Jose Antonio Navarro
José Antonio Navarro
The Memoirs of José Antonio Navarro
Written in the year 1853, describing the events of 1813-1814.

Of the Past and the present in the history of Bexar County go back into the past, merely to prove something that occurred long ago is not always possible; recurring to these epocks[sic], reveals that much of it has been abandoned in indifference, leaving it to later generations to declare in monuments erected at different places informing us that here occurred great deeds and terrible tragedies. Going back to that epoch of glories and crimes, nobility, misery, virture[sic] and vice is certainly obeying our consience[sic] which screams to the descendants of those who should have been brothers. Finally, if we publish certain facts of history concerning the Mexicans, everyone must instinctively cry, "Poor Mexican people"; and they would be justified.

It is true that there is a multitude of complete works in this city of San Antonio, both in English and in Spanish, concerning the history of Texas, but these are treasured in the private boxes of their owners who do not appreciate the interest that Mexican history holds; therefore, it is a fact that such books might as well not exist.

Certain observations were published concerning the material brought to light in recent times by tractable scholars and schemers, filled with errors and daring conclusions, until a fine old man, sure of his ground and well acquainted with the facts, wrote these memoirs which are complete in this book, translated into English. There was no Spanish printing press in Texas at the time.

This noble citizen, this never contradicted patriot is José Antonio Navarro.

Although these memoirs were published in the English language in the San Antonio Ledger, it can be readily understood how great was the desire of José Antonio Navarro to have the memoirs published in exact form and in Spanish, in order that his own compatriots might understand them.

So, to José Antonio Navarro we owe fidelity of narrative by one who had made every sacrifice on the altar of Texas patriotism, depicting with authority important historical events which occurred in San Antonio de Bexar.

No delay has been permitted in publishing these memoirs. It was difficult to overcome the modesty of the author, yet we have succeeded in reproducing on paper accounts of former memorable times, aided by the enthusiasm of our ardent admiration for the said author in the torrent of his memories of war. And who would not be stirred by details, now glorious, of the happenings on the fields of battle, fields now sombre [sic] with executions done by the victors who, in absolute power, caused the most atrocious bloodshed! Only the feeble intelligence of the corrupt foreigner can look with disdain on this history. Every nation has its own history, but however evil it may be, it belongs to that nation. To attempt to blot out its history, even its most evil moments, is the greatest reproach that could be heaped on a citizen. It if painful to speak of the history of one's own country, especially if that history be unpleasant; but to do it in a foreign language, fosters the indifference of those who read; yet many who read display interest. Others indeed read to nourish passions which they cannot satisfy in current history.

History is mighty and will cure the most chronic ills, a fact of which too many Mexicans are ignorant. The memoirs of José Antonio Navarro paint the deeds of these champions in lively fashion; we can see them with uplifted arms, swords drawn across the necks of their heroes in fierce charges, either against or in pursuit of their enemies. We thrill as we listen to the charge of the cavalry with bated breath, and see the fatigue of those who later seem tranquil in their moment of triumph, even when orders are given to release their prisoners. Magnificent heroes these with hearts of lions and souls of hyenas, who on the field of battle carried swords reddened with blood, the laurels of glory in battle and then after victory, stained the stiletto [sic]with basest cruelty! Inquisitorial malice, which, following the example of the barbarous clergy of Orquemada, either was simple and fanatical or disseminated the venom of the devil of malice and infamy. Our author paints pictures for us in which we seem to see the noble attitude and humiliation of the descendants of the 15 families who came from Spain to this soil, and who by brutal force labored to satisfy the appetites of that horde of ruffians under the name and office of soldiers.

It seems to be a providential coincidence that one of those who signed "other friends" at the end of these lines, belonged to one of the epochs richest in historical deeds as undoubtedly was the year of 1836, in which Texas was separated perhaps forever from Mexico. It was in this year that Navarro signed and thus expressed himself Like many of his compatriots Navarro is familiar with all the territory around San Antonio and no one could fail to be influenced by the reminiscences of these times.

Besides on many occasions the direct descendants of these heroic early settlers have listened attentively to the rare incidents peculiar to the Spanish genius, be they rebels or loyalists. It seems true that all the ancestors felt an irrestible [sic] impulse to build up something which their descendants would destroy, and yet, what a legacy has been inherited by the Navarros, the Iturris, the Martinez, the Chaves, the Rodriguez, the Garzas, the Cassianos, the Seguins, the Flores, the Leales, and many others who always must be identified with San Antonio de Bexar! And the Zaragosas? Alas, all have died!

San Antonio, July 5, 1869.
Colonel José Antonio Navarro,
San Antonio, Texas

Dear Sir:

We have finally received the interesting historical memoirs written by you years ago, and we have not lost one instant in deliberating whether to publish them in the press that they might be more widely read. Therefore, we beg you to lay aside this once your customary modesty and receive with favor our suggestion to publish your memoirs. We sincerely believe that they will be received with enthusiasm by all Mexican citizens of Texas and especially by the sons of San Antonio. We feel that we ourselves should add some analogous explanations to this very important document, but we are convinced that they would be insufficient for such an elegant work. We again pray, if you will pardon the liberty we take in doing it, that you consider it, because we are moved more for the desire for the publication of your said interesting memoirs than to seek for hope of glory for ourselves, which obliges us to publish these sketches.

Your obedient servants kiss your hand,


Narciso Leal and other friends.

San Antonio, Texas July 5, 1869
Narciso Leal and his friends, San Antonio, Texas

My dear Sirs:

I have received your courteous letter and, after noting its contents, I wish to say:

That since the year of 1853, or maybe 1857, I have written two short treatises which, because there was no Spanish printing press in this city at that time, I managed to get published as a translation in the English language so that the public might be enlightened.

My sole object in writing and publishing those treatises was to dispel some of the erroneous views which had been published in the American papers concerning various incidents that happened in Texas during the years of 1811 and 1813, which years were so fecund in political upheavals and exciting events incident to Mexican Independence, and where for the first time the sons of San Antonio de Bexar exhibited their patriotism and performed amazing deeds of valor. almost romantically taking an active part were the descendants of those noble Islanders, namely, the Delgados, Traviesos, Arochas, Leales and another group of patriots of the same race.

For this reason, and because I always believed that our posterity would be grateful to learn from the mouth of an eye-witness of the achievements, sacrifices and tragical [sic] end through which their illustrious forefathers lived, solely for the attainment of Mexican independence and liberty, I published the two said treatises and they were immediately placed at the disposal of the public. Consequently, you are at absolute liberty to make any use of them as you might consider expedient.

Nevertheless, I am very grateful for the courtesy which you have 80 gratuitously bestowed upon me in requesting my permission to publish my memoirs.

Your humble servant kisses your hands,


José Antonio Navarro

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