Nemesio Salcedo, commandant general of the Interior Provinces of New Spain between 1802 and 1813, was born Nemesio Agustín Francisco Rafael de Salcedo in Bilbao, Spain, on December 19, 1750, to infantry captain Manuel de Salcedo and Agustina Gertrudis de Salcedo. He entered the military as a cadet at age ten and was brevet lieutenant colonel by 1783, when he participated in the Mobile and Pensacola campaigns during the American Revolution. He first came to Mexico as intendente (chief administrative officer) of San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas in 1794, and the following year he made brigadier general. He took over as commandant general of the Interior Provinces from Pedro de Nava in November 1802 and was the last individual to hold the unified command. Although relieved of command in July 1809 to reestablish his health in Spain, he was able to step down only in 1813, when Bernardo Bonavía, took over the Western Interior Provinces and Joaquín Arredondo took over the Eastern Interior Provinces (Texas, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Nuevo Santander [Tamaulipas]).
During his tenure, Salcedo faced multiple challenges, including the defense of Texas from Anglo Americans, the migration of various bands of American Indians from U. S. territory, the attempted relocation of Spanish subjects from Louisiana to Texas following that territory’s sale by France to the United States, and increasing warfare with indigenous peoples, as well as the two main periods of rebellion during the Mexican War of Independence. Salcedo was careful to avoid provoking the United States—as his treatment of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, whom he had brought to Chihuahua for questioning in 1807 before allowing him to return to Louisiana makes clear—although he gave Texas military commander Simón Herrera instructions to forcefully repel the Red River expedition. Likewise, the idea of a Neutral Ground east of the Sabine River was his. His authorization of new settlements in Texas as part of reinforcing the province included reoccupation of the Trinity River crossing of the Camino Real, where Governor Antonio Cordero named the short-lived settlement of Santísima Trinidad de Salcedo for him. Following the Casas Revolt in early 1811, Salcedo rewarded many of San Antonio’s leading citizens for their loyalty to the Crown and endorsed the elevation of the town in status to the rank of city. As commandant general, he approved the trials and executions of Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and his followers and appointed his nephew Governor Manuel Salcedo to conduct the proceedings. His failure to act more aggressively to the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition may have contributed to the execution of Governor Salcedo in April 1813. After stepping down as commandant general just before Arredondo defeated the Texas insurgents at the battle of Medina, Salcedo made his way to Mexico City and left for Spain in January 1814. He was in Madrid the following year when King Fernando VII conferred on him the newly-created Great Cross of the Royal American Order of Isabel the Catholic. Nemesio Salcedo died in Spain on April 22, 1822.