Jack W. Gunn

MEXICAN INVASIONS OF 1842. Because of Mexico's refusal to recognize the independence of Texas after the Treaties of Velasco, the republic was in constant fear of a Mexican invasion. The fear assumed reality on January 9, 1842, when Gen. Mariano Arista issued a statement from Monterrey telling the Texans that it was hopeless for them to continue their struggle for independence and promising amnesty and protection to all who remained neutral during his planned invasion. Early in March, Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria were occupied, and on March 5 the Mexican troops under Rafael Vásquez appeared before San Antonio. The Texans retreated, leaving the town to the Mexicans, because John C. Hays found it impossible to gather enough men to make a defense immediately. The militia under Alexander Somervell was called out, however, and gathered at San Antonio on March 15, but the Mexican forces had abandoned the town on March 9. Edward Burleson, the leader of the volunteers, had no orders to follow the invaders; so the Texan force remained in San Antonio until it was disbanded on April 2. The most unfortunate result of the raid was the panic that it caused in the western settlements. On March 10 President Sam Houston declared a national emergency and ordered the archives removed to Houston, but the people of Austin refused to let the records be taken. When Houston issued a second order on December 10, the struggle known as the Archives War resulted.

Meanwhile Houston had made an appeal to the United States for money and volunteers, and Adjutant General James Davisqv was sent to Corpus Christi to organize volunteers with orders to hold them until the time was opportune for an invasion of Mexico. On June 7 Davis's forces had a skirmish with Antonio Canales Rosillo, but Canales soon retired to Mexico. During the session of the Texas Congress that met on June 27, ten million acres of land was appropriated to finance a war of invasion against Mexico, but the bill was vetoed by Houston. Davis's forces were dismissed, and Texas was left undefended.

On September 11, 1842, Gen. Adrián Woll, with a force of 1,200 Mexicans, captured San Antonio. By September 17, 200 Texans had gathered on Cibolo Creek above Seguin and marched under Mathew Caldwell to Salado Creek six miles northeast of San Antonio. On September 18 Caldwell sent Hays and a company of scouts to draw the Mexicans into a fight; the battle of Salado Creek resulted. While the fight was going on, Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson approached from the east with a company of fifty-three men. These men were attacked a mile and a half from the scene of the battle and killed in what came to be known as the Dawson Massacre. Woll drew his men back to San Antonio and retreated to Mexico by September 20. The reinforced Texans pursued him for three days and then returned to San Antonio. By September 25 a large number of Texans had gathered at San Antonio, and plans were made for a punitive expedition, the Somervell expedition, which evolved into the Mier expedition.


John Henry Brown, History of Texas from 1685 to 1892 (2 vols., St. Louis: Daniell, 1893). Henderson K. Yoakum, History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 (2 vols., New York: Redfield, 1855).

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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, Jack W. Gunn, "Mexican Invasions of 1842," accessed March 23, 2018,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 1, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.