Siege of Bexar
Overview
 
The Siege of Béxar was an early campaign of the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 in which a volunteer Texan
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 army successfully defeated Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 forces at San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

). Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

s had become disillusioned with the Mexican government as President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

's tenure became increasingly dictatorial. In early October, Texas settlers gathered in Gonzales
Gonzales, Texas
Gonzales is a city in Gonzales County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,202 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Gonzales County.-Geography:Gonzales is located at...

 to stop Mexican troops from reclaiming a small cannon. The resulting skirmish, known as the Battle of Gonzales
Battle of Gonzales
The Battle of Gonzales was the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835, between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army troops....

, launched the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

.
Encyclopedia
The Siege of Béxar was an early campaign of the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 in which a volunteer Texan
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 army successfully defeated Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 forces at San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

). Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

s had become disillusioned with the Mexican government as President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

's tenure became increasingly dictatorial. In early October, Texas settlers gathered in Gonzales
Gonzales, Texas
Gonzales is a city in Gonzales County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,202 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Gonzales County.-Geography:Gonzales is located at...

 to stop Mexican troops from reclaiming a small cannon. The resulting skirmish, known as the Battle of Gonzales
Battle of Gonzales
The Battle of Gonzales was the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835, between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army troops....

, launched the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Men continued to assemble in Gonzales and soon established the Texian Army
Texian Army
The Texian Army was a military organization consisting of volunteer and regular soldiers who fought against the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution. Approximately 3,700 men joined the army between October 2, 1835 during the Battle of Gonzales through the end of the war on April 21, 1836, at...

. Despite a lack of military training, well-respected local leader Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

 was elected commander.

Santa Anna had sent his brother-in-law, General Martin Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos was a 19th-century Mexican general. He was married to Lucinda López de Santa Anna, sister of Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Background:Cós was born in Vera Cruz in the year 1800, the son of an attorney...

, to Béxar with reinforcements. On October 13, Austin led his forces towards Béxar to confront the Mexican troops. The Texians initiated a siege of the city.

Background

In 1835, federalists
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 in several interior Mexican states revolted against the increasingly centralist
Centralized government
A centralized or centralised government is one in which power or legal authority is exerted or coordinated by a de facto political executive to which federal states, local authorities, and smaller units are considered subject...

 reign of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

. The Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

s staged a minor revolt against customs duties in June, and wary colonists soon began forming militias, ostensibly to protect themselves. As protests spread across Texas, Mexican officials increasingly blamed the settlers from the United States for the discontent. As historian Alwyn Barr
Alwyn Barr
Chester Alwyn Barr is an American historian who specializes in African American studies, the American South, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction. He is a professor emeritus and former history department chairman at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.-Works:Barr received his Ph.D...

 noted, many of the new settlers had "lived entirely within growing Anglo colonies ... and had made few adjustments to the Spanish traditions of Mexico.

In September 1835 Colonel Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo de Ugartechea was a 19th century Mexican Army officer for the Republic of Mexico.-Early years:He served for Joaquín de Arredondo in 1813...

, the military commander at San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

) sent a force of 100 soldiers under to reclaim a small cannon that had been given to the citizens of Gonzales. The request angered the Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

s, who immediately sent couriers to other Anglo communities to ask for assistance. For several days the Texians stalled and reinforcements began to arrive. On October 2, the Texians attacked the Mexican force; under orders to avoid bloodshed, Castaneda and his men withdrew. This Battle of Gonzales
Battle of Gonzales
The Battle of Gonzales was the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835, between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army troops....

 is considered the official opening of the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Encouraged, a small group of Texians then went to Goliad, where, at the Battle of Goliad
Battle of Goliad
The Battle of Goliad was the second skirmish of the Texas Revolution. In the early-morning hours of October 10, 1835, rebellious Texas settlers attacked the Mexican Army soldiers garrisoned at Presidio La Bahía, a fort near the Mexican Texas settlement of Goliad...

, they succeeded in driving off the small Mexican force garrisoned at Presidio La Bahia
Presidio La Bahía
The Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía, known more commonly as Presidio La Bahia, or simply La Bahia is a fort constructed by the Spanish Army that became the nucleus of the city of Goliad, Texas, United States. Originally founded in 1721 on the ruins of the failed French Fort Saint...

.

Fearing that strong measures were needed to quell the unrest, Santa Anna ordered General Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos was a 19th-century Mexican general. He was married to Lucinda López de Santa Anna, sister of Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Background:Cós was born in Vera Cruz in the year 1800, the son of an attorney...

 to lead a large force into Texas. When Cos arrived in San Antonio on October 9 there were 647 soldiers ready for duty. When Goliad fell to the Texians, Cos lost his line of communication to the coast. Convinced that the Texians would soon attack San Antonio, he chose to take a defensive position rather than launch an attack against the Texian army.
Two days after the Texian victory at Gonzales, respected Texian leader Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

 reported to the San Felipe Committee of Public Safety that "War is declared—public opinion has proclaimed it against a Military despotism—The campaign has commenced". His letter concluded: "One spirit and one purpose animates the people of this party of the country, and that is to take Bexar, and drive the military out of Texas. ... A combined effort of all Texas would soon free our soil of Military despots." Colonists continued to assemble in Gonzales, and on October 11 they unanimously elected Austin, the first empresario
Empresario
An empresario was a person who, in the early years of the settlement of Texas, had been granted the right to settle on Mexican land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for new settlers. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur.- Background :...

 granted permission to settle Anglos in the state, as their commander-in-chief. Although Austin had no official military training, he was widely respected in Texas for his sound judgement, and he had led several excursions against raiding Indian tribes.

Austin's first order was that the men should be prepared to march at 9 am the following morning. For the rest of the day, the men practiced firing and retreating in lines. Austin issued a string of orders, including barring men from indiscriminately firing their weapons and instructing them to keep their weapons in good repair at all times. He also felt it necessary to, in his words "remind each citizen soldier that patriotism and firmness will but little avail, without discipline and strict obedience. The first duty of a soldier is obedience." A later order instructed that "All riotous conduct and noisy clamorous talk is specially prohibited". Austin also organized elections for regimental officers. John H. Moore, who had led the Texians in the Battle of Gonzales, was elected colonel. Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson was a soldier, general, and statesman in the state of Missouri, the Republic of Texas, and later the U.S. state of Texas....

, a former militia officer in Missouri and Tennessee, was named Lieutenant Colonel, and Brazoria merchant Alexander Somervell was elected Major.

On October 12, the Texian army numbered approximately 300 men, drawn primarily from Austin's colonies and the DeWitt Colony
Dewitt Colony
The Dewitt Colony was a settlement in Mexican Texas founded by Green DeWitt. From lands belonging to that colony, the present Texas counties of DeWitt, Guadalupe and Lavaca were created...

. About half of the men had entered Texas in the 1820s; the others were newer arrivals who had lived in the area less than 5 years. Several had official militia experience while they lived in the United States, and others had joined companies within Texas to counter Indian raids. Almost all of the men were proficient with firearms, as hunting was a primary source of food. The men crossed the Guadalupe River that morning and paused to await further reinforcements from Nacogdoches.

On October 13, Austin led the Texian Army toward San Antonio de Bexar, location of the last large garrison of Mexican troops in Texas. Men continued to flock to the Texian Army, which by October 19 numbered 453 men with two six-pounder cannon. Some of the Texians had no weapons; those that did had little gunpowder or shot. As the army marched, Ben Milam formed a makeshift mounted company to scout ahead. On October 15 one of the scouting parties briefly skirmished with a ten-man Mexican cavalry patrol; no injuries were reported and the Mexican soldiers soon retreated to Bexar.

The Texians arrived at Cibolo Creek, several miles east of Bexar, on October 16. Austin requested a meeting with Cos, but Cos declined to meet with a man he said was commanding an illegal force. A Texian council of war decided to remain in place and wait for reinforcements. The following day they reversed their decision, and Austin moved his army to Salado Creek
Salado Creek
Salado Creek is a waterway in San Antonio that runs from Northern Bexar County for about to the San Antonio River near Buena Vista.-Watershed:...

, 5 miles (8 km) from Bexar. Over the next several days, reinforcements and supplies arrived from various English-speaking colonies. One of the new companies, commanded by James C. Neill
James C. Neill
↔James Clinton Neill was a 19th-century American soldier and politician, most noted for his role in the Texas Revolution and the early defense of the Alamo. He was born in North Carolina.-Early life and career:...

, brought 2 new six-pounder cannon with them. The reinforcements brought the Texian official strength to 453 men, although only about 384 of them were available for duty. On October 24, Austin wrote the Committee of Public Safety in San Felipe that he had "'commenced the investment of San Antonio", and that with additional reinforcements he believed the town could be taken in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, Cos worked to fortify the town squares in San Antonio and the walls of the Alamo
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas....

, a mission-turned-fort near the town. By October 26, Cos's men had mounted 11 cannon—5 in the town squares and 6 on the walls of the Alamo. An eighteen-pounder cannon, with a much longer range than the other Mexican artillery, was positioned inside the Alamo chapel. Additional Mexican soldiers arrived in Bexar, and on October 24 the Mexican garrison stood at its highest number, 751 men. > Although the Mexican soldiers attempted to restrict access to and from the city, James Bowie was able to leave his home and join the Texians. Bowie was well-known throughout Texas for his fighting prowess; stories of his exploits in the Sandbar Fight
Sandbar Fight
The Sandbar Fight, aka Vidalia Sandbar Fight, was an 1827 brawl featuring Jim Bowie which first showcased his knife, which later became known as the Bowie knife. The brawl occurred at the conclusion of a duel, and resulted in Bowie being seriously injured...

 and his search for the lost San Saba mine were widely reported. Juan Seguin
Juan Seguín
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín was a 19th-century Texas Senator, Mayor, Judge, and Justice of the Peace and a prominent participant in the Texas Revolution.-Early life and family:...

, a government official in San Antonio, arrived with 37 Tejanos on the morning of October 22, and later that day an additional 76 men joined the Texian Army from Victoria, Goliad, and the ranches south of Bexar. According to Barr, the presence of the Tejanos helped to "blur the essence of ethnic conflict", providing evidence that the Texian response was not simply an overreaction by American immigrants.

Investment

Even with the additional men, Austin realized that his army was not large enough to prevail in a full assault on Bexar. The Texians thus prepared for a siege, looking for a position that was, in the words of historian Stephen L. Hardin, "near Bexar, yet defensible against a sortie; in a position to block enemy communications, yet accessible to the reinforcements arriving daily". On October 22, Austin named Bowie and Captain James W. FanninFannin was one of the very few Texian soldiers with formal military training; he had briefly studied at the U.S. Military Academy. Hardin (1994), p. 29. co-commanders of the 1st Battalion and sent them on a reconnaissance mission. By the end of the day the Texians had seized the Espada mission
Mission San Francisco de la Espada
Mission San Francisco de la Espada was a Roman Catholic mission established by Spain near San Antonio de Bexar in northern New Spain in 1731 to convert local Native Americans to Christianity and solidify Spanish territorial claims in the New World against encroachment from France...

 from Mexican pickets
Picket (military)
In military terminology, a picket refers to soldiers or troops placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance. It can also refer to any unit performing a similar function...

. On October 24, Austin informed the Committee of Public Safety that he had initiated a siege; in his opinion, the city could be taken in a few days if Texian reinforcements arrived quickly.

Austin sent Bowie and Fannin to find another good defensive spot on October 27. Rather than return immediately to Austin, as their orders specified, Bowie and Fannin instead sent a courier to take Austin directions to their chosen campsite, the former Mission Concepción
Mission Concepcion
Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña was established in 1716 as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais in East Texas. The mission was moved in 1731 to San Antonio...

. The scouting party camped along the San Antonio River
San Antonio River
The San Antonio River is a major waterway that originates in central Texas in a cluster of springs in north central San Antonio, approximately four miles north of downtown, and follows a roughly southeastern path through the state. It eventually feeds into the Guadalupe River about ten miles from...

 near the mission, which was approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) from San Antonio de Bexar and 6 miles (9.7 km) from the Texian camp at Espada. An angry Austin, fearing that his army would be easily defeated now that it was split, issued a statement threatening officers who chose not to follow orders with court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

. He ordered the army to be prepared to join Bowie and Fannin at first light.

Hoping to neutralize the Texian force at Concepción before the remainder of the Texian Army arrived, Cos ordered Colonel Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo Ugartechea
Domingo de Ugartechea was a 19th century Mexican Army officer for the Republic of Mexico.-Early years:He served for Joaquín de Arredondo in 1813...

 to lead an early-morning assault on the forces at Concepcion on October 28. The Texians had a good defensive position, surrounded by trees, which left the Mexican cavalry no room to maneuver. The Mexican infantry soon found themselves outgunned, as their Brown Bess muskets had a maximum range of only 70 yards (64 m), compared to the 200 yards (182.9 m) effective range of the Texian long rifles. The Texians were short of ammunition, however, and although Mexican ammunition was plentiful it was poor quality. In several cases, Mexican musket balls bounced off Texian soldiers, causing little damage other than a bruise. The Battle of Concepción
Battle of Concepcion
The Battle of Concepción was fought on October 28, 1835 between Mexican troops under Colonel Domingo Ugartechea and Texian insurgents led by James Bowie and James Fannin. The 30-minute engagement, which historian J.R...

 lasted only 30 minutes; at that point the Mexican soldiers retreated towards Bexar.

Less than 30 minutes after the battle ended, the rest of the Texian Army arrived. Austin felt that the Mexican morale must be low after their defeat and wanted to proceed immediately to Bexar. Bowie and other officers refused, as they believed Bexar was too heavily fortified. The Texians searched the area for any Mexican equipment which had been abandoned during the retreat. They found several boxes of cartridges
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

. Complaining that the Mexican powder was "little better than pounded charcoal", the Texians emptied the cartridges but kept the bullets. One Texian, Richard Andrews, died and one was wounded, while estimates of the Mexican dead range from 14 to 76.

On November 1, Austin sent a note to Cos, suggestion that the Mexican army surrender. Cos returned the note unopened, with a message that he refused to correspond with rebels. Austin sent men to reconnoiter the town's perimeter and discovered that the fortifications within the city were stronger than the Texians had believed. On November 2, Austin called a council of war, which voted to continue the siege and wait for reinforcements and more artillery before attacking. Members of the Texian army were impatient to begin the fighting however. Austin complained to the provisional government on November 4 that "This force, it is known to all, is but undisciplined militia and in some respects of very discordant materials." He followed this note with a strong plea that "In the name of Almighty God, send no more ardent spirits to this camp!"

Consultation

The siege continued, and soon additional reinforcements arrived under Thomas J. Rusk, bringing the Texan army to 600. Cos also gathered reinforcements, bringing the Mexican army to 1,200 and discouraging the Texans even further from making any direct assaults on the city.

Sam Houston arrived in San Felipe
San Felipe, Texas
San Felipe, also known as San Felipe de Austin, is a town in Austin County, Texas, United States. The town was the social, economic, and political center of the early Stephen F. Austin colony. The population was 868 at the 2000 census.-History:...

 expecting to gather for a meeting of the Consultation government, but since many of the members were fighting in the siege of Bexar, Houston instead went to the Texan army outside San Antonio. When Houston arrived in the camp, Austin offered him command of the army, but Houston declined and went ahead gathering the members of the Consultation. The members were released from the army for the meeting (except for Austin and William B. Travis
William B. Travis
William Barret Travis was a 19th-century American lawyer and soldier. At the age of 26, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army...

) and returned to San Felipe. There the delegates agreed to fight to uphold the Constitution of 1824 rather than Texan independence.

Houston was named general-in-chief of all Texas forces, except those fighting around San Antonio, and Stephen Austin was authorized to travel to the U.S. to gain support for their cause. Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson was a soldier, general, and statesman in the state of Missouri, the Republic of Texas, and later the U.S. state of Texas....

, who had been serving as Austin's second-in-command, was elected Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 and Commander-in-Chief of the Volunteer Army to replace Austin.

Grass Fight

The Texian volunteers had little or no experience as professional soldiers, and by early November many had begun to miss their homes. As the weather turned colder and rations grew smaller, many soldiers became sick, and groups of men began to leave, most without permission. On November 18, however, a group of volunteers from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, known as the New Orleans Greys
New Orleans Greys
The New Orleans Greys, the Greys named for the color of their uniforms, were a Military volunteer unit of two militia companies formed in the city of that name for service in the Texas War of Independence. Their name came from the grey military fatigues they wore...

, joined the Texian Army. Unlike the majority of the Texian volunteers, the Greys looked like soldiers, with uniforms, well-maintained rifles, adequate ammunition, and some semblance of discipline. The Greys, as well several companies of Texians who had arrived recently, were eager to face the Mexican Army directly. Encouraged by their enthusiasm, on November 21, Austin ordered an assault on Bexar the following morning. Several of his officers polled the soldiers that evening and discovered that fewer than 100 men were willing to launch an attack on Bexar; Austin then cancelled his orders. Within days Austin resigned his command to become a commissioner to the United States; Texians elected Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson
Edward Burleson was a soldier, general, and statesman in the state of Missouri, the Republic of Texas, and later the U.S. state of Texas....

 as their new commander.

On the morning of November 26, Texian scout Erastus "Deaf" Smith
Deaf Smith
Erastus "Deaf" Smith was an American frontiersman noted for his part in the Texas Revolution and the army of the Republic of Texas. He fought at the Grass Fight and the Battle of San Jacinto. After the war, Deaf Smith led a company of Texas Rangers.-Biography:Smith was born in Dutchess County, New...

 rode into camp to report that a pack train
Packhorse
.A packhorse or pack horse refers generally to an equid such as a horse, mule, donkey or pony used for carrying goods on their backs, usually carried in sidebags or panniers. Typically packhorses are used to cross difficult terrain, where the absence of roads prevents the use of wheeled vehicles. ...

 of mules and horses, accompanied by 50–100 Mexican soldiers, was within 5 miles (8 km) of Bexar. For several days, the Texians had heard rumors that the Mexican Army was expecting a shipment of silver and gold to pay the troops and purchase additional supplies. The Texians had been fighting without pay, and most wanted to charge from camp and loot the expected riches. Burleson ordered Bowie to investigate, but warned him not to attack unless necessary. After Bowie recruited the army's 12 best marksmen for the expedition, there was little doubt that he intended to find a reason to attack. Burleson managed to stop the entire army from following by sending Colonel William Jack with 100 infantry to support Bowie's men.

About 1 miles (1.6 km) from Bexar, Bowie and his men spotted the Mexican soldiers crossing a dry ravine. This was likely near the confluence of the Alazán, Apache, and San Pedro Creeks. After a short battle, the Mexican soldiers withdrew towards Bexar, leaving their pack animals behind. To the surprise of the Texians, the saddlebags contained not bullion, but freshly cut grass to feed the Mexican horses trapped in Bexar. Four Texians were wounded in the fighting, and one soldier deserted during the battle. Estimates of the number of Mexican casualties ranged from 3–60 killed and 7–14 wounded. Their victory allowed the Texians to believe that, although outnumbered, they could prevail over the Mexican garrison. The Texians believed that Cos must have been desperate to send troops outside of the safety of Bexar.

Battle

Texan morale began to drop severely, and with winter approaching and supplies running low, Burleson considered withdrawing into winter quarters. In a council of war, Burleson's officers overruled his decision to withdraw, and the army stayed. One of the officers who adamantly opposed the withdrawal was Colonel Ben Milam. Undaunted, Milam stalked into the Texan camp and called out "Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" 300 soldiers cheered their support for Milam.

Reports from a captured Mexican soldier and escaped Texan prisoners alerted Burleson that Mexican morale was just as low. Burleson ordered a two-column attack. One attack was to be carried out by Milam's troops, and the other was to be carried out by those of Colonel Francis W. Johnson
Frank W. Johnson
Francis White "Frank" Johnson was a co-commander of the Texian Army from December 1835 through February 1836, during the Texas Revolution. Johnson arrived in Texas in 1826 and worked as a surveyor for several empresarios, including Stephen F. Austin. One of his first activities was to plot the...

. On December 5, Milam and Johnson launched a surprise attack and seized two houses in the Military Plaza (one of the houses seized belonged to the in-laws of Jim Bowie). The Texans were unable to advance any further that day, but they fortified the houses and remained there during the night, digging trenches and destroying nearby buildings.

On December 7, the attack continued, and Milam's force captured another foothold in the city. However, Milam was killed while leading the attack. Colonel Johnson subsequently took command of both his and Milam's men and continued the street fighting, gradually driving the Mexicans back into the city. Cos withdrew into the Alamo, where he was joined by Colonel Ugartechea and 600 reinforcements, but it was too late. Cos entrenched his position, and Texan artillery pounded the fortified mission.

Surrender

As the Texians advanced closer to the plazas, Cos realized that his best defensive position would be within the Alamo Mission just outside Bexar. In his official report to Santa Anna, Cos wrote that ""In such critical circumstances there was no other measure than to advance and occupy the Alamo which, due to its small size and military position, was easier to hold. In doing so, I took with me the artillery, packs and the rest of the utensils I was able to transport.” At 1 a.m. on December 9, the cavalry began to pull back towards the Alamo. Colonel Nicolas Condell, his small force of 50 men from the Morelos and Tamaulipas units, and two cannon remained as the rear guard at the plaza. Years later, however, Sanchez Navarro maintained that Cos was not planning to abandon the town but wished to move the wounded to the relative safety of the Alamo.

Inside the Alamo, Cos presented a plan for a counterattack; cavalry officers believed that they would be surrounded by Texians and refused their orders. Possibly 175–soldiers from four of the cavalry companies left the mission and rode south. According to Barr, Cos ran after the horseman to tell them to stop and was almost run down. For a brief period, those in the mission believed that Cos might have been killed. Sanchez Navarro said the troops were not deserting but misunderstood their orders and were withdrawing all the way to the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

.

By daylight, only 120 experienced infantry remained in the Mexican garrison. Cos called Sanchez Navarro to the Alamo and gave him orders to "go save those brave men. ... Approach the enemy and obtain the best terms possible". Sanchez Navarro first returned to his post at the plaza to inform the soldiers of the imminent surrender. Several officers argued with him, explaining that "the Morelos Battalion has never surrendered", but Sanchez Navarro held firm to his orders. Bugle calls for a parley received no response from the Texians, and at 7 am Sanchez Navarro raised a flag of truce.

Father de la Garza and William Cooke came forward to escort Sanchez Navarro and two other officers to Johnson, who summoned Burleson. When Burleson arrive two hours later, he found that the Mexican soldiers did not have written authorization from Cos. One of the Mexican officers was sent to bring back formal permission for the surrender. Burleson agreed to an immediate cease-fire, and negotiations began with Johnson, Morris, and James Swisher represented the Texians, with Miguel Arciniega and John Cameron interpreting. The men haggled for much of the day before reaching terms at 2 a.m. on December 10.

According to the terms of the agreement, Mexican troops could remain in the Alamo for six days to prepare for the trip to the Mexican interior. During that time frame, Mexican and Texian troops were not to carry arms if they interacted. Regular soldiers who had established ties to the area could remain in Bexar; all recently arrived troops were expected to return to Mexico. Each Mexican soldier would receive a musket and ten rounds of ammunition, and the Texians would allow one four-pound cannon and ten rounds of powder and shot to accompany the troops. All other weapons and all supplies would remain with the Texians, who agreed to sell some of the provisions to the Mexicans for their journey. As the final term of their parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

, all of Cos's men were required to pledge that they would not fight against the Constitution of 1824.

At 10 a.m. on December 11, the Texian army paraded. Johnson presented the terms of surrender and asked for the army's approval, stressing that the Texians had little ammunition left to continue the fight. Most of the Texians voted in favor of the surrender, although some termed it a "child's bargain", too weak to be useful.

Aftermath

The siege of Bexar was the longest Texian campaign of the Texas Revolution, and according to Barr, it was "the only major Texan success other than San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

". According to Barr, of the 780 Texians who had participated in some way in the battle, between 30 and 35 were wounded, with 5 or 6 killed. Historian Stephen Hardin places the Texian casualties slightly lower, with 4 killed and 14 wounded. The losses were spread evenly amongst Texas residents and newcomers from the United States. Although some Texians estimated that as many as 300 Mexican soldiers were killed, historians agree that it likely that a total of 150 Mexican soldiers were killed or wounded during the five-day battle. About two-thirds of the Mexican casualties came from the infantry units defending the plazas. To celebrate their victory, Texian troops threw a fandango
Fandango
Fandango is a lively couple's dance, usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping . Fandango can both be sung and danced. Sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones"...

 on the evening of December 10. Governor Henry Smith
Henry Smith (Texas Governor)
Henry Smith was first American-born Governor of the Mexican territory of Texas and briefly presided over the revolution there.-Early life:...

 and the governing council sent a letter to the army, calling the soldiers "invincible" and "the brave sons of Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and freedom". After the war, those who could prove they had participated in this campaign were granted 320 acres (129.5 ha) of land. Eventually, 504 claims were certified. At least 79 of the Texians who participated later died at the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

 or the Goliad Massacre
Goliad massacre
The Goliad Massacre was an execution of Republic of Texas soldiers and their commander, James Fannin, by Mexico, reluctantly carried out by General Jose de Urrea.-Background:...

, and 90 participated in the final battle of the Texas Revolution, at San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

. The Texians confiscated 400 small arms, 20 cannon, and supplies, uniforms, and equipment. During the siege, Cos's men had strengthened the Alamo mission, and the Texians chose to concentrate their forces within the Alamo rather than continue to fortify the plazas.

Cos left Bexar on December 14 with 800 men. The soldiers who were too weak to travel were left in the care of the Texian doctors. With his departure, there was no longer an organized garrison of Mexican troops in Texas, and many of the Texians believed that the war was over. Johnson described the battle as "the period put to our present war". Burleson resigned his leadership of the army on December 15 and returned to his home. Many of the men did likewise, and Johnson assumed command of the soldiers who remained. Soon after, a new contingent of Texians and volunteers from the United States arrived with more heavy artillery. According to Barr, the large number of American volunteers "contributed to the Mexican view that Texan opposition stemmed from outside influences. That belief may have contributed in turn to Santa Anna's order of 'no quarter' in his 1836 campaign." Santa Anna was outraged that Cos had surrendered. Already in preparations to move a larger army to Texas, Santa Anna moved quickly on hearing of his brother-in-law's defeat, and by late December 1835 had begun to move his Army of Operations northward. Although many of his officers disagreed with the decision to march towards the Texan interior rather than take a coastal approach, Santa Anna was determined to first take Bexar and avenge his family's honor.

External links

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