Finding Medina: The Casas Revolt

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The Battle of Medina Research Team (from left) Rob Lackowicz, Zack Overfield, Brandon Seale, and Crystal Allgood

Courtesy / Brandon Seale

The Battle of Medina research team, (from left) Rob Lackowicz, Zack Overfield, Brandon Seale, and Crystal Allgood, review maps of the terrain in the area of the battle.

On Sept. 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla unleashed a cry of protest against centuries of Spanish exploitation of New Spain. San Antonians under a retired militia captain named Juan Bautista de las Casas took up the cry and attached themselves to his cause.

We start our search for the battlefield of Medina by dissecting the most primary account of them all: the post-action report of the Spanish Royalist commander, Joaquín de Arredondo. He gives us our first important clues for narrowing the search area. 

Related Links: Joaquín de Arredondo’s Post-Action Report in Spanish.  Transcription by Brian Stauffer.

Joaquín de Arredondo’s Report of the Battle of the Medina, August 18, 1813.

13 thoughts on “Finding Medina: The Casas Revolt

  1. The site of El Carmen Church being East of the main Laredo road (today’s Pleasanton Rd) perhaps means that Arredondo re-routed East of the that road instead of West on the morning of Aug 18, 1813. Also, would Arredondo transport the Spanish casualties that far from the battlefield? Maybe that reroute is closer to present day 281 or S Flores Rd/FM 3499? Just a thought.

    Great work! I feel like we are getting close.
    Thank you!

    • Mike, you make a great point, and I think it is a bit of an underexplored possibility. I can’t find anywhere in any of the accounts DEFINITIVE evidence that Arredondo turned West. That said, it is the default position of most students of the battle, owing to that fact that we feel pretty certain Arredondo was on the more easterly Laredo road (wherever that was) and the best other known crossing(s) in the area were west of there. Indeed, if you go much east of El Carmen Church, you’re below the confluence of the Medina and San Antonio Rivers, where the river gets a bit wider and harder to cross.

      The other hint I’ve found that Arredondo redirected Northwest was that one or two of the Republican accounts talk about their right wing being the first to contact the Royalist main body, which could be consistent with a southbound Republican army stumbling into a northwestbound Royalist army slip-sliding toward the other Medina crossings.

      To your question about the casualties being taken all the way to El Carmen: As I will discuss in later episode, I do feel like the Republican army probably crossed the Medina somewhere near El Carmen. After their ambush failed and the battle fell apart, it makes sense to me that they would have retreated back the way they came from. Multiple accounts make reference to a “running battle” of sorts back to the Medina, which could have pulled Arredondo (and his casualties) back that direction.

      By the way, your S Flores/FM 3499 is, I think, an important throughfare! More on that in future episodes…

      Thanks, Mike!

      • Brandon,
        Thank you for the reply.
        I recalled reading Colonel Miguel Menchaca’s page on the Handbook of Texas Online which states that according to The Memoirs of Antonio Menchaca, that Colonel Miguel Menchaca managed to escape the battlefield but died of his wounds below Bexar on Calaveras Creek. That would put his body approximately 13 miles East of El Carmen, allegedly. That is quite the running battle.

  2. Brandon Seale have you been in contact with JMADS organization -Donna De Leon from Houston, Texas she has extensive History Collection on this topic discussion.

    • Hi Alicia, I have not had contact with them. Send me a private message if you think it would be interesting for me to talk to them!

  3. I teach history at Southwest Legacy HS not too far from the battle sites…I use the plural because my belief that as a running battle, there are probably multiple places that can claim to be the the “site”.

    I grew up near the traditional site of the Rosillo Creek battlefield and that era of Texas History has always fascinated me…Please add me to any mailing list of any group that wants to go out and explore these sites

    Thanks

    • Don, you are probably on to something. Of the 3,200 combatants in the battle, perhaps as many as two-thirds were mounted. The accounts all suggest that a lot of maneuvering was going on in and around the battlefield throughout. Even the infantry and artillery slugging it out at each other would have been constantly shifting, angling for an edge on their opponent.

      The scarcity of artifacts stills surprises me. Even with that maneuvering, we’re told that the Royalists fired 950 cannon shots, and who-knows-how many smaller caliber rounds. Maybe other people have had more success turning up these artifacts; there are certainly lots of stories of artifacts, but very few have been produced.

  4. This map is missing Elm Creek, which is located between the Medina River and Loop 1604. As you drive over Elm Creek one can see deep drop off, that looks similar to a canyon. Hope this helps.

    • Thanks, Rogelio, we’ll check it out. In the meantime, let me see if I can post a map sent in by Joseph Bexar showing a few other watersheds in the relevant project area.

      • I’ll look forward to the map. Should y’all ever be in the area, let me know🙂 Good luck with your search.

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