Rendezvous at the Alamo: Highlights in the Lives of Bowie, Crockett, and Travis

By Virgil E. Baugh | Go to book overview

chapter 8
The Battle of Gonzales to the Siege of Bexar

B OWIE WAS on other orders when the Texas Revolution opened, literally with a "bang," and so he did not participate in its first battle. The importance of that first brief encounter for the Bowie story is that it set the stage for the battle of Concepcion, in which he played an important part. A brief summary of this affray over a piece of artillery is therefore of interest.

The opening gun of the Revolution was fired early in the morning on October 2, 1835, at Gonzales, where the Texans, 150 strong, successfully repelled an equal number of Mexicans. That gun was a small brass cannon the Texans had been permitted to have since 1831 to protect the town against Indians. As part of a general plan of the Mexican Government to disarm the Texans, Col. Domingo de Ugartechea, commandant at Bexar, demanded return of the cannon on the ground that it had been merely loaned. The Texans were determined they would never surrender their weapons. They refused to comply.

Lt. Francisco Castaneda was thereupon ordered to go to Gonzales and, if necessary, to take the cannon by force. He arrived on September 29, 1835, and demanded to see Andrew Ponton, the alcalde, at once. He was told that official was absent and that no one knew when he would return. The Texans used this as a delaying tactic, and with the three days they gained by it, recruited men to their cause all along the Colorado River, with the rallying cry that the Mexican Government had violated the Constitution of 1824. Then, when they finally had to give Castaneda a definite answer, they told him that Ponton had returned but refused to surrender the cannon.

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