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Description

First News of the Treaties of Velasco

[Texas Revolution]. Broadside Condemning General Vicente Filisola for the Retreat of the Mexican Army. One printed page, 17" x 23" (width varies), in Spanish, Puebla [Mexico], June 15, 1836. On the afternoon of April 21, 1836, the Texian army, numbering around 900 men and led by General Sam Houston, routed the larger Mexican army under General (and Mexican President) Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in eighteen minutes. The Mexican army was taken completely by surprise, having been caught unawares during a siesta. The Mexicans lost nearly 700 men with a further 730 having been taken prisoner, including Santa Anna himself. Many in Texas called for the head of Santa Anna, but Houston used him to negotiate two treaties, one public and one secret, which were signed at Velasco, Texas, on May 14, 1836. In essence, the treaties ended hostilities in Texas and forced the complete withdrawal of Mexico's army back across the Rio Grande River.

Santa Anna's second in command, General Vicente Filisola, was left with the Herculean task of withdrawing all Mexican forces from Texas despite the opposition from his fellow officers. Ever the soldier, Filisola dutifully carried out the orders of his superior. Naturally, the Mexican government did not recognize the Treaties of Velasco, citing Santa Anna's status as a prisoner of war voided all authority he had to make any deals, and ordered Filisola to remain on any land previously taken, but it was too late. Filisola had ratified the treaties and Mexico's troops had already crossed the Nueces River. The exhausted army would continue its retreat until it crossed the Rio Grande, finally stopping at Matamoros.

On June 12, 1836, Filisola was replaced by General José de Urrea. Three days later, this broadside was issued by the Mexican government publicly condemning Filisola for his retreat in an effort to assuage the blow to "national honor." Titled "News From Texas," it begins with an official statement from the government which reads, in full and in translation:

"Just when we thought things were going so well with the war and we had practically succeeded in winning it, the vanguard division led by our General President was defeated and our General President captured. This demoralized the army and it retreated, thereby losing all the territory it had gained thus far. General Vicente Filisola blindly followed the General President's orders to retreat, and the Supreme Government forces arrived too late to prevent this from happening. It is hard to believe that our General President actually wanted the army to retreat, just when we were at the point of winning the war, as he was much too honorable for that. It is disgraceful that General Filisola ordered the retreat, knowing full well that he had the advantage. The enemy would interpret this as though our forces had fled the battle. But what is even more outrageous, is that General Filisola accepted the enemy's cunningly-crafted terms when he had no obligation to do so, unlike our General President, who was a prisoner in fear for his life and recognized the Texan rebels as a legitimate 'Government,' retreating from Texas without attempting a second assault that would certainly have been successful. The Government will bring General Filisola to justice and let the Courts decide his guilt or innocence.

"The Government is doing its duty to the public by publishing this news, terrible though it may be, in addition to the following strict resolutions it has considered itself honor-bound to pass. The Government believes there is yet time to bring matters to a successful conclusion.

"The meritorious conduct of Generals José Urrea and Francisco Vital Fernandez is worthy of recognition: the nation will be ever grateful for their distinguished service, for as long as it has subjects as faithful and devoted to the performance of their duties, the nation may rest in the knowledge that its glory remains intact."

Following the report are sixteen letters and military orders dated May through June 1836 regarding Filisola's actions with responses from his fellow generals and news of the appointment of General Urrea to replace Filisola as head of the army. In a response to a letter from Filisola, dated June 1, explaining to Urrea the plan of action, Urrea asks, "What will people say about us when they hear that the Mexican army failed to do anything but beat a cowardly and disgraceful retreat," exclaiming, "I do not approve of your actions, and have only followed your orders out of military obedience as you are my superior." Urrea is lauded by the Minister of War in a June 10 letter for "...refusing to follow the orders of a captured, though illustrious, general , and for informing us of the orders issued by another general who has apparently forgotten his duty to serve the nation's honor." In his response to the same letter Urrea received from Filisola, Fernandez writes to Filisola that he is "...extremely distressed by your retreat...[and] Regarding the agreement or treaty you mention, in spite of my continued regard for General Santa Anna, I am unable to comply with it...because the President would not have the authority to make this agreement without the participation of the Congress, even if he were free. I therefore refuse to release the prisoners until the Supreme Government makes an informed decision regarding them."

Several folds which have weakened in places, causing some separation at the intersections of the lower horizontal and vertical folds resulting in minor loss of paper and text. Edges are uneven with chipping in areas. There appears to be very light to moderate staining along the main vertical fold as well as the upper left corner; spots of foxing scattered throughout. There is a .5" x 9.75" section of paper removed from along the lower half of the left edge, but not affecting the text.

This is an extremely important Texas broadside. While not actually found in Streeter, Streeter 903 does bear the following note regarding this copy: "A reprint of the Diario was published in broadside form at Puebla in 1836 with the imprint, Puebla: 1836. Reimpresas en la oficina del Gobierno."

Upon his return to Mexico, Filisola published a written defense of his actions in Texas. He was brought up on charges and tried, but successfully defended his actions and was ultimately cleared of all wrongdoing. He was reinstated in 1841 and commanded one of the three divisions of the Mexican army during the Mexican War.

More Information:

According to Texas historian, Eugene C. Barker, in his article, "The San Jacinto Campaign," in the April 1901 issue of Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association: "From San Jacinto Santa Anna was taken with the other prisoners to Velasco, and there on May 14 the treaty of that name was arranged between himself and the government of Texas. The public treaty provided, among other things, for a cessation of hostilities; the immediate withdrawal of the Mexican forces beyond the Rio Grande; the restoration of property taken by the Mexicans; and, finally, that the Texan army should not approach nearer than five leagues to the retreating Mexicans. At the same time a secret agreement was made with the captive dictator in which the government promised, in return for his solemn pledge to use his influence in securing an acknowledgment of Texan independence, to immediately liberate him and send him to Vera Cruz. On May 26th, General Filisola ratified the public treaty and fulfilled its provisions by abandoning Texas; but through the interference of the enraged army the Texan government was compelled to break the secret articles, and Santa Anna was detained a prisoner until late in 1836, when he was sent to Washington, D. C. Quite naturally he felt himself absolved from his promise to labor for Texan independence."



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Auction Dates
March, 2013
1st-2nd
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