We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Matamoros and the Texas Revolution

Craig H. Roell

Publication Year: 2013

The traditional story of the Texas Revolution remembers the Alamo and Goliad but has forgotten Matamoros, the strategic Mexican port city on the turbulent lower Rio Grande. In this provocative book, Craig Roell restores the centrality of Matamoros by showing the genuine economic, geographic, social, and military value of the city to Mexican and Texas history.

Given that Matamoros served the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Texas, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Durango, the city’s strategic location and considerable trade revenues were crucial. Roell provides a refreshing reinterpretation of the revolutionary conflict in Texas from a Mexican point of view, essentially turning the traditional story on its head. Readers will learn how Matamoros figured in the Mexican government's grand designs not only for national prosperity, but also to preserve Texas from threatened American encroachment. Ironically, Matamoros became closely linked to the United States through trade, and foreign intriguers who sought to detach Texas from Mexico found a home in the city.

Roell’s account culminates in the controversial Texan Matamoros expedition, which was composed mostly of American volunteers and paralyzed the Texas provisional government, divided military leaders, and helped lead to the tragic defeats at the Alamo, San Patricio, Agua Dulce Creek, Refugio, and Coleto (Goliad). Indeed, Sam Houston denounced the expedition as “the author of all our misfortunes.” In stark contrast, the brilliant and triumphant Matamoros campaign of Mexican General José de Urrea united his countrymen, defeated these revolutionaries, and occupied the coastal plain from Matamoros to Brazoria. Urrea's victory ensured that Matamoros would remain a part of Mexico, but Matamorenses also fought to preserve their own freedom from the centralizing policies of Mexican President Santa Anna, showing the streak of independence that characterizes Mexico's northern borderlands to this day.

Published by: Texas State Historical Association

Series: Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.4 KB)
pp. 2-3


pdf iconDownload PDF (20.8 KB)
pp. iii-iv

read more

1. Introducing Matamoros: Pearl of Great Price

pdf iconDownload PDF (312.7 KB)
pp. 1-17

“Matamoras lies in a plain exposed to all winds; those most frequently prevailing are the North and South, which may be called prevalent.”1 These words of Mexican physician Dr. Antonio Lafon, in an otherwise mundane nineteenth-century medical report concerning yellow fever in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, ...

read more

2. Envisioning Matamoros: Refuge among the Estuaries

pdf iconDownload PDF (247.3 KB)
pp. 18-26

To see Matamoros as the great gateway to Mexico—the reason the city was so desirable to so many contestants in the Texas Revolution—requires an appreciation for its challenging geography, inviting appearance, and vital economics. It is hard to imagine how astonished early settlers must have been when they first encountered this rich and exotic land teeming with wildlife, ...

read more

3. Puerta Matamoros: Gateway to Texas, the Gulf. . . and the World

pdf iconDownload PDF (209.3 KB)
pp. 27-37

Matamoros became a revenue-producing center for Mexico long before it attracted the plans of revolutionaries in Texas. Indeed, Matamoros was crucial in plans for reestablishing the Mexican economy, which had become burdened by tremendous debt incurred from the War of Independence with Spain. ...

read more

4. Patriótica Matamoros: Revolution in Texas

pdf iconDownload PDF (92.9 KB)
pp. 38-46

Huracan was the ancient Caribbean god of wind and storm, who visited judgment upon the earth. Spaniards transliterated the indigenous word, likely of Taíno or Carib origin, into huracán to describe the terribly violent storms that seasonally plagued the Gulf, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic.2 ...

read more

5. Planning a Brilliant Folly: The Texan Expedition

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.1 KB)
pp. 47-57

Despite his growing doubts, Philip Dimmitt continued to stress the advantages of occupying Matamoros. Apparently his family and business contacts in the interior, plus a visit from Julián Pedro Miracle, representing Capt. Antonio Canales Rosillo, encouraged him enough to trust that federalist cooperation could still be forthcoming under General Mexía and others.1 ...

read more

6. Judas, Scoundrels, Wolves, and Rascally Acquirements

pdf iconDownload PDF (128.8 KB)
pp. 58-67

As the Matamoros expedition was getting underway, the polemical division in the Texas provisional government flared into white heat between Governor Smith, who advocated independence, and the majority of the General Council, who still favored the federalist Constitution of 1824. ...

read more

7. Triumphant Matamoros: The Mexican Expedition

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.9 KB)
pp. 68-86

Before Fannin abandoned the Matamoros expedition, Antonio López de Santa Anna already had ordered his own expedition to Matamoros under the command of Gen. José de Urrea. By January 15, Urrea set out for the river city and thence to begin the campaign into Texas to secure the coast and squash the approaching attackers. ...

read more

8. Epilogue: Heróica Matamoros

pdf iconDownload PDF (135.7 KB)
pp. 87-93

From the Mexican point of view, regardless of Houston’s victory at San Jacinto, the capture of Santa Anna, and the resulting Treaties of Velasco, Texas had been stolen by Anglos masquerading as colonists defending the Constitution of 1824 whose true intent was to annex Texas to the United States. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (97.6 KB)
pp. 94-110

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (33.2 KB)
pp. 111-112

There is a sentiment that nothing in Texas is without controversy. Certainly this is true about Matamoros and the Texas Revolution. As in any great family argument, points of view abound; it is with disquietude that one even enters into the discussion. Still, I am thankful for the opportunity. ...

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.3 KB)
pp. 113-120

Craig H. Roell is a native of Victoria, Texas, the son of Henry R. and Ruth M. Roell. He earned his MA and PhD in history from the University of Texas at Austin and was Samuel Davis Postdoctoral Fellow in Business History at Ohio State University. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (3.7 MB)
pp. 114-124

E-ISBN-13: 9780876112663
E-ISBN-10: 0876112661
Print-ISBN-13: 9780876112601

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series