Come and Take It Cannon
The First Shot For Texas Independence, October 2, 1835
“I cannot, nor do I desire to deliver up the cannon...We are weak and few in number, nevertheless we are contending for what we believe to be just principles.”
— Joseph Clements, a Gonzales town official, September 30, 1835
Patrick J. Wagner, M.D. used modern scientific technology to break the barriers of time and prove the identity of an unimpressive, rusty cannon. In 1980, aided by a rancher and a photographer, Dr. Wagner traced the cannon through a maze of contradictory history. His work led to the identification and recognition of the Gonzales “Come and Take It” Cannon of October 2, 1835 fame. The little cannon fired the first artillery shot for Texas Independence which led to the annexation of more land to the United States than all the shots fired during the American Revolution.
Events leading to “The Battle of Gonzales”
1831 – Gonzales settlement receives a cannon from the Mexican government:
Most historians believe it was loaned, but there is some evidence the colonists thought it was given to them. It was relatively useless, having been spiked, but it was loud enough to scare the Indians.
September 25, 1835 – As relations between the Mexican government and colonists throughout Texas deteriorated, Mexican soldiers were sent to retrieve the cannon, but were denied passage across the Guadalupe River:
Only eighteen men were in town at this time, but they stood ready to defend their cannon... and have come to be revered as “The Old Eighteen”.
October 2, 1835 – The Battle of Gonzales:
There was an unusually thick fog that morning, almost eerie according to some observers. About 4 am, the Texans formed for action. Mexican soldiers fired on the Texans, and one man was wounded when his horse threw him. The Texans fired a volley and one Mexican trooper was wounded. The Mexicans retreated to wait until the fog lifted.... When the fog lifted about daylight, the Texans moved into an open field and began firing on the Mexican position. The Mexican troops fired a volley and the Texans fell back to the wooded riverbank where they could not be seen. ...During a meeting in the field between the two opposing forces, (Col. John Henry) Moore suggested that (Lieutenant Francisco de) Castañeda, sent to seize the cannon, either surrender and join the Texans in support of the Constitution of 1824, or prepare to fight. Moore pointed to the cannon and told Castañeda that the little cannon was on the field, so he should just try to “Come and Take It”. The flag* stating the Texans' sentiment was flying defiantly over the cannon. Moore then wheeled around. He shouted “Fire“—and a shot was fired from the cannon. The Mexican troops immediately wheeled around and withdrew to San Antonio.
*The “Come and Take It” flag was supposedly fashioned by Sarah Seely DeWitt and her daughter, Evaline, from Noami DeWitt's wedding dress.