Texas War of Independence

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The Texas War of Independence was fought from 1835-36 between the Mexican government and the rebellious territory of Texas. It resulted in the establishment of the short-lived Republic of Texas.

Contents

Background

In 1810, Mexico received its independence from Spain. In 1824, with the Mexican government wishing to settle the mostly-empty northern region, Moses Austin was invited to settle a colony of Americans in east Texas. The only conditions were that the Americans convert to Catholicism, renounce their American citizenship, become "Mexicanized," and either free or leave behind their slaves. Most of these requests were ignored, and not easily enforceable. After the death of Austin, his son Sam Austin became the de-facto leader of the Texans. The Tejanos (American residents of Texas) wished for increased trade with the United States, more self-rule, and slavery. When met with the "Napoleon of the West," the new Mexican President-General Santa Anna, by 1835, increased tensions between the central government in Mexico City and the distant region of Texas were at the brink of war.

The War

The Alamo and Goliad

Texas declared its independence from Mexico, and Santa Anna quickly raised a 6000-strong army to put down the insurrection, despite the approaching winter. Santa Anna lost hundreds of troops in the desert winter while on the march, but arrived in Texas earlier than expected. Sam Houston, a former governor of Tennessee, had been gathering volunteers to face Santa Anna. With Houston's forces still in disarray, Santa Anna laid siege to the San Antonio fortress, the Alamo. Actually an old Spanish mission, it had been hastily barricaded into an impromptu fort. 187 Texans famously held out for thirteen days despite knowing they would not be able to live through the 6,000-man assault. All 187 Texans were killed, including their commander William Travis, and other notable persons such as David Crockett and Jim Bowie. The Mexican army suffered up to 1000 casualties.

At the Battle of Goliad, a force of 300 Texans was surrounded by the Mexican army. After three costly charges, the Mexicans called in cannons and reinforcements, and surrounded the Texans in the night. The Texans surrendered the following day. At the Goliad Massacre, General Santa Anna ordered the execution of all prisoners. Despite the deaths of up to 400 Texans in these two battles, these two occurrences were vital to the Texas Revolution. These two strategically unimportant locations delayed the Mexican advance for several weeks, allowing Houston to gather much-need support in eastern Texas. Also, the martyrdom of those who willingly gave their lives at the Alamo, as well as the butchery at Goliad, galvanized the Texan cause.

Battle of San Jacinto

Santa Anna, now unhindered, marched into the heart of Texas in pursuit of Houston. Houston, who knew his small but ever-growing army still could not hope to meet the Mexicans in battle, performed a strategic retreat eastward towards the United States. Much of the Texan support was coming from the western US, and as Houston retreated, his supply lines shortened. The Mexicans, who had limited food and supplies, were lengthening their supply lines from Mexico City every day. Houston also burned the towns and fields he passed through, so as to deny the Mexican army the ability to plunder and re-supply. An unexpected split of the Mexican army occurred, in which over half of Santa Anna's forces, under the command of General Urrea (the general who had called for reinforcements on the first day at Goliad), turned towards Galveston, the temporary capital of Texas. Houston, at the demands of his 900 weary men, turned to face his enemy while he was only slightly outnumbered, with the Mexican forces now only numbering 1200.

Santa Anna, who believed that the Texans would again retreat upon realizing that they were still outnumbered, ordered his men to set up camp along the banks of the San Jacinto River. Houston's men, however, were eager to fight. Houston ordered an attack the following morning, unwittingly catching the Mexicans during their siesta hour. The unprepared Mexicans were massacred, with all soldiers being either killed or captured. The Texans lost nine. The captured Santa Anna ordered General Urrea to return to Mexico City, and granted the Texans their Independence. American President Andrew Jackson, as well as Great Britain, soon recognized the Republic of Texas as an independent nation.

Republic of Texas

The newly-formed Republic lasted for several years, before finally petitioning the United States for statehood. It was granted in 1845, just before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War.

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