Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

By Craig H. Roell | Go to book overview

5.
PLANNING A BRILLIANT FOLLY:
THE TEXAN EXPEDITION

DESPITE HIS GROWING DOUBTS, Philip Dimmitt continued to stress the advantages of occupying Matamoros. Apparently his family and business contacts in the interior, plus a visit from Julián Pedro Miracle, representing Capt. Antonio Canales Rosillo, encouraged him enough to trust that federalist cooperation could still be forthcoming under General Mexía and others.1 In a widely publicized letter written on December 2, and published in part in the Texas Telegraph and Register, Dimmitt asserted four essential points: (1) Matamoros’s considerable revenues could help defray the cost of opposing Santa Anna; (2) that the occupation of the port city could possibly be used to barter peace; and (3) that through the leadership of a Mexican national such as General Zavala, a sizable force of Mexican federalists and Texans could paralyze Santa Anna’s movement and even serve to launch a war to the interior of Mexico, thus (4) keeping the war out of Texas. This last point was especially attractive to Austin, who agreed with Dimmitt’s assessment that “this war is not ours, although we have been compelled, in self defence, to become a party to it.”2

Unfortunately, General Zavala declined the invitation to lead the maneuver against Matamoros, citing frail health in a letter to Dimmitt dated December 9. Still, Austin’s faith in the federalists, like Dimmitt’s, was renewed in early December 1835 by meetings with Miracle and Col. José María González. Miracle assured the General Council that Mexican liberals would join with Texas in the counterrevolution against Santa Anna, providing Texas did not declare independence. Ironically, federalists had tapped Miracle himself to sound out how serious Texans were in supporting their cause.3 Historian Harbert Davenport asserted that Miracle was “Santa Anna’s clever spy,” and thus tempted the General Council to send an expedition to Matamoros in order to trap them.4 Although not all scholars have accepted this assessment, Miracle would indeed assume the role of a Mexican agent later, in 1838, when he would be sent from Matamoros into the new Republic of Texas with 126 men (including 72 Mexicans, 34 soldiers, and 20 Cherokees and Caddoes) to recruit various

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