Letters authorizing first cattle drive from Texas
Livestock sent to aid American Revolution
In 1776 American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain and the American Revolution began. It is well known that France came to the aid of the American colonists in their fight against the British. Less well known is Spain's involvement in the American Revolution, and how it led to the first official Texas cattle drive.
By 1763, Great Britain's land claims included the eastern bank of the Mississippi River and Florida, which had been previously controlled by Spain. Eager to reclaim their land and push the British out, Spain officially joined the American Revolution in 1779. That year the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, supported the Americans by sending 2,000 barrels of gunpowder, tons of lead, and clothing to General George Washington. He and his troops also engaged the British army in battles from Baton Rouge to the Bahamas.
To feed the Spanish troops engaged in the American Revolution, Galvez asked for support from neighboring Texas in the form of Texas cattle. In these letters from 1779, the Commanding General of New Spain gives permission to drive 2,000 head of cattle from Texas to Louisiana. From 1779 to 1782, between 10,000 and 15,000 head of Texas cattle were driven eastward.
Courtesy Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
Time Period: 1690 - 1820
Exhibit: Becoming Texas
This artifact is currently on view.