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Laura Caldwell

CASAS REVOLT. The Casas Revolt of 1811 was one of the many challenges to imperial authority that convulsed New Spain after Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's initial action to achieve Mexican independence from Spain in September 1810. The royalist governor of Texas, Manuel María de Salcedo, found that Mexican revolutionaries seeking to overthrow Spanish rule hoped to get aid from the United States via Texas. In late 1810 Salcedo discovered two revolutionary agents from Nuevo Santander, militia lieutenants Francisco Ignacio Escamilla and Antonio Saenz, working among his troops. After ordering their imprisonment in San Antonio de Valero Mission, Salcedo decided to take preemptive action. Aware that the viceregal authorities could not spare forces to protect Texas, he tried in January to muster his men to crush the rebellion on the Rio Grande. Members of the garrison were unhappy at the prospect of leaving their families unprotected against Indians and other dangers. Equally disconcerted were the alcaldes (see ALCALDE), led by Francisco Travieso, who would be faced with mounting a citizen guard during the militia's absence. Along with a militia representative, Travieso called upon Capt. Juan Bautista de las Casas to assume command of the San Antonio troops. Casas, a native of San Fernando, Nuevo Santander, and a retired captain of the Villa de Croix frontier defenses in his home province, was living in San Antonio de Béxar at the time. The next morning, January 22, 1811, Casas, leading the rebellious militia, arrested Governor Salcedo and the garrison commandant and ordered the release of Saenz and Escamilla.

Casas and his supporters declared themselves against government by European-born Spaniards, gachupines, in accordance with Hidalgo's declaration. Casas ordered the arrest of all gachupines in the province and the confiscation of their property. The revolutionary leadership in Coahuila, upon word of Casas's success, appointed him ad interim governor of Texas. Meanwhile, Casas sent Saenz and alcalde Gavino Delgado, at the head of eighty troops, to establish the revolutionary government in Nacogdoches, where they arrived on February 1. There they arrested gachupines, confiscated property, and erected a provisional government before returning to San Antonio with prisoners in tow.

When the successful Nacogdoches expedition returned, Casas had Saenz arrested for pocketing some of the confiscated wealth. The charges were dropped, but neither Saenz nor Delgado received recognition for the mission. The slighted revolutionaries made common cause with the remaining royalists. The two groups found a leader in Lt. Col. Juan Manuel Zambrano, a scandalous churchman and Bexar native who had long been out of favor with local authorities. Delgado persuaded leading townsmen to support Zambrano's efforts at undermining Casas, while Saenz agitated among the militia.

Events soon came to a head. Ignacio Aldama, Hidalgo's ambassador to the United States, arrived at Bexar with a retinue and a substantial sum of money and silver to solicit arms and troops. After determining that Aldama would not remove Casas from the governorship, Zambrano and his fellow conspirators spread the rumor that Aldama was actually a Napoleonic agent. Fear of the French cemented the support of the populace for the counterrevolutionaries. In a predawn movement on March 2, Zambrano's forces captured and arrested Casas and Aldama. Casas was sent as a prisoner to Monclova for court-martial as a traitor. On August 3, 1811, he was demoted, shot in the back, and beheaded. The body was buried at Monclova, and the head was sent to San Antonio to be publicly displayed. With the troops loyal to the new junta, royal authority was soon reestablished throughout the province of Texas. Salcedo was restored to the governorship.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Frederick Charles Chabot, ed., Texas in 1811: The Las Casas and Sambrano Revolutions (San Antonio: Yanaguana Society, 1941).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Laura Caldwell, "CASAS REVOLT," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jcc02.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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