While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Art Leatherwood

ALCANTRA, BATTLE OF. The battle of Alcantra was fought on October 3 and 4, 1839. The opposing forces were both Mexican, as Mexico struggled with civil war sometimes known as the Federalist Wars. The Federalist forces were commanded by Gen. Antonio Canales and included 231 Texans. The Texans were a company of Frontier Guards authorized by the Texas government and commanded by Reuben Ross. Colonel Ross, claiming to have discretionary powers, chose to pursue frontier security from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and joined with the Federalists forces; for a time he even operated under the Texas Lone Star flag. The Centralist troops were under the command of Col. Francisco González Pavón and had occupied the Mexican Rio Grande border town of Mier. On the morning of October 3, 1839, Pavón left Mier with 500 regulars and four pieces of artillery and retreated to the Alamo River twelve miles southwest of the town. Pursued by Canales, Pavón took up positions on high ground and attacked the Texan positions with artillery fire followed by infantry attack but failed to dislodge them. A second charge was also repulsed by the Texans. After a third attack, which resulted in a fierce counterattack by the combined Texan and Federalist force, both armies withdrew for the night. The following morning Pavón and the Centralist forces, who were without water, tried to move towards a source of water but were cut off by the Texans and a battalion of Canales's cavalry. After a brief skirmish, Pavón surrendered. Two Texans were killed during the battle, five more died later from their wounds. The Centralists lost 150, with 350 taken captive. Pavón and his officers were paroled; Pavón was later court-martialed by his government. The Federalist forces returned to Mier to rest and regroup.


Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836–1841 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Art Leatherwood, "ALCANTRA, BATTLE OF," accessed May 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qfa02.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on September 24, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...