José de Urrea, military officer, was born in 1797 in the presidio of Tucson, Sonora (now Arizona). He was a military cadet in the presidial company of San Rafael Buenavista in 1809 and a lieutenant in 1816, participating in battles in Jalisco and Michoacán. In 1821 he supported the Plan of Iguala of Agustín de Iturbide. He participated in the anti-Iturbide Plan of Casa Mata and the siege of San Juan de Uluá. Affiliated with the Plan of Montaño, Urrea was separated from army service, but in 1829 he reentered and fought in Tampico with Antonio López de Santa Anna against Isidro Barradas. He intervened in the Plan of Jalapa against the government of Vicente Ramón Guerrero and when Anastasio Bustamante came to power (1829–30), Urrea was named to the secretariat of the command in Durango. He was made a lieutenant colonel in 1831. In July 1832, along with Santa Anna, he declared for Gómez Pedraza, and in 1834 he assumed the command of the permanent regiment of Cuautla, near Cuernavaca, after having received the rank of colonel from Francisco Ellorriaga, whom he had supported. As acting general in July 1835, he was sent to fight the Comanches in Durango, where he was commandant general and then governor in September and October. He participated in the expedition to Texas in 1836 and was engaged in the battles at San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, and Coleto. Urrea was opposed to the withdrawal of Mexican troops ordered by the captive Santa Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. In 1837 he was named commandant general of the departments of Sinaloa and Sonora. In December, upon being passed over for the appointment of governor, he proclaimed the two departments under the federal system, whereupon he was designated constitutional governor and protector. He then turned over his executive office to the vice governor and marched on opposing forces at Mazatlán, where he was defeated. He fled to Guaymas and finally to Durango, where he became involved in yet another uprising. In 1839 he was captured and sent to Perote Prison. Later during an imprisonment in Durango he was rescued by his partisans to take part in a revolt. In 1842 he assumed the executive power of Sonora, which he held until May 1844. In 1846 he fought against the United States in the Mexican War. He died in 1849.
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Diccionario Porrúa de historia, biografía y geografía de México (3d ed., 2 vols., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1970, 1971).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sheila M. Ohlendorf,
“Urrea, José de,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 16, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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