The Battle Of Gonzales Mar 17, 2006 21:05:36 GMT -5
Post by neferetus on Mar 17, 2006 21:05:36 GMT -5
Reenactment of the battle of Gonzales, on the very spot it occurred. (Kneeling, with bandana on his head and wearing a full beard, is none other than Mike Waters, brandishing a makeshift lance.)
In September, 1835, as unrest against Mexican rule began spreading across Texas, General Martin Perfecto de Cos, commander of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio de Bejar decided to take back a cannon that had been loaned to the citizen of Gonzales to ward off Indians. The gun, a 21 1/2 inch affair was only capable of delivering a six pound load and was only effective at short range, at that.
In late September, five soldiers were dispatched to reclaim the cannon. But when word came that the Mexicans were coming for the gun, the citizens buried it in a peach orchard. This action infuriated the Mexican commander Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, and he sent 10 more soldiers under orders to take back the gun by force. On hearing this the town leaders, alcalde Andrew Ponton and political jefe, Wiley Martin sent for reenforcements. Among those responding were none other than James Walker Fannin, William Barret Travis and Noah Smithwich, a gunsmith. Smithwick began turning out arms for the gathering force of men. Up to that point, those responding only had makeshift lances and Bowie knives. A few had long rifles and muskets.
The cannon was unearthed, cleaned and then mounted onto a carriage of hewn tree trunks. It looked pretty pitiful. But it was not just the gun itself the Texians were rallying for, but rather what it represented: self-reliance.
Gonzales citizens Sarah Seeley and Evaline DeWitt, widow of emprasario George C. DeWitt who'd founded Gonzales in 1825 designed a flag for the fighting force. On the six-foot flag, the ladies painted a picture of the cannon on a white field with the words COME AND TAKE IT sewn beneath.
On October 1st, Lt. Francisco Casataneda arrived with a reenforcement which raised the Mexican force to something like 100 men. The original Texian force of 18 men meanwhile, had grown to about 150. On the evening of the 1st, the Texians, commanded by John W.Moore and Lt. Wallace crossed over the Guadalupe river with the intention of surprizing the Mexicans who were encamped there. But a heavy fog prevented them from facing off the Mexicans until around noon on the 2nd. When the fog finally lifted, Castaneda's men stood facing down this motley looking force. But after but one shot from the cannon, the Mexicans withdrew from the field and headed back to San Antonio to report the incident to General Cos. With them they took their single fatal casualty. The only Texian casualty of the encounter was one Texian who fell off his horse onto his face and suffered a severe nosebleed. Thus ended the 'battle' of Gonzales, the 'Lexington of Texas'. A minor frucus that started a revolution that would ultimately end with Texas independence. But certain folks who'd participated in the battle of Gonzales would never live to see independence, including Travis, Fannin, Almaron Dickinson and little Johnny Gatson, who'd watched the battle from a nearby tree. Like Dickinson, teenage Gatson fell with Travis in the Alamo.
Here's a pencil sketch of the battle of Gonzales that I drew, back in 1964
when I was in the 7th grade.