“an iron bridge which has been furnished by the Gachupines in Mexico for the purpose of crossing the Rivers of Texas” (Seguín)

{40}

From Juan Seguín
To President Sam Houston
Camp Vigilance, River San Antonio, March 9, 1837

By a private of this corps (a Mexican by birth to whom I had given permission to go to the other side of the Nueces to catch mesteñas [mustangs]) I have learned the following information– He states that in his perambulations he went within six leagues of Matamoras and there remained some days at the Ranch of a Relative of his who is a person known to me and considered friendly to our cause. He left there on the 2d of this month and on the day previous to his departure the relative above alluded to returned to that Ranch from Matamoras and stated to my informant that there were then in that place six thousand troops under the command of Genl. Bravo with sixty pieces of artillery and an immense train of baggage including an iron bridge which has been furnished by the Gachupines in Mexico for the purpose of crossing the Rivers of Texas–[…]

Juan N. Seguín, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by Jesús F. de la Teja (Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1991), 157.

“a shout for death and a war without quarter on the gachupines” (Navarro)

Whoever knows, or who can formulate, a rough idea of the type of men of that epoch, can comprehend the extreme depth of ignorance and ferocious passions of the men of those times. Whoever is informed will understand that among the Mexicans of that time, with some exceptions, there was no clear political sentiment. They did not know the importance of the words “independence and liberty” and they did not understand the reasons for the rebellion of the priest Hidalgo as other than a shout for death and a war without quarter on the gachupines, as the Spaniards were called. Thus one will readily concede and agree, as Bernardo Gutiérrez has admitted in his own way, that the band of so-called patriots “killed those fourteen victims.” But his excuse is very weak, very cowardly, and unworthy of a general who neither would nor could avoid such a scandal, much less relinquish his command upon seeing his cause blackened by a more monstrous action than could be perpetrated by a vandal chieftain.

José Antonio Navarro, Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: José Antonio Navarro’s Historical Writings, 1853-1857, ed. David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina (Austin: State House Press, 1995), 50.

The priest Hidalgo gave the shout at midnight on the sixteenth of September–even a delay of two hours probably would have seen him a prisoner on the way to Mexico, with all hope of independence dashed.

¡Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe; and mueran los Gachupines![56] This was the first invocation that occurred to him in those portentous moments. Upon such fragile auspices a revolution of fruitful results was born that has raised a federal republic that is a member of the family of nations.

Let those who judge these anomalies with astonishment pause and contemplate the times and the capacities of the people there. Let them put themselves in the place of the patriot Hidalgo, already denounced as a traitor before the implacable despot, the Viceroy of Mexico.[57] Imagine being in a pressing situation without the slightest plan of operation, without money, arms, or troops, having no more than a few hundred Indians from his own village. Neither the rigorous mind of a Washington nor the iron will of a Napoleon I could have led these chaotic, backward masses to so great an enterprise without motivating them by means of vengeance and [66] superstition, just as this illustrious and unfortunate patriot was compelled to do.

The plunder and slaughter, a necessary consequence, began at that point. But how powerful are the instincts of a people who fight for a just cause! The Mexicans, in the midst of those inevitable disorders, triumphed everywhere by the end of 1810.

José Antonio Navarro, Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: José Antonio Navarro’s Historical Writings, 1853-1857, ed. David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina (Austin: State House Press, 1995), 65-66.

This memorable day of January 22, 1811, was the first occasion in which the Mexicans of San Antonio de Béxar announced their desire to break forever the chains of their ancient colonial slavery.

This was the day in which they no longer attempted to restrain the trembling, guttural voice that pervades the long and servile life, and they were able to speak out loudly to those who had been the absolute masters of the Mexicans. But the sudden transformation of that day, in which the slaves were elevated to masters and the arbiters of their oppressors and masters of yesterday, generated a bitter vanguard directed against those called gachupines.

José Antonio Navarro, Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: José Antonio Navarro’s Historical Writings, 1853-1857, ed. David R. McDonald and Timothy M. Matovina (Austin: State House Press, 1995), 68.

 

  1. [56]Long live our lady of Guadalupe and death to the Spaniards! Gachupín was a derogatory word for Spaniards. Derived from the Nahuatl word, cacchopini (cactus thorn), used by Aztec Native Americans with clear symbolism to characterize Spaniards by their large, conspicuous spurs. José María Santamaría, Diccionario de Mexicanismos (Méjico: Editorial Porrua, S.A. Av. Rep. Argentina, 15, segunda ediciôn, 1974), 541.
  2. [57]Francisco Javier Venegas, viceroy of Mexico 1810-1813. Venegas was described as a military man of action and few words who was bloody, cruel, and calculating. Assuming the viceregal office two days after Hidalgo proclaimed Mexican independence, Venegas undertook measures that led to the capture of the insurgent leadership, which he believed had crushed the rebellion. Manuel Garcia Puron, Mexico y sus Governantes, (México: Libreria de Manuel Porrua, S.A., tercer edición, 1964), 146-47.