Historically Speaking

PART III: Intercepting the Royalists; The Battle of Medina


The plan was to stave off an attack on San Antonio, but the once defeated Royalists approached with a larger and better equipped army. What followed was the bloodiest battle ever staged on Texas soil. This final installment on the recounting of the Battle of Medina by Barbara Morris Westbrook, describes the battle and the likely reason the account may have remained suppressed for so many years.

The Battle of Medina occurred mid-day on August 18, 1813 in a dense oak forest, known for its deep sugary sand. The terrain begins several miles south of the Medina River and is distinctly difficult to traverse. Although not archeologically proven, extant records indicate the clash to have taken place on a “shortcut” road called “el camino que cortaba” which connected the Lower Presidio Road and the Laredo Road in the northwestern portion of present-day Atascosa County.

The four-hour battle resulted in the decimation of as many as 1400 Republicans. No prisoners were taken, their bodies left on the battlefield. In 1822, the first governor of the State of Texas under the newly established Republic of Mexico, Félix Trespalacious, ordered an attachment to gather the bones for an honorable burial. An oak tree once marked the site of the mass grave.

The 55 Royalist dead were given an honorable burial on the way to San Antonio, in an area believed to be present day Losoya. Martial law was declared, citizens were imprisoned. Daily executions took place, the wives and female relatives of the Republicans were confined and subjected to hours of work and indignities, while their children were forced to the streets to beg for food.

The result was the loss of an estimated fifty percent of the adult male population of Texas. Citizens during this devastating period, and for generations to follow refused to talk about the incidents, leaving the history almost lost, until historians began to piece the story together.

In 1988 a commemoration was held on the 175th Anniversary of the Battle of Medina. The battle reenacted, a monument was dedicated and wreaths were laid by various heritage societies. Since that time, an annual ceremony has served to honor all the participants in the battle and its horrific aftermath. Reenactors present colors and fire a volley. History lovers from across Texas and several states gather under the canopy of large oaks, near the site of the Texas Historical Marker for the Battle of Medina, on Applewhite Road in northwestern Atascosa County. The Atascosa County “Lonnie” Gillespie Annex, in nearby Leming is made available, to offer an exhibit hall for groups to promote their history and sell publications. A history symposium, featuring well published historians, archaeologists and state organizations to discuss and gain insights on this nearly forgotten history will begin at 1:00 p.m. on August 17.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING is written by Atascosa County Historic Preservation Officer, Marie Levy, on behalf of the Atascosa County Historical Commission. If you have history to share, you may contact her at 210-846-1728.

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