Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

Book 23
Texas A&M University Press
1
Free sample

The traditional story of the Texas Revolution remembers the Alamo and Goliad but has forgotten Matamoros, the strategic Mexican port city on the turbulent lower Rio Grande. In this provocative book, Craig Roell restores the centrality of Matamoros by showing the genuine economic, geographic, social, and military value of the city to Mexican and Texas history.

Given that Matamoros served the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Texas, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Durango, the city’s strategic location and considerable trade revenues were crucial. Roell provides a refreshing reinterpretation of the revolutionary conflict in Texas from a Mexican point of view, essentially turning the traditional story on its head. Readers will learn how Matamoros figured in the Mexican government's grand designs not only for national prosperity, but also to preserve Texas from threatened American encroachment. Ironically, Matamoros became closely linked to the United States through trade, and foreign intriguers who sought to detach Texas from Mexico found a home in the city.

Roell’s account culminates in the controversial Texan Matamoros expedition, which was composed mostly of American volunteers and paralyzed the Texas provisional government, divided military leaders, and helped lead to the tragic defeats at the Alamo, San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, Refugio, and Coleto (Goliad). Indeed, Sam Houston denounced the expedition as “the author of all our misfortunes.” In stark contrast, the brilliant and triumphant Matamoros campaign of Mexican General José de Urrea united his countrymen, defeated these revolutionaries, and occupied the coastal plain from Matamoros to Brazoria. Urrea's victory ensured that Matamoros would remain a part of Mexico, but Matamorenses also fought to preserve their own freedom from the centralizing policies of Mexican President Santa Anna, showing the streak of independence that characterizes Mexico's northern borderlands to this day.
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About the author

CRAIG H. ROELL is a native of Victoria, Texas, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Piano in America, 1890–1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 1989) and Remember Goliad! (Texas State Historical Association, 1994). Roell is Professor of Economic, Business, and Cultural History at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, where he was named Wells/Warren Professor of the Year (2002, 2013).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Texas A&M University Press
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Published on
Aug 5, 2013
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Pages
160
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ISBN
9780876112663
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Latin America / Mexico
History / Military / United States
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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This is the first general history of San Antonio, Texas, the seventh largest city in the nation. Its past is complex and ranges across 300 years, from the community’s origins as a tiny Spanish frontier town to its contemporary status as a vital American mega-city. Site of some of the most violent struggles between warring empires and people—historians believe San Antonio may be the most fought-over city in U.S. history—it is perhaps most celebrated for the iconic 1836 Battle of the Alamo. The city is also home to four beautifully restored Spanish missions, which in 2015 UNESCO designated a World Heritage Site and have become integral to San Antonio’s robust tourist economy along with the fabled River Walk.

This study weaves together a series of environmental, social, political, and cultural pressures that have shaped life in the Alamo City over the last three centuries. Residents have long fought to protect and utilize water and other resources even as they have struggled to achieve equal rights and build a more open and democratic society. Activists from all sectors of this multicultural city have believed deeply in its promise even though they have had to push hard to secure and expand its potential. Their efforts were every bit as intense in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as they have been in the twenty-first. Written for a general audience, but with a scholarly attention to detail and nuance, San Antonio: A Tricentennial History immerses readers in the city’s fascinating and fraught past.
In late 1842, Private William Preston Stapp and about three hundred other citizens of the Republic of Texas took it upon themselves to invade Mexico. They intended to retaliate for a recent Mexican attack on San Antonio and to humiliate President Sam Houston, who had been hesitant to seek revenge.

Stapp provides a closely observed, day-by-day narrative of the disastrous adventure later known as the Mier expedition. While his style might be described as "elegantly restrained" in comparison to the literary excesses of that early Victorian age, Stapp's flair for drama and description makes for colorful reading.

In response to the public outrage prompted by the San Antonio incident, Houston issued a presidential proclamation inviting volunteers for a retaliatory expedition across the Rio Grande. After the bloodless "capture" and pillage of two Mexican border towns, he called the volunteers back home. Most were relieved to comply, but some felt compelled to pursue the honor of the Republic further, and the Mier expedition was launched on December 20, 1842. On the day after Christmas, all save a forty-man camp guard were captured outside of Mier, a few miles across the Mexican border.

The prisoners faced a brutal forced march to Mexico City. Stapp was one of a large group that escaped along the way, became lost in the mountains, and suffered badly from hunger and thirst before recapture. He survived the notorious Black Bean Episode in which 17 of the 176 returned escapees were shot after drawing black beans in a lottery. The Texans were delivered to Perote Prison near Mexico City in September 1843, where a few of them tunneled to freedom and many more died in captivity. Mexico released the last of the prisoners in 1844, and Stapp was among them.

First published in 1845 and later issued in pamphlet form in 1933 by the La Grange Journal, The Prisoners of Perote is a fascinating view of a painful episode in Texas history.

The foreword by Joe B. Frantz provides a perspective on the Texas-Mexico relations during this period "when both countries were shaking down and had not yet found their way." He points out that The Prisoners of Perote provides some clues to the reasons behind the inherent tenseness that exists between Texas and Mexico today.

San Antonio native, military veteran, merchant, and mayor pro tem José Antonio Menchaca (1800–1879) was one of only a few Tejano leaders to leave behind an extensive manuscript of recollections. Portions of the document were published in 1907, followed by a “corrected” edition in 1937, but the complete work could not be published without painstaking reconstruction. At last available in its entirety, Menchaca’s book of reminiscences captures the social life, people, and events that shaped the history of Texas’s tumultuous transformation during his lifetime. Highlighting not only Menchaca’s acclaimed military service but also his vigorous defense of Tejanos’ rights, dignity, and heritage, Recollections of a Tejano Life charts a remarkable legacy while incorporating scholarly commentary to separate fact from fiction.

Revealing how Tejanos perceived themselves and the revolutionary events that defined them, this wonderfully edited volume presents Menchaca’s remembrances of such diverse figures as Antonio López de Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, General Adrián Woll, Comanche chief “Casamiro,” and Texas Ranger Jack Hays. Menchaca and his fellow Tejanos were actively engaged in local struggles as Mexico won her independence from Spain; later many joined the fight to establish the Republic of Texas, only to see it annexed to the United States nine years after the Battle of San Jacinto. This first-person account corrects important misconceptions and brings previously unspoken truths vividly to life.

“The drums they roll, upon my soul, for that’s the way we go,” runs the chorus in a Harrigan and Hart song from 1874. “Forty miles a day on beans and hay in the Regular Army O!” The last three words of that lyric aptly title Douglas C. McChristian’s remarkable work capturing the lot of soldiers posted to the West after the Civil War. At once panoramic and intimate, Regular Army O! uses the testimony of enlisted soldiers—drawn from more than 350 diaries, letters, and memoirs—to create a vivid picture of life in an evolving army on the western frontier.

After the volunteer troops that had garrisoned western forts and camps during the Civil War were withdrawn in 1865, the regular army replaced them. In actions involving American Indians between 1866 and 1891, 875 of these soldiers were killed, mainly in minor skirmishes, while many more died of disease, accident, or effects of the natural environment. What induced these men to enlist for five years and to embrace the grim prospect of combat is one of the enduring questions this book explores.

Going well beyond Don Rickey Jr.’s classic work Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay (1963), McChristian plumbs the regulars’ accounts for frank descriptions of their training to be soldiers; their daily routines, including what they ate, how they kept clean, and what they did for amusement; the reasons a disproportionate number occasionally deserted, while black soldiers did so only rarely; how the men prepared for field service; and how the majority who survived mustered out.

In this richly drawn, uniquely authentic view, men black and white, veteran and tenderfoot, fill in the details of the frontier soldier’s experience, giving voice to history in the making.
This is the first general history of San Antonio, Texas, the seventh largest city in the nation. Its past is complex and ranges across 300 years, from the community’s origins as a tiny Spanish frontier town to its contemporary status as a vital American mega-city. Site of some of the most violent struggles between warring empires and people—historians believe San Antonio may be the most fought-over city in U.S. history—it is perhaps most celebrated for the iconic 1836 Battle of the Alamo. The city is also home to four beautifully restored Spanish missions, which in 2015 UNESCO designated a World Heritage Site and have become integral to San Antonio’s robust tourist economy along with the fabled River Walk.

This study weaves together a series of environmental, social, political, and cultural pressures that have shaped life in the Alamo City over the last three centuries. Residents have long fought to protect and utilize water and other resources even as they have struggled to achieve equal rights and build a more open and democratic society. Activists from all sectors of this multicultural city have believed deeply in its promise even though they have had to push hard to secure and expand its potential. Their efforts were every bit as intense in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as they have been in the twenty-first. Written for a general audience, but with a scholarly attention to detail and nuance, San Antonio: A Tricentennial History immerses readers in the city’s fascinating and fraught past.
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