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Manuel María de Salcedo was a governor of Spanish Texas from 1808 until 1813. Salcedo gained leadership experience helping his father, the governor of Spanish Louisiana. In 1807, he was appointed governor of Texas, and he officially assumed that role on November 7, 1808. As governor, he and his uncle Nemesio Salcedo, the Commandant General of the Interior Provinces, often disagreed, especially on immigration issues.

Salcedo was overthrown by Juan Bautista de las Casas in January 1811 and imprisoned for several months in Monclovamarker. After he persuaded his captor to switch allegiances, Salcedo assisted in capturing documents detailing the movements of Miguel Hidalgo's army. The rebel army was captured one week later, and Salcedo led the military tribunal which eventually sentenced the rebel leaders to death. After fulfilling his duties with the tribunal Salcedo returned to Texas, but did not resume his duties for several months as a result of a dispute with his uncle and whether he was at fault for his own capture.

In 1812, Salcedo led the Spanish army in Texas against the filibusters calling themselves the Republican Army of the North. He was never able to defeat the other army, and finally surrendered on April 2, 1813. Despite assurances that he would be imprisoned, leaders of the filibuster army executed him the following day. To avenge Salcedo's death, the Spanish army quickly reconquered Texas and dealt harshly with any they suspected of treason.

Early years

Manuel María de Salcedo was born in Malaga, Spainmarker on April 3, 1776 to Juan Manuel de Salcedo and Francisca de Quiroga y Manso. When he was seven, Salcedo enrolled at the Royal Academy of Ocana, later transferring to the Royal Seminary of Nobles, where he trained until he was 17. Salcedo then joined the infantry, where he reached the rank of lieutenant and served under his father at Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker in the Canary Islandsmarker. In 1801, his father became the governor of Spanish Louisiana, and Salcedo accompanied him to New Orleansmarker.

In New Orleans, Salcedo served as a boundary commissioner as Spain prepared to transfer the colony back to Francemarker. He married in 1803 to a local woman of Spanish and French ancestry, Maria Guadalupe Prietto y la Ronde. They returned to Spain the following year after Napoleon transferred Louisiana to the United Statesmarker through the Louisiana Purchase.

Appointment as governor

While living in Spain, Salcedo was appointed the governor of Spanish Texas. At this time, Texas was a sparsely populated province consisting of three primary settlements connected by the Camino Real, with a few presidios and over a dozen missions scattered throughout the wilderness. The province was bordered on the south and west by the Nuecesmarker and Medina Rivers, with the Red Rivermarker comprising its northern and eastern border. The capital was the villa of San Fernando, commonly called San Antonio de Bexarmarker after the local presidio. Approximately 2,500 people, including soldiers, lived in San Antonio, with an additional 600 residents at La Bahiamarker and about 770 people in Nacogdochesmarker.

As governor, Salcedo would be the representative of the Spanish king in Texas. As a deputy of the Commandant General of the Interior Provinces, at this time his uncle, Nemesio Salcedo, the governor was the military commander for the province and had the power to appoint lieutenants and corporals to oversee the presidios and mission defenses. He would also serve as the civil administrator, and had final approval of the results of all elections.

Salcedo took a preliminary oath of office on May 1, 1807, and he and his wife and daughter left for North America. The family traveled by boat to New Bedford, Massachusettsmarker, where they took a stagecoach to Providence, Rhode Islandmarker and New Haven, Connecticutmarker. They also visited New York Citymarker, Philadelphiamarker and Pittsburghmarker before cruising down the Mississippi River to Natchez and then travelling overland to Texas. Salcedo officially assumed the governorship of the province on November 7, 1808.

Early governorship

In his first year in office, Salcedo faced many issues, often pitting himself against his uncle and superior, Nemesio Salcedo. After visiting with the Americans for so many months, Salcedo warned of "the aggressive spirit of Anglo-American frontiersmen." To minimize the threat to the Spanish borderlands, Salcedo recommended that Texas welcome more settlers and soldiers to the area. He recommended that immigrants who could demonstrate their loyalty to Spain be welcomed into the province, including men deserting from the U.S. Army. His uncle instead ordered the border be closed to all people from Louisiana, regardless of their ethnic background. Despite the order, Salcedo still permitted slaveowners from the United States to enter Texas in order to reclaim runaway slaves.

Money was continually tight in the province, with little coming from the interior provinces. At one point, Salcedo became desperate enough for funds that he asked citizens in the province to donate money to pay the troops who helped protect them. He also continued to received complaints and reprimands from his uncle, who "commended almost every high-ranking officer in the borderlands except" for Salcedo.

After almost eighteen months in office, Salcedo decided to inspect other areas of the province. He left San Antonio de Bexarmarker on March 11, 1810 to tour East Texas. The United States and Spain were contesting the location of the border between Texas and Louisiana, and in response the local military commanders had declared the area between the Sabine River and the Red River to be a neutral ground which neither army would cross. As a result, this section of land became a haven for outlaws. While visiting Nacogdoches, Salcedo recommended that Spanish troops combine with an equal number of American soldiers to mount an offensive against the bandits. He also personally interrogated the heads of new immigrant families to the area to determine whether they would be loyal to Spain.

After returning to San Antonio, Salcedo learned that the Central Junta of Seville had issued an edict inviting Hispanic colonists overseas to send representatives to the junta. The people of San Antonio promptly elected Salcedo to represent them. Nemesio Salcedo immeidately invalidated the election on the pretext that San Antonio did not have a cabildo, which was a prerequisite for balloting. Salcedo soothed the people of San Antonio by explaining that his primary obligation as governor of Texas required his presence in Texas. Instead, Texas would be represented by Coahuilamarker's representative, Antonio Cordero.

Hidalgo revolution

Revolt

Salcedo left for a tour of the southern part of Texas on September 12, 1810. Four days later, Father Miguel Hidalgo launched a revolution in Mexico. Hidalgo believed that only people born in New Spain knew what was best for the area, and he claimed to also want to govern in the name of deposed king Ferdinand VII of Spain. His goal was to inflame the northernmost provinces, especially Texas, in the hopes that his cause might win the support of the United States. When news of the revolt reached East Texas, many of the colonists fled into Louisiana, afraid the presidio would be unable to protect them. Salcedo offered a blanket amnesty to the settlers if they would return to Texas by November 1.

Salcedo returned to San Antonio de Bexarmarker in late October and began making plans to protect Texas. He requested permission to create a militia with 200 local gentry from Texas to help patrol Texas, but this was denied. To guard against the spread of seditious literature, Salcedo instructed the San Antonio postmaster, Erasmo Seguin, to hold all incoming and outgoing mail pouches until they had been inspected by the governor. This privacy infringement was not publicized. When the amnesty for East Texas settlers expired, Salcedo also ordered the borders closed and all settlers in the province confined to the immediate vicinity if their homes. Both the confinement and the mail reading were overturned by Nemesio Salcedo as being too strict. To improve response time, however, Nemesio Salcedo did authorize his nephew to open any correspondence from the United States that was addressed to the commandant general.

At the end of November, Salcedo received a message from the viceroy of New Spain instructing him that Hidalgo and his confederates Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama were expected to invade Texas, and that Salcedo was expected to capture them. This posed difficulty for Salcedo, whose soldiers were operating without needed supplies, some not even having flints for their firearms, and many members of the cavalry were without horses. Eager to find a solution, Salcedo attempted to recruit 200 Lipan Apache warriors to fight with them, but the deal fell through. Further stretching his resources, Salcedo sent 100 soldiers to Saltillomarker to assist in fending off the insurrectionists fighting in Coahuila.

In December, Salcedo sent his wife and daughter from San Antonio to keep them safe. On January 2, he summoned all 300 troops in Bexar and informed them that they would be traveling to the Rio Grandemarker to more effectively defend the province. This ignited rumors that Salcedo was planning to abandon the province. Four days later, Salcedo was forced to publish a proclamation to all inhabitants of the province, appealing for support for the royalists and denying that Spanish authorities intended to abandon New Spain.

Within the next several days, Coahuila surrendered to the rebels. On January 15, rebels launched an attempt to seize the Texas government; the plot was uncovered and the conspirators, including a lieutenant in the army, were arrested. Salcedo then cancelled his orders to send the troops to the Rio Grande so that they could instead protect the capital. He also issued a declaration to the citizens of San Antonio to warn them that helping the rebels was treason.

Capture

On January 21, Juan Bautista de las Casas, a retired militia captain from Nuevo Santander led a group of army sergeants to stage a coup in San Antonio de Bexarmarker. The following morning they arrested Salcedo and his entire military staff. Even as Salcedo was led to detention however, the rebellious soldiers instinctively saluted him. Las Casas chained Salcedo, Simon Herrerra, the governor of Nuevo Santander who was living in San Antonio, and twelve other Hispanis officers and humilitiated them in front of the town. The prisoners were then transferred to Monclovamarker in Coahuila.

The rest of Texas was quickly revolutionized. There was little resistance in Nacogdoches, where the presidio commander was arrested, or in La Bahia. Las Casas promptly confiscated property belonging to Hispanic residents, proclaimed himself the head of a provisional government, released political prisoners and jailed royalists. His arbitrary rule disenchanted much of the army, and Juan Manuel Zambrano, the subdeacon of San Antonio, soon led a counter-insurgency against him. On March 2, Zambrano and his royalists marched on the government house. Las Casas surrendered without a fight, just 39 days after taking over. Zambrano reestablished royalist control of the province and sent a messenger to inform those holding Salcedo.

Victory

During his captivity, Salcedo had been slowly enticing his captor with promises of a promotion and other rewards if he would renounce his revolutionary tendencies. After receiving Zambrano's message, Salcedo's captor changed sides again. With his help, on March 13, Salcedo and his military officers were able to capture Pedro de Aranda, who held documents detailing the movements of the revolutionary army. One week later, Salcedo led a group which captured much of Hidalgo's army, as well as 27 rebel leaders. Salcedo accompanied the captured leaders from Monclova to Chihuahua, the headquarters of the Commandant General. On April 26, 1811, the Commandant General appointed Salcedo to be president of a seven-member tribunal to try the revolutionaries. The men were quickly sentenced to death by firing squad.

Loyalists in Coahuila quickly judged, convicted, and executed the prisoners captured in San Antonio de Bexarmarker. Las Casas's head was shipped to San Antonio and displayed on a pole in the military plaza. With Salcedo still in Chihuahua, Zambrano administered the province. Among his accomplishments during this time was to inaugurate the first primary school in San Antonio.

The royalists were amply rewarded for their work. San Antonio was elevated from a villa to a cuidad. Those who participated in the royalists junta were given either promotions or cash payments. Salcedo was the only one of the royalists to not receive any special awards or honors. He angrily protested to the Commandant General and requested a military inquiry into the events surrounding his capture, hoping to be exonerated. Nemesio Salcedo refused to convene and inquiry, declaring that Salcedo had simply been caught off guard. Although Salcedo returned to San Antonio on September 11, 1811, he refused to assume his duties as governor. Nemesio Salcedo finally told him that the higher authorities trusted him with the assignment or else he would not have been allowed to return to Texas, and thus any other promotions or compensation were superfluous. The lack of that compensation, however, lessened Salcedo's standing in the eyes of many of the residents of the province, with some refusing to follow verbal directives from the governor.

Defeat

Salcedo resumed his command on December 15. Revolutionary tendencies were still high, and on February 12, 1812 Salcedo appointed a military council on public safety to oversee cases of sedition. As usual, there was a shortage of funds and horses within the province. Salcedo ignored protocol and wrote directly to the viceroy of New Spain about troop strength levels in Texas, including copies of documents which had been sent to the Commandant General in previous pleas. At this time, there only an estimated 1137 troops in the province.

During this time, revolutionary Bernardo Gutiérrez travelled to the United States to try to gain support for overthrowing the royalists in Mexico. With former U.S. Army lieutenant Augustus William Magee and William Shaler, Gutiérrez advertised for armed supported in Louisiana and Natchez, calling themselves the Republican Army of the North. The Republican Army of the North gathered in the Neutral Ground, and in early August 1812 they crossed the Sabine River into Texas. Most of the soldiers in Nacogdoches were away from the fort, and it fell on August 11 with no resistance. After receiving conflicting information about the size of the rebel army, the Spanish soldiers retreated west. The retreat was disorganized, and many of the enlisted men deserted and returned to Nacogdoches to join the filibusters. By mid-August, the rebels nominally controlled all of the land east of the Guadalupe River.

To attract recruits, the filibusters offered $40 per month plus a Spanish league of land (4428 acres) to all volunteers. By September their army numbered 780. The Spanish army in Texas was almost twice as large at this point. On November 2, Salcedo led the majority of these forces to the Guadalupe in the hopes of ambushing the invaders. One of the soldiers was captured, however, and revealed details of the ambush. The invading army turned south to avoid the trap, and instead captured Presidio La Bahiamarker. Salcedo promptly began a siege of the fort.

Unable to win a decisive victory, Salcedo lifted the siego on February 19, 1813 and returned towards San Antonio de Bexarmarker. During the retreat, many of the soldiers defected and joined the Republican Army of the North. The two armies met along Salado Creek at the Battle of Rosilla. After a 15-minute battle, the Spanish Army broke ranks and fled for San Antonio. Indians who had allied with the victorious rebels chased down many of the fugitives and slaughtered them. In total, 330 royalists were killed, while only 6 republicans died.

On April 2, Salcedo and 14 members of his staff surrendered. Salcedo tried twice to officially present his sword to Anglo-American officers. Following their own protocol, the Americans refused to accept his surrender and gestured that he must present it to Gutiérrez. Salcedo instead stuck his sword in the ground and stepped back. Gutiérrez declared himself head of a provisional government and appointed a junta to deliberate charges against Salcedo and the other royalists. They were quickly found guilty of treachery to the Hidalgo movement and sentenced to death. The Anglo-American officers protested, and Gutiérrez instead agreed to confine the royalists at another location. On the night of April 3, Salcedo and the other prisoners, with their hands tied behind their backs, were led to the location of the battle. There, a group of rebels drew knives and killed them all, leaving their bodies on the ground. Salcedo's body was retrieved by Father Jose Dario Zambrano and buried at the San Fernando Church on August 28.

Aftermath

The morning after Salcedo's death, the rebels announced what they had done. Most of the Anglo-American leaders of the movement disavowed the murder and many began leaving. Hispanic officials decided to reconquer Texas, and to speed their response the viceroy created a new administrative unit, the Commandancy General of the Eastern Interior Provinces, headquartered in Monterreymarker. San Antonio de Bexarmarker was retaken on August 18. The new commandant general, José Joaquín de Arredondo, entered the city two days later and immediately arrested 700 male residents. The filibuster army was defeated at the battle of Medina, and those rebels who managed to escape the battle fled into the Neutral Ground.

Arredondo threatened immediate execution for anyone who crossed into Texas, and for three years few people attempted it. For the next four years, Texas had five separate ad interim governors, until Antonio María Martínez became the last governor of Spanish Texas.

Footnotes

  1. Almaráz, p. 24.
  2. Almaráz, p. 23.
  3. Almaráz, p. 4.
  4. Almaráz, p. 5.
  5. Almaráz, p. 6.
  6. Almaráz, p. 10.
  7. Almaráz, p. 11.
  8. Almaráz, p. 13.
  9. Almaráz, pp. 14, 25.
  10. Almaráz, p. 15.
  11. Almaráz, p. 23.
  12. Almaráz, p. 27.
  13. Almaráz, p. 34.
  14. Almaráz, p. 31.
  15. Almaráz, p. 35.
  16. Almaráz, p. 29.
  17. Almaráz, p. 42.
  18. Almaráz, p. 44.
  19. Almaráz, p. 47.
  20. Almaráz, p. 52.
  21. Almaráz, p. 57.
  22. Almaráz, p. 60.
  23. Almaráz, p. 66.
  24. Almaráz, p. 67.
  25. Almaráz, p. 76.
  26. Almaráz, p. 95.
  27. Almaráz, p. 96.
  28. Almaráz, p. 98.
  29. Almaráz, p. 108.
  30. Almaráz, p. 102.
  31. Almaráz, p. 103.
  32. Almaráz, p. 106.
  33. Almaráz, p. 109.
  34. Almaráz, p. 114.
  35. Almaráz, p. 110.
  36. Almaráz, p. 111.
  37. Almaráz, p. 115.
  38. Almaráz, p. 116.
  39. Almaráz, p. 117.
  40. Almaráz, p. 118.
  41. Almaráz, p. 119.
  42. Almaráz, p. 120.
  43. Almaráz, p. 122.
  44. Almaráz, p. 123.
  45. Almaráz, p. 124.
  46. Almaráz, p. 125.
  47. Almaráz, p. 127.
  48. Almaráz, p. 128.
  49. Almaráz, p. 134.
  50. Almaráz, p. 132.
  51. Almaráz, p. 137.
  52. Almaráz, p. 138.
  53. Almaráz, p. 142.
  54. Almaráz, p. 151.
  55. Almaráz, p. 159.
  56. Almaráz, p. 160.
  57. Almaráz, p. 162.
  58. Almaráz, p. 164.
  59. Almaráz, p. 168.
  60. Almaráz, p. 169.
  61. Almaráz, p. 170.
  62. Almaráz, p. 171.
  63. Almaráz, p. 172.
  64. Almaráz, p. 174
  65. Almaráz, p. 179.
  66. Almaráz, p. 180.
  67. Almaráz, p. 181.
  68. Almaráz, p. 184.


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