Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Battle of Gonzales / The Start of the Texas Revolution

The Battle of Gonzales at today's Gonzales Texas represented the first confrontation of the historic Texas War of Independence. This was the place where the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired and it involved a cannon in possession of the Texans. This early Battle at Gonzales, which over the course of the next three months drove all the Mexican troops out of the province, brought forth the motto "Come and Take It". It was also the inspiration for the creation of a Come and Take It flag.

battle of gonzalesThe Texas Revolution  was the war which began in Gonzales Texas in October 1835...saw the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar fall to Santa Anna's army on March 6, 1836 and then finally ended with the defeat of the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The Texas victory and the defeat of Santa Anna and the Mexican Army marked the beginning of the Republic of Texas..

Visit Gonzales Texas

You'll find plenty of attractions in Gonzales, Texas which is about a 65 mile drive south of Austin and about a 74 mile drive east of San Antonio.

Visitors to Gonzales each October have the opportunity to attend a reenactment of the Battle of Gonzales. The historic reenactment is part of the Come and Take It Celebration held the first weekend of October. This is a large event with art and craft booths, a flying chicken contest, a big parade, a classic car show and of course the reenactment of the Battle of Gonzales.

Observing the battle reenactment is both fun and educational. Mexican uniforms and weaponry worn by the actors are period correct as are the dress and weaponry of the Texans. The battle shows advancements and retreats of the front lines and even a parley between the two commanders during a lull in the fighting.

The start of the Texas Revolution is reenacted the first Saturday in October at Gonzales Pioneer Village Living History Center just north of town.

texas revolution reenactments
Texas Volunteers at the reenactment
The Battle of Gonzales / Seeking a Cannon

Tensions had been building between the Mexican government led by Santa Anna and the Texans. Everything came to a head when the Mexican dictator Santa Anna sent a Mexican commander by the name of Francisco De Casteneda to retrieve a cannon from the residents of Gonzales. The cannon had been in Gonzales primarily as a defense against Comanche Indian attack. The commander was directed to avoid warfare if possible.

After leaving for Gonzales on September 27th Casteneda and his dragoons reached the west bank of the Guadalupe River opposite Gonzales on September 29th. He couldn't proceed further because of high water and Texan militiamen on the east bank. Casteneda announced that he had a dispatch regarding the cannon for the alcalde of Gonzales but was told he was away from town. The Mexicans then made camp several hundred yards back from the river. While they made camp the Texans rallied forces from the Guadeloupe, the Colorado and the Brazos for added strength. In the meantime the Mexican commander was informed by an Indian that the Texans were assembling a force of about 140 men.

war for texas independence
Mexican soldiers at reenactment
Commander Castaneda decided to try to cross the river at a place not so well defended. As a result he made a new camp about seven miles upriver. Regarding the disputed cannon, the Texans at Gonzales then sent word to the Mexican commander to "Come and Take It."

Time For A Confrontation

On October 2, 1835, the Battle of Gonzales began slowly. With the Mexican camping about seven miles upriver and the Texan volunteers tired of waiting for the Mexicans to make their move, the Texans themselves went upriver toward the Mexican encampment.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below...

A Walking Tour of Historic Gonzales Texas

Visit the Missions in San Antonio Texas

Lockhart Texas / History and the Barbeque Capital  

Visit the Inner Space Caverns / Georgetown, TX

Historic House on Gonzales Walking Tour
You'll find plenty of information regarding the Texas Revolution in excellent books such as...Tejanos in the 1935 Texas Revolution by author L. MacDonald..... Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History , 1835-1836, by author Paul D. Lack.....Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution by author Thom Hatch.

The Texans didn't wish to wait for the possible arrival of Mexican reinforcements which probably wouldn't have come anyways since the Mexican's orders were to secure the settlement's cannon and not specifically engage with a large Texan force.

About 50 Texans along with the cannon set out to approach the Mexican encampment upstream in dense fog. Their presence nearby was announced when a dog started barking and the Mexican sentries started to fire wounding one Texan slightly. When the Texans eventually returned fire with their cannon loaded with scrap metal and a charge, the Texas Revolution was officially underway.

come and take it gonzales texas
A parley between the two sides during the reenactment
A Mexican soldier was wounded and Commander Castaneda opted to return to San Antonio rather than continue the engagement. This is not so surprising since Castaneda's orders were to simply retrieve the small cannon and not particularly engage in battle. Prior to that engagement there was not a state of war between the Texas colonists and the Mexican government.

This confrontation in Gonzales led to the muster of the first Texian Republican Army with Stephen F. Austin as Commander.

Attractions in Gonzales Texas

Visiting Gonzales, Texas is a fun and educational side trip to any Texas vacation or weekend trip. In addition to the annual Come and Get It Celebration and the battle reenactment you'll have the opportunity to view several historic buildings and take an enjoyable walking tour of some of the historic Victorian houses built during the town's growing years of the late 1800's.

Also, you may want to check out some of the fine B & B's in Gonzales, Texas. These include the Belle Oaks Inn at http://www.belleoaksinn.com/ ...the St. James Inn at http://www.stjamesinn.com/...and the Boothe House B & B at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boothe-House-Bed-Breakfast/192514074156808
(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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