Manuel Fernández Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón was born in Cuba. Although he was originally a member of a Spanish force attempting to subdue the Mexican rebels during the Mexican War of Independence, Castrillón soon switched sides and served with the Mexican independence forces. He first met Santa Anna in 1822 while fighting near Veracruz. He served as the general's agent in a campaign against a combined force of loyalist and Spanish soldiers and during the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821).
During the Texas Revolution, Fernández Castrillón served as Santa Anna's aide-de-camp. He joined Santa Anna on the 1836 invasion of Texas, which first journeyed to San Antonio de Bexar, and besieged the small Texan force garrisoned at the Alamo. Castrillón often argued against Santa Anna's decision to immediately assault the Alamo, advocating instead that the Mexican army wait for the arrival of the heavier cannon that would reduce the Alamo walls to rubble. On March 6, 1836, during the final assault of the Alamo, Castrillón took command of the Toluca Battalion after Colonel Francisco Duque was wounded. This column attacked the north wall of the Alamo. According to the diary of José Enrique de la Peña, after the Mexican victory at the Battle of the Alamo, Castrillón brought before Santa Anna six or seven Texians who he had taken prisoner during the final Alamo assault. Historian Edmondson speculates that these men may have been sick and unable to participate in the fighting. Castrillón petitioned that their lives be spared. Santa Anna had stated that no prisoners would be taken and ordered the Texians executed on the spot. Weeks later, during the Goliad Massacre, Fernández Castrillón also protested – in vain – the execution of nearly 400 Texian prisoners, including their leader, James Fannin.
After the Battle of the Alamo, the Mexican army moved east into the more settled areas of Texas. Castrillón saw no further fighting until April 21, 1836, when Texas General Sam Houston launched a surprise attack on Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto. However, Santa Anna's army had no viable avenues of maneuver or retreat because of a swampy terrain to their rear and sides. It was in this brief battle that, in all the confusion, Fernández Castrillón bravely took a stand while commanding the "Golden Standard" cannon and tried to rally his troops amidst a hail of Texan gunfire. He was unsuccessful. Texian General and Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk tried to spare the life of this proud and distinguished general. He pleaded with his men to not shoot him, but Fernández Castrillón was nevertheless shot and he died on the battlefield. Several days after the battle, Lorenzo de Zavala, an old friend, recovered Fernández Castrillón's body and had it buried on his nearby estate, in the De Zavala Family Cemetery. The cemetery is located at 3523 Battleground Road, La Porte, Texas.
- Todish et al. (1998), p. 115.
- Edmondson (2000), pp. 356–7.
- Edmondson (2000), p. 373.
- Edmondson, J.R. (2000), The Alamo Story-From History to Current Conflicts, Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-678-0
- Todish, Timothy J.; Todish, Terry; Spring, Ted (1998), Alamo Sourcebook, 1836: A Comprehensive Guide to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 978-1-57168-152-2
- Hardin, Stephen L.; Texian Iliad-A Military History of the Texas Revolution; University of Texas Press; ISBN 0-292-73086-1
- Roberts, R. & Olson, James S.; A Line in the Sand-The Alamo in Blood and Memory; Simon & Schuster; ISBN 0-7432-1233-9
- Fernández Castrillón (Handbook of Texas History)
- Castrillon at Find A Grave
- Photo of Gen. Castrillon