The Battle of Gonzales launched the war for independence in Texas, which left Anglo-American colonists politically divided from the Mexican government. The conflict occurred when Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexican president, sent a small military force to retrieve a cannon from the village of Gonzales to prevent settlers from raising arms against the government. The settlers resented Santa Anna's disregard for the Constitution of 1824 and hastily formed a militia, which successfully resisted the Mexican troops.
After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the newly established government hoped to protect its Texan territory from U.S. control by encouraging thousands of American settlers to become Mexican citizens. However, these settlements functioned as a separate socioeconomic unit from Mexico with closer ties to the United States. When Santa Anna illegally established a dictatorship in 1835, he suspected the Texan settlers of planning a secession and ordered his forces to disarm them.
The Gonzales settlement had received a cannon in 1831 to defend against Native Americans. With a force of 100 soldiers, Francisco de Castaneda approached Gonzales in late September of 1835 with the intention to avoid combat. His troops were deterred by a dangerous river crossing, which was guarded by militia members who were able to hold off the Mexican soldiers long enough for reinforcements to arrive. In early October, the colonists launched the first attack, and after brief negotiations, they refused to relinquish the cannon. Castaneda was eventually forced to retreat because his men were outnumbered.