SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN TEXAS FOR THE
The force of the revolution so spread, that it was followed by men who had no news of its progress, who never conspired, and who had no resentment against Spanish domination. When the news of the grito of Dolores arrived in the Internal Provinces, the authorities there issued orders for the exercise of great vigilance to prevent an outbreak in their territory. It seems, says Villaseñor, that the insurgents in the interior of the colony, had no idea of extending the revolutionary influence to the more remote regions. In that the revolution of San Luis Potosí, November 1810, put the authorities in these provinces on their guard, quiet prevailed for some weeks; though in spirit, the people were moved, and with the arrival of Jiménez, realized that the moment for revolt was at hand.
Governor Cordero, of Coahuila, whose jurisdiction was invaded, wishing to counteract the movement, gave battle at Aguanueva on January 6, 1811. He was abandoned by his army, and forced to flee, but was captured and imprisoned. When these facts became known, from Saltillo to the Sabine, and from Mapimí to the Gulf, it was believed that Spanish domination was at an end, because no army remained to oppose the triumphal insurgents; thus, the military were the first to take on the movement for independence. They had co-workers in the religious. Father Gutiérrez offered his services to Jiménez, who instructed him "to incite to revolution in the five cities of the Rio Grande: Laredo, Revilla, Mier, Camargo, and Reynosa." Before long, "revolution and terror raged in the settlements on the Rio Grande." In the Villa Capital San Fernando de Béxar, a conspiracy was discovered on the night of January 15, 1811. It was lead by Antonio Saenz, Lieutenant of Militia, who had escaped from the Guardia, where he had been imprisoned. He was recaptured, however, along with others in the plot. Governor Salcedo had intended to send military aid to Coahuila after Corderos' defeat, but now he countermanded the orders, in fear of local insurrection. A junta was promptly convoked, composed of the religious, municipal, and military bodies of the Texas capital. They elected Governor Salcedo Political Chief of the Province confiding its defense in him, and in Lt. Col. Simon de Herrera. Plans were already under way for an attack against the insurgents on the Rio Grande, and for the works of defense in Béxar.
Juan Bautista de las Casas, a retired army officer, Captain of Militia, in San Antonio at the time, became disgusted with the government, who planned to desert the Texas capital. He assumed leadership of the opposition. On the evening of January 21, he prepared to strike. In agreement with his officers, a coup d'etat was accomplished the following dawn. The governors Salcedo and Herrera (of Nuevo Leon) were taken as prisoners of war, treated with due consideration, and sent to Monclova under escort. Jiménez ratified what Casas had done, and sent him the appointment of governor of Texas. Casas, not accustomed to superior command, committed injustices which caused discontent. "Confiscations, offensive disorders, and the withholding of political rewards for patriotic services in the insurgent cause," says Garrett, "drove wavering loyalists and politically ambitious ones, defeated by Casas, to plot for their deliverance."
Blinded with revolutionary illusions, the government were over confident in their security. Either through stupidity or leniency, the enemy was permitted to work. The insurgent government of Mexico had vague ideas of a great America, with no boundaries or individual sovereign states. To attain it however, they expected aid from the United States. In Saltillo, Ximenez, with authority from Allende, appointed Field Marshal Ignacio Aldama and Father Fray Juan Salazar, as commissioners to negotiate treaties with the United States, for men, money, and every possible aid to promote the revolution. These commissioners and their suite arrived in San Antonio on February 27, 1811, where they were given a friendly reception by Governor Casas. Needless to say, the purpose of the mission was soon known. Aldama's uniform resembled that of a French officer of same rank; he had decorations, or a gold cord on the left shoulder, which reminded one of the French legion of honor. Loyalists saw in him the representative of Napoleon. They spread the idea. Before long the people became suspicious. Then as to American aid; the inhabitants felt that any troops from the United States would mean a repetition of what had taken place in Baton Rouge and Mobile. They had no desires for their Texas to become a second West Florida.
Subdeacon Juan Manuel Sambrano was a very influential citizen. He had various brothers who also wielded political power. He became disgusted with the revolutionary situation; left San Fernando de Béxar for his ranch, La Laguna de las Animas, and let it be known that he would not return to the capital until they were ready to rid themselves of insurgent influences. With thirty-two servants, and many visitors at the ranch, it is easy to imagine conversations there. When the time was ripe, friends served on the subdeacon. He returned to the city. This agent of ex-governor Manuel Salcedo, says Villaseñor, cleverly availed himself of every opportunity to cause discontent with the Casas administration; and even deceived the most decided partisans of independence in Béxar. The first night of March, a junta was called in the Sambrano house. They proceeded to the barracks, which were easily taken, as part of the troops had already been converted. A general junta of military and civilians promptly met. The majority made Sambrano their president. Oath was taken to Religion, the King, and Country. At dawn, Governor Casas was surprised in his dwelling.
To the public, Sambrano did not yet announce the intention of a counter-revolution. Many were deceived. Those suspicious of the return of Spanish rulers petitioned for frequent meetings of the junta, public measures of the government and the forming of a model republic. Prisoners were freed; confiscated properties, returned to their former owners. A cabildo was organized for local muncipal government. The Aldama-Salazar mission were carefully watched. Aldama said he had no credentials, that upon his word of honor, he was on his way to the United States of America to treat upon an offensive and defensive alliance, and to try to obtain men to assist in the independence. Father Salazar had already informed his religious colleagues in Béxar that he wanted mules and provisions to continue his voyage to the United States, as there alone, they would be free from the frightful Calleja who seemed to defeat the insurgents everywhere; indeed, there was nothing left for them to do, but flee. Father Salazar dared to preach in the public streets in favor of insurrection. On the night of March 3, violence was attempted, but frustrated by careful vigilance. The following morning (March 4) the mission were arrested and confined in the Alamo, where the junta had great faith in the zeal of Commander Tarin. Even here the guard was bribed; individuals of the companies of Nuevo Leon and Nuevo Santander were seduced; assault was threatened; but discovered in time by Lieutenant Escamilla who imprisoned four of the leading conspirators. On July 2, Las Casas was sent under escort to Monclova for the continuation of his trial. Aldama and Salazar had proceeded him, sent from Béxar on May 2.
Two deputies Captains Galán and Muñoz, were dispatched from Béxar to ascertain the disposition of the people of Coahuila and to inquire into the situation of the Commandant General. Suspicious of some of the local authorities, and knowing that the deputies (Galán and Muñoz) must pass through insurgent territory, they were to let it be known that they were proceeding to confer with Jiménez, to whom the Governing Junta and its President, Sambrano, addressed an official communication with the proposals for a treaty, but with the statement that Texas would not permit the passage through her territory of armed troops from the United States. "Their true message was verbal," says Garrett, "and for Don Nemesio's ears alone. The deputies were to pledge the loyal support of Texans to legitimate authority of Spanish rulers, even their readiness to rise in mass to sustain the commandant-general."
Lt. Col. Ignacio Elizondo had Royalist prisoners at his hacienda near Santa Rosa, Coahuila. Among them was Ex-Governor Manuel de Salcedo, who was as persistent as Father Salazar in seducing his guard. He availed himself of every opportunity to convert Elizondo to the Royalist cause. Then came the deputies from Béxar, with news of the counter-revolution in Texas. Elizondo decided; he would start a counter-revolution in Coahuila; his place would be in the fold of the loyalists. Through his treason, the insurgents were surprised and captured at the Wells of Baján (March 21, 1811). On receipt of this news, Sambrano openly declared himself against the insurgents, and swore obedience to Don Simon de Herrera, appointed governor of Coahuila. The letter bringing news of the Royalist success came from a religious colleague, Father Ramos, who stated that both Rio Grande and Laredo were without troops, as Capt. Bustamante had taken them to Monclova. In this great enterprise which was under way, it was hoped that the Texas Junta would send aid. Steps were taken immediately for the security of the province of Texas. Five hundred troops were made ready to proceed to the Rio Grande. The Sergeant Major was appointed Lieutenant Governor to assume ad interim command in Béxar, as the entire Governing Junta and their President, had decided to proceed to the Rio Grande with the troops.
In expectation of a rapid succession of events in Coahuila, President Sambrano, the Governing Junta, and the 500 troops, set out from the Texas capital for the Rio Grande, on March 26. Five days later, March 31, 1811, the Junta and advanced guard of 240 men, arrived in Laredo. In this presidio they awaited action. As the insurgents had been taken at Baján, the real danger had passed. The insurgents had fled from Saltillo. Both Coahuila and Nuevo Leon were rid of the perfidious rebels. So the Commander of Arms, Simon de Herrera, informed the President and Members of the Junta, that they should return to their province for its security, as well as that of the frontier. Then came more disheartening news for the Junta: their deputies advised that Don Simon had been appointed ad interim governor, and commander of the arms of the Province of Texas. The Junta had requested the return of Governor Manuel de Salcedo. They failed to understand the motive which prompted the appointment of Herrera. Don Manuel was disappointed and requested the Junta to express their wishes to the Superior Government, as they must verify such appointment if it were to be legal. The Junta replied on April 18, saying they would communicate with the Commandant General; and that they would be glad to deliver over the government to him (Manuel de Salcedo) when he should return to Texas and request it. The Junta also observed that the superior Government had slighted Texas, for they had not even mentioned this province in connection with events in Coahuila. Where would they have been, asked the Junta, if there had been no counter-revolution in Texas?
On April 6, with further orders from Monclova, saying that all was quiet and there was no further need of the Texans in Laredo, the Junta decided to return to their Texas capital. On the 16th they arrived at the rodeo of Mission Espada. A further suggestion from Mexico, as to how the Governing Junta could attend to their own affairs in Texas, came through the deputies, who wrote on April 3, that Nacogdoches, Atascosito (which at the beginning of the year had a detachment of 26 men) and Trinidad should be reinforced. In April the Junta petitioned the Commandant General to grant some distinction to the Villa Capital in recognition of their loyalty and faithful service. Don Nemecio replied that San Fernando de Béxar would be raised in category from villa to that of ciudad. May and part of June, was spent in "fury of loyalists vengeance." ex-governor Salcedo was president of the Military Junta in Chihuahua for the trials of insurgent victims. Texas had rushed to the fore, and with Coahuila had saved the northeastern provinces from revolution. Now, about a month later, the Texas Junta was crying to Don Nemecio for aid; would he please send two hundred troops; the insurgents were inciting the Indians; the Comanches, Tahuacanos, Tancahues, Tehuyaces, and Lipans had all to be dealt with.
The insurgents threatened from Louisiana and the Neutral Ground. Cristóbal Dominguez was returned to Nacogdoches, with Guadiana, next in rank. Dominguez reported his arrival after reconnoitering the Sabine country. Groups of vagrants, he said, had been organized by Mr. Simit, and were in Spanish territory. On May 20, 1311, Father Huerta forwarded a letter he had received from Smith, to the Junta, along with a paper setting forth the plans of Napoleon. Smith wrote from Natchitoches that he was ever ready to help his brethren, the insurgents in their struggle for liberty. He said: "I will raise a thousand men and place them around your banners.You should at once abandon your king, for he is unworthy to rule you because he has submerged his sovereignty beneath the tyranny of Napoleon and because he has spilled so much blood in the heart of his kingdom." Father Sosa, Huerta's religious colleague, was not so faithful; instead of forwarding his correspondence to the Junta, he escaped into the United States. The results of this report were important to Texas. One hundred and fifty troops were sent from Bexar to Nacogdoches; but with the great number of revolutionists in that jurisdiction, these few men soon dwindled away. Béxar, in the meanwhile, was left undefended.
In July Simon de Herrera returned as ad interim governor of Texas. He was faced with the same old troubles: quarrelling with Canary Island descendants; Indian affairs; insurgent and border activities, including contraband. With the Junta's roll of honor before him, Don Nemecio, in October, granted rewards, which however, awaited H. M.'s approval: the subdeacon, Juan Manuel Sambrano was created a lieutenant colonel of cavalry; administrator of mail, Erasmo Seguin, captain of urban militia; alférez of Bexar Militia, José Maria Sambrano, lieutenant of Provincial Militia, with permission to return to his home; distinguished cabo of the Company of Bahia, Francisco Vasquez, and distinguished soldier of the Company of Parras (the Alamo), Miguel Pando, alféreces of cavalry; soldier of the presidial Company of Bexar, Manuel Delgado, sergeant; captain of militia, Ignacio Pérez, was granted a sitio of land on the Medina where he had his cattle ranch; lieutenant of Presidial Company of Bexar, Miguel Musquiz was retired with rank of captain; Alférez Vizente Tarin was to be promoted with the first vacancy in the province, to the rank of lieutenant; sergeant of Presidial Company of Bexar, Patricio Rodriguez, was retired on account of advanced age; sergeants of militia, Pedro Fuentes, Domingo Bustillos, Francisco Montes and José Manuel Castro, were to be promoted, as alféreces, on first vacancies; as the company of militia in which Lt. Francisco Flores had served was extinguished, he was permitted to use his old uniform; José Dario Sambrano, ad interim curate, was recommended for promotion to curate; officers of auxiliary militia, Captains Luciano Garcia, Santiago Tixerina, and José Maria Muñoz, Lt. Antonio Saens, and Alférez Juan Cazo, had been recommended to the viceroy for rewards. Lastly, citizens: Luis Galán, Manuel Barrera, Juan José Sambrano, Gavino Delgado, Vicente Gortari, José Antonio Saucedo, Juan Veramendi, Francisco Ruiz, Angel Navarro, Victor ---, Mariano Rodriguez, and Presbiter José Antonio Valdés were flattered with notes of praise and thanks. For his distinguished services, Lt. Col. Simón de Herrera was promoted to the rank of colonel, ad interim, awaiting royal approval. Manuel de Salcedo, who had rendered valuable services in converting insurgents, who had blindly served H. M. many years, and all of that was conspicuously neglected. He was under suspicion for the Casas activities in Bexar. He would be permitted to return to the governorship of the province; but probably, to his uncle's surprise, he refused that flattering honor, explaining that he would encounter difficulties from the inhabitants if not shown some distinction, and given a clean statement of exoneration. Don Nemecio explained, and finally almost compelled his nephew to assume charge of the "thorny mission" in Texas. Though Manuel de Salcedo arrived in Béxar in September, he did not take over the government from Herrera until mid-December.
Las Casas was convicted of high treason by a war council composed "of five notables, two of whom were Elizondo and Cordero, who had been deposed from the governorship of Coahuila by insurgents." He was demoted and shot, on August 3. To impress Texans with the disagreeable ending of an insurgent, and in truly Mexican fashion, for the heads of Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama, and Jiménez were placed at the four corners of the Castillo de Granaditas, in Guanajuato, where they remained until 1821. It was ordered that the head of Las Casas should be taken to Béxar for public display. "Unluckily Casas, the man," says Garrett, "did not become an heroic figure in the tales of Texas. Unlike Hidalgo, the Texan insurgent has received only a few lines in historical annals. Some modern historians have even stated that Texas had no part in Mexico's struggle for independence." It had. The Casas government proclaimed free commerce between the United States and Texas. Not only the thieves of the Neutral Ground rejoiced and prospered; the press of the United States said "by autumn of 1811 self-government would be exercised by the people from Texas to the Gulf of Darien; and that the profitable results of the revolution for United States citizens would be the establishing of a free and profitable commerce with Texas and Mexico." The Texas revolution, as long as it lasted, kept open communications between the insurgents of Mexico and the United States; hence, it was a safeguard to the revolution. Lic. Ignacio Aldama was shot in Monclova, June 20, 1811. Father Juan Salazar was condemned to death for high treason, and shot in Monclova on the feast day of St. Simon and Judas. Manuel de Salcedo and Simon de Herrera of Texas; Juan Manuel Sambrano with the counter-revolutionists in Texas acting together with those of Coahuila, accomplished the capture of the insurgent chieftains and the destruction of revolution in the northeastern provinces. These leaders ended the first period of the Mexican revolution. So indeed, concludes Garrett: "Texas played a consequential role in the colonial history of Spain and left an ineffacable mark on the history of the Mexican nation."