May 03 2015

The government of Mexico drifted away from the 1824 Constitution under which the Texians had sworn allegiance to Mexico. In 1833, General Santa Anna was elevated to President of Mexico and began dismantling the constitution’s federalist provisions. He moved to centralize the government, repeal liberal reforms, and dispose of the Mexican Congress. 

Tensions between the Mexican government and the Texian colonies increased. Mexico feared Terán’s concerns about a Texian rebellion would be realized. 

In the autumn of 1835, the Mexican government in San Antonio decided to act. More than one hundred soldiers under Lieutenant Francisco de Castañeda were dispatched to Gonzales to retrieve a cannon Mexico had previously provided the colonists for protection. 

Castañeda arrived at the crossing of the Old Gonzales Road and the Guadalupe River to find that the ferry had been removed to the Gonzales side. Albert Martin, captain of the Gonzales militia stalled the Mexicans from the other side of the crossing while reinforcements could arrive. Most of these volunteers traveled to Gonzales from the east, along the newly laid out road. The Texian colonists decided to pick a fight with the Mexicans, and refused to surrender the cannon. 

The flag created and flown at the Battle of Gonzales

The Texians and Mexicans briefly exchanged gunfire, with James Neill firing the sought after cannon. Castañeda, operating under orders to avoid hostilities, returned to San Antonio. This exchange along the road to Gonzales would be written about as the “Lexington of the Texas Revolution”

News of the battle at Gonzales was dispatched by courier along the road to San Felipe where Stephen F. Austin received it. As chairman of the ‘Committee of Safety’ Austin issued a statement:

War is declared against military despotism. Public opinion has proclaimed it with one united voice. The campaign has opened.

Volunteers poured into Gonzales. Upon arriving from San Felipe, Austin was unanimously elected commander-in-chief of the forces. Austin’s army left Gonzales and advanced along the road to San Antonio. On October 16th, the army set up a camp at the Cibolo Crossing and moved to the Salado Crossing on October 20th. 

While camped along the San Antonio to Gonzales Road at the Salado, Sam Houston visited the camp. Houston had travelled from San Felipe to collect members of the Consultation. Members of the Consultation were needed in San Felipe so that a provisional government could be seated. 

Austin’s army followed the road into San Antonio, and successfully laid siege to the city. In mid December, the Mexican troops garrisoned in the Alamo under General Martín Perfecto de Cos (Santa Anna’s brother-in-law) surrendered. The Mexican Army had been driven from Texas by the end of 1835. Most of the Texians returned to their homes believing that victory had been achieved. 

In Mexico, Antonio López de Santa Anna had replaced the Constitution of 1824 with his military dictatorship. He began moving his army to San Antonio. The Texians had provided Santa Anna with an opportunity to avenge the stain his brother-in-law’s surrender of the Alamo had made on his family’s honor.