The Battle of Gonzales was the first-ever military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It happened on October 2, 1835, and it was between rebellious Texian settlers and Mexican army soldiers. This battle marked the start of the Texas Revolution, which changed the history of the state. In this article, we are going to know more about the essential facts about the Battle of Gonzales and how it became one of the important events not just in Gonzales’ history, but also for Texas.
Before to Battle Began
The tensions between Anglo Texans, known as “Texans, ” and Mexican officials in Texas began by late 1835. This was because the Texians were slowly becoming more and more rebellious. They were smuggling goods in and out of Texas, defying rules, and generally disrespecting Mexican authority every time they get a chance. That is why Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna gave his people an order to disarm the Texians.
The Cannon of Gonzales that Started it All
Some years before the Texians got disarmed, the people from the small town of Gonzales requested a cannon that they can use against the Indigenous raids. Fortunately for them, the Mexican government provided one cannon for them. After the orders of Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was made in 1835, Colonel Domingo Ugartechea immediately sent soldiers to Gonzales to take back the cannon. Tensions between the Mexican army and the Texans in the town got high when a Mexican soldier beat up a Gonzales resident. That is why the people of Gonzales got even angrier and refused to return the cannon. It got to a point where the residents had to arrest the soldiers that were sent to retrieve the cannon.
After learning what happened to the troops, Col. Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons or light cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Francisco de Castañeda to handle the cannon’s retrieval. However, when they were on their way to Gonzales, a small Texian paramilitary met them at the Guadalupe river near Gonzales, who told them that their mayor was unavailable to talk. The Texian paramilitaries did not allow the Mexicans to pass into Gonzales. That is why Lieutenant Castañeda had no choice but to wait and set up camp. After a couple of days, Castañeda and his troops found out that armed Texian volunteers were starting to flood into Gonzales, that is why they decided to move camp and continued to wait.
The Battle of Gonzales
By the end of September 1835, the Texians were getting ready for a fight. They trained about 140 armed rebels to get prepared for action in Gonzales. Aside from this, they also elected John Moore as their leader and gave him the Colonel’s rank. On October 2, 1835, the Texians decided to cross the river and attack the Mexican camp. In fact, the Texians even brought and used the cannon in question on the day of their attack. They even had a makeshift flag that says, “Come and Take it.” Lieutenant Castañeda immediately called for a cease-fire and questioned John Moore on why they had to attack him and his troops. Moore replied to Castañeda and said that they were fighting for the Mexican constitution of 1824 and the cannon.
The Result of the Battle of Gonzales
Lieutenant Castañeda did not want a battle because he was under orders that he should avoid one as much as possible. Aside from that, he may have also sympathized with the Texans when it comes to the terms of states’ rights. That is why he and his troops retreated to San Antonio after losing one man in action. On the other hand, the Texian rebels did not lose any man, with the worst injury being a broken nose because one of their men fell off a horse.
The Battle of Gonzales was short and insignificant. However, it soon started something much more important. What happened on that October morning marked a point of no return for the rebellious and brave Texians. Their “triumph” in the Battle of Gonzales meant that the rest of the resentful settlers and frontiersmen from all over Texas could be active militias and take up arms against Mexico. That is why in a couple of weeks after the Battle of Gonzales, all of Texas was ready for battle, and they even named Stephen F. Austin as the commander of all Texan forces. At the same time, the Mexicans took it as an insult to their national honor.
Gonzales’ battle is considered the first real battle of the Texas Revolution, and it continued through the iconic Battle of the Alamo and concluded in the Battle of San Jacinto.
Today, the Battle of Gonzales is celebrated annually in Gonzales, and it includes a reenactment of the battle and other historical markers to remember the importance of the fight.
If you want to get to know more about the Battle of Gonzales, you can check out the Texas Chamber of Commerce office located at the Old Jail Museum or visit their website. They would be happy to assist you with all your questions regarding the tours and things you should do while you’re in Gonzales, Texas. If you want to see the cannon that sparked the Texas Revolution and for more artifacts related to the event, you can also drop by the Gonzales Memorial Museum.