The Córdova Rebellion, in 1838, was an uprising instigated in and around Nacogdoches, Texas. Alcalde Vicente Córdova and other leaders supported the Texas Revolution as long as it espoused a return to the Constitution of 1824, but after independence was declared they sought to forcefully oppose the new Texas Republic with help from the Cherokee.
Beginning as early as late 1835, Córdova had covertly started to plan and organize local resistance, anticipating Texas would declare independence from Mexico. In the late summer of 1838, word arrived from several sources that Mexico was seeking an arrangement with the Cherokee which would give them title to their land in exchange for assistance in joining a war of extermination against the Texians.
Nacogdochians looking for a stolen horse found a camp of around one hundred armed Tejanos. Rather than allow the local militia to act, President Sam Houston (who was in Nacogdoches at the time) prohibited both sides from assembly or carrying weapons. Local alcalde Vicente Córdova and eighteen other leaders of the revolt issued a proclamation with a number of demands to be met, before the surrender of their arms. After being joined by about three hundred Indian warriors, they moved toward the Cherokee settlements.
Despite Houston's orders that he should not cross the Angelina River to interfere, Thomas J. Rusk, who was at this time Nacogdoches County's Representative in the Texas Congress, sent a party of 150 men under Major Henry Augustine on to confront them.
On March 29, 1839, a company of 80 men commanded by General Edward Burleson defeated Vicente Córdova and the rebels during a fight near Seguin, Texas, at "Battleground Prairie." While wounded and pursued by Mathew Caldwell and his rangers, Córdova was able to make his way to Mexico, but 33 members of the rebellion were tried for treason and later pardoned or released.
A few weeks later, a Mexican agent was killed near the Red River. A diary and papers were found on his body which indicated that the Government of Mexico was working to incite the Cherokee and other tribes to rebel against Texas in exchange for recognition of tribal lands. Additional documents were found after a battle on the North San Gabriel River on May 17 and on May 18, 1839, after a party of Texas Rangers defeated a group of Mexicans and Cherokee. These documents included letters from Mexican officials addressed to Córdova and The Bowl, a Cherokee chief.
Despite the involvement of some Cherokee and the discovery of documents intended for Chief Bowl, Houston believed the chief's denials and refused to order them arrested. In his several letters of reassurance to The Bowl during the unrest, Houston again promised them title to their land on the Neches River. Warriors believing their lands to be violated by the legal settlers then perpetrated the October 1838 Killough massacre, killing eighteen people.
Texas' second president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, had served under Georgia's Governor George M. Troup during the expropriation of Creek Indian lands for the benefit of white settlers in that state. Never sympathetic toward Indians in general and predisposed to the removal of the Cherokee, in the wake of the Killough incident and the publication of Rachel Plummer's narrative of her captivity among the Comanche, Lamar's demands that the Cherokee leave Texas resulted in the Cherokee War in 1839 and the violent expulsion – commonly referred to as "removal" – of the Cherokee to Indian Territory.
- Moore (2006), p. 198-199.
- "CÓRDOVA REBELLION." The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 8 Dec 2010.
- "KILLOUGH MASSACRE." The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 19 Feb 2010.
- Clarke, Mary Whatley (1971). Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-8061-3436-4.
He had served ... the stern, proud Governor George M. Troup when Creek Indian lands were expropriated for the benefit of white settlers ...When he left for Texas [from Georgia] Lamar carried with him a hostility against the Indians and as strong faith in ... states rights.
- Clarke, Mary Whatley (1971). Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-8061-3436-4.
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was elected president. The new cabinet had made the boast that they would kill off Houston's pet Indians. Lamar wanted the Indians expelled from Texas.
- "CHEROKEE WAR." The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 18 Feb 2010.
- Robert Bruce Blake, "CORDOVA, VICENTE," Handbook of Texas Online , accessed September 24, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.