The first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired in Gonzales in 1835, and Texas was annexed to the USA in 1846. Here is a timeline of all the important dates in between!
Public Domain Image
Although tensions had been simmering
between rebellious Texans and the Mexican authorities for years, the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired in the town of Gonzales on October 2, 1835. The Mexican army had orders to go to Gonzales and retrieve a cannon there. Instead, they were met by Texan rebels and a tense stand-off ensued before a handful of Texans opened fire on the Mexicans, who swiftly withdrew. It was mere skirmish and only one Mexican soldier was killed, but it nevertheless marks the beginning of the War for Texas Independence.
After the Battle of Gonzales, the rebellious Texans moved quickly to secure their gains before a large Mexican army could arrive. Their prime objective was San Antonio (then usually referred to as Bexar), the largest town in the territory. The Texans, under the command of Stephen F. Austin
, arrived at San Antonio in mid-October and laid siege to the town. In early December, they attacked, gaining control of the city on the ninth. The Mexican General, Martin Perfecto de Cos, surrendered and by December 12 all Mexican forces had left the town.
Portrait circa 1820 by George Healy
On October 27, 1835 a division of rebellious Texans, led by Jim Bowie
and James Fannin, dug in on the grounds of the Concepcion mission outside of San Antonio, then under siege. The Mexicans, seeing this isolated force, attacked them at dawn on the 28th. The Texans laid low, avoiding the Mexican cannon fire, and returned fire with their deadly long rifles. The Mexicans were forced to retreat into San Antonio, giving the rebels their first major victory.
4. March 2, 1836: The Texas Declaration of Independence
On March 1, 1836, delegates from all over Texas met at Washington-on-the-Brazos for a Congress: that night a handful of them hastily wrote a Declaration of Independence, which was unanimously approved the following day. Among the signatories were Sam Houston
and Thomas Rusk. In addition, three Tejano (Texas-born Mexicans) delegates signed the document.
Artist: Henry McArdle
After successfully capturing San Antonio in December, rebel Texans fortified the Alamo, a fortress-like old mission in the center of town. Ignoring orders from General Sam Houston
, the defenders remained in the Alamo as Santa Anna's massive Mexican army approached and laid siege in February of 1836. On March 6 they attacked: in less than two hours the Alamo was overrun. All of the defenders were killed, including Davy Crockett
, William Travis
and Jim Bowie
. After the battle, "Remember the Alamo!" became a rallying cry for the Texans.
Dallas Historical Society
After the bloody Battle of the Alamo, Mexican President/General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
's army continued its inexorable march across Texas. On March 19, some 350 Texans under the command of James Fannin were captured outside of Goliad. On March 27, nearly all of the prisoners (some surgeons were spared) were taken out and shot. Fannin was also executed, as were the wounded who could not walk. The Goliad Massacre, following so closely on the heels of the Battle of the Alamo, seemed to turn the tide in favor of the Mexicans.
In early April, Santa Anna made a fatal mistake: he divided his army in three. He left one part to guard his supply lines, sent another to try and catch the Texas Congress and set off in the third to try and mop up the last pockets of resistance, most notably Sam Houston's army of some 900 men. Houston caught up to Santa Anna at the San Jacinto River and for two days the armies skirmished. Then, on the afternoon of April 21, Houston attacked suddenly and ferociously. The Mexicans were routed: captive, Santa Anna signed several papers recognizing Texas independence and ordering his generals out of the territory. Although Mexico would try to re-take Texas in the future, San Jacinto essentially sealed Texas' independence.