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The bloodiest battle deserves another reenactment

By Carol Wier

The City of Von Ormy invites the public to the reenactment of the bloodiest military engagement in the history of Texas — the Battle of Medina — at
1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, at Alamo RV Park, 12430 Trawalter Lane, in Von Ormy, Texas. Gates to the park will open at 11 a.m., and there will be food, arts and crafts, music, free parking and much more. (For more information about the reenactment, call 512-826-7569 or send an email to Dan Arellano at arellano47@att.net.)
The Battle of Medina, which happened Aug. 18, 1813, was the first battle for Texas Independence, and the future Texans carried a Green Flag as their symbol of pride.
According to the Texas State Historical Association website, the battle occurred “during a very confused and turbulent period of world history,” and “affected the destinies of Spain, Mexico, the U.S., England and France.” It pitted the Republican forces of the Gutierrez-Magee expedition of 1812-1813 against the Spanish Royalist Army, led by General Joaquin de Arrendondo.
At that time, Spain controlled what is now Texas and Mexico. In 1812, 24-year-old August Magee helped begin an effort to liberate Texas from Spanish rule, starting with the defeat of the Spanish at Nacogdoches and Goliad. In the Battle of Medina this force of 1400 men were made up of Anglos and Tejanos primarily and fought against the Spanish loyalists. They had mistakenly followed a cavalry unit thinking that it was the main army, due to the amount of dust that followed them, until they were exhausted and thirsty. Then, coming upon the bulk of the enemy forces and a 4-hour battle, the future Texans were wiped out. Fewer than 100 men survived, while Arrendondos forces only lost 55 men. Under him was a Lt. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who learned the lessons of war well. Interestingly enough, Arrendondos forces were about to fall back when a defector had informed them the future Texas army was about to retreat due to exhaustion. So Arrendondo ordered an attack instead.
The rest is history. The bodies of the Republicans were left for nine years on the battle field until 1822, when the newly established Republic of Mexico ordered a detachment of soldiers to gather the bones and bury them under an oak tree. In Spanish it was called “la batella del encinal de Medina” and many consider it the first real battle for Texas Independence. The Green Flag they carried into war has been all but forgotten, and the actual site is still disputed, by some, to this day.