May 03 2015

In San Antonio, Santa Anna lacked solid information regarding the location of the remaining Texian troops. Impatient to bring the expedition to a conclusion, and believing that he had the Texians on their heels, Santa Anna divided his forces. The bulk of Santa Anna’s troops were sent along the Gonzales road toward San Felipe, beginning with General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma’s brigade, which was ordered from the Alamo on March 11th. 

When the Mexican troops under General Sesma arrived in Gonzales the following day, they found only smoldering remains. Houston had the town burned to the ground rather than to have it fall into Mexican hands. With Houston’s troops having apparently dissolved into the wilderness north of Gonzales, Sesma continued his march along the road to San Felipe.

It would be ten days before they had passed through Gonzales and reached the banks of the swollen Colorado River where the Texians had camped on the other side.

Santa Anna grew restless in San Antonio. As news reached him about political matters in Mexico, he grew eager to return to cement his role as dictator. The military leaders that remained with him in San Antonio counseled him that victory was imminent. They warned that he should not allow the credit to go to one of his other generals, thereby creating a possible political opponent. 


Heavy rains made a mess of the road from San Antonio.

Twenty-three days after the fall of the Alamo, General Santa Anna sent the last forces and artillery from San Antonio to follow the Gonzales Road in support of his other forces. On March 31st, Santa Anna left the Alamo in a carriage to follow his troops. Pouring rain made the carriage ride to Gonzales impractical. By the following day Santa Anna had mounted a horse and sent the carriage back to San Antonio. While the Gonzales road made carriage travel difficult, it was even worse for the Mexican artillery units.

While Santa Anna covered the muddy ground of the Gonzales road at a steady pace, his Generals made slow progress along the road. The Mexican forces were held up for days at the Guadalupe River crossing at Gonzales and the Colorado River crossing west of San Felipe. 

Sesma’s troops required three full days to cross the Colorado River. The artillery spent two days crossing the Guadalupe River at Gonzales. The crossing required an increasingly impatient Santa Anna to leave troops behind to protect the artillery as it crossed the Colorado.

Colorado River
Crossing the swollen Colorado River presented a challenge for the Mexican Army.

When Santa Anna and Sesma’s troops reached San Felipe, more than a month after the fall of the Alamo, they again found a town destroyed by the Texians.

The muddy terrain and swollen rivers of the Gonzales Road had stretched Santa Anna’s armies and resources. Perhaps fatally, it had stretched Santa Anna’s patience. By the time Santa Anna had crossed the Brazos, he was so eager to conclude his victory he further divided his forces. Moving with a diminished force he was captured by the smaller Texian army at San Jacinto.

EPILOGUE

As the defeated Mexican army left Texas through the muddy coastal plains, Sam Houston dispatched Juan Seguin to San Antonio. When Juan Seguin arrived in San Antonio on June 4th, only a small contingent of Mexican troops remained at the Alamo. Seguin formally accepted the surrender of the Alamo from the Mexican Army by Lieutenant Francisco Castañeda, the same officer who had been dispatched to Gonzales, less than a year before, to demand the surrender of their cannon.