Heritage, 2011, Volume 2 Page: 20
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to nearly 30,000. Although many Tejano leaders wel-
comed the newcomers, disputes between the immigrants
and the Mexican government arose. Incoming Americans,
accustomed to the United States' own Federalism-based
government, opposed Texas' slide towards Centralism,
and sided with their Mexican counterparts. Their political
activism guaranteed a crackdown by Santa Anna's Cen-
tralist regime, which came in the summer of 1835.
Texas' frontier condition presented an additional prob-
lem for the newly-established Federal Republic of Mexico.
Politicians organizing the nation designated Texas as a po-
litical department and created a new entity called Coahui-
la y Tejas. The men who framed the Constitution of 1824
determined that Texas lacked the population required for
separate statehood, a decision that displeased both Tejanos
and incoming Americans. The capital of the new state was
Saltillo, a town 750 miles to the south of Bexar. Resenting
its loss of power, Bexar feuded with Saltillo in the years
prior to the Texas Revolution. Little fighting occurred,
but representatives from Bexar and its allies inflicted
a significant political defeat on Saltillo when they suc-
cessfully relocated the state capital to Monclova. Santa
Anna's switch from Federalism to Centralism further
divided the inhabitants of Coahuila y Tejas: Al-
though Saltillo pronounced in favor of Santa Anna,
Bexar and Monclova reaffirmed their support for the
Federal Constitution of 1824. As events unfolded,
Santa Anna ordered General Martin Perfecto de Cos
to close the state legislature at Monclova before ad-
vancing into Texas.
The town of San Antonio de Bexar, home of the Alamo,
has also received renewed scholarly attention regarding its
role in the revolution. Prior to Cos' shutdown of the legis-
lature of Coahuila y Tejas, Federalist representatives meet-
ing at Monclova had voted to allow Governor Agustin
Viesca to transfer the capital to Bexar. Not only was the
town further away from Centralist reach, it was also an
important community, having enjoyed the status as the
governmental center of Spanish Texas. Bexar's merchants
controlled much of the frontier commerce, the settlement
had a military garrison, and the location served as the
western gateway to the east. San Antonio de B6xar ex-
perienced two battles during the Texas Revolution. In
December 1835, Texan forces took control of Bexar and
drove the Centralists out. Several months later, on Feb-
ruary 23, 1836, Santa Anna arrived to reclaim the for-
mer capital. The Texan defenders occupying the Alamo
endured a two-week long siege before being annihi-
lated on March 6, placing Bexar securely back under
the Mexican government's ruling authority. As a dem-
onstration of its importance, Santa Anna left behind a
garrison numbering nearly 1,000 men when he resumed
his eastward advance.
Despite the heroism of the Alamo defenders, general
opinion held that the Battle of the Alamo was a needless
fight, but some historians now question this conclusion.
The basis for the traditional interpretation rests on Gen-
eral Sam Houston's order for James Bowie to abandon
the town. Although Houston desired this action, Gov-
ernor Henry Smith and the General Council, a body of
elected delegates leading the Texas rebellion, intervened
and countermanded the general's order. Defending Bexar
became part of an overall strategy of protecting the Texas
frontier. The plan's supporters believed that both Bexar
and Goliad (the location of Presidio La Bahia) blocked the
two major routes likely to be used by Santa Anna. Stop-
ping the Mexican military's retaliatory counterattack at
these points would protect the settlements located behind
the line. Considering the violence that followed after the
Alamo's fall and Goliad's abandonment, the frontier line
concept had merit. Unfortunately, too few men and sup-
plies existed to effectively protect either garrison at Bexar
and Goliad, let alone both of them.
The lack of resources, however, was not the greatest
problem the Texans faced in resisting Santa Anna's advance.
The provisional government had broken into two rival fac-
tions with the garrison at Bexar faithful to Governor Smith
and the defenses at Goliad loyal to the General Council.
Smith favored defending the frontier line, while the Gen-
eral Council championed an offensive campaign against
Matamoros. General Houston, who commanded the regu-
lar Texas Army, had yet to raise a force of soldiers, with
Dr. Bruce Winders gives a lecture on the Texas Revolution at the Bob
Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin, on February 20 of this year.
Courtesy of the BBTSHM.
20 TEXASHERITAGE I Volume 2 2011
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 2, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254221/m1/22/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.