San Antonio in 1811: The Las Casas Revolt
By: Amelia White, Alamo Digital Marketing & Content Manager
As with the Texas Revolution of 1835–1836, during the Mexican Wars of Independence the citizens of Texas were divided in their feelings about revolution. During this tumultuous period, prominent Texans were divided between loyalty to the Spanish crown and the Mexican rebels. This was especially apparent during the Las Casas revolt of 1811 and the ensuing counter-revolution in San Antonio de Bexar. During this period the same Tejanos that would have to choose sides in the 1830s — the Veramendi, Navarro, Seguin, Menchaca, Musquiz, and other families — similarly had to decide whether or not to support revolution.
After Father Hidalgo issued his famous Grito de Dolores in September 1810, he began gathering a revolutionary force and waging war throughout Mexico. After some initial successes, by early 1811 Hidalgo’s Army of the Americas was on the retreat through Mexico’s northern provinces. With his numbers dwindling, Hidalgo planned to enter Texas and appeal to the United States for support for the cause.
Texas, meanwhile, was in a state of revolt. Hidalgo had sent agents to the settlements along the Rio Grande to garner support for his revolution. Fearing the spread of hostilities throughout Texas, Governor Manuel de Salcedo, residing in San Antonio de Bexar, acted to stop the spread of revolution. Salcedo’s efforts were ineffective, however, and on January 21, 1811, retired military officer Juan Bautista de las Casas staged a coup and captured Governor Salcedo and a handful of those loyal to him.
The first thing Casas did upon taking power was to confiscate the property of all Europeans in Texas. Next, he sent a delegation to Nacogdoches to establish a revolutionary government there as well. Not everyone in San Antonio was in support of the Casas revolt. His high-handed ways and tendency towards nepotism led to a number of prominent Tejanos and veteran army officers to begin a counter-revolution against Casas. In February 1811, Don Juan Manuel Zambrano, Captain Ignacio Pérez, Don Erasmo Seguín, Don Juan Veramendi and Don Francisco Ruiz held a secret meeting to plan their counter-revolution. In the subsequent days, they began recruiting other prominent citizens and officers to their cause.
On March 1, 1811, the counter-revolutionaries descended on the army barracks and took control of the buildings. With public sentiment in their favor, the five original conspirators decided elect a Junta to head all further actions. Zambrano was elected as president of the Junta and eleven others, including Miguel Eca y Múzquiz and Ersamo Seguin, were elected as members. The Junta and their troops then marched on the house where Casas was living and apprehended him.
With Casas arrested, and other conspirators imprisoned in the Alamo, the Junta released the Europeans who had been jailed by Casas and returned their confiscated property. The Junta also called for the election of a ten member town council, whose members included Miguel Múzquiz, José Antonio de la Garza and Fernando Veramendi. Next, the Junta dispatched agents south to the ranch of Don José Menchaca, who was persuaded to join the counter-revolution and accompany the agents to the ranch of Don Ignacio Elizondo where Governor de Salcedo was being held. Elizondo too was swayed back to the royalist cause and released Salcedo.
On July 29, 1811, after a trial in Monclova, Casas was found guilty of high treason. Casas was executed on August 3, 1811 and his head was decapitated from his corpse and sent to Béxar and placed on a pike in Main Plaza. Revolution was over in Texas for a time, but it would not be long before the Spanish royalist forces were challenged again, this time by a group comprised of Mexicans and Americans.