Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

By Craig H. Roell | Go to book overview

7.
TRIUMPHANT MATAMOROS:
THE MEXICAN EXPEDITION

BEFORE FANNIN ABANDONED the Matamoros expedition, Antonio López de Santa Anna already had ordered his own expedition to Matamoros under the command of Gen. José de Urrea. By January 15, Urrea set out for the river city and thence to begin the campaign into Texas to secure the coast and squash the approaching attackers. By month’s end, the general would effectively occupy Matamoros, placate the agitated citizens of the Villas del Norte, recruit soldados, neutralize armed federalist rebels, and secure the vital support of other federalist forces as allies, including crucial rancheros in Texas. In the end, he would amass an army large enough to make Fannin’s recruiting efforts and Johnson and Grant’s volunteers altogether insufficient to attack Matamoros successfully, let alone occupy the city. Ultimately, Urrea would defeat the rebel forces in Texas at every encounter and would occupy the coastal prairie of Texas from San Patricio all the way to Brazoria—an achievement unrivaled by anyone else in the Mexican army.1

Santa Anna was well aware of U.S. intent to aid Texas rebels and of the federalists’“general plan of revolutionizing all over Mexico,” as George Fisher had phrased his appeal to the Texas General Council when he urged it to authorize an expedition to Matamoros. Both Johnson and Fannin had emphasized that Lieutenant Governor Robinson keep silent on the question of independence for Texas until Mexican federalists had risen against the centralists, a maneuver which could readily be construed as duplicitous and manipulative toward their intended federalist allies.2 Nevertheless, both Johnson and Fannin relied far too greatly and dangerously on promised federalist support, especially considering that such cooperation depended on Texas colonists remaining loyal to the Constitution of 1824 and that Mexican federalist commanders awaited Texas forces to make the initial move, essentially to prove their loyalty. This was grossly complicated because adventurers, mercenaries, and filibusters (rather than colonists) from the United States increasingly made up the bulk of Texas forces. But

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