Leonidas had 300 Spartans, Teddy Roosevelt had Rough Riders, and Juan Seguín had Tejano Volunteer Company. Each of these brave military units distinguished themselves heroically in battle. History has remembered the sacrifices or heroic actions of Leonidas and Teddy Roosevelt's men during their Moment of Glory. But has history forgotten Seguín's military unit and its own historic Moment of Glory?
Who were Seguin's Tejanos, and what role did they play in the war for Texas Independence? And, most importantly, did Juan Seguín's Tejano Volunteers impact the fight for Texas? If they did – then why do we know so little about them?
Researching history is like being an archeologist. First, you dig for evidence or clues of the past, seeking answers, not knowing what you may find. Then, every once in a while, you find a motherlode of hidden history that you didn't even know existed or believed to be a myth. That is precisely what happened when I stumbled on Juan Seguín and his now-famous Tejano Volunteer Company of the Texas Revolution.
As a Texan, I took Texas History in the 7th grade. So I've been trying to remember learning about Juan Seguín or his Tejano Volunteers in class. But unfortunately, the teacher never mentioned the exploits of men like Manuel Flores or his younger brother, Salvador Flores, descendants of Canary Islanders. Manuel and Salvador were like the 1800s versions of Army Rangers during our war for Independence.
In all fairness, I haven't been in a 7th-grade class in a long time, so that things might be different today. But recently, I found myself hard-pressed to find information about these young Tejanos and their participation in the war for Texas. Then, as I would research some other famous person's revolutionary story, small fragments of information would pop up about the men from this mysterious military unit. And slowly but surely, I started learning more and more about this brave group of San Antonio locals and their participation in our war for Texas Independence.
The sacrifices and memories of these men have faded. Therefore, the only way to convey the most accurate version of this episode in our Texas history is to include Juan Seguín's Tejano Volunteer Company.
This is not an opinion. On the contrary, Tejanos were the common thread that wove through almost all revolutionary events. Moreover, many young Tejanos played pivotal roles during the most crucial and dire situations of the struggle. The sad part is that the descendants of these brave patriots rarely hear, or have ever heard, of their ancestor's heroic, historical, and courageous exploits in the fight for Texas.
At the start of the Texas Revolution, as the "Old 18" stood firm next to their cannon in the town of Gonzales, many individuals, sensing imminent war, began to organize regional militias. These regional militia groups would play a pivotal role in the revolution.
San Antonio de Béxar, the biggest and most prosperous city in Texas, would organize its own militia of the area's brave young "vaqueros and rancheros." Sons of the Veramendi, Flores, Dias, Navarro, De Los Santos Coy, Arciniega, Courbiere, Jimenez, Maldonado, Delgado, Castañón, Menchaca, Leal, Cervantes, Chaves, Martinez, Rodriguez, Herrera, Diaz, Hernandez, Garcia, Garza, and many more would join this prestigious military company and serve during the revolution.
The "Department of Béxar" (the Tejano volunteers) consisted of a high percentage of volunteers (10%) from the total local Tejano population. Most of these volunteers came from money, status, and a long Béxar family history. They probably could have sat out the revolution as neutralists or loyalists, but they chose not to. Instead, they volunteered and fought for Independence. Like the American Patriots of 1776, they risked their money, land, and lives by standing for freedom.
On September 28, 1835, Chava Flores and Manuel Leal hosted a secret meeting at a family ranch, the "Flores de Abrego Ranch" near Floresville. Young, eligible volunteers of Béxar arrived to meet with a young, aggressive, and determined leader in Juan Seguín. That evening, they committed to form a military unit, their area militia, and engage in the fight for Texas freedom. History remembers that all the young Tejanos who attended that day had been friends since childhood. In so many ways, the Texas Revolution was a family affair.
The San Antonio militia unit born that day became known as the Tejano Volunteer Company of the Texas Revolution. The TVC went on to become the most successful militia of the rebellion.
Most of the revolutionary war's theatre of operations was right here in the Tejano's backyard, near and around San Antonio de Béxar. And, because few Texians knew the area and terrain like the Tejanos (Texians had just arrived), many of these young Tejanos served as scouts and messengers and engaged in guerilla warfare. They also fought on the front lines like the house-to-house, hand-to-hand fighting they encountered and participated in during the Siege of Béxar.
These Tejano men were everywhere there was a battle or a skirmish. When there weren't any, General Houston would send them out to protect the Texas citizens from Indian attacks. So looking closely at our revolution, you'll see these young Tejanos were almost everywhere serving and fighting. Therefore, it's only possible to tell the complete story of our Texas Revolution by mentioning the impact that Juan Seguin's Tejano volunteers had.
Tejano warriors with the TVC fought and served in all of the following historical events:
• The Battle of Gonzales
• The Battle of Goliad
• The Battle of Concepcion
• The Grass Fight
• Battle of Béxar
• The Alamo.
Fourteen TVC members fought in that historic battle, where eight, with one being as young as seventeen, fell as heroes.
• The Runaway Scrape.
The TVC's orders were to serve as "security detail" for Sam Houston and the entire retreating Texian Army. Sergeant Chava Flores and half of the Tejanos guarded the rear, protecting the Army from Indians and Mexicans and ensuring no one was left behind. His men engaged with advance cavalry units of the Mexican Army several times and fought to keep the retreating Texas Army safe. First Sergeant Manuel Flores, Nepomuceno Flores, and Captain Juan Seguin were at point position, scouting forward and securing a safe travel passage for the retreating Army.
• Battle of San Jacinto.
In April 1836, fifty-two young men (mostly cavalry officers) of Seguín's unit successfully charged on General Santa Anna's right flank along with Sheridan's militia unit at the victorious Battle of San Jacinto.
After the war, Tejanos continued to serve:
• 76 local Tejanos would serve as officers and distinguish themselves in the new Army of the Texas Republic. Many would go on to serve as Texas Rangers. The 2004 motion picture The Alamo, starring Dennis Quaid (Houston), Billy Bob Thornton (Crockett), and Jason Patrick (Jim Bowie), is probably the best historical representation of that famous Texas Battle – The Alamo. During the Battle of San Jacinto scene, Captain Juan Seguín, played by Jordi Molla, shouts, "A la Batalla Tejanos!" (To the Battle Texans!) as the TVC is charging. This scene is probably the only recorded documentation of this brave and distinguished military unit during its Moment of Glory.
Without Juan Seguín or his volunteers, our revolution's outcome might have been different. For example, without Tejano protection and terrain expertise during the Runaway Scrape, Houston, and the Texian Army might've been caught, surrounded, and defeated in battle by the larger forces of Santa Anna's Mexican Army.
This new Tejano Revolutionary War Participation Impact Concept is a vast archeological historical find. It's time to start telling the stories.
If you love Texas and Texas history then join us in our efforts to promote both the history and the heroes of our Texas revolution. Support our efforts, Get our Book, "Tejano Volunteer Company: Stories of our Texas Revolution." Available on Kindle, Paperback and Hardcover. Thank you for all your support. -Gonzo