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General Vicente Filisola’s Analysis of Jose Urrea’s Military Diary: A Forgotten 1838 Publication by an Eyewitness to the Texas Revolution

Book Cover Image
Gregg J. Dimmick (Author)
Translated by John Wheat


This long-forgotten eyewitness account of the Texas Revolution has been translated into English for the first time. Gen. Vicente Filisola was second in command of the Mexican army in Texas during the Revolution. After the defeat of Gen. José López de Santa Anna by Sam Houston’s Texans at San Jacinto, Filisola became commander-in-chief of the 4,000 Mexican soldiers that remained in Texas. The Mexican army eventually retreated to Matamoros, Mexico, and Filisola became the scapegoat for all that went wrong in the campaign in Texas. His chief accuser in this disastrous action was Gen. José Cosme Urrea, commander of one of the Mexican divisions in the campaign. 

In 1838 Urrea published a book he entitled The Military Diary of General José Urrea. Filisola published his ultracritical analysis of Urrea's diary that same year. Totally focusing on the actions of the Mexican army, and especially Urrea's division, Filisola critiques Urrea’s every move, from his advance into Texas until the disastrous and humiliating trip back to Matamoros in May and June 1836. 

The true jewels of this work are the multiple details that Filisola gives in making his verbose case against General Urrea---from descriptions of Goliad, Victoria, and Madam Powell's to interesting comments on the Deleons, Phillip Dimmitt, and José María Carbajal. After reading this fascinating account of the Mexican army in Texas the reader may well need to reevaluate his opinions of the Mexican army’s generals. In spite of the fact that the work is extremely biased and at times blatantly unfair, Filisola does make valid points that at least make one wonder if Urrea deserves the high respect that has been generally accorded him by Texan scholars.

Gregg J. Dimmick is a pediatrician with the South Texas Medical Clinics in Wharton, Texas. He did his undergraduate work at Texas A&M University and received his M.D. in 1977 from the University of Nebraska Medical School.

John Wheat, archives translator at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, is the translator of numerous historically significant documents of borderlands history.