Nacogdoches, Battle of

By: Archie P. McDonald

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: August 3, 2020

The battle of Nacogdoches, sometimes called the opening gun of the Texas Revolution, occurred on August 2, 1832, when a group of Texas settlers defied an order by Col. José de las Piedras, commander of the Mexican Twelfth Permanent Battalion at Nacogdoches, to surrender their arms to him. Tensions had been building since the passage of the Law of April 6, 1830, which halted immigration from the United States to Texas. Manuel de Mier y Terán, commanding the northern provinces, had stationed garrisons and customs collectors in Texas to implement the 1830 law. The situation also reflected a clash of states'-righters in Texas against the Centralists in power in Mexico. The Texans found support (they thought) from Antonio López de Santa Anna, when he declared in 1832 against the Centralist regime. Piedras issued his inflammatory order after investigating a confrontation between local settlers and Mexican authorities at Anahuac (see ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES). He feared a similar disturbance in Nacogdoches. The ayuntamiento of Nacogdoches resisted the order, organized a "National Militia," and on July 28 sent messengers to Ayish Bayou, Teneha, San Felipe, and outlying settlements requesting military aid. Samuel S. Davis and Bailey Anderson, Jr. , brought men to Nacogdoches from the Ayish Bayou region, and James Bradshaw arrived with a party from the Neches settlement; other groups came from the Sabine and Shelby settlements. They rendezvoused at Pine Hill, east of Nacogdoches, and elected as their senior captain James W. Bullock, of Attoyac Bayou. On the morning of August 2 Bullock demanded that Piedras rescind his order and declare for Santa Anna, but he refused. Piedras placed soldiers in the Stone House (now known as the Old Stone Fort ), a church, and in his headquarters (known as the Red House). About 2 P.M. on August 2, Bullock's militia members entered the town from the east; they were fired upon, and drew back when Mexican cavalry charged up the main street. About 100 Texans remained, fought house-to-house, and captured the Stone Fort, Sim's Tavern, Thorne's store, and Robert's Store. The Mexicans retreated to the cuartel (the main fortification). Some Texans had gathered north of town and prepared to march into town down North Street; they succeeded in driving off Mexican cavalry near the Red House. Other Texans, Redlanders from St. Augustine, with the help of directions from local settler Nicholas Adolphus Sterne, moved along Lanana Creek and circled around to approach the town square from the rear. During the night Piedras evacuated his soldiers and headed for San Antonio. On the morning of August 3 James Carter and sixteen mounted men (including James Bowie) pursued the Mexican column, and at Buckshot Crossing on the Angelina River overtook them and began a running fight upriver toward Linwood Crossing. Here Piedras took refuge in the John M. Durst home (near what is now Douglas), where his men turned against him and Capt. Francisco Medina took command and surrendered Piedras and some 300 troops. The Texans escorted the Mexicans back to Nacogdoches. Asa M. Edwards took Piedras to San Felipe and turned him over to Stephen F. Austin. Piedras was given a parole and left for Mexico. James Bowie marched the Mexican garrison to San Antonio, where they were discharged. In the battle, Piedras lost forty-seven men killed and forty or more wounded. Three Texans were killed (a fourth died later) and four were wounded. The battle of Nacogdoches is an important lesser-known conflict that cleared East Texas of military rule and allowed the citizens to meet in convention without military intervention.

Robert Bruce Blake Research Collection, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin; Houston Public Library, Houston. George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod. 1962). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Archie P. McDonald, comp., Nacogdoches: Wilderness Outpost to Modern City, 1779–1979 (photocopy, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). James G. Partin, A History of Nacogdoches and Nacogdoches County, Texas, to 1877 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1967).

Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

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

Archie P. McDonald, “Nacogdoches, Battle of,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 3, 2020

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