The Fight for Texas Independence

Countless men fought and sacrificed their lives so that Texas could be independent. In honor of Texas’s 180th Birthday on March 2, here is a timeline of  the events that led to Texas’s freedom from Mexico in 1836.

October 2, 1835 – Battle of Gonzales

It all started in Gonzales, when a troop of Mexican soldiers arrived to reclaim a cannon from the Texan colonists that Mexico loaned them for protection against the Indians. Already angered by Santa Anna’s tyranny, the Texans refused to surrender the cannon and taunted the Mexican soldiers with a call to “Come and Take It.”  On Oct. 2, the Texan colonists attacked the Mexican troops, sparking the Texas Revolution.

December 5, 1835 – Siege of Bexar 

This was the first real battle of the Texas Revolution. After the Gonzales conflict, the Texan soldiers followed the Mexican troops back to San Antonio de Bexar, which was a Mexican military garrison and the center of commerce. After a few small skirmishes, on Dec. 5, Benjamin R. Milam and Francis W. Johnson led a surprise attack on the town. After five days of fighting, the Texans seized the town from Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos and gained control of the Alamo.

Feb. 23, 1836 – Battle of the Alamo beginsthe-alamo

After taking the Alamo, many Texan volunteers left the city to return to their families. The remaining Texans were caught by surprise when General Santa Anna and his army arrived on Feb. 23 and trapped them in the mission.  Santa Anna demanded the Texans surrender, but Travis refused with a cannon shot prompting the Mexicans to attack the fort, starting the 13-day Battle of the Alamo.

Feb. 24, 1836 – Travis Writes “Victory or Death” Letter

After withstanding cannon fire and attacks for 24 hours, Commander William Barret Travis knew they were doomed without reinforcements. He penned a letter to the “people of Texas and all Americans in the world” pleading for help and stating his intentions to “never going to surrender or retreat.” It was “Victory or Death.” While a few troops did arrive on March 1, the Texans were still greatly outnumbered.

March 2, 1836 – Convention of 1836   

With The Alamo under siege, a provisional Texas government, consisting of 59 elected men, met at Independence Hall in Washington-on-the-Brazos to decide Texas’s future. Together they wrote a new Constitution and the Texas Declaration of Independence, establishing Texas as a new sovereign nation.

March 6, 1836 – Fall of the Alamo  

At 5 a.m. on March 6, General Santa Anna called for a surprise attack on the Alamo. His officers argued that there was no justification for attacking the Texans when they were already low on supplies and would probably surrender within days, but Santa Anna was insistent. The Mexican army fired cannons at all four walls of the Alamo and attacked. The battle lasted 90 minutes and left 189 Texas men dead.

March 27, 1836 – Goliad Massacre 

Fannin Memorial  Monument marks where Fannin and his men are buried.

Fannin Memorial Monument marks where Fannin and his men are buried.

Less than a month after the fall of the Alamo, the Texas army was increasing in number which angered Santa Anna.  As a result, he ordered that any prisoners taken in battle against Mexico be shot. Commander James Walker Fannin, Jr. and his men surrendered at the Battle of Coleto on the condition that they be treated as prisoners of war and escorted back to the United States as soon as possible. Mexican General Mexia agreed to Fannin’s terms and delivered the prisoners to Presidio at La Bahia in Goliad. However, instead of honoring his promise, on March 27, Mexican guards marched the Texan men out of camp and executed them by the side of the road. Fannin and the other injured soldiers were executed in front of the Bahia Chapel.

April 21, 1836 – Battle of San Jacinto   

This was the last major battle in the Texas Revolution. On the morning of April 21, General Sam Houston and the Texan army found themselves camped near a small bayou less than a mile from Santa Anna and the Mexican army.  At 3:30pm in the afternoon, all was quiet in the Mexican camp.  With cries of “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” ringing in the air, the Texan army surprise-attacked the napping Mexican troops. The battle only lasted 18 minutes, but during that short time 630 Mexicans were killed and 730 were taken prisoner. Santa Anna escaped during the fight, but was captured the next morning in the grass, dressed as a common soldier.

SantaAnnaSurrender

Henry William Huddle painted “Surrender of Santa Anna” in 1886.

May 14, 1836 – Treaties of Velasco were Signed 

After his capture at the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa Anna was taken to Velasco, TX where he signed a treaty stating he could never fight against Texas and that Mexico would immediately evacuate the new republic, officially ending the Texas Revolution. Texas was its own sovereign nation for nearly a decade before joining the United States in 1845 and becoming its 28th state.

For more information on Texas’s road to victory, visit the Texas State Historical Association or The Alamo’s website.