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Las Casas Insurrection--Bexareños Reinstate Gov. Salcedo--Capture and Execution of Hidalgo and Associates. On 21 Jan 1811, former militia captain from Nuevo Santander, Juan Bautista de Las Casas and enlisted men from the Quartel barracks in La Villita marched on Casa Reales and arrested Gov. Salcedo and Lt. Col. Herrara and staff. Las Casas appointed himself head of a provisional government, confiscated loyalist property and announced his association with the Hidalgo forces. Las Casas put Gov. Salcedo and associates in chains and marched them to Monclova where insurrectionist Pedro de Aranda held them at the hacienda of former royalist turned rebel, Lt. Col. Ignacio Elizondo. The Las Casas movement spread to Nacogdoches and other East Texas outposts under Lt. Antonio Saenz. However, Las Casas arrogance and actions began to appear no different than the royalists that he had overturned. This was amplified by the arrogance of Hidalgo associates Ignacio Aldama and Juan Salazar when they visited San Antonio and Las Casas on their way to appeal for aid in the USA. Las Casas also made the mistake of ignoring isleño aristocrats and former army officers who were Texans first and royalists second. He also alienated his chief associate Antonio Saenz. Opposition to Las Casas began to organize around Juan Manuel Zambrano, a subdeacon in the Church of San Fernando. With the support of San Antonio notables Ignacio Perez, José Erasmo Seguin, Juan Veramendi and Francisco Ruiz, Zambrano seized back control of Casa Reales without a fight, pledged fidelity to King Ferdinand VII, arrested rebels and sent riders to inform Provincias Commandant Nemecio Salacedo of his actions. The messengers from Zambrano rode south and encountered royalist sympathizers near San Fernando, Coahuila who led them to Hacienda Elizondo where Gov. Salcedo was confined. Apparently association with and the persuasion of his captors and arrival of the messengers caused Elizondo to return to the royalist fold.
On 21 Mar, Elizondo, Salcedo, Herrera, the riders from San Antonio and José Menchaca and other royalists surprised and apprehended Father Hidalgo, Mariano Jimenéz, Juan Aldama, Ignacio Allende and other leaders of the insurrectionist Army of the Americas at the Wells of Baján. Gov. Salcedo hurriedly escorted 27 prisoners from Montclova to Commandant Salcedos headquarters at Chihuahua. A seven-member tribunal headed by Gov. Salcedo found the group guilty of high treason and sentenced them to death by firing squad with shots to the back. Ecclesiastical inquisitors prior to sentencing by the tribunal defrocked Hidalgo who was shot in the chest privately because of his service to the church. Las Casas of San Antonio suffered the same fate (see Proceedings of Trial and Execution of Juan Bautista de las Casas). The heads of all were severed and, except that of Las Casas, were displayed in a cage at the Alhondiga for ten years in Guanajuato, while that of Las Casas was salted and displayed in military plaza in San Antonio as warning to those who would oppose the King of Spain. Simon de Herrera returned to receive control of San Antonio from Zambrano, royalist Cristobal Dominguez assumed control of Nacogdoches, all instrumental in re-establishment of royal rule received reward and promotion except Gov. Salcedo. Gov. Salcedo had lost face in mostly his own eyes by the ease of loss of Casa Reales and San Antonio to the rebels, he craved official exoneration, but reluctantly returned to his post as Governor of Texas. His troubles were only beginning and the futility of his cause increasing.
In 1811, idealist Revilla native Don José Bernardo Maximiliano Gutiérrez de Lara became dedicated to the Hidalgo Independence movement. Consequently he received the rank of Lt. Colonel in Hidalgo's Army of the Americas and traveled to Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia to enlist aid for his personal goals in the movement in Texas. In Washington and Philadelphia he met Caribbean adventurer José Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois who was a wanted man by Spanish authorities in Texas. Both on his exit and return trip through the Neutral Ground on the Texas-Louisiana border, he received sympathy and encouragement by numerous factions interested in Texas. In Natchitoches, Gutiérrez laid plans to invade Texas from the east. He enjoined another adventurer and former US Army Lieutenant Augustus William Magee to carry out the mission in the field. William Shaler, an American consul to Havana, Europe and Algiers and writer, also supported the two. It is believed that Shaler and indirectly Gutiérrez and Magee had the blessing of the American government as high as Secretary of State James Monroe, however, the official US stance after the invasion was disapproval. From their headquarters in the Neutral Ground, Gutiérrez and Magee openly advertised and assembled recruits from Louisiana with impunity for the Republican Army of the North and adopted the emerald green flag, possibly because of Bostonite Magees Irish background. Volunteers were offered forty dollars a month and a league of to-be-captured land. From San Antonio, Texas governor Salcedo followed the developments through his intelligence network and intensively tried to enlist more aid from his superiors and comrades in arms south of the Rio Grande to prepare for invasion and limit distribution of rebel propaganda. Governor Manuel Salcedo was continuously treated arrogantly by his distal and protocol-oriented bureaucratic uncle and Commandant Nemesio Salcedo. Either the latter did not clearly understand the mounting difficulties on the Texas border, or found them of low strategic priority. Nacogdoches commander Captain Montero, supported by subdeacon Juan Zambrano of Bexar, maintained their forces on high alert appealing to Gov. Salcedo for reinforcements. On 12 Aug 1812, the Republican Army of the North of about 150 men crossed the Sabine River and took Nacogdoches without resistance. Royalist Capt. Montero was unable to recruit a single civilian minuteman for the cause and as he retreated toward San Antonio, numerous members of his army and residents of East Texas joined the invaders. By late fall the Republican Army of the North controlled the area between the Sabine and Guadalupe Rivers. Lt. Col. Gutiérrez announced his intentions and appealed for popular support in the capital San Antonio:
A complicating factor to both the rebel army and the royal government under Gov. Salcedo was the appearance of Dr. John Hamilton Robinson. Robinson was with Lt. Pike from the time he was arrested by Spanish forces near Santa Fé and his escort out of Texas to Louisiana. According to some historians, Robinson at the time was a British agent. Upon capture by rebel forces, it was learned that he had been sent by Secretary Monroe to meet Commandant Salcedo in Chihuahua to discuss problems on the eastern frontier and relay the sincerity of the US government "to cooperate with Spain in proper policing of the frontier." Robinson was released when he promised to not reveal details of the rebel force and he was welcomed by Salcedo and Herrera in San Antonio, who were equally suspicious of Robinson and fearful of his learning their position, but wishing to learn of anything from his experience. After escorting Robinson on his way to the Rio Grande, Salcedo and Lt. Governor Muñoz de Echavarria deployed along the Guadalupe River east of San Antonio to meet the invading Republican Army. Learning of this, Gutiérrez and Magee turned south down the Guadalupe River valley, proceeded to La Bahia where they took control without much resistance, but where soon after Gov. Salcedo began a prolonged siege of the presidio where the rebels were grouped. Neither could budge the other and the stalemate was tying up meager forces on both sides. Finally a three day cease fire was called and Gov. Salcedo met with Col. Magee in reportedly a gentlemanly meeting with dinner and the trimmings. At the conclusion of the meeting Magee agreed to give up the fort for safe passage with provisions to the Sabine River. Part of the agreement was that Mexican insurgents in the Republican Army would be turned over to Gov. Salcedo, terms which were refused by the rank and file, both Anglo and Hispanic, the cease fire ended and the stalemate continued. In December, Col. Magee became ill and ineffective and died in Feb 1813. His death remains controversial among historians, some contending that it was a suicide. Col. Magee was later denounced by comrade-in-arms, Col.Gutiérrez:
Oddly enough, just when Magee died and the group at La Bahia was the most vulnerable, Gov. Salcedo and Col. Simón Herrera (Governor of Nuevo León and one time interim governor of Texas) lifted the siege and returned to San Antonio, the retreat giving cause for more royalist defections to the rebel cause. Commanded by Virginian Col. Samuel Kemper, who took over after Magees death, and buttressed by more recruits from the Neutral Ground and coastal Lipan and Tonkawa Indians, the Republican Army moved along the San Antonio River toward San Antonio where they were engaged by Col. Herreras royalist forces at Salado Creek. Col. Herreras army was routed in the engagement known as the Battle of Rosilla (also called Battle of Salado) at the expense of 330 men killed and 60 captured. As the Republican Army moved toward San Antonio, Gov. Salcedo composed a twelve point plan of honorable surrender and delivered it to Col. Gutiérrez who was camped at Mission Concepcion.
Capture and Execution of Royalist Gov. Salcedo. Gov. Salcedo and Col. Herrera dined with several of the Anglo officers the same evening and with dignity formally surrendered on the plaza in front of Casas Reales the next morning. Gov. Salcedo offered his sword in traditional ceremonial surrender to Anglo officers who suggested that he present to Col. Gutiérrez, their Commander-in-Chief. Apparently unwilling to make the offering to a rebel Hispanic, Salcedo instead plunged his sword into the ground. Gutiérrez released all rebel prisoners, formed a provisional government as governor and organized a tribunal, which found Salcedo and Herrera guilty of treason against the Hidalgo movement and condemned them to death. Anglo officers protested the decision and seemingly convinced self-appointed Governor and Generalissimo of the Republic Gutiérrez to spare them and send them to prison in southern Mexico or exile in Louisiana. The prisoners were placed under the escort of Mexican rebel Capt. Antonio Delgado and his company who the Americans believed were taking them to Matagorda Bay to sail for points south in Mexico or New Orleans. Delgado along with Pedro Prado and Francisco Ruiz of Alamo de Parras Company led them as far as Salado Creek about six miles outside San Antonio, site of the battle that that had occurred just several days before. There the rebel company ordered the prisoners to dismount, disrobe and after removing their valuables, the company slit the throats, and according to some, removed the tongue and beheaded Gov. Salcedo, Herrera and 12 others leaving them lying at the site without burial. Delgado returned to San Antonio boasting and joking of their butchery, which was announced publicly on military plaza.
The following is a document in the Lamar Papers labeled "1835, [M. B. LAMAR, SABINE RIVER]. INFORMATION FROM CAPT. GAINES." In the document by James Gaines, a participant in the Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, he describes the Nolan expedition, The Battle of Medina, about Lafitte, about Trespalacious and The Origin of the "Revon." [Revolution] in Texas 1812. Notes in Lamar's handwriting at the end of the treatise remark that the account is strikingly similar to one by Hall some 15 years afterwards.
The Battle of Medina
After the Battle of Salado, we took possession of St Antonio 1st April 1813---at which time 1.4 Spanish officers surrendered without Battle, who were confined separately as crimnals; this was followed by another surrender on the same day, of 8 hundred soldiers & their officers, who joined the ranks of the patriots and took an oath to support the cause of the Revolution---On the 5the April the successful Patriots formed a new Govermt, Electing Bernardo Gutaris [Gutiérrez] Governor, an a council of 13 chosen out from among the inhabitants of the Town with the exception of two taken from the army, Americans by the names Masicote and Hale Several serious difficulties had arisen in the patriot army about trying prisoners; On their march from Labordee [La Bahia?] to St Antonio it was proposed by Capt. Gaines of the artillery, that in future to settle all further difficulty, the Mexicans should try the Mexican prisoners & the Americans should try the Americans taken. This agreement was drawn up in writing & signed.
A question now arose as to what disposition should be made of the 14 Prisoners who had surrendered themselves? It was determid by the Mexicans that they should be tried by a Court Martial & be shot; and for this purpose the court was accordingly organized---It was composed of the family of Monchacks [Manchaca] & their influnced. This family had been injured by these very men, and the result of court was a verdict of death. They were however affraid to carry the sentence into open execution, for fear of displeasing the Americans who the Mexicans knew to be averse to such a bloody and sanguinary course. Under the pretence of sending them to Matagorda with a view of shipping them thence to Mexico, the prisoners were taken out at night and their throats cut. When this was known to the patriot army, it created a sensation of general horror among the American portion of it, and came very near breaking up the whole army. The reader doubtless will feel on readig an account of it a similar horror. But this will be allaved on further development of facts.
For the purpose of quieting the discontent which this seemingly cruel act had produced among the soldiers, Capt Gaines who was made familiar knowing to all the causes which induced and led to it was commission to make to the army the necessary explenation. The charges prefer against the 14 prisoners were their treachery to Hidalgo, Moncha and others whom they entrapped by villiany & murdered most inhumanly without trial or cause. The prisoners names were Salcedo the Govr. of Bexar, and Govr. A Herrero of the army, and Marcus and other officers Civil and military names not remenbrd. Monchack Lieut Sice, had gone to raise volunters for the patriotic army the former to Natchitoches and the latter to Nacogdoches. They had both succeeded in raising a large company, when the above criminals, Salcedo Herrero & others, induced them by bribery to abandon the cause; they accordigly let their men which they had raised & returned to St Antonio. On their arrival they were both taken up and publicly executed. Monchack head was exhibited publicly on the gate posts. His treachery deserved the fate he recd. But his family was now sitting in judgemt on these very men who had ordered the death of their relative---Their feeligs & their voice on the occasion may be easily known. This was one of the charges---on which they were tried; another Charge was their treachery & violence to Hidalgo---Hidalgo & Ryon the leadig patriots of the Revolution, had long been objects of terror & hatred. Salcedo, Herrera, and Marcus now formed a plan to destroy them. There was at Monoclover a patriot by the name of Elesondo, who was well known to Hidalgo & Ryon; He was bribed by Salcedo, & his associats to write on to Hidalgo to come on Texas; that his presence was wanted here. Hidalgo's cause was prosperous in the Interior; every where he moved Crowds flocked to the standard. Elesondo wrote to him, that the people in Texas were a ripe for Revolution; that they only waited his presence to unite the and form a government. Hidalgo was pleased with the intellegence and immediately sat about makig preparations to move on to Texas. Ryon suspected treachery and withdrew his forces but Hidalgo knowing Elisondo to be a zealous patriot, doubted not, and accordigly marched at the head of a large and wealthy concourse towards Texas his followers came not as an army but rather as friends on a visit. As he was passing a gap in a mountain between Saltillo and Monclover, at the head of his cavalcade, he found himself way laid by force of three hundred who had been placed there for his apprehension by Salcedo; he was made prisoner, hurried on to Monclover first however being forced to issue orders to his followers to surrender, which they all did, not so much by virtue of the order as from the necessity of the case, for they came on peace & were not prepared for war. Hidalgo & some of his principle followers were tied to the tails of wild mules and on the open praries Kicked to Death-This was the second & I deem all suffient ground of the condmnatn and execution of the above prisoners. The explanation was satisfactory to the army, satisfaction restored.
[Gaines refers to the assassination of Manchaca again]: When Gutaris was sent as an agent to raise assistance in the US Monshack [Menchaca] came with him; he stopped at Natchitoches while Gutaris went on to Washington--Manshack remaining behind on the nutral ground for a short time when he was bribed by the Socado, Herrera, Marcu and others to abandon the cause, which he did; but he no sooner returned to St Antonio than he was seized by these very men and beheaded---
Although there is truth in the description of vacillations between royalist and rebel, Gaines account of presumably José Felix Manchaca's fate is in dispute. Menchaca did abandon the Gutiérrez rebels and side with royal forces and was returned to San Antonio. According to others including Texas patriot José (Joseph) Antonio Menchaca, he was tried by a military council when he returned to Bexar and was sent to Chihuahua under protective custody of Don Nemesio Salcedo where he died in prison in 1811. His crime was that he was carrying correspondence from Hidalgo, Allende and "chiefs of the Mexican revolution." Royalist Don Juan Garcia Caso, captain of a company from Nuevo Leon under Col. Herrera, was beheaded in Montclova and his head returned to San Antonio because his name was mentioned in the correspondence carried by Menchaca, this also according to José Antonio Menchaca in later life. Later on leader of the execution squad, Antonio Delgado, was court-martialed over the incident, but acquitted. He justified his actions as retribution for the beheading and mutilation of his father and other relatives by Gov. Salcedo, for minor or incidental association with rebels.
Eighteen year old José Antonio Navarro witnessed the events which he related in his historical commentaries in the San Antonio Ledger in 1853 and in Defending Mexican Valor in Texas. He disagrees with the argument that Delgado performed the deeds because of his father's execution as described since Delgado's father died, as he and other relatives, on the Trinity attempting to escape from Arredondo's forces after the defeat at Medina:
Many Anglo officers and recruits were sickened and horrified by the events and a party rushed to the execution site and provided the victims with Christian burial, immediately left the cause and returned to Louisiana and points east. Although some returned, Samuel Kemper, James Gaines, Warren D.C. Hall and many others took furloughs to recover and regroup from the shock of the executions. The pleadings of Col. Miguel Menchaca and other Mexican leaders persuaded many to stay and continue to help the cause of Mexican independence through influence of the independent State of Texas under the Republican Army of the North..
Gutiérrez's First Constitution of Texas--Deposed by José Alvaréz de Toledo. On 6 Apr 1813, Gutiérrez declared the province of Texas independent of Spain and introduced the first Constitution of Texas, which was more Centralist than Republican. Outraged by the execution of Salcedo and Herrera, loyalist forces south of the Rio Grande quickly marshaled forces and marched toward San Antonio to punish and remove the first "President and Protector of Texas." In June, one time rebel, now royalist Lt. Col. Ignacio Elizondo marched, actually against orders, to San Antonio to engage the Republican Army (see letter below). On 16 Jun, the Republican Army under Henry Perry met and routed Elizondos forces, which lost 400 men killed and many prisoners, at Alazan Creek outside San Antonio. He retreated to the Rio Grande where he was reprimanded by, but joined forces with, Gen. Joaquin Arredondo, newly-appointed Commander of the recently organized Eastern and Western Divisions of the Provincias Internas, to meet the new rebel challenges. On 4 Aug 1813, President Gutiérrez was deposed by conspirators within the Republican Army which included most of the Anglo officers and recruits, who installed chief propagandist, formal naval officer and member of the Spanish Cortes from Santo Domingo, José Alvarez de Toledo.
In the spring of 1813, Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, President of the first Republic of Texas, attempted to reconvert the turncoat insurgent/royalist Col. Ignacio Elizondo, who return to the royalist fold was instrumental in eventual capture of Hidalgo. Elizondo, who was in command of troops on the upper Rio Grande, was unconvinced and replied with the following letter:
Defeat of the Texas Republicans at Medina--Revenge and Decimation by Royalist Gen. Joaquin Arredondo. Toledo renamed the movement the Republican Army of North Mexico and re-organized the army into racial units, Mexicans, Indians and Anglos, a tactical error that separated trusted comrades between ethnic groups, created suspicion and dissension in the ranks among units, a mistaken strategy to be repeated in Texas to present day. The army moved on 15 Aug to the Medina River. Mistaking a scouting party headed by Elizondo as the main royal force, Toledo gave chase across the Medina and was led head on into Arredondos main force. On 18 Aug, Toledo and his force of 1500 that near half were American volunteers met Gen. Arredondos army of 2000 to 4000 at the Battle of Medina. Four hours the Republican force, which Arredondo described in his report to Viceroy Félix María Calleja del Rey as "base and perfidious rabble commanded by vile assassins," held with great valor and skill, but were finally routed with tremendous casualties. Some historians described the Republicans as no more than an untrained "mob", however, Arredondo went on in his report to describe his enemy as "well-armed throughout, full of pride and versed in military tactics." He praised the Anglos as adept in battle by applying qualities they had learned from "traitorous Spanish soldiers."
Motivated by vengeance over his defeat at Alazan, Col. Elizondo pursued the retreating Republicans into Bexar with a vengeance. In a panic more desperate than the Runaway Scrape of 23 years later, the Republican Army including Toledo, Henry Perry and other officers and civilians raced for safety east on El Camino Real toward the Sabine River and the Neutral Ground. Gen. Arredondo and Col. Elizondo began a systematic reign of terror and reprisal on the residents of San Antonio and Texas, which essentially decimated the meager population of Texas except for the most hardy, but also destroyed any remaining sympathy with the royal crown of Spain. Records indicate that 112 Republicans were captured at the Battle of Medina and summarily executed. About 215 were jailed upon Elizondos entry into Bexar. A part of Arredondos force under Capt. Luciano Garza took over 300 prisoners in La Bahia. Arredondos losses were estimated at 55 killed and 178 wounded. Arredondo imprisoned hundreds of residents of San Antonio, many of whom died of suffocation in the makeshift jails. Five hundred women and children whose male relatives were suspected of rebel sympathies were imprisoned, humiliated and enslaved. Executions on military plaza occurred daily. The heads of numerous patriots were severed and displayed in cages or on the tip of spikes on Military Plaza. In a document in the Lamar Papers, José Antonio Navarro described a "tyrant named Corporal Ribal" who terrorized the prisoners with his lash. He related:
Property was confiscated from all but those who could prove their continuous loyalty to the Spanish crown. Col. Elizondos forces captured a group of families on the Trinity River and summarily executed over 100 males on the spot. Among these was Captain Antonio Delgado, the executioner of Govs. Salcedo and Herrera and their officers at Salado, who was shot on the spot along with several relatives, and his body left for the wolves and buzzards. In his commentaries in the 1850s, José Antonio Navarro tells of a Padre Camacho who set up a confessional according to rites of the Catholic Church. When Padre Camacho elicited confession sufficient to implicate the individual with the Republican Forces, he gave a signal to the executioners. He is said to have raised his clerical habit and pointed out the wound he had suffered at the Battle of Alazan. With the words "Move on my son and suffer the penalty in the name of God, because the ball that wounded me may have come from your rifle," he delivered the Texas patriots, who were shot in groups of 20 to 30, to the executioners.
General Arredondo made it clear that the royal crown was in control of the Sabine River border and any that crossed it would be shot on sight. According to most historians Arredondo re-established royal control of Texas so thoroughly that, in words of Felix D. Almaraz Jr., "the province was virtually depopulated save for the settlement of Bexar." Texas was essentially reduced to its pre-Spanish mission wilderness state, the neglected frontera, hinterlands and borderlands of New Spain. Economically and in reality politically, current Texas was again reduced to a "No Mans Land" on the western border of the USA on the Sabine River and the Rio Grande River. From the view in the east, Texas was the next frontier of opportunity, an arena in which to continue execution of the pioneering frontier spirit of political and economic freedom that began on the Atlantic coast in the second half of the 18th century. The view from south of the Rio Grande was that the Sabine River was the border of New Spain and Texas was to be protected as a buffer zone against further expansion of the USA into even the southern provinces of New Spain. Opinions by some vocal factions in the USA that the Louisiana Purchase extended to the Rio Grande River had not diminished since the territory became temporarily a part of New Spain, France and then the USA in 1803. The objectives of the resilient native Texas frontier peoples remained the same as their Anglo-American counterparts to the east---economic and political freedom with local governmental control.
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