SAS Wargames Club

SAS Wargames Club
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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Battle of Concepción - October 28, 1835

Brief Summary of the Battle of Concepción

On October 11, 1835, Stephen F. Austin was elected commander-in-chief of the Army of the People, also known as the Army of Texas. Austin wanted to take the Texas capital, San Antonio de Béxar, and drive the Mexican military out of Texas. To this end he took his men and began his approach from Gonzales north towards San Antonio, sending out scouts before each move and trying to ensure that his somewhat disorganized group of volunteers would not be caught by surprise. By the time he was encamped at the remains of Mission Espada his force had increased by about 1/3 as new volunteers joined along the way..

It was from Espada that the following order was written:

Head Quarters, Mission Espada, October 27th, 1835. Colonel James Bowie, Volunteer Aid: 

" You will proceed with the first division of Captain Fannin's company and others attached to that division and select the best and most secure position that can be had on the river, as near Béjar as practicable to encamp the army tonight, keeping in view in the selection of this position pasturage and the security of the horses, and the army from night attacks of the enemy.
You will also reconnoiter, so far as time and circumstances will permit, the situation of the outskirts of the town, and the approaches to it, whether the houses have been destroyed on the outside, so as to leave every approach exposed to the raking of cannon.
You will make your report with as little delay as possible, SO AS TO GIVE TIME TO THE ARMY TO MARCH AND TAKE UP ITS POSITION BEFORE NIGHT. Should you be attacked by a large force send an express immediately with the particulars."

S. F. Austin By order. P W Grayson, Aid-de-camp 

Bowie and Fannin with 4 companies moved north along the River San Antonio. They decided on a place where a large bend of the river west of Mission Concepción formed a natural cul-de-sac about one hundred yards across. The river was about 6 to 10 ft. below the relatively flat plain that extended east to the mission.

Mexicans Advance
Because of the lateness in the day, Bowie decided to camp there for the night, instead of returning to Espada, as he had been ordered. He placed Fannin’s company along the southern portion of the bend and Colman’s men along the northern curve, enabling them to provide crossfire across the plain. Aware that his position left him vulnerable to a surprise attack from the forces of General Martín Perfecto de Cós, commandant of the Mexican forces in San Antonio, Bowie placed pickets drawn from each company and posted a sentry in the tower of the mission.

The morning of October 28, 1835, the countryside was wrapped in a dense fog. Despite the limited visibility, General Cós elected to move upon the small force before they could be reinforced by the main body of the army. He dispatched Colonel Domingo de Ugartecha with a total of about 400 men and two cannons. Infantry approached from the south and east, between the Texans and the Mission, while cavalry were placed along the west bank of the river to cut off retreat. The Texans crouched below the protection of the river bank, which formed a natural trench, while musket balls, canister, and grapeshot swept the pecan trees over their heads.

Mexican Artillery
Sharpshooters with Texan long rifles devoted their attention to the gunners and quickly silenced the artillery. As Fannin’s position began to draw heavy fire, Bowie manoeuvred Colman’s men into position to offer them aid. Faced with the additional firepower, the Mexican force faltered. The infantry attempted to bring pressure, but bullets from Texan rifles were hitting them long before their smoothbore muskets were in range. The Mexicans began to fall back. Taking advantage of this retreat, Bowie led a headlong charge against them and was soon able to turn one of their own canons on them. The first conflict of the Siege of Béxar ended. Only one Texan had been killed.

Austin, in his official report, claimed 16 Mexican soldiers were left on the field with reports of as many more carried away. Bowie claimed the number was about 67. A count of 27 bodies with about 20 believed to have been carried away or thrown in the river was given in a report that is by far the most interesting contemporary account of the battle.

However many Mexicans soldiers were killed in the battle there can be no doubt that the result of the battle made a great impression on both the Texans and the Mexicans. Texans had been outnumbered roughly 3 to 1, yet still, the battle had been won by the smaller force.

The Battle
Game Map
Our game was put on by Mike W, on 27th August, with his collection of 28mm Texan Revolution
figures, using a home made set of rules called Texas Glory.

The Texans had 5 companies in three commands under Bowie, Fanning & Coleman - ably commanded by Rupert & Phil.

The Mexicans had 4 battalions of infantry, commanded by Nigel, Mikey & Steve, whilst Dave had overall command as well as direct command of the Cavalry. One gun was given to Steve and Nigel's commands.

The game played out well enough for the first outing of these new rules, though a few changes will be made around morale, artillery movement & melee mechanisms.