Letter from Gonzales, September 26, 1835

Townspeople tremble in fear of the advancing Mexican army

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

Many Texans are already familiar with March 2, 1836 (Texas Independence Day), March 6, 1836 (Fall of the Alamo), March 27, 1836 (Goliad Massacre), and April 21, 1836 (Victory at San Jacinto). But the spark that ignited those battles was lit on October 2, 1835 in Gonzales when a group of 140 armed Texans crossed to the west side of the Guadalupe River and attacked the Mexican army.

The attack was largely unprovoked. The Mexican army had come to take back a brass cannon it had given the colony to defend itself against American Indians in 1831. This letter illustrates the panic felt by the citizens of Gonzales at the coming of the Mexican army. It was written by Edward Bailey, who was visiting Gonzales from Washington County, to D. C. Barrett of Mina (now Bastrop), a political leader.

According to Bailey’s letter, the people of Gonzales fully expected Mexico to retake the cannon.

They expected in refusing the cannon that mexican troops would be sent immediatey [sic] upon them to enforce the order and perhaps commit depredations upon thir [sic] property. and if so nothing could save their [sic] effe provisions & Stock but assistance from this colony [San Felipe].  

The Gonzales alcalde (mayor) Andrew Ponton also confided in Bailey.

The Alcalde said to me that he had in possession about $1000. Dolls [dollars], and was fearful that the military would also demand that.

Bailey concludes his report by writing,

When I left a number more said they should move thier [sic] families as they expected thier [sic] refusing to give up the cannon would bring foraging parties of soldiers upon them as they [the Mexican military at Bexar] were short of provisions.

Six days after Bailey penned this letter the battle of Gonzales commenced. Under orders to avoid conflict, the Mexican army withdrew and returned to its base of operations in San Antonio. When word of the attack by the Texans reached General Antonio de Santa Anna in Mexico City, he assembled his full army and began the long trek north to Texas.

The Revolution had begun.

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Letter from Gonzales, September 26, 1835 Artifact from Gonzales, Texas
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