Heritage, Volume 18, Number 2, Spring 2000 Page: 27
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without valor in battle. With these military
credentials and with "el tigre del norte"
at some unknown location potentially
poised for the strike, Canales and his followers
turned to politics. On January 18 in
Laredo they formed a provisional government
called the Republic of the Rio
Grande. The only sense to this move was
that the federalist cause had collapsed everywhere
else in Mexico, making the restoration
of that constitutional order
impossible.Thus, the insurgents in the
north transformed their cause to a separate
nation for the states of Coahuila, Nuevo
Le6n, and Tamaulipas including the region
on the northside of the Rio Grande to the
traditional limits of Texas, the Nueces River.
They elected officials, issued proclamations,
and sent out emissaries to the Republic of
Texas seeking recognition and support.'
Their case rested on the idea that a buffer
nation would insulate Texas from Mexican
efforts to re-establish its authority. Others
feared that extending aid to the Republic
of the Rio Grande would only reinvigorate
Mexico's zeal for Texas.
The small structure at lower left, with flags,
is the original headquarters of the Republic
of the Rio Grande. The building now houses
the Webb County Heritage Foundation.
M eanwhile, Canales gave
military matters his typical desultory attention,
causing more of his Texas followers
to head home. This occurred while
Arista was headed north to destroy the
insurgents. Canales, apparently ignorant
of his opponent's whereabouts, moved
southward toward Monclova. He then
recklessly exposed his greatest fighter by
detaching Zapata to forage. Zapata rummaged
around a pro-centralist village
named Santa Rita de Morelos, tarrying
too long at the urging of town officials
who knew that a government detachment
was on the way. On March 24 he
found his unit overwhelmed by numbers
and lacking an escape route. Zapata
fought vigorously but ran out of ammunition.
Canales hastened to the scene but
in character he arrived too late - after
Zapata had surrendered and Arista had
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HERITAGE * 27 * SPRING 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 18, Number 2, Spring 2000, periodical, Spring 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45390/m1/27/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.