Castañeda Fernández, Francisco Narciso (1799–1878)

By: Jesús "Frank" de la Teja

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 11, 2022

Francisco Castañeda, Mexican military officer, the son of Juan de Castañeda Quevedo and Josefa Fernández, was born in October 1799 and baptized in the parish church of San Juan Bautista de la Punta de Lampazos (now Lampazos de Naranjo), Nuevo León, on November 1, 1799. His father was an officer in the local compañía volante, and he entered the presidio service as a cadet in the same company in June 1813, following Spanish military practice of allowing the teenage sons of officers to enter the service. In July 1818 he was promoted to alférez (second lieutenant) and transferred to the Second Compañía Volante of Tamaulipas, a detachment of which was stationed in Texas. Breveted to lieutenant in 1821, he joined the Álamo de Parras company, stationed in San Antonio, in November 1823 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1827.

Aside from participating in American Indian campaigns, Castañeda played a role in some of the most iconic events of the Texas Revolution. Assigned to retrieve the “Come and Take It” cannon that had been lent to the Anglo-American settlement of Gonzales for Indian defense, Castañeda was the Mexican officer involved in the battle of Gonzales. Under orders not to precipitate a major conflict, Castañeda withdrew to San Antonio after he lost two men during the brief skirmish that has come to be considered the opening clash of the revolution. Castañeda engaged the Texans at least twice during the siege of Bexar and marched to Coahuila with Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos following the Mexican surrender in December. Returning to Texas in February 1836 as part of Antonio López de Santa Anna’s forces, Castañeda, commanding a squad of sharpshooters in the Aldama Battalion, participated in the assault on the Alamo on the morning of March 6 and according to his service record was among the first officers to enter the compound. His was the last Mexican army unit in San Antonio, when he surrendered the town to a Texan force under Juan Seguín in June 1836—thus making Castañeda the Mexican officer involved in both the opening and closing episodes of the Texas Revolution. He returned to Texas at least one more time and served in the Woll invasion of September 1842 (see MEXICAN INVASIONS OF 1842), during which he was seriously wounded at the battle of Salado Creek.

Francisco Castañeda continued his military career in Coahuila. Promoted to captain in 1837, he was given command of the presidio company of La Babia (northwest of present-day Melchor Múzquiz, Coahuila). Breveted to lieutenant colonel in June 1842, he was breveted to colonel later that year in recognition of his wounding at Salado. In 1847 he saw action in the battle of Buena Vista (Angostura) during the Mexican War. He became captain of the military colony of San Vicente in 1849, when the Mexican government abandoned the presidio system in favor of colonias militares, or military settlements. Although assigned to the San Vicente crossing in the Big Bend of the Rio Grande southwest of Boquillas, the remote location kept Castañeda’s company at La Babia until the government abandoned the experiment in 1853, by which time Castañeda had obtained a promotion to assistant inspector of troops in Coahuila, a position he held until retirement.

Francisco Castañeda married María de la Luz Guajardo at Punta de Lampazos in June 1816, having already had a daughter by her, Juana Petra de Jesús, the previous year. No record has been found of other children by Luz, who died in 1839. Ten years later Castañeda married María de Jesús Múzquiz, also widowed, at Melchor Múzquiz, Coahuila. Castañeda died at Hacienda de Fundición del Cedral (Hacienda de San Rafael de El Cedral), southeast of Melchor Múzquiz, on February 7, 1878.

Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols., San Francisco: History Company, 1886, 1889). Miles S. Bennet, "The Battle of Gonzales: The `Lexington' of the Texas Revolution," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 2 (April 1899). Henry Stuart Foote, Texas and the Texans (2 vols., Philadelphia: Cowperthwait, 1841; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Edward Albert Lukes, De Witt Colony of Texas (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1974–76; Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1977–92). Ethel Zivley Rather, "DeWitt's Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 8 (October 1904). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986).

  • Military
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio

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

Jesús "Frank" de la Teja, “Castañeda Fernández, Francisco Narciso,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 11, 2022

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