Monday, January 23, 2012
Soldier of Monarchy: General Vicente Filisola
Filisola succeeded in his assignment, taking control of Central America and ensuring that Imperial Mexico stretched all the way from northern California to Panama. However, when Emperor Agustin lost his throne as a result of the treachery of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Central American nations broke away and Filisola returned to Mexico for a new assignment with the new republican government. Almost immediately, the new government faced the issue of immigration from the United States. Iturbide had been working out an agreement for the establishment of Anglo colonies in Texas and after a time the Mexican Republic continued the program. Invasions by Filibusters or land pirates had long been a problem, but the Anglo colonists were mostly loyal to the new Mexican constitution of 18124. However, the growing number of Anglo colonists alarmed many in Mexico and efforts were slowly put in place to halt immigration and increase the Mexican presence in Texas.
General Santa Anna immediately began raising an army to retake Texas and crush or expel the entire Anglo population. General Vicente Filisola was made deputy commander of this force, named the Army of Operations in Texas, and was second only to Santa Anna himself. Santa Anna marched first on San Antonio where less than 200 Texans had barricaded themselves in the old Spanish mission known as the Alamo. The battle was a victory for Mexico, albeit an extremely costly one. General Filisola arrived with his troops three days after the Alamo had fallen since the massive size of the Mexican army meant that the main body was stretched out with units several days march apart. Later, General Filisola wrote down many observations about the campaign, commenting on the determined bravery of the Mexican soldier and the vanity of Santa Anna who would listen to nothing that was not in agreement with the ideas of Napoleon Bonaparte. Filisola also considered the assault on the Alamo a costly and unnecessary waste of manpower, pointing out that if Santa Anna had only waited for his heavy artillery to arrive they could have shelled the crumbling mission to rubble without risking the life of a single Mexican soldier.
General Filisola would spend much of the rest of his life explaining and answering for taking the army out of Texas. Santa Anna, it was argued, had given the order under duress and so Filisola was not bound to obey it. However, General Filisola said he would have ordered the retreat even without an order from Santa Anna because the military situation left him no other option. General Santa Anna had taken huge losses at the Alamo and San Jacinto, were deep in enemy country and could expect no reinforcements while the atrocities committed by Santa Anna continued to draw outraged volunteers from the United States to aid the Texans. The Mexican army had been pushed to exhaustion pursuing Houston, their supply lines had broken down and huge numbers were down with dysentery. Filisola, who had a higher regard for his soldiers than anyone, said that nature had left them no option but to withdraw or risk losing the rest of the army.