Today in 1835, the Battle of Gonzales became the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army troops.
In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted.
As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.
When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities.
Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2.
After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew. As a symbol of defiance, the Texians had fashioned a flag containing the phrase “come and take it” along with a black star and an image of the cannon that they had received four years earlier from Mexican officials.
This was the same message that was sent to the Mexican government when they told the Texians to return the cannon; lack of compliance with the initial demands led to the failed attempt by the Mexican military to forcefully take back the cannon.
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. News of the skirmish spread throughout the United States, where it was often referred to as the “Lexington of Texas”.