Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
336 Pages | 6 x 9 | 5 maps
Folsom’s lively account shows the challenges of governing a vast and inhospitable region and provides insight into nineteenth-century military tactics and Spanish viceregal realpolitik. When Arredondo and his army—which included Arredondo’s protégé, future president of Mexico Antonio López de Santa Anna—arrived in Nuevo Santander in 1811, they quickly suppressed a revolutionary upheaval. Arredondo went on to expel an army of revolutionaries and invaders from the United States who had taken over Texas and declared it an independent republic. In the Battle of Medina, the bloodiest battle ever fought in Texas, he crushed the insurgents and followed his victory with a purge that reduced Texas’s population by half. Over the following eight years, Arredondo faced fresh challenges to Spanish sovereignty ranging from Comanche and Apache raids to continued American incursion. In response, Arredondo ignored his superiors and ordered his soldiers to terrorize those who disagreed with him.
Arredondo’s actions had dramatic repercussions in Texas, Mexico, and the United States. His decision to allow Moses Austin to colonize Texas with Americans would culminate in the defeat of Santa Anna in 1836, but not before Santa Anna had made good use of the lessons in brutality he had learned so well from his mentor.
“Bradley Folsom’s Arredondo is a beautifully written and thoroughly engaging biography of the much-maligned and forgotten ‘Caligula’ of the northeastern provinces of New Spain. Eschewing facile moral judgements, Folsom provides a complex portrait of the Spanish royalist commander who during the Mexican War of Independence controlled—and allegedly terrorized—an area that included present-day Texas and Tamaulipas. Beyond Arredondo’s notorious cruelty, Folsom highlights the political and social realities that gave rise to the choices men in positions of power, like Arredondo, were forced to make. For anybody interested in Mexican-U.S. borderland history, this book is a must.”—Will Fowler, author of Santa Anna of Mexico