to get too picky with the Six Flags Over Texas folks, but a portion
of Webb County operated
briefly under a seventh flag, the flag of the Republic of the Rio
Grande. The founders of the emerging republic were Mexican Federalists
who honored the Mexican Constitution of 1824 in opposition to Antonino
Lopez de Santa Anna's autocratic Centralist government in 1839.
The Federalists convened a constitutional convention at the Oreveña
Ranch near present day Zapata
on January 7, 1840 and named Antonio Canales, a Tamaulipas legislator,
as army commander-in-chief. After Canales' force suffered a brutal
defeat from Centralists in March of 1840 he made his way to Austin
for a meeting with Texas President Mirabeau
Lamar, who wished Canales well but offered no official help.
Canales, however, did convince quite a few Texians to join the Federalist
cause. He promised any fighting man $25 a month, a half league of
land in a new republic and equal shares of any loot they might collect
along the way. The most intriguing of these volunteers was Samuel
A captain in the Texas army from 1836-39, Jordan was essentially
a man without a country who showed up to fight whenever and wherever
there was fighting to be done. He joined up with Canales in 1840
and, along with fellow Texian Reuben Ross, led a group of about
140 Americans into Mexico to seek and destroy Centralist forces.
When the rebels came upon a formidable Federalist force in battle
formation at Alcantra, Mexico. Canales called a meeting of his officers
to decide how to proceed. Jordan and Ross, seeing no need for discussion,
began sniping Centralist officers and rallied their men to charge,
fully expecting Canales and his troops to follow. But Canales chose
to view the battle as a spectator. He saw Jordan, Ross and the volunteers
kill 150 Mexican soldiers, capture 350 more and decided to call
it a day. Mission accomplished. Ross left in disgust, taking most
of his men with him.
Jordan and his volunteers later followed Canales into battle again,
but in a time of shifting allegiances, many of Jordan's own officers
apparently chose to cast their lot with the Centralists. The turncoats
tried to steer Jordan into an ambush at San Louis Potosi, but Jordan
sniffed out the plot and led the volunteers toward Saltillo instead.
By then most of the Federalist officers and troops had deserted
or switched sides.
That left Jordan and 100 or so volunteers alone to fight more than
a thousand Mexican soldiers, who advanced on Jordan's men with two
cannons and plenty of confidence. Jordan moved his men to a hacienda
and hunkered down to face the impending assault.
The Federalist troops got to within thirty yards of the hacienda
before Jordan and his volunteers, all expert marksmen, opened fire
with their muskets. The first wave of soldiers fell, and a second
wave moved in. Jordan's men cut them to ribbons, too. The troops
kept coming. Jordan and his men kept killing them. Finally, late
in the day, the troops retreated. Citizens who had gathered on a
hill to cheer them on soon joined the chaotic retreat.
Jordan and his men fought their way out of Saltillo and back to
Texas. Canales, meanwhile, joined up with the Centralists, officially
putting an end to the Republic of the Rio Grande.
In Austin, Jordan met
with Sam Houston
but the meeting didn't go well. It ended when Jordan, fighting man
that he was, grabbed an axe and tried to kill Houston with it. Adolphus
Sterne stepped in and wrestled the axe away from Jordan. History
is grateful, even if Jordan's wasn't.
Samuel Jordan apparently never gave up on the idea of a country
he could call his own, or maybe he was just looking for another
fight. Whatever the motivation, we find him in the summer of 1841
in New Orleans, gathering troops for Mexican general Mariano Arista's
expedition to gain control of Yucatan. As another example of the
shifting loyalties of the day, Arista was a Centralists who had
helped extinguish the Republic of the Rio Grande.
But the boat carrying Arista's army to Yucatan left without Jordan
and his men. Jordan, with no country to fight for or call his own,
killed himself with an overdose of laudanum.