Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch
The Battle of Gonzales
The volunteer spirit that has now characterized the military forces of Texas for more than one hundred fifty years was first called upon during this crisis. It was against a determined group of men that Santa Anna sent his dictator-controlled army. It was at Gonzales that the motto--"Come and Take It"--was born.
When Santa Anna sent a Mexican commander to take a cannon from Gonzales, the Texans rallied forces from the Guadeloupe, the Colorado and the Brazos for aid, then told the Mexican commander to "Come and Take It." The latter retreated six miles, and the Texans, tired of waiting for an attack charged the Mexicans on October 2, 1835, and the Mexicans retreated in full flight.
It was immediately after the Battle of Gonzales that the First Army of Texas Volunteers was organized with Stephen F. Austin in command. This same army marched to San Antonio and gained a victory over General Cos, who had previously defeated Colonel Benjamin R. Milam. Thus began the campaign of 1835 which resulted in the securing of independence for Texas. With the birth of Texas was also recorded the birth of what is now the Texas National Guard. The storming of the Bexar and the enforced retreat of Cos took place in December.
Men who were found ready and willing to fight for their homes and the right to peace and security and independence formed the first militia forces of Texas. Not only Texans but men from the United States who had come to love freedom and democracy rallied to the cause. To the many companies formed in the Lone Star State were added those that came from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other sections of the United States. It was in these hastily formed but spirited organizations that the Texas National Guard was born.
Typical of the units that faced Santa Anna were the New Orleans Greys organized in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans in October, 1835. Two companies, aggregating well over 100 men and both calling themselves the New Orleans Greys, left the city within two days of each other.
It was such help as these companies gave that encouraged the Texans in their fight for independence. The New Orleans Greys covered themselves with glory in the storming of San Antonio, as 33 of them were in the Alamo when it fell and others were among Fannin's men at the Battle of Coleto. It was under the banner of "God and Liberty" that the New Orleans Greys joined the Texans. It was this principle they also upheld at the Battle of San Jacinto.
As Texas had no regular army, since its independence had just been declared, the armed might that beat back the Mexicans and established the Republic of Texas was strictly of the militia character--volunteers who left their homes in order that they might have protected homes to which to return.
Their gallantry in defeat as well as in victory serves as one of the highest traditions which the present Texas National Guard has to uphold. Their choice of glorious death instead of ignoble defeat and surrender is an inspiration for those who don the uniform.