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The Battle of Alazan Creek, occurred on the banks of Alazan Creek in Coahuila y Tejas on June 20, 1813, during the Mexican War of Independence. The location is today in Bexar County, Texas, in the United States, just west of the town of San Antonio (San Antonio del Bejar).

Contents

Combatants

The battle was fought between the Republican Army of the North, which was led by Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, Samuel Kemper, and Augustus Magee. And the Spanish Royalist force which was commanded by Colonel Ygnacio Elizondo.

Background

In 1812, the Republican Army of the North, composed of Anglo-Americans, Mexicans and Indians, and numbering about 900 men, with Samuel Kemper, who had also been involved in the 1804 rebellion in Florida, along with some help from the United States, crossed over from Louisiana into Texas. Flying a green flag, they captured the town of Nacogdoches, on August 7, 1812. The Republican Army of the North then marched to Goliad, where they laid siege to Presidio La Bahia from November 7, 1812, to February 19, 1813, when the Royalist Army retreated back to San Antonio. In March 1813, the Royalist Army, numbering about 1,500 men, ambushed the Republican Army as they searched for food along the banks of Rosillo Creek in what is today southeastern Bexar County, Texas. The Royalists were defeated in a battle that lasted a little over an hour. When the battle was over the Republican Army had killed between 100 and 330 men of the Royalist Army and had captured most of their arms and ammunition while they only lost six of their own men in the battle. After the battle, the Royalist Army retreated back to San Antonio, signed a truce with Kemper on April 1, 1813, and surrendered both Salcedo and Herrera to the Republican Army. Salcedo, Herrera, and twelve other prisoners were taken back to the battle site on Rosillo Creek where they were executed. On April 6, 1813, the Republican Army drafted a declaration of independence which established the first Republic of Texas. In June 1813, Colonel Elizondo advanced with his Royalist troops out of central Mexico and marched to San Antonio. His commanding officer, Brigadier General Joaquín de Arredondo, had ordered Colonel Elizondo to advance as far as the Frio River but to advance no further. Instead of obeying these orders, the colonel who though he would prove his loyalty to Spain by defeating the Republican Army of the North, advanced to the very outskirts of San Antonio and asked the rebels to surrender! His biggest mistake of all was that he underestimated his enemy's ability and he pitched his camp without seeing to all the necessary precautions.

The battle

On June 12, 1813, Colonel Elizondo with his army of 700 regular soldiers and over 300 volunteers camped on the outskirts of San Antonio, about 500 yards west of Alazan Creek. He underestimated the abilities of his enemy and he pitched camp without precautions, he did not post scouts for pickets, and he had only two groups of six artillery pieces to protect his camp. He also overcrowded the camp by allowing the camp-followers, wives and children to mingle with his troops. The Republican Army of the North under the command of Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara and Major Henry Perry surrounded the Royalist camp before sunrise. Over 800 Anglo-American volunteers took their assigned positions upon the enemy's flanks while the native Mexican insurgent force prepared to charge the center. Behind the Republican Army was a large number of Indians, mostly Tonkawas, Townkans and Lipan Apaches who were anxiously waiting to chase, capture, and scalp any escaping Royalist troops. Just after dawn, while most of Elizondo's men were at Religious Mass, the Republicans began the two hour long battle. The Republican Army's artillery was loaded with canister and scarp-iron and they aimed them at the kneeling soldiers and civilians as they were in prayer. The Spanish Royalist camp was a scene of confusion as soldiers, women and children fell dead or dying to the ground. Then as the Royalist troops made their way to their guns, they met with the full onslaught of the Republican Cavalry. With his solid green banner for a flag, Gutierrez de Lara led his men through the very center of the Spanish camp sparing no one in his path. The Royalists managed to rally their forces and then they recaptured most of their lost ground. The battle raged for over an hour and a half and there were constant charges and counter-charges made for the Republican and Royalist artillery emplacements. But the Royalist Army began to give way and then the bloodiest part of the entire two-hour battle took place. The pursuing insurgent cavalry was joined by their Indian allies and then the royalists and their civilian were killed and scalped mercilessly regardless of age or sex. Only those Royalist soldiers who were mounted on fast horses were able to escape the slaughter. Colonel Elizondo, who had two horses shot from under him, managed to escape and then catch up with remnants of his defeated army about fifteen miles southwest of the battlefield and he ordered a hurried march back to the Rio Grande River.

Aftermath

The victorious Republican Army of the North had defeated the Royalist force and had captured 40 mule loads of flour, 4,000 pounds of biscuits, 300 guns and muskets, 5,000 pounds of powder, $28,000 worth of goods and clothing and some $7.000 worth of miscellaneous goods including saddles, liquor, coffee, cigars and "other luxuries." Most of the captured 2,000 horses and mules were later paid out to the Indians in exchange for their continued support. But the victory at the Alazan Creek was soon turned into a defeat for Gutiérrez de Lara when he was replaced by U.S.-backed General José Álvarez de Toledo. Álvarez de Toledo was mistrusted by most of the native Mexican volunteers and this destroyed the army's morale when he divided the force into groups of "Mexicans," "Anglos" and Indians. The assimilated army which had fought victoriously at Nacogdoches, Goliad, Rosillo and the Alazan was now a demoralized force and unprepared to meet the disciplined troops under Brigadier General Arredondo at the battle of Medina. The Republican Army of the North and the Republic which they had founded ended on August 18, 1813, when the Republican Army was defeated at the Battle of Medina. Colonel Elizondo was present at that battle and a young lieutenant named Antonio López de Santa Anna was also there. They both joined their commanding officer in one of the worst bloodbaths to ever take place in Texas. When the Battle of Medina was over, Elizondo had been fatally wounded by one of his own sub-alternates. Gutiérrez de Lara went on to join two other revolutionary expeditions and later became the governor of the state of Tamaulipas after the conclusion of the War of Independence.

Location

The battle site is within the city limits of San Antonio, Texas, slightly southwest from the downtown area in Bexar County.

See also

Sources

  • 1. "The Sons of the Republic of Texas" By Thomas B. Green, 2003,
  • 2. "Texas Tales Your Teacher Never Told You" by C. F. Eckhardt, published by Wordware publishing, Inc. Regional Division.
  • 3. "Program for Ceremonies Commemorating The 175th Anniversary of The Battle of Medina August 21, 1988" by Robert H. Thonhoff.
  • 4. "Report of The Battle of Medina by Spanish participant Joaquin de Arredondo" translated by Mattie Austin Hatcher in The Texas Historical Association Quarterly XI no. 3 January 1908 pages 200 - 236.
  • 5. "Green Flag Over Texas" by Julia Kathryn Garrett, Cordova Press, New York.

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