Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 36
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36 TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
wanted government separate from Coahuila, title to
their lands in East Texas, an end to encroachment on
Indian lands, a militia to protect them from Indian
raids, and government-provided land for public
The Mexican officials considered the convention il-
legal. Under their system, the method for approaching
the government was on the local level, through the
ayuntamientos. They refused to consider the peti-
One result of the convention was the organization
of a "committee of safety and correspondence" in
each district to established a communications network
among the colonies. Small, local committees of safety
and correspondence already existed in several Anglo
communities, mainly to organize defense against Indi-
an raids. Their number increased as the dissatis-
faction with Mexican rule spread. On May 8, 1835, Mina
became the first town to form a committee of safety
and correspondence in response to the Mexican gov-
ernment's unrest. Other communities soon followed.
Mina, later renamed Bastrop, was established in 1825
near the site of Puesta del Colorado, a Spanish fort lo-
cated on the Camino Real. It was named for Mexican
revolutionary leader Xavier Mina.
Despite the government's objections, a second con-
vention met in April 1833, which called for repeal of the
Law of April 6, 1830, and separation from Coahuila. The
delegates even framed and approved a state constitu-
tion. Stephen F. Austin took the demands of the con-
vention to Mexico City. After long delays, President
Santa Anna appeared to agree to many of the reforms.
However, Austin was arrested in Saltillo on his return
trip and was sent to prison in Mexico City, further infu-
riating the Anglos.
Santa Anna began centralizing the federalist gov-
ernment, and those who opposed him were brutally re-
pressed. However, he did repeal the Law of April 6,
1830, in 1834. With this victory, colonists were encour-
aged to continue fighting for a more responsive gov-
ernment. A new convention, called a "consultation" to
avoid upsetting the suspicious Mexican officials, was
scheduled for October 1835 at Washington-on-the-Bra-
zos. Its purpose was "to secure peace if it is to be
obtained on constitutional terms, and to prepare for
war, if war be inevitable." Austin had returned from
prison in Mexico convinced that war was the only
means by which the colonists could gain their rights
under the Constitution of 1824. Delegates to the consul-
tation, which was postponed until November, created a
provisional government and named Henry Smith gov-
Santa Anna sent his brother-in-law, Gen. Martin
Perfecto de Cos, to bolster the military presence in
Texas. Cos headed for Bexar with about 400 troops,
with more to follow. Col. Domingo Ugartechea, at San
Antonio, ordered Lt. Francisco Castaneda and 100
troops to retrieve a cannon from Gonzales - a six-
pounder lent to the residents to protect them from
Indian raids. The colonists refused to give it up. Arriv-
ing at Gonzales on Oct. 2, 1835, Mexican troops were
confronted with a banner flying over the cannon bear-
ing the words "Come and Take It." The defiant offi-
cials at Gonzales stuffed the barrel with chains and
scrap iron and fired. After a brief skirmish, the Mex-
icans retreated. As battles go, it was minor. But the
first shots of the Texas revolution had been fired.
Santa Anna, the self-proclaimed "Napoleon of the
West" had pushed his way to the top of the Mexican po-
litical ladder. The ambitious general shifted positions
with every change in the political wind.
Santa Anna began his military career in the Spanish
empire, serving under Gen. Arredondo in the bloody
Green Flag revolt of 1813. He fought on the republican
side in the Mexican Revolution of 1821, but soon parted
company with its leader, Agustin de Iturbide. By 1833,
he was supreme leader of Mexico. In his career, he was
ruler of Mexico 11 times and was exiled five times. He
was, first and foremost, a survivor.
While the Texans at Gonzales had protected their
cannon, Gen. Cos entered San Antonio and barricaded
the streets. The Mexican forces at Gonzales moved west
to join him.
The consultation at Washington-on-the-Brazos
named Stephen F. Austin commander in chief, and he
marched for San Antonio on Oct. 12, 1835, along with
James Bowie, James W. Fannin Jr. and 90 men. The
Texans made camp on the evening of Oct. 27 about a
mile from the Concepcion mission. The Mexican force
of about 400 that attacked the next morning was defeat-
ed by the 93 Texans in a 30-minute battle. The Texans
lost only one man; the Mexicans lost 60.
The consultation that met on Nov. 3 in San Felipe
faced a fundamental question: Were the colonists sup-
porting the Mexican Constitution of 1824 or fighting for
independence? The delegates compromised by calling
for a provisional government under the Constitution of
1824. The delegates elected Sam Houston commander in
chief. The provisional government included a governor,
lieutenant governor and a general council with one del-
egate from each municipality.
Houston sent appeals for help to all corners of the
United States. Unable to offer pay, he offered land.
Money for the Texas cause was collected at gatherings
as far afield as Mobile, Ala., Macon, Ga., and at Tam-
many Hall in New York.
In New Orleans, two separate groups of men, both
called the New Orleans Greys, signed up as volunteers
and marched for Texas. There a girl presented the first
group with a banner of azure blue fringed with gold,
with the words "First Company of Texan Volunteers!
From New-Orleans." In the center of the flag was an
eagle with the legend "God and Liberty." Some histori-
ans claim that the flag that flew over the Alamo was a
modified Mexican flag, with the central eagle removed
and the number 1824 in its place, signifying the Texans'
wish to return to the Mexican Constitution of 1824.
There is no evidence of such a banner, however. The
only flag that was captured by the Mexican army at the
Alamo was that of the New Orleans Greys. The second
company of New Orleans Greys went to Goliad to serve
On they came, lured by the promise of adventure
and action: the Kentucky Mustangs, the Red Rovers of
Alabama, the Mobile Greys. If near-hysterical fervor
and ardent patriotism could win battles, the outcome at
the Alamo would have been different.
The main Texas army now joined the victorious
Concepcion battle participants in a siege of San Anto-
nio, their numbers increased by the out-of-state re-
cruits. The siege lasted more than a month; the Texans,
new and old, became restless and bored. On Dec. 5, Ben
Milam, tired of waiting, led the assault on Cos and his
troops with a special force of 300. After five days of
house-to-house fighting, Cos capitulated and marched
his remaining men toward Laredo, promising not to in-
terfere in the restoration of the provisions of the Consti-
tution of 1824. The Texans now held San Antonio.
Believing that seizure of the town of Matamoros, the
Mexican town at the mouth of the Rio Grande, would be
beneficial to the cause of constitutional government,
the council sent an attack force to the border city. Com-
mander Frank W. Johnson and James Grant stripped
the garrison at San Antonio of supplies for the expedi-
tion. They took horses, blankets, food, arms, ammu-
nition, clothing and medicines and headed south.
Fannin raised a force of about 400 volunteers for the
effort, then settled in at Goliad, fortifying the site and
drilling the troops as he waited.
Meeting Johnson and Grant and their force of
about 500 men near Refugio, Sam Houston persuaded
most of them that the Matamoros project was futile. He
then washed his hands of the affair and left for East
Texas. With only about 150 troops left, Johnson's group
was wiped out almost to a man in early 1836 by the Mex-
ican cavalry advancing north under Jose Urrea.
The garrison at San Antonio was dwindling fast. The
ill-fated Matamoros expedition had taken a large num-
ber of men. With few supplies, no clothing and no ene-
my to fight - and when the paymaster did not arrive in
January - many simply left and went home to their
families. By mid-January 1836, the commander, Col.
James C. Neill, was left with only about 80 men.
On Jan. 17, Gen. Houston sent 40-year-old Col.
James Bowie and between 25 and 30 men from Goliad to
San Antonio with instructions to dismantle the fortifica-
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/40/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.