Plácido Benavides

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Plácido Benavides
Born 1810
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Died 1837 (aged 27)
Opelousas, Louisiana
Nationality Mexican
Occupation Politician
Known for Freedom fighter
Spouse(s) Agustina De León
Children Pilar
Librada
Matiana

Plácido Benavides (1810–1837) was an early Mexican-born settler in De Leon's Colony, Victoria County, Texas. Benavides earned himself the sobriquet of the Paul Revere of Texas for his 1836 journey from San Patricio to Goliad to Victoria, warning residents of the approaching Mexican army. He was twice elected alcalde of Victoria, Texas. He married into the powerful De León family, and with his wife Agustina became the father of three daughters. Benavides fought against the dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna, but did not feel Texas should be separated from Mexico.

He led a unit of Tejano fighters at the Battle of Goliad and then he proceeded with his company to San Antonio, where they fought against Martín Perfecto de Cos in the Siege of Bexar. On February 11, 1836, Benavides sent a warning to James Bowie inside the Alamo that Santa Anna was approaching. Benavides escaped the Battle of Agua Dulce and was able to warn James Fannin headquartered in Goliad of the enemy army's approach, as he had warned all towns between Agua Dulce and Goliad. When the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed on March 2, 1836, James Fannin discharged Benavides from the army and sent him home. On his route back to Victoria, Benavides spread the alarm about the march of the Mexican army. In 1836, Benavides and his family were among the Mexicans evacuated out of Victoria by Brigadier General Thomas Jefferson Rusk. His family exiled to Louisiana, where he died of an unknown cause the next year. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6563 placed in 1936 at the SW Corner of S. Main and Juan Linn in Victoria, marks the site of the Benavides Round Top house.[1]

Early life[edit]

Plácido Benavides was born in 1810, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.[2] Details of his youth are unknown, except that he was taken under the wing of his godfather Captain Henrique Villareal.[3]

In 1828, Benavides moved to Victoria, Texas with his brothers Ysidro, Nicolás and Eugenio.[4] He became secretary to Fernando De León, the eldest son of the influential De León family in Victoria County. There, Benavides was put in the position of overseeing land titles and general business transactions. He married into the De Leon family in 1831.[3] The Mexican government authorized Benavides to continue recruiting colonists to De Leon's Colony after the 1833 death of empresario Martín De León.[5]

In 1832 and 1834, Benavides was elected second alcalde of Victoria. Martín De León had held the position as the first alcalde, and Silvestre De León served as the third alcalde. Benavides built a house fortress with first-floor gun slits and reinforced door, that became known alternately as "Plácido's Round House" and the "Round Top House". Benavides and his brother-in-law Silvestre De León,[6] led several attacks against the Tonkawa and Karankawa Indian tribes.[7] After the death of Benavides, many lives were saved in 1840 by hiding in the round house during a raid by 600 Comanches.[8] Recorded Texas Historic Landmark number 6563 placed in 1936 at the SW Corner of S. Main and Juan Linn in Victoria, marks the site of the Benavides Round Top house.[1]

At war with Santa Anna[edit]

When Antonio López de Santa Anna became President of Mexico on April 1, 1833, he revoked the 1824 Constitution of Mexico and replaced its Federalist form of government with a Centralist regime to further his military dictatorship. He appointed his brother-in-law Martín Perfecto de Cos as commandant-general northeast of Saltillo. Some in the De Leon extended family felt loyal to the Federalist government of the constitution.[9]

José María Jesús Carbajal[edit]

On April 28, 1835, federal legislation in Mexico invalidated the Four Hundred League Law that had been passed by the Coahuila y Texas legislature.[10] Benavides' brother-in-law José María Jesús Carbajal was an elected representative from Bexar to that legislature.[11] General Martín Perfecto de Cos sent troops to shut down the legislature, and ordered the arrest of all who voted for the Four Hundred League Law.[12] Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, as principal commandant of Coahuila y Texas, ordered Cabajal arrested, but soldiers searching for him in Victoria were unsuccessful in their attempts at doing so. Alcalde Benavides[13] had refused to surrender Carbajal, and ordered his local militia to block the soldiers from entry into Victoria.[14]

La Bahia[edit]

After Gonzales, Texas repelled the Mexican attempted seizure of their cannon on October 2, 1835, Benavides teamed up with John Joseph Linn[15] to capture General Cos. In Victoria, they joined with George M. Collinsworth and Benjamin Milam[16][17] who were training men for the same purpose. During the Battle of Goliad, Benavides was put in charge of thirty Tejano volunteers, who were part of the October 1835 storming of Presidio La Bahía.[18] Goliad was captured by Collinsworth and Milam on October 9, 1835.[17]

James Bowie[edit]

Following the capture of Goliad, Benavides and his men were ordered to join Stephen F. Austin in the two-month Siege of Béxar campaign to drive out General Cos. As part of the campaign, Benavides and his men joined with the James Bowie group in October 1835. In the process of searching for enemy horses, Benavides suggested to Bowie that they torture a simple Mexican herder into admitting he was hiding horses for the Mexican soldiers. The particular torture method used by Benavides and Bowie was to hang the herder by the neck until he almost choked to death, then let him down and threaten him with guns. After executing this method of torture three successive times on the man, the herder confessed and surrendered his herd to Bowie.[19]

Matamoros jail break[edit]

José María Jesús Carbajal, his brother-in-law Fernando De León,[20] and Peter Kerr,[21] responded to an arms plea from Stephen F. Austin and began to run horses and mules to New Orleans in a trade for munitions. The trio were captured by Mexicans and taken prisoner.[22] Kerr was set free, and Fernando De León bribed his way out. Carbajal was transferred to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, with an intended transfer for imprisonment at San Juan de Ulloa. In February 1836, Plácido Benavides was serving at San Patricio under Major Robert C. Morris. When word arrived of Carbajal's imprisonment, Benavides took a small group of men to break Carbajal out of incarceration. He bribed the guards at Matamoros. Although Mexicans gave pursuit, the escape back to Victoria was a success.[23][24]

Goliad[edit]

Main article: Goliad massacre

The alcalde of Matamoros had leaked to Benavides that Antonio López de Santa Anna planned to draw the Texas forces below the Rio Grande. Benavides reported the information to Major Morris, who in turn passed it along to James Fannin. Upon receipt of the information, Fannin decided against his planned invasion of Matamoros and instead moved his men to Goliad.[25]

Alamo[edit]

Main article: Battle of the Alamo

Inside the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, at 1 a.m. on February 11, 1836, messenger Blas María Herrera delivered to James Bowie a letter from Benavides, that stated Santa Anna was moving towards San Antonio with a large deployment of troops.[25]

Texas Paul Revere[edit]

Main article: Battle of Agua Dulce

On February 27, 1836, while Benavides and James Grant[26] were out with a detachment hunting wild mustangs, General José de Urrea captured San Patricio. On March 2, 1836, Benavides and Grant stumbled into a trap set by Urrera at Agua Dulce Creek, south of San Patricio. Benavides tried to rejoin the men but was ordered by Grant to save himself and warn Fannin of Urrea's approach. Upon reaching Fannin with the warning, and learning that the Texas Declaration of Independence had just been signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Benavides informed Fannin that he did not wish to help Texas to be torn from Mexico. Fannin discharged Benavides from the army and sent him home to Victoria.[27] From San Patricio to his final destination of Victoria, Benavides warned every person and town along the way of Urrea's approach. Benavides became known as the Paul Revere of Texas.[28]

Isaac D. Hamilton[edit]

Main article: Battle of Coleto

On March 27, 1836, following the Battle of Coleto, Mexican soldiers under General José de Urrea gunned down 342 unarmed Texans. Isaac D. Hamilton, who had served with Benavides at Goliad, escaped and found refuge on a ranch owned by Benavides. Upon finding the wounded Hamilton, Benavides attempted to take Hamilton to safety. Encountering a Mexican unit, Benavides saved himself by claiming Hamilton was his prisoner. Hamilton was tortured and taken to Victoria to face a firing squad. He was rescued by "The Angel of Goliad", Francisca Alvarez. With the help of Alvarez, Hamilton escaped back to his hometown of Courtland, Alabama. Hamilton returned to Texas, and in 1858 the Texas legislature awarded him a bounty certificate[29] for league of land, as part of the state's bounty grants for participants in the battle of the Alamo, the siege of Bexar, the Goliad campaigns.[30] Hamilton died in 1859 before he was able to take possession of the land.[31][32]

Exile to Louisiana[edit]

During the Texas War of Independence many Mexicans were opposed to Santa Anna's regime, but felt loyal to Mexico and its 1824 constitution.[33] Brigadier General Thomas Jefferson Rusk ordered the evacuation of Mexican families "...who were likely to afford information to the enemy." The Carbajal, Benavides and De Leon families evacuated to New Orleans, leaving behind their wealth and everything they owned.[34]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1831 Benavides married Agustina De León, daughter of empresario Martín De León and his wife Patricia de la Garza De León.[35] The couple had three daughters, Pilar, Librada and Matiana.[2]

Benavides died in Opelousas, Louisiana in 1837, cause unknown.[35]

Legacy[edit]

The following are Anglicized spellings, named after Plácido Benavides:


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "THC-Round Top House". Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks. Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Hardin-Teja (2010) p.58
  3. ^ a b Roell, Craig H. "TSHA-Plácido Benavides". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) p.57
  5. ^ Roell, Craig H. "TSHA-De León's Colony". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Silvestre De Leon". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.59
  8. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.59, 70, 71
  9. ^ Chance (2006) p.28
  10. ^ Chance (2006) p.32
  11. ^ Chance (2006) p.30
  12. ^ Poyo, Gerald Eugene (1996). Tejano Journey, 1770–1850. University of Texas Press. pp. 118, 119. ISBN 978-0-292-76570-2. 
  13. ^ Chance (2006) p.35
  14. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.57, 58
  15. ^ Roell, Craig H. "John Joseph Linn". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Garver, Lois. "Benjamin Rush Milam". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Cutrer, Thomas W. "Collinsworth, George Morse". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  18. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) p.61
  19. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) p.62
  20. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Fernando De León". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  21. ^ Kemp, L. W. "Peter Kerr". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  22. ^ Chance (2006) p.38
  23. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.63, 64
  24. ^ Roell, Craig H. "Plácido Benavides". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Hardin-Teja (2010) p.64
  26. ^ Blake, Robert Bruce. "James Grant". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  27. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.64, 65, 66
  28. ^ MacDonald (2009) p.187
  29. ^ "Bounty Certificates". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  30. ^ Long, Christopher; Lang, Aldon S. "Land Grants". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  31. ^ Isaac D. Hamilton at Find a Grave
  32. ^ Hardin-Teja (2010) pp.66, 67
  33. ^ Chance (2006) p.42
  34. ^ Chance (2006) p.43
  35. ^ a b "The Martín De León Family". Wallace L. McKeehan. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 

References[edit]

  • Chance, Joseph E (2006). Jose Maria de Jesus Carvajal: The Life and Times of a Mexican Revolutionary. Trinity University Press. ISBN 978-1-59534-020-7. 
  • MacDonald, L. Lloyd (2009). Tejanos in the 1835 Texas Revolution. Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-58980-638-2. 
  • Hardin, Stephen L; Teja, Jesús F. de la (2010). "Plácido Benavides :Fighting Tejano Federalist". Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas. TAMU Press. ISBN 1-60344-166-2.