Fernandez Castrillon, Manuel (unknown–1836)

By: David L. Fisher

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

Manuel Fernández Castrillón, major general in the Mexican army and trusted companion of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, was originally from either Cuba or Spain. His association with Santa Anna dated back to 1822, when he served as the general's agent in a campaign against a combined force of loyalist and Spanish soldiers near Veracruz. While fighting under the command of Santa Anna in 1832, Fernández was captured by government troops and imprisoned. After his release, he again served with the general and was involved in quelling various rebellions in Mexico.

During the campaign in Texas, however, Fernández frequently protested the actions of Santa Anna. He was one of the few officers who opposed an immediate assault on the Alamo; nonetheless, when the attack occurred he led a column of troops credited as the first to reach the fortress walls. As a staunch advocate for the humane and honorable treatment of prisoners, he interceded on behalf of a small group of captured Texans that may have included David Crockett. Though he pleaded for their lives, the prisoners were executed. He also protested the execution of captured Texans at Goliad (see GOLIAD MASSACRE).

Fernández Castrillón again found himself in opposition to Santa Anna's commands at San Jacinto, and when the battle began he was one of the few officers to stand and fight. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk of the Texas army reported that Fernández was attempting to rally his troops while standing fully exposed to enemy fire on an ammunition crate. After the panicked soldiers failed to respond, he slowly turned and walked away from the oncoming Texans. He was shot and later died on the battlefield. Santa Anna maintained that Fernández was not a hero but that his incompetence greatly contributed to the Mexican defeat at San Jacinto. Several days after the battle Lorenzo de Zavala, an old friend, recovered his body. Fernández was interred on Zavala's plantation across the bayou from the battlefield.

C. M. Bustamante, Continuación del Cuadro Histórico de la Revolución Mexicana, Vol. 4 (Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1963). Henry Stuart Foote, Texas and the Texans (2 vols., Philadelphia: Cowperthwait, 1841; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Jeff Long, Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo (New York: Morrow, 1990). José Enrique de la Peña, With Santa Anna in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). Antonio López de Santa Anna et al., The Mexican Side of the Texan Revolution, trans. Carlos E. Castañeda (Dallas: Turner, 1928; 2d ed., Austin: Graphic Ideas, 1970). Frank X. Tolbert, The Day of San Jacinto (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1969).
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

David L. Fisher, “Fernandez Castrillon, Manuel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/fernandez-castrillon-manuel.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995