Finding Medina: The March on Goliad

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Brandon Seale and Alberto Múzquiz search for the Battle of Medina from above.

Courtesy / Brandon Seale

Brandon Seale and Alberto Múzquiz search for the Battle of Medina site from above.

In seventh-grade Texas history textbooks, Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara figures only peripherally in the events covered in this series. In reality, he may have been the great unifying figure for the Tejano, Native American, and American volunteers marching across Texas in the fall of 1812. Texas Gov. Manuel Salcedo certainly took notice of his movements and rode out to ambush the revolutionary commander on the road to San Antonio in October 1812. It would be Gutiérrez de Lara, however, who had a surprise in store for Salcedo.

The research team takes to the air to look for the “canyon” chosen by the Republican army to later ambush the Royalist Army before the Battle of Medina.

Additional Materials:

Memoirs of José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara

The Diaries of José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara (1811-2)

Gutiérrez de Lara Proclama (Transcribed by Brian Stauffer)

Memoirs of Antonio Menchaca

6 thoughts on “Finding Medina: The March on Goliad

  1. Interesting descriptions. Being a native and current resident of south Bexar County I began to think of topographic areas similar to the written accounts. Would it be possible to share summarized descriptions in written form so that someone like myself who occasionally travels and bikes these backroads may have an opportunity in trying to locate said battlefield?

  2. If one looks at the sharply vertical and eroded edges of many local waterways, Medina River for example they appear similar to a canyon. Elm creek, which lies south of Medina River also has a sharp drop off, similar looking to a canyon. Unfortunately many of the links to this story are not accessible and I am only left to listen to the podcast for describing the lay of the land. Thank you.

  3. Rogelio, thanks for your comment! We may eventually try to publish the episodes in book format with pointed summaries of the different accounts. In the meantime, if you go back to the some of the earlier episode webpages, you should find links to the principal accounts. Another good resource would be Ted Schwarz and Robert Thonoff’s “Forgotten Battlefield,” a 1985 book that draws heavily from the different primary sources, though I’ll note that we probably have better road maps today than they did for mapping these out.

    Lastly, see below for an excerpt from the 1815 Lexington Reporter account: “On our right was located a large hill, at whose back there was an impenetrable forest that entirely protected us from being flanked on that side. On our left there was another large hill, more considerable and difficult than the one on the right. In front, we had a plain extending for a mile which was then followed by a thick encinal [oak forest] in an extremely sandy soil through which passed the road to Laredo.”

    Henry Adams Bullard: “Toledo advanced about two miles and on the morning of August 13th [18th] and the army was drawn out in order of battle, crossing[?] the road in the center, the artillery on each side and a corps of cavalry and friendly Indians on each wing concealed in the thick of woods [?]. In front of the line was a small prairie and such was the position of the troops that the enemy might approach within rifle shot without [illegible] their presence.”

    And William McLane: “The [Republican] troops formed at 8 o’clock on the south side of the stream with a post oak grove in rear and an opening in front – a most admirable position.”

  4. Brandon,

    Thank you for the information and feedback. It’s a cool subject to study. I hope to do some research on it sometime soon.
    Good day.

  5. Just when I thought I had all the angles of battle figured out I find a new one to reset my thinking for a resolve. In mentioning the terrain and landmarks of hills and canyons, in my own lifetime I have seen so many changes to landmarks that were there in my youth and now are gone. Trees and forested areas are now cleared and no longer probabilities to a battle site or camp site. The landmark of Mont San Cristobal is no longer a visible landmark as it is being mined for its contents. The Espy Sand Pit has changed tremendously today . Just samples that I have taken note of. Your narratives encourage me not to be discouraged in the hopes of finding the battle site, in due time. Thank you for stirring the sand storm of curiosity and discovery.

    • Thanks Federico! Your point about the changing topography is a really important one…what it means is that we may not really be able to trust the topographical clues…we’ll have to look for other evidence like distances or some other way to picture what the topography looked like 200 years ago. Of course, the best way to shortcut this entire process would be to find some artifacts in the ground somewhere! 3,000 men throwing iron and lead at each other for four hours had to leave behind some evidence!

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