The Texas Revolution essay
Historically, the territory of contemporary Texas once used to belong to Mexico, however, as soon as the proportion in population changed towards the dominance of the American frontiersmen by the middle of 1830’s, and by that time, their rights were no longer respected properly by the conservative Mexican authorities, the emergence of the national liberation movement was inevitable. At the same time, one of the questions history doesn’t have yet a complete answer to, is how exactly the revolutionary forces that were several times weaker than the Mexican army could eventually win the war of independence. In this paper, the author claims that the reasons for that go far beyond military tactics applied by the Texans on the final stages, in particular after the loss in the Battle of the Alamo, but, not least of all, consist in the underlying social and political miscounts of the Mexican government.
In the early 19th century, Texas was part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, a sparsely populated territory that was intensively developed by American slave-owning planters. However, in the course of its development and growing significance, the region became less tolerant of Mexican government initiatives, which by the 1830’s led a policy oppressing the rights and freedoms of migrants. As a result of separatist sentiment, Texas independence war began in October 1835 and ended in victory for the Texans over the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836, despite the fact that the parties’ forces were not equal throughout the course of the revolution (Hardin, 57-59). Thus, at some stages, the Mexican army exceeded the Texas guerrillas’ army by 5-6 times, and the rout of the Texans at the Battle of the Alamo was expected to break the resistance. Despite this, the strengthening of dictatorship of the Mexican government, the growth of Santa Anna’s army brutality, and major miscounts in social policies had the opposite effect, contributed to increase in Texas protest moods as well as made the national liberation movement resistible and mighty to counteract the Mexican army to the level the latter was not prepared for (Johnson, 46).
The course of the Texas War of Independence
Since its independence in 1821, Mexico received a legacy of vast areas in the north with a very low population density, and the country faced the problem of their colonization and protection of the new boundaries. Thus, in 1825 the state legislature of Coahuila and Texas passed a law which enabled the settlers from the United States to obtain land plots at low cost with payments to be made in installments, as well as tax exemption for ten years. Number of colonists increased rapidly, and by the mid 1830’s more than 30,000 Americans lived in Texas, whereas the actual Mexican population counted 7,800 people (Lack, 24-25).
However, in 1829 during presidency of Vicente Guerrero in Mexico a law was passed abolishing slavery of blacks, which was common among American settlers. Furthermore, in 1834, through a military coup President-General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna established the dictatorship. According to historian Alan Huffines, Santa Anna deliberately carried out several liberal reforms and supported the idea of federalism to win the supporters and come to power. However, having seized power, Santa Anna dismissed Federalist Vice President, disbanded Republican Congress and the state legislature, dismissed all the members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Mexico, and overturned the liberal constitution of 1824 allowing Mexico’s states to settle internal governing issues individually (Huffines, 34-36). In particular, the local legislative council in Monclova was disbanded leaving the Texans without their government representatives and without their own local government which was also disbanded. In addition, under the new laws, the English-speaking population of Texas had to pay higher taxes than the Mexicans; the government ran the policy of expulsion of immigrants and attempted to take planters’ lands.
Fearing protests in Texas, Santa Anna also adopted a decree on disarmament of the population of Texas despite the constant threat of Indian and bandits attacks in the region. Texans made numerous attempts to negotiate with the dictator peacefully, but Santa Anna interpreted any proposal by the Texans as an attempt to revolt, the ambassadors were thrown to prison and Santa Anna’s placemen in the region increased the pressure on the population suppressing any discontent by force of arms (Manchaca, 35-38). Such a situation could not last long, and the outbreak of revolutionary moods was now inevitable. According Huffines, Mexicans did not consider the specifics of the formation of the American nation differing a lot from theirs. Thrust in achieving the goal, Americans are used to cope with difficulties that confront them. It is possible that the Mexicans simply were not able to timely assume that if all these enterprising and courageous people turned against them, it would have been extremely difficult to cope with them (Huffines, 41-42). In 1835 the Texans having lost hope for the return of the liberal constitution, rose to fight for Texas independence, despite the obvious disparity and lack of a professional army.
Measuring military forces
Early stages. Clash of 150 Texans under the command of John Henry Moore with a detachment of Mexican cavalry (100 people) near the town of Gonzales October 2, 1835 is considered the official start of the war for Texas independence. Initially, the Texans did not have a regular army, their guerrilla squads consisted exclusively of volunteers. Despite this, they have successfully and consistently established control over a number of cities. For example, 90 Texans under the command of Stephen Austin won October 28, 1835 at the Battle of Concepcion over 450 Mexicans (300 dragoons, 100 infantry, 2 cannons), with only one Texan killed, while the Mexicans lost for various data, 14-76 people killed. October 9 Texans captured a small town of Goliad, where December 10 the declaration of independence of Texas was proclaimed (Robinson, 87-88).
One of the reasons for early wins of Texan rebels was the use of hunting rifles that fired at distant targets much more efficient than outdated Mexican muskets Brown Bess. In addition, the siege tactics they used was effective as well. In particular, October 12 Steve Austin’s squad (about 600 Texans) besieged Mexican town of San Antonio de Bexar that was defended by 1200 soldiers of the Mexican army under the command of Kos (Procter, 51-55). December 11 Mexican garrison suffering from a lack of provisions surrendered; Mexican artillery (19 cannons) and Texans got big part of handguns. Later, Jameson noted that with this artillery Texans could defend against the forces ten times superior.
However, after the insurgent army expelled all Mexican troops from Texas, many Texas settlers deserted from the Texas army as they were not ready for a long campaign. Since the battle at Bexar the Texas army got a lot of newcomers who recently arrived in the region, primarily adventurers from the United States, to help the colonists gain independence. These volunteers were formed into two regiments of regular Texas army. According to historian Alwyn Barr, their presence pushed Mexicans to the conclusion that the Texan resistance was fueled by outside forces. Angered by the thought of the American intervention in Mexican affairs, Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna personally led a new invasion trying to regain control of the area. It is worth noting that due to the hasty preparations the invasion force, called the Army of Operations, initially consisted primarily of inexperienced recruits, conscripts and convicts. As a result, the Mexican troops had reached the number of 6,000. At the same time, Santa Anna ordered the Mexican Congress to authorize the army to handle any foreigners fighting in Texas as bandits, i.e. they were subjected to immediate execution. That moment made a turning point in the war marked by extreme brutality of the Mexican army (Barr, 34-36).
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