Historic one-of-a-kind field commands, or order book, in Spanish, being a file copy of the commands issued by Santa Anna to Major General Vincente Filisola during the Texas Revolution. Dictated by General Santa Anna to a subordinate, these orders are composed of a total of 40 field commands on both sides of 28 8.25 x 12 sheets, dating from December 8, 1835 up to April 8, 1836, with one more incomplete order after the one dated April 8. Written from seven different locations throughout the period: San Luis Potosi (7), Leona Vicario (17), Monclova (4), Villa de Guerrero (3), Bejar (3), Thompson’s Crossing (2), and San Felipe de Austin (2), a small selection of the orders follows:
December 7, 1835—To General Juan Ramirez y Sesma: “The First Division will not initiate an attack if the enemies should entrench themselves at missions Espada and Concepcion…and thus preserve the road because the aforementioned missions are located precisely on the road from Laredo to Bejar…If the enemies should remain at one of the aforementioned missions or in another place which they might have fortified then you will take measures before attacking them to examine it well in order to erase any doubts concerning its true situation…The foreigners who wage war against the Mexican Nation have violated all laws and do not deserve any consideration, and for that reason, no quarter will be given them.”
February 5, 1836—To Brigadier General Ramirez y Sesma at Guerrero: “I hereby instruct you to leave for San Antonio de Bejar with the entire division under your command…making proportionate daily marches so that the troops will be in good condition in case they have to fight.”
February 27, 1836—Communication to Filisola: “The speed with which this meritorious Division executed its march…was possible because the rebellious colonists were unaware of our proximity until we were within a shot’s distance from them leaving them no choice but to hurriedly entrench themselves in the fortress Alamo which they had well fortified beforehand and in which they had sufficient supplies…Notwithstanding the artillery barrage which they immediately began from the aforementioned fortress, the national troops with the greatest order occupied this place which will never again be occupied by the traitors…I have so successfully occupied myself with the harassment of the enemy at their position, that they have not even shown their heads above the walls while I prepare everything for the assult…To date, they (the Texans) have manifested their stubbornness while availing themselves of the strong position which they hold awaiting large assistance from their colonies and the United States of the North, but they will soon receive their final reproach. After taking the fortress of the Alamo, I will continue my operations on Goliad, Brazoria and the other fortified points.”
The final entry, incomplete and undated: “Due to the reports which I have gathered at this point, I have no doubts that the entitled General Houston who was at Groce’s Crossing with a force of five to six hundred men, has moved towards Nagadoches and should have left yesterday in that direction. However, since he is escorting families and supplies in ox-drawn wagons, his march is slow. The Trinity River, moreover, should detain him many days.”
The orders are bound together in a soft leather binding. In very good condition, with an area of staining along the bottom portion of most pages (not affecting legibility), scattered creasing and soiling, a few edge tears, and light show-through from writing on opposing sides of pages. Accompanied by a copy of Santa Anna’s Campaign Against Texas 1835–1836 by Richard G. Santos; this book provides a complete translation of these orders, as well as historical background and time line information.
This remarkable book traces each step of Santa Anna's movements during the invasion to his eventual defeat at San Jacinto, giving insight into one of Mexico's greatest military leaders. Acquired on the San Jacinto battlefield after the Mexican defeat, the order book was among Santa Anna’s possessions auctioned off to the soldiers on the field. The field commands resurfaced during WWII when Colonel Edward Stolle brought the book to the attention of Richard G. Santos, Archivist of Bexar County who notified collector Robert Davis. When the Texian Press acquired the document, they requested that Santos write a history of the Texas Revolution from the Mexican perspective using the entries contained within as a guide.
In the entry dated December 7, 1835, Santa Anna issued orders to General Jocquin Ramirez y Sesma on route to San Antonio that took steps to ensure a Mexican victory by “war of extermination,” a “take no prisoners” approach to battle he learned as Arrendondo’s protégé. This command revealed Santa Anna’s ruthlessness which played into his decision-making.
The eighth order predicted the 13-day siege of the Alamo and revealed Santa Anna's military competency. The command dictated “Nothing will be undertaken without the definite information which assures a successful outcome” if the Texans remained within any of the Alamo.
Santa Anna issued the final march on Béxar on February 5 in his communiqué to Brigadier General Ramirez y Sesma and advised him to take on additional provisions and men since “there are no provisions at Béjar.” Santa Anna promised to join him by February 11 where he assumed control from Sesma. Upon their arrival, he discovered the Texans established a well-defended Alamo.
In the February 23 entry, Santa Anna informed Filisola and the Ministry of War and Marine, “I occupied the City…. It had been my attention to surprise them on the previous morning but a heavy rain prevented it.” Travis greeted Santa Anna his famous cannon shot to which Santa Anna with in his communiqué remarked, “the artillery barrage which they immediately began from the aforementioned fortress, the national troops with the greatest order occupied this place which will never again be occupied by the traitors.” He launched a psychological assault on the Alamo, alternating between music and artillery. The Texans offered little return fire. In this same account Santa Anna wrote, “I have so successfully occupied myself with the harassment of the enemy at their position, that they have not even shown their heads above the wall.” The exaggeration belittled the Texans’ strong position at the Alamo , on March 5, the Alamo fell.
After the Alamo, Santa Anna chased the Texas Army from San Felipe to Harrisburg, nipping occasionally at their rear end; Filisola arrived at the Brazos River and waited for General Gaona's army. Santa Anna’s field commands note that “Due to the reports which I have gathered at this point, I have no doubt that the entitled General Houston who was at Groce’s Crossing with a force of five to six hundred men, has moved toward Nacogdoches.” The next day, he moved to Lynchburg, and all entries to the order book ceased. By April 18, Santa Anna and Houston drew closer together. At approximately 3:30 p.m. on April 20, the battle commenced with shouts of “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad.” Eighteen minutes later, the Mexicans surrendered. The Robert Davis Collection, read more about Robert Davis. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.