Texas War for Independence - 1835-1836

Santa Anna thought he would have little trouble defeating the Texans, as his forces were far larger then what the Texans could muster.  Texas had no professional army - only farmers, ranchers and businessmen who volunteered for military service.  Mexicans in Texas split on the issue with some fighting with Texas forces.  

"Say to General Santa Anna that when I remember how ardent an advocate he was of liberty ten years ago, I have no sympathy for him now, that he has gotten what he deserves." Joel Poinsett to Santa Anna when he was held captive in Texas. Poinsett was minister to Mexico.[118]

"Say to Mr. Poinsett that it is very true that I threw up my cap for liberty with great ardor, and perfect sincerity, but very soon found the folly of it. A hundred years to come my people will not be fit for liberty. They do not know what it is, unenlightened as they are, and under the influence of a Catholic clergy, a despotism is the proper government for them, but there is no reason why it should not be a wise and virtuous one."---Santa Anna in reply to former American envoy to Mexico Joel Poinsett after his capture by Texians in 1836 [118]

Hostilities started in Texas in Oct. 2, 1835.  Santa Anna sent an Army detachment to seize a Cannon in the town of Gonzalez.  The Texans refused to hand their cannon over and charged the enemy positions. The Mexicans retreated. 

On November 3, 1835, delegates from across Texas assembled at San Felipe de Austin, and issued a declaration against Santa Anna and his military supporters, “who had by force of arms overthrown the Federal Institutions of Mexico, and dissolved the social compact which existed between Texas and the other members of the Mexican confederacy.”(28) Even now, the group did NOT declare independence, but affirmed their intention of restoring the Constitution of 1824.

On Dec 10, 1835, Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cós surrendered over 1,000 Mexican troops at San Antonio to Texan forces. Cós and his men were allowed to go back to Mexico under a promise  not to fight against the Texans again.

By March 1836 it was time for Texans to decide what they were fighting for. Santa Anna was bombarding the Alamo. Were the Texans going to fight to save the Mexican constitution of 1824, or fight for independence? This was a question many other states in the Mexican confederation asked year after year - that often ended in rebellion. Texas finally decided that trying to save democracy in Mexico was a lost cause.(29a) The Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836 and a provisional government formed for the Republic of Texas.  

Less then a week later, Santa Anna’s Army overwhelmed Americans and Texans at the Alamo, with 187 men fighting to the death. (Interestingly, ten of the defenders at the Alamo had Spanish names) About 1,200 Mexicans were killed.(29b) One of the officers in charge of attacking the Alamo was none other then General Cós, who returned to Texas to fight the rebellion a second time.

On 20 March, 1836, 400 Texans surrendered near Goliad - and a week later were massacred on orders from Santa Anna, who then ordered their bodies to be piled up and burned.  The Goliad and Alamo massacres galvanized Texan and American hatred against Mexico.

On April 21, 1836, San Houston’s Army of 750 men defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto River. Over 700 Mexicans were killed and 730 captured.  The arrogant Santa Anna, who boasted he was the “Napoleon of the West” fled, disguised as a common soldier, but was captured the next day. 

Texas had done the impossible - they had defeated the dictator of Mexico.

Treaty of Velasco

There was strong sentiment in Texas to execute Santa Anna, but the new Texas government was more interested in a peace agreement than revenge. Santa Anna sent a message to General Filisola to retire to Victoria, advising: "I have agreed with General Houston for an armistice until matters can be so regulated that the war will cease forever."[30] After weeks of negotiations, on May 14, 1836, Santa Anna, the head of Mexico’s government, signed two agreements, known as the Treaties of Velasco. The first treaty was to be implemented immediately, and the second “secret” treaty was to be published after the first treaty had been fulfilled. The public treaty contained 10 articles as follows:


Article 1st
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna agrees that he will not take up arms, nor will he exercise his influence to cause them to be taken up against the people of Texas, during the present war of Independence.

Article 2nd
All hostilities between the mexican and texian troops will cease immediately both on land and water.

Article 3rd
The mexican troops will evacuate the Territory of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande del Norte. (Rio Grande River)

Article 4th
The mexican Army in its retreat shall not take the property of any person without his consent and just indemnification, using only such articles as may be necessary for its subsistence, in cases when the owner may not be present, and remitting to the commander of the army of Texas or to the commissioner to be appointed for the adjustment of such matters, an account of the value of the property consumed--the place where taken, and the name of the owner, if it can be ascertained.

Article 5th
That all private property including cattle, horses, negro slaves or indentured persons of whatever denomination, that may have been captured by any portion of the mexican army or may have taken refuge in the said army since the commencement of the late invasion, shall be restored to the Commander of the Texian army, or to such other persons as may be appointed by the Government of Texas to receive them.

Article 6th
The troops of both armies will refrain from coming into contact with each other, and to this end the Commander of the army of Texas will be careful not to approach within a shorter distance of the mexican army than five leagues. 
Article 7th
The mexican army shall not make any other delay on its march, than that which is necessary to take up their hospitals, baggage and to cross the rivers--any delay not necessary to these purposes to be considered an infraction of this agreement. 

Article 8th 
By express to be immediately dispatched, this agreement shall be sent to General Filisola and to General T. J. Rusk, commander of the texian Army, in order that they may be apprised of its stipulations, and to this and they will exchange engagements to comply with the same. 

Article 9th 
That all texian prisoners now in possession of the mexican Army or its authorities be forthwith released and furnished with free passports to return to their homes, in consideration of which a corresponding number of Mexican prisoners, rank and file, now in possession of the Government of Texas shall be immediately released. The remainder of the mexican prisoners that continue in possession of the Government of Texas to be treated with due humanity -- any extraordinary comforts that may be furnished them to be at the charge of the Government of Mexico. 

Article 10th 
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna will be sent to Veracruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper. 

The contracting parties sign this Instrument for the above mentioned purposes, by duplicate, at the Port of Velasco this fourteenth day of May 1836. 

David G Burnet Ant.
Lopez de Santa Anna 
Jas Collinsworth, Sec of State 
Bailey Hardeman, Secy of Treasury 
T W Grayson, Atty General 



ANTONIO LOPEZ DE SANTA ANNA, General-in-Chief of the Army of Operations, and President of the Republic of Mexico, before the Government established in Texas, solemnly pledges himself to fulfill the Stipulations contained in the following Articles, so far as concerns himself:

ARTICLE 1. He will not take up arms, nor cause them to be taken up, against the people of Texas, during the present war for independence.

ARTICLE 2. He will give his orders that, in the shortest time, the Mexican troops may leave the territory of Texas.

ARTICLE 3. He will so prepare matters in the cabinet of Mexico, that the mission that may be sent thither by the government of Texas may be well received, and that by means of negotiations all differences may be settled, and the independence that has been declared by the convention may be acknowledged.

ARTICLE 4. A treaty of commerce, amity, and limits, will be established between Mexico and Texas, the territory of the latter not to extend beyond the Rio Bravo del Norte.

ARTICLE 5. The present return of General Santa Anna to Vera Cruz being indispensable for the purpose of effecting his solemn engagements, the government of Texas will provide for his immediate embarkation for said port.


Mexico kills the Peace Treaty with Texas

General Filisola, Santa Anna’s second in command took over, and despite considerable opposition from other officers, began withdrawing Mexican troops from Texas in accordance with the peace agreement signed by Santa Anna.  But 6 days later, on May 20, the Mexican government declared the treaties Santa Anna had signed in captivity to be null and void.  On May 28, the Mexican government ordered Filisola to maintain control over parts of Texas already conquered.  However, by this time the withdrawal from Texas was largely complete. Filisola wanted to renew the war against Texas, but his troops were in no condition to go on another offensive, and Filisola decided to complete the withdrawal to Matamoras, on the south side of the Rio Grande River. On June 12, Filisola was removed from command.

Mexico’s refusal to honor the Velasco peace agreement destroyed any chance of permanent peace with Texas.

On June 3, 1836, Santa Anna - El Presidente - boarded a schooner for the trip to Vera Cruz. But a newly arrived detachment of soldiers prevented Santa Anna from leaving and he became a prisoner again.(31 Because of this second, unauthorized imprisonment of Santa Anna, some historians have declared that the US also broke the peace treaties.  While this is technically accurate, the Mexican government had already killed the peace treaties.  Even if Santa Anna had returned to Mexico as originally planned, neither Santa Anna nor the Mexican government had any intentions of keeping the peace agreement signed with Texas.  THIS VERY BAD DECISION BY MEXICO MADE A SECOND WAR WITH TEXAS - AND THE UNITED STATES INEVITABLE.

After being released and returned to Mexico on February 1837, Santa Anna declared he had signed the treaties under duress as a prisoner of war. While this was certainly true, he could have refused to sign. What Santa Anna’s fate would have been had he not signed a peace deal will never be  known. What is known is Santa Anna was very cooperative. At any rate, throughout history, the winner in a war dictates the terms to the loser. Texas hoped this treaty would forever end the war with Mexico - but it didn’t. Mexico refused to ratify the treaty and Santa Anna repudiated it upon his return to Mexico.

Santa Anna surrenders to a wounded Sam Houston.

Continue to Events leading to the Mexican American War.

Return to: There was no American conspiracy to Steal Texas from Mexico

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Storming the Alamo.
Mexican General Cos
After surrendering to Texian forces at San Antonio, he gave his word of honor to retire to the interior of the Mexican republic, and never again invade Texas. Three months later he commanded troops attacking the Alamo. Later he was again taken prisoner along with Santa Anna and Juan Almonte after Mexico was defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto.  Again, he was allowed to return to Mexico unharmed.
Davy Crockett: died at the Alamo.
Jim Bowie: died at the Alamo.
Map of Rio Grande, Neuces and other rivers in Texas.
General Filosola(122)
“In our opinion the blood of our soldiers as well as that of the enemy was shed in vain... The massacres of the Alamo, of Goliad, of Refugio, convinced the rebels that no peaceable settlement could be expected, and that they must conquer, or die...” statement by Mexican General Filisola.[119]