The Battle Of Gonzales

Standing On Principle

During the summer of 1835, out of concern that the Texas colonists were sympathetic to the Mexican federalists, the Centralista (Santanista) dictatorship ordered the disarmament of the Texas colonies. Pursuant to that order, Centralista military authorities in San Antonio ordered the return of a cannon, which had been loaned to Empresario Greene DeWitt for the protection of colonists residing in the small town of Gonzales, Texas, from occasional looting and vandalism from local Indians.

The colonists, although loyal to the Mexican government at the time, were wary of the Centralista dictatorship after hearings of numerous unprovoked attacks, beatings and rapes carried out by soldiers loyal to the Centralista. The people of DeWitt and the surrounding colonies conducted an informal vote and determined that all but a handful were opposed to turning over the cannon.

In deference to the will of the people, colony officials sent a dispatch to San Antonio refusing to produce the cannon.

In September, 1835, Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, the Centralista military commander in San Antonio, dispatched Lt. Francisco Castaneda and 100 armed dragoons to seize the cannon and arrest the colony officials who had resisted its return.

The Bravery Of A Few Good Men

Upon learning of the dispatched military unit, 18 lightly armed and mostly untrained militia men from Gonzales took up defensive positions along the Guadalupe River on the outskirts of town. With them, they brought the cannon and a hastily constructed flag consisting of black lettering stitched on an old wedding dress. The flag bore a lone star, a silhouette of the cannon, and the words "COME AND TAKE IT."

Although their meager force was ultimately supplemented by additional colonial militiamen, these 18 men held their ground and ultimately repelled Lt. Castaneda and his 100 dragoons. The Battle of Gonzales is regarded by most as the first battle in the Texas Revolution and the first time that the Lone Star of Texas ever flew on a flag.