The Texas Revolution




The Texas Revolution


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The Texas Revolution


Texas Revolution


The Texas Revolution is an event that occurred within a larger Mexican civil war. The civil war of Mexico was between the Federalists who created the Constitution of 1824 (which the Texans supported) and the Centralists whose leader was Santa Anna, who wanted to repeal the Constitution of 1824.


The Texas Revolution: Insurgent (Texan) Perspective


First Phase: October- December 1835

The Texan rebellion began on October 2, 1835, when colonists gathered at Gonzales to prevent Mexican troops from retrieving small cannon that had been given to the town for protection against raiding Indians. The Texan rebels easily defeated the Mexican Army.  By late October, the colonists had formed a volunteer army and marched to San Antonio de Béxar and attacked the Mexican garrison. They captured it after a five day battle. The Mexican garrison was allowed to leave Texas with the stipulation that they do not support ending the Federal Constitution of 1824.

In November, Texas delegates assembled in the Consultation, a meeting called to give direction to the colonists’ fight against the Mexican Centralists. Delegates officially stated that the purpose of the revolt was to re-institute the Federal Constitution of 1824 which had been repealed by the Centralists under Santa Anna. It was hoped that a united front could be formed with Federalists in other Mexican states, thereby creating a coalition to fight Santa Anna. The Consultation appointed Sam Houston as commander-in-chief of the army, Henry Smith as the governor, and other men to serve in an advisory body called the General Council.

Second Phase: December 1835- February 1836

The unity that had existed in the first phase of the revolt evaporated as the insurgents began to argue among themselves over what course of action should next be pursued.  Some of the Texan rebels decided to continue the battle by taking the war into Mexico. Their objective was Matamoros, a city near the mouth of the Rio Grande that had a customhouse. The capture of Matamoros would place the insurgents in control of the customs and keep the war out of Texas. This movement became known as the Matamoros Expedition and was led by General James W. Fannin. The men who went on the Matamoros Expedition took much of the clothing and equipment that had been stockpiled in San Antonio de Bexar. Thus, the Matamoros Expedition greatly weakened the Texans ability to defend Béxar should the Centralists return. Houston went to make a treaty with the Cherokee Indians that would keep them from aiding the Centralists. The desire of most insurgents had changed from re-institution of the Federal Constitution of 1824 to an outright separation from Mexico. Thus, the independence movement was growing stronger.



Third Phase: February – April 1836


The Mexican Army returned to Texas and found the insurgents unprepared. General Antonio López de Santa Anna led a group of Centralist troops to San Antonio de Béxar. His goal was to recapture this important political center. Another group of Mexican troops, commanded by General José Urrea, advanced to Matamoros to meet the threat to that city. Once Matamoros had been secured, Urrea marched northward toward Goliad and the Texans who had gathered in that area.

William B. Travis was in charge of the Texan garrison in San Antonio- at the Alamo. The Texans had too few soldiers, but Travis and his men were determined to hold the Alamo. Although Travis sent for reinforcements, they did not arrive in time. Béxar fell to the Mexicans on March 6, 1836.

After the loss in Matamoros, Fannin and his men retreated north to Coleto Creek. Despite orders from Sam Houston to continue retreating, Fannin waited too long and was overcome by Urrea and his Mexican forces. When cannons opened fire on Fannin’s men, he asked Urrea for an agreement of surrender. The Texans were taken to an old presidio where they awaited their release. Instead, they were marched into a field outside of Goliad and executed. 

Delegates had assembled at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 1 to decide on Texas’ political future. The convention declared independence from Mexico and announced the formation of the Republic of Texas. The convention reappointed Sam Houston commander of the army. On March 6, Houston left to oversee the effort to reinforce the garrison trapped at the Alamo. He arrived on March 11 to learn that the Alamo had already fallen. He ordered general retreat eastward, collecting men along the way.

Houston’s retreat coupled with the advance of the victorious Mexican Centralists after San Antonio and Goliad, started a mass exodus of civilians and government officials called the Runaway Scrape. Many feared that they would only find safety by reaching the Louisiana-Texas border and the protection of the United States.

By mid-April, Houston and his army were in the area of the present-day city that bears his name, then called San Jacinto. On April 20, he learned that Santa Anna had advanced ahead of his army and was vulnerable. On April 21, he attacked the Centralist leader’s camp at San Jacinto and defeated him. Santa Anna escaped but was captured the following day. Although there were still Mexican forces in Texas, the dramatic results at the Battle of San Jacinto effectively ended the Mexican campaign to reclaim Texas.


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The Texas Revolution