February 3, Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis of the regular Texas army and about 30 soldiers from San Felipe joined the Alamo garrison. Although Travis had been a volunteer at other skirmishes in Texas, he missed the action at Gonzales. In 1835 Travis joined the regular army as a lieutenant colonel of the cavalry.
Travis Arrives at the Alamo
The Alamo Bexar Travis
William B. Travis
William B. Travis is from Saluda, NC and came to Texas in 1831.
He came to Texas because he wanted to practice law in the town of Anahauc.
He was involved in the Battle of the Alamo as the commander of the Texas Army.
He is significant to the Texas Revolution because he commanded the Army at the Alamo knowing he would certainly die in the cause.
Another interesting thing about Travis is that he obtained his land from Stephen F. Austin.
In Defense of the Alamo
When Bowie arrived at the Alamo, he knew there were too few soldiers. He and Travis , however, believed that holding the Alamo was vital to the fate of Texas. They began to strengthen its defenses.
William Travis & Jim Bowie
Travis was surprised on February 23, when the advance wing of Santa Anna’s army arrived at San Antonio. The Texans barely made it inside the walls of the Alamo before the Mexican cavalry roared into the town.
In some ways, the Texans had a good defensive position. The walls of the old mission were 2 to 3 feet thick and 12 feet high. Twenty-one cannons fortified , or strengthened , the mission, including one powerful 18-pounder.
Serious weaknesses, however, hurt the Alamo’s defense. The wall surrounding the main plaza of the old mission was incomplete. The walls enclosed nearly tree acres of land, and Travis had fewer than 200 men. To defend the Alamo successfully, a much larger army was necessary.
Travis Declares “Victory or Death”
Travis was determined to hold the Alamo. The mission had come to symbolize to many of the defenders the achievements that had been so dearly won in the struggle for independence. Travis wrote several messages to the people of Texas and the United States, asking them to answer his call for assistance. His letter of February 24, 1836, is one of the finest statements of courage in American history. He knew the odds were clearly against him.
The outside help brought by the letters did not arrive in time. Meanwhile, Texan military forces were still poorly organized and spread out. Travis hoped that Fannin would move with his army from Goliad, but Fannin lacked enough wagons to move all of his supplies. On March 1, Travis received 32 volunteer reinforcements from Gonzales. Led by Albert Martin and George C. Kimball.
Facing Certain Death
As Mexican armies encircled the Alamo, it became apparent to Travis that he had no chance for victory. On the evening of March 5, Travis explained to his troops that remaining in the Alamo meant certain death. According to legend, Travis took his sword and drew a line on the ground. All those who wished to stay and defend the Alamo were asked to cross over the line. According to the story, all but one of the men crossed over the line. A man named Louis “Moses” Rose, a native of France. Nearly 200 men mostly volunteers were free to leave the Alamo, but they decided to stay and fight for a cause in which they believed.
The defenders of the Alamo held the garrison against heavy odds. Since February 23, Mexican cannons had bombarded , or fired upon , the Alamo daily. The Texans, with their long-range Kentucky rifles, were able to shoot Mexican troops at great distance. Despite this, it was clear Santa Anna had most of the advantages.
Texan Troops Give Ground
On the night of March 5, 1836, Santa Anna’s troops were in place for battle. Santa Anna ordered the attack on the Alamo to begin at dawn. At about 5:00 on the morning of March 6, the battle began. Some sources estimate that 1,800 Mexican troops took part in this final assault. Five columns of troops moved forward to attack the Alamo at three different points. Mexican buglers played the notes of “El Deguello”, an ancient chant indicating that no mercy would be shown.
The Texans were ready, and the first wave of Mexican attackers was riddled by cannon and rifle fire. A second wave met the same fate. The Texan defenders put up a stubborn fight, but the third assault of Mexican troops successfully pushed back the Texans and allowed Santa Anna’s men to storm over the walls. The fighting within the compound was especially fierce as rifles gave way to knives and clubs. Although the Mexican forces suffered heavy casualties scaling the walls, the continued to attack until the whole garrison was overpowered. By 8:00 on the morning of March 6, the battle for the Alamo was over.
A Battle Cry for Victory
Although Santa Anna ordered that all defenders of the Alamo be put to death, several did survive. Santa Anna released the women and children who had been in the Alamo during the battle.
The battle also encouraged citizens of the U.S. to help Texans in their struggle for freedom. Santa Anna hoped the fall of the Alamo would convince other Texans that it was useless to resist his armies. Instead, the heroism of those in the Alamo inspired other Texans to carry on the struggle. “Remember the Alamo!” became the battle cry of Houston’s army.
Siege of the Alamo
What : A 13 day military blockade by the Mexican President Santa Ana and his army of 3000+ soldiers.
When : From February 23 to March 6, 1836.
Where : San Antonio, Texas
Why : Because the Texans were at war with Mexico and they refused to surrender.
How was this event significant to the Texas Revolution : This event is significant because every Texas soldier lost their life at the Alamo and this caused the Texans to fight even harder against Santa Ana. Because of this Houston came up with the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”
Urrea Sweeps Northward to Refugio
While the fighting at the Alamo raged, the other unit of the Mexican army under General Jose Urrea was advancing up through South Texas. Urrea had about 1,000 soldiers and moved northward defeating some Texan soldiers along the way.
Fannin Delays His Departure
The inability of Fannin, the commander of the Texan troops at Goliad, to make a decision and stick to it also hurt the Texas cause. In lat February, Fannin had decided to help Travis at the Alamo. However, a shortage of wagons for transporting supplies caused him to return to Goliad. On March 14 Fannin received orders from General Houston to retreat toward Victoria. Houston did not think the Texans were ready to fight the Mexican army. Fannin waited too long and began to withdrawal on March 19.
Colonel Fannin at Goliad
Fannin’s withdrawal from Goliad was slowed by oxen pulling the heavy cannon. On the afternoon of March 19, he allowed his soldiers to rest and eat. They were about three miles from Coleto Creek in an open prairie. Suddenly, Fannin and the Texans were surrounded by Urrea’s troops. Fannin had about 300 men, Urrea had 300 to 500 men. Fannin assembled his soldiers in a square to meet Urea’s attack. Mexican troops charged three times, bu each time they were driven back. During the fighting, 7 Texans were killed and 60 were wounded including Fannin.
The Mexicans had the advantage of being in the nearby woods. The Texans had little cover and no water. Even so, their spirits remained high. Some of them believed that help would arrive from Victoria. When morning cam, however, it was Urrea who received reinforcements. At daybreak on March 20, Mexican cannons opened fire on Fannin’s army. After a brief exchange of gunfire, Fannin asked General Urrea for the terms of surrender. The officers held a brief discussion, and Fannin signed an agreement of surrender. The Battle of Coleto was over.
Evidence shows that Urrea assured Fannin that the Texans would be treated fairly, no matter what document was signed. According to several Texan survivors, Mexican officers said that the Texans would soon be released. After the surrender was signed, Fannin and his troops were marched back to Goliad, where they were imprisoned in the old presidio.
General Urrea wrote to President Santa Anna requesting that the lives of the prisoners be spared. In his reply, Santa Anna ordered the immediate execution of the Texans. He feared that if he let the Texans go, they would join others in the rebellion.
On Palm Sunday, March 27, the prisoners were divided into three columns and marched out onto the prairie. They believed they were to perform a work detail or even go home. Upon signal, the Mexican soldiers fired at them. A few managed to escape. It is believed that about 350 Texans were executed. General Urrea deeply regretted President Santa Anna’s decision. Many of the Mexicans living in the area opposed the execution.
Surrender at Goliad
Who : Colonel Fannin and his troops
What : A massacre at Goliad where 350 soldiers were executed per Santa Anna.
When : March 27, 1836 (Palm Sunday)
Where : Goliad, Texas
Why : Because Colonel Fannin surrender at the Battle of Coleto Creek and Santa Anna thought the soldiers would join the rebellion.
How was this event significant to the Texas Revolution : This battle also inspired U.S. citizens to aid the Texans in their fight for freedom.
Many families living between the Colorado and Brazos Rivers panicked when they heard of the Alamo disaster and the massacre at Goliad. Texans feared that the Mexican army would harm them too so they left their homes and headed east toward the Sabine River . Heavy rains, lack of food, and sickness made the journey miserable. This event became known at the Runaway Scrape .
The Road to San Jacinto
The Texas cause seemed hopeless in March of 1836. The fall of the Alamo and the losses in South Texas opened the way for the Mexican army to move farther into Texas.
Santa Anna ordered his troops to burn every town and settlement in their path. He believed that the Texas rebellion was crushed. His armies could finish the task by occupying the towns in central and East Texas and by arresting David Burnet and the temporary government. Santa Anna thought this would be an easy task and prepared to return to Mexico.
Sam Houston also knew that the Texas campaign was not over. Two days after his arrival in Gonzales, Houston learned that the Alamo had fallen. He faced difficult decision to fight or flee. His troops numbered fewer than 400, and they were untrained. Houston ordered a retreat eastward toward the Colorado River, hoping to pick up more soldiers. At the same time, he sent orders for Fannin to retreat from Goliad, blow up the garrison there, and join him. Houston needed Fannin’s troops.
Houston’s army began its withdrawal from Gonzales on Sunday, March 13, 1836. A rear guard commanded by Juan Seguin destroyed those provisions that could not be carried. Houston’s forces grew in number as volunteers arrived from the United States. Houston now had nearly 1,400 soldiers under his command, although many of them were untrained and poorly equipped.
Houston spent two weeks at San Felipe de Austin to train the army in the fundamentals of warfare. President David G. Burnet, sent Houston a letter urging him to attack Santa Anna. Houston refused. Hendrick Arnold, an African American scout under Deaf Smith’s command, kept Houston informed about Santa Anna’s army. Posing as a runaway slave, Arnold moved through the Mexican army’s camps and gathered information.
Meanwhile, the Mexican forces advanced toward the Brazos River. As Santa Anna moved to Harrisburg, Houston moved his army toward the San Jacinto River. Many of Houston’s troops believed that his strategy was to lead the Mexican army east to the Sabine River. The Texas army reached Buffalo Bayou on April 18. Houston learned that the Mexican army was nearby. Santa Anna was moving toward the San Jacinto River. Houston moved his army along the banks of Buffalo Bayou to meet the Mexican troops.
April 20, 1836, the Texan troops camped in a grove of oak trees along the banks of the Buffalo Bayou where it joins the San Jacinto River. Buffalo Bayou was at their backs, and the San Jacinto River was on their left.
On that same day, Santa Anna’s army moved to a campsite on the edge of the prairie along the San Jacinto River. The Mexican site was about three-quarters of a mile from Houston’s camp.
On the morning of April 21, 1836, Houston ordered his scouts Erastus “Deaf” Smith and Henry Karnes to destroy the bridge across Vince’s Bayou to the southwest. Destruction of the bridge would cut off a path of retreat for both the Texan and Mexican armies.
At noon General Houston called a council of war with his officers to determine whether to fight that day or to wait until dawn. All favored fighting, but disagreed over whether to attack directly or to set up a defensive position and wait for the enemy to attack.
At 3:30 that afternoon, General Houston ordered his officers to assemble the troops for immediate attack. The battle line was formed. Houston drew his sword and ordered the troops to advance. With this signal, the Texans moved out of the woods and across the open prairie that separated the two armies.
As the Texans moved across the open prairie, the Mexican camp remained quiet. Many of the soldiers were resting and others were watering their horses in a nearby stream. Incredibly, the Texans were upon the enemy camp before the Mexicans knew an attack was upon them.
“ Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” was the battle cry as the Texans opened fire with rifles and cannons. The Mexican officers tried to rally their troops, but it was too late and total confusion resulted and many of the Mexican troops began to flee from the battle. The organized Mexican resistance lasted 18 minutes. The killing continued until dark.
Only 10 Texans lost their lives after the battle of San Jacinto. 30 others were wounded including Houston.
The Mexican army suffered heavy losses 630 were killed and 730 were taken prisoner. Santa +Anna was among the prisoners. Santa Anna disappeared during the fighting and was found the next day dressed as a common soldier. He was not recognized at first. But his own men pointed him out. Houston, who rested under a large oak tree demanded Texas from Santa Anna and Mexico.
Treaties of Velasco
Santa Anna was taken to Velasco to sign two treaties with the Texas government. Both were signed on May 14 1836. One treaty was made public, and the other was kept secret.
In the public treaty, the Mexican ruler promised to never again fight against the Texans. He also agreed to order all Mexican forcers out of Texas immediately.
In return for his freedom, Santa Anna privately agreed to work for Mexican recognition of Texas independence. There secret terms called for the Texas government to release Santa Anna immediately and give him an escort back to Mexico. In return, Santa Anna would also agree to work inside Mexico to get the Texas boundary set at the Rio Grande.