Although the Alamo was the defining moment of the Texas Revolution, it was not the beginning. The first shot was at The Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835, the first military engagement between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army soldiers.
In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. As contentions grew between Mexico and Texas, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales with a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.
In response, the Texians raised a homemade white banner with an image of the cannon painted in black in the center, over the words “Come and Take It”. The makeshift flag evoked the American Revolutionary-era slogan “Don’t Tread on Me”.
Texans then fired their cannon at the Mexican camp. Two Mexican soldiers were killed, and with no orders to fight, the Mexican’s left, with no Texan casualties.
Although the skirmish had little military significance, it marked a clear break between the colonists and the Mexican government and is considered to have been the start of the Texas Revolution.
Mission San Antonio de Valero became an official military installation in 1803 when it became the barracks of the Spanish Army. From that time until 1877 it was a military base for any government seeking to control Texas.
One of the first companies to be assigned here was the mounted lancers from Álamo de Parras, designated as the “Flying Company” because their mobility made it possible for them to respond rapidly to the threat of attack by Comanche or other Indian raiders.
It wasn’t until 1850, during US War with Mexico, when the US Army inhabited the Alamo that they added the famous curved parapet. It was not present at the Battle of the Alamo (which is probably why you did not recognize Mission San Antonio de Valero when I posted it’s picture).
Let’s face it, most of our knowledge of The Texas Revolution and The Alamo comes from Walt Disney. He brought to our attention Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis. But what about the other 186 men who died at The Alamo, like Charles Zanco?
Charles Zanco was born in Randers, Denmark, in 1808. Zanco and his father emigrated to America in 1834 after the death of Charles’s mother. They settled in Harris County, Texas. The Zancos were farmers, and Charles was also a painter. In the fall of 1835 Zanco joined the first volunteers at Lynchburg for service in the Texas Revolution. He served under Lt. Col. James Clinton Neill, the 45-year-old North Carolinian at the Battle of Gonzales a few weeks earlier, as I noted above.
Zanco helped design the company’s flag, which featured a painted star and the legend, “Independence.” Zanko was the first person ever to paint a Lone Star on a Texan flag.
Zanco entered the Alamo on February 23, 1836, as the Mexican Army was approaching. He died defending the Alamo on March 6, 1836, at age 28. So, it appears, that Charles Zanko, not even an American Citizen, is responsible for Texas being called “The Lone Star State”.
After the Alamo was over run, Santa Ana ordered all the bodies of the defenders placed in a pile and burned. A year later those ashes were gathered and in 1938 placed in this tomb at San Fernando Cathedral, in San Antonio.
A year later? Really? I bet there is at least one rodent’s ashes in there.