The Spanish Flag of Castile and Leon flew over Texas for three hundred years.
Spanish involvement in Texas began with Alonzo Alverez de Pineda's mapping of
the Texas coast in 1519. Then, in 1542 Luis de Moscoso came to Nacogdoches and
East Texas with the remnants of the Hernando de Soto expedition that had begun four
years earlier in Florida. Spain's claim to Texas went back to the DeSoto-Moscoso
Expedition, which claimed all of southeastern United States as Spanish Florida.
Spain's occupation of Texas began in 1690 with the founding of Mission San Francisco
de los Tejas on the Neches River. It continued in 1716 with the founding of six
missions from the Neches River to Los Adaes in Western Louisiana, and 1721 with
the founding of Presidio Nuestra Señora de Pilar de los Adaes----near present day
Robeline, Louisiana. Los Adaes was the first capital of the Province of Texas. Texas
was under the Spanish flag until Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821.
Interestingly, the first flag used by the Spanish to claim Texas was not the
familiar flag of Castile and Leon; it was a banner that had the Virgin of
Guadalupe on one side and the crucified Christ on the other.
(Texts and pictures of the flags from the display at the Historic Town Center in Nacogdoches)
France's claim to a part of Texas went back to 1682, when Robert Cavelier, Sieur de
La Salle, explored the Mississippi and claimed all the land in its drainage for France.
For some mapmakers and politicians, this included Texas. He named this land Louisiana.
La Salle came to Texas in 1685, after he accidentally sailed past his destination at the
mouth of the Mississippi. He established Fort St. Louis and a French settlement on
Garcitas Creek off Matagorda Bay. The settlement was ill fated from its beginning.
LaSalle was murdered by his own men near Navasota in 1687, and the settlers and
soldiers who remained at Fort St. Louis were killed or captured by the Indians in 1689.
The Spanish found Fort St. Louis and burned it to the ground in 1690.
This French intrusion into Spanish territory caused the Spanish to begin the
occupation and settlement of East Texas to prevent further French invasions.
Spanish Nacogdoches came under the Mexican flag in 1821, when Mexico finally
won its independence from Spain.
Mexico, in order to prove its ownership of Texas, began settling its eastern parts
with the Anglos as early as December 1821. In that year Stephen F. Austin was allowed
to bring the first of his Old Three Hundred Settlers into his grant on the Brazos. Thereafter,
Americans poured through Nacogdoches, the Gateway to Texas, in search of cheap land.
By the time of the Texas revolution in 1836, Anglos greatly outnumbered the
The Mexican flag that flew over Nacogdoches and still flies over Mexico was
adopted in 1825. It has three vertical green, white, and red fields of equal width.
In the center of the white field is the Mexican eagle sitting on a nopal cactus holding
a snake in its beak. In Mexican legend, this was a sign to the Aztecs that they had
reached the land that was to be their home.
Bernardo Gutiérrez and Lieutenant Augustus Magee flew their green flag of the
new Republic of Texas over the Stone Fort in Nacogdoches in August of 1812.
The Republican Army of the North, as these filibusters called themselves, had come
from Natchitoches to Nacogdoches to recruit and train troops with the help of Samuel
Davenport. They stayed for two months, drilled an army of over five hundred men,
and then marched on to capture Goliad and San Antonio.
Magee died at Goliad, and his place was taken by Samuel Kemper. Kemper and
Gutiérrez captured San Antonio and issued a Declaration of Independence of the
Republic of Texas on April 6, 1813. This brief time of Texas Independence was over
when the Spanish general Joaquín de Arredondo destroyed the remains of the
Republican army at the Battle of Medina on August 18, 1813.
Augustus Magee and Samuel Davenport, who were in charge of the militia in
Nacogdoches, were both Irishmen. That might have governed their choice of the
Emerald Green flag as the Republican army's standard.
For a brief while, the flag that flew over Nacogdoches was the red-and-white
banner of Haden Edward's thirty-seven-day Fredonia Rebellion.
Edwards had obtained a grant from Mexico to settle eight hundred families in East
Texas in the Nacogdoches area. Unfortunately for him, most of the land had already
been settled---legally and illegally---by the early Spanish, by Indians, and by Anglo
squatters. His intrusion caused such a disturbance that the Mexican government
revoked his grant.
Disappointed over the loss of his grant, on December 16, 1826, Haden and his
brother Benjamin rode into Nacogdoches, planted their flag in front of the Stone Fort,
and proclaimed the Republic of Fredonia. They had formed an uncertain alliance with
the Cherokees, thus the reason for the red and white colors of the flag. The flag
carried the words "Independence Freedom and Justice" and the Signatures of sixteen
of the original Fredonians.
The Fredonian army consisted of no more than thirty men, the Cherokees never
joined them, and Stephen F. Austin raised a militia to put down the East Texas
rebellion. The Fredonians gave up their cause on January 22, 1827, and retreated
eastward across the Sabine.
Some Americans believed that Texas was part of Louisiana as claimed by LaSalle in
1682 and should have been included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. One of those
was Dr. James Long of Natchez, Mississippi, who came to Nacogdoches in June of 1819.
Dr. Long proclaimed himself the president of his newly declared Republic of Texas.
Dr. Long's red-striped Lone Star flag flew but briefly over the Stone Fort and his
Republic of Texas. The Spanish caught Long when he went to Galveston, where he was
seeking the assistance of pirate Jean Lafitte. There they defeated him and his meager
army and chased him back to Louisiana.
Dr. Long returned to Texas with a small army in 1821 and quickly captured the
poorly manned garrison at Goliad. However, he was soon under siege by Spanish
troops from San Antonio, who recaptured Goliad and took him captive. Dr. James
Long was taken to Mexico City, jailed, then freed, and then murdered under
mysterious circumstances by a Mexican soldier.
Mexican Texas became the Republic of Texas after Sam Houston
defeated Santa Anna on the plains of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
The first official flag was a white upside-down star on a blue background with
T-E-X-A-S written between the points of the star. This flag never flew. The second
flag of the Republic was adopted by the first Texas congress in December 1836.
It bore a single, large gold star on a blue field. This flag was the same design as the
"Bonnie blue flag that bears a single star" that was so popular among the Southern
troops during the Civil War.
The Lone Star flag that we now use was designed by Texas Senator William H. Wharton
and was officially adopted by the Senate under President Mirabeau B. Lamar in 1839.
The new flag kept the white star on the blue field, but now the blue field was a vertical
stripe which occupied one-third of the flag, and it was balanced by horizontal white
and red stripes, on the other two-thirds. This Texas flag has been prominently
displayed for over 150 years.
For four years, the Stars and Bars flew over Nacogdoches and Texas.
After years of conflicts of interest between the North and the South over states rights,
slavery, and the right of secession, the Civil War began in March of 1861.
Texas seceded and joined the Confederate States of America.
It sent its Texas brigades into battle, and suffered for four years
with the rest of the Confederacy before General Robert E. Lee
surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
The most enduring of the Confederate flags during the War was the Stars and Bars
with the square of blue holding a circle of the seven original seceding states.
Texas was the seventh star.
Because the Confederate Stars and Bars and the Union Stars and Stripes
were easily confused in the heat of battle,
General P. G. T. Beauregard introduced a Confederate battle flag.
This was a square red flag with a white-bordered blue cross running diagonally
from corners to corners. The cross contained thirteen stars representing
the eleven Confederate states plus Kentucky and Missouri.
This battle flag became the flag most closely identified with the Southern cause.
The Confederate Stars and Bars came down in Texas after April 1863 and Appomattox,
and the United States Stars and Stripes have been flying over this State ever since.
On February 19, 1846, the Lone Star flag was lowered over the Texas state capitol in Austin,
and the Stars and Stripes was raised. The Republic of Texas had become the State of Texas.
From the beginning of the Republic in 1836, the majority of the Texians, most of whom
had come directly from the States, had wanted Texas to join the Union. But many in the Union
did not want Texas in the United States. Some did not want one more Southern slave-holding
state, and some were afraid of causing a war with Mexico. Nevertheless, on July 4, 1845, the
Texas congress voted to accept the articles of annexation offered by United States President
James K. Polk, and on December 29, 1845, the congressional resolution proclaiming Texas as a
state in the Union was signed by President Polk.
The Old Glory that was raised above the Texas state capitol on the following February 19, 1846,
had twenty-eight stars in four rows of seven stars each.
Except for the four years of the Civil War, 1861 to 1865, these Stars and Stripes have since
1846 flown over the State of Texas.
(Texts and pictures of the flags from the display at the Historic Town Center in Nacogdoches.)
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