Siege of Béxar

The siege of Béxar refers to a confrontation between Texas forces under the command of Stephen F. Austin and Mexican troops quartered in what is now San Antonio. It occurred over the last few months of 1835 and began shortly after the Battle of Gonzales that took place in early October of that year.

Santa Anna directed his brother-in-law General Martín Perfecto de Cos to proceed to Béxar with reinforcement troops to supplement those already there. At the time, Béxar was one of the only location, if not one of the only locations where Mexican troops were garrisoned. Encouraged by the recent events in Gonzales, Stephen F. Austin headed toward Béxar to engage these Mexican forces in mid October, 1835. His leadership included Ed Burleson, John Moore (from the Gonzales battle), Ben Milam, Jim Bowie, James Fannin and Alexander Somervell.

By the time the Texas forces neared Béxar their number was about 450 individuals, about 80% of whom were available to fight. Mexican forces were almost double that number. Austin requested additional reinforcements and began preparations for a siege, Mexican forces having been mainly concentrated around the Alamo. Smaller engagements occurred at Mission Espada and Mission Concepción in late October. At Concepción, a short battle occurred and one Texan, Richard Andrews, was killed. Mexican casualties were greater, and though the number may not be exactly known, it likely was in the dozens.

Austin continued the siege in November during which he offered General Cos a written note suggesting that he surrender, but Cos is said to have returned it unopened as a gesture of his lack of respect for the Texans. Thomas Rusk brought more reinforcements and General Cos was able to augment his own numbers, further outnumbering the Texans. The siege was continued by the Texans, as opposed to trying an armed assault against the Mexican forces. Several weeks having ensued, Sam Houston was named commander of the Texas forces, Burleson replaced Austin at Béxar and Austin began to serve as a liaison to the United States.

Late in November, Texas forces became aware of a Mexican pack train heading toward Béxar. Hoping to find money and other valuable provisions, they prepared to attack the pack train. There was a short battle and the Mexicans withdrew, leaving the loaded pack animals. The Texans were disappointed to find only fresh cut grass intended for the horses inside Béxar. There were some wounded and/or killed on both sides of the conflict and this event is is referred to as the “Grass Fight.”

Some of the Texas leadership began to favor an armed assault and some troops were engaged to begin clearing and occupying the buildings near where the Mexican troops were confined. Ben Milam was shot and killed by a Mexican sniper on December 7, 1835 while he was believed to have been scouting in advance of another attack. The attack continued after Milam’s death and was fortified by artillery pieces.

Some of the Mexican troops left the Alamo area and headed south toward Mexico. Surrounded and their numbers depleted, the Mexican forces asked for a truce and began to discuss terms of surrender. Terms were agreed to in the pre dawn hours of December 10, 1835. It was a timely conclusion for both sides, but the Texas forces were said to have little ammunition or supplies left.

General Cos was allowed to leave Béxar on December 14 with his troops then numbering 800 men. This was the last major event to involved a battle between Texas and American forces until the Battle of the Alamo that would begin a little more than two months later.

These dates are usually key dates associated with the Texas Revolution:

  • October 2, 1835 – Battle of Gonzales.
  • December 5, 1835 – Siege of Béxar.
  • Feb. 23, 1836 – Battle of the Alamo begins.
  • March 2, 1836 – Convention of 1836.
  • March 6, 1836 – Fall of the Alamo.
  • March 27, 1836 – Goliad Massacre.
  • April 21, 1836 – Battle of San Jacinto.

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