Come And Take It Day celebrates the Battle of Gonzales, and is observed each year on October 2nd in Texas. Come and Take It Day even has its own Texas historical flag! The Battle of Gonzales was the first skirmish of the Texas Revolution and set Texas on the path to independence from Mexico and its status as a sovereign nation. Related holidays are San Jacinto Day, Texas Independence Day, Texas Flag Day, and Sam Houston Day.
The battle took place in the town of Gonzales, Texas, and was widely known as "The Lexington of Texas," or "The Texas Shot Heard 'Round the World." Each year, the battle is re-enacted at the town of Gonzales, Texas, at the Pioneer Village Living History Center, 2122 St. Joseph Street, Gonzales, Texas, in the first full weekend of October. The re-enactment takes three days and is a major attraction of the region. Around the city of Gonzales are nine Texas historical markers commemorating the events of the battle.
The events that led directly to the battle started when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began to assume dictatorial powers, and to mistreat those who opposed him. He also ignored the Mexican constitution of 1824 and thereby began to inspire mistrust among the Texian settlers who were loyal to the country of Mexico, because they thought Santa Anna would take away their rights guaranteed in the 1824 Constitution.
The town of Gonzales was the westernmost settlement in North America, and the first settlement west of the Colorado river. Founded in 1826 by Greene DeWitt, and named for Rafael Gonzales, governor of Coahuila y Tejas, it was abandoned after two Indian attacks in 1827 and then rebuilt. The settlers asked Mexico for protection from the Comanches, and they were given a small cannon in 1831.
However, upon General Santa Anna's usurpation of power, the colonists became nervous, although they were still loyal to Mexico. With growing unrest in the colonies, Santa Anna demanded the return of the cannon, but the colonists refused.
A series of demands for the cannon, excuses and delaying tactics soon followed, culminating in one hundred Mexican dragoons being sent to provide a show of force to demand the cannon in person. The DeWitt colonists continued to delay, whilst assembling almost two hundred men to defend the town (and the cannon). Stephen F. Austin wrote,
The Committee of the Jurisdiction of Austin has received the communication directed to the Committee of Safety of Mina by you, in the name of the people of Gonzales, under the date of the 25th inst., stating that Colonel Ugartachea had made a demand for the piece of cannon at that place, and that the people, in a general meeting, had refused to give it up. You state that, "from every circumstance, and from information, the people are justified in believing that this demand is only made to get a pretext to make a sudden inroad and attack upon that colony for marauding and other purposes;" in consequence of which those people request assistance to aid in repelling an attack, should one be made.
The present movements of the people of Texas are of a popular and voluntary character, in defense of their constitutional rights, which are threatened by military invasion of an unconstitutional character. The people are acting on the defensive; and, therefore, there cannot be a doubt that it was correct in the people of Gonzales, under this principle, to detain the piece of cannon which was given to them by the authorities of a constitutional government, to defend themselves and the constitution, if necessary.
On this principle, the people of this, and of every other section of the country, so far as this Committee is informed, are ready to fly at a moment's warning to the defense of those people, should they be attacked. Companies of volunteers have already marched, and more are in readiness, should they be needed, to repel an attack.
This Committee beg leave to suggest that inasmuch as the position taken by the country up to the present time, is purely defensive, it is very important to keep this principle constantly view, and to avoid making attacks unless they should be necessary as a measure of defence
Yours, respectfully, S. F. Austin, Chairman of Committee. G.W. Davis, Secretary of the Committee of Gonzales.
Mural of the Battle of Gonzales
Finally, on the morning of October 2, 1836, the Texian forces were ready. Sara Seely DeWitt and her daughter Evaline made a flag, back then referred to as the Old Cannon Flag, and now called the Come and Take It flag. It was fashioned of white cloth with a black cannon and a black lone star above it, and the words "come and take it" beneath the cannon. It was Texas' first battle flag, and first lone star flag. The Texas army assembled in a defensive square, where they were addressed in a fiery sermon by the Reverend William P. Smith. The Texas army crept quietly across the river, and accidentally blundered into the Mexican army, which was awakened when a dog began barking. However, it was night,and foggy, so the Texians waited for dawn. Then they hoisted the flag, fired the cannon and forced the Mexican army to retreat, mostly by a show of bravado and of the Mexican commander's political sympathies. The Mexican army had only one casualty, and the Texian army suffered only minor wounds: one minor gunshot wound, and one bloody nose caused by a horse spooking at the firing of the cannon.
News of this battle quickly spread and within hours a massive army was being mustered under the command of General Stephen F. Austin (who had absolutely no prior military experience). This army would later that year defeat the entire Mexican army in Texas.
Even if you cannot travel to Gonzales, Texas, to celebrate and re-enact the battle yourself, you can celebrate at home by honouring the Texas heroes who fought in the battle of Gonzales, or by flying the "Come and Take It" flag. You can also read about the Texas Revolution, or sing the Texas State anthem, Texas, Our Texas.