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Alcantra, Battle of

Art Leatherwood General Entry

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).

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas

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

Art Leatherwood, “Alcantra, Battle of,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: