“Texas Rangers at Laredo, 1840”
Artist: Bruce Marshall
Date: 20th Century
Materials: Paper, watercolor
This painting is an original watercolor entitled “Texas Rangers at Laredo, 1840,” by Texas artist Bruce Marshall. The painting depicts three Mexican soldiers who are fighting against a group of Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers arrived in Laredo, Texas to defeat and crush the rebellion that was being led by rancheros (ranchers or ranch owners), who were aided by Mexico. The painting prominently features two Mexican soldiers that are wearing blue uniforms and shako hats, while another Mexican soldier on the right runs away from the fight. In the background a group of mounted men, representing the Rangers, are charging towards the soldiers. The mounted men do not appear to be wearing a standard uniform, suggesting that this scene occurred before the Texas Rangers had official uniforms. The two Texas Rangers in the center of the painting appear to be firing with revolvers. The Colt revolver was invented in 1831, and finally patented in 1836. This type of gun was a major advancement in handgun technology because it did not have to be reloaded after each firing. Instead, the shooter would load a revolving cylinder that held 6 rounds of ammo, this cylinder would automatically move the next round into firing position after each shot. Being able to fire the weapon multiple times, without having to reload was an important advantage when fighting from horseback and on the move. The sides of the painting depict Mexican soldiers falling, running, and being shot to reference how the Texas Rangers eventually drove the Mexican forces out of Laredo.
During the Texas Revolution, Laredo served as a central point for the forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Perez de Lebron (also known as Santa Anna). Santa Anna was the brigadier general for the Mexican Army during the revolution. After Texas had won the war, the Rio Grande River became the southern boundary of Texas. Laredo then became a key port city between Texas and Mexico. However, the Texas leaders made no effort to develop or establish a strong governing power in this southern region. As a result, many of the border town residents of Laredo considered themselves citizens of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Feeling neglected from any central government in either Texas or Mexico, the rancheros in Laredo revolted in 1838. They declared themselves members of the Republic of the Rio Grande. The Republic of the Rio Grande was an effort led by Tamaulipas leaders to break away from the Mexico’s central government and become their own, independent government. And, the rebels of the Rio Grande region declared Laredo as their capital.
Texas Rangers were sent to Laredo to firmly establish the rule of the Texas government in this southern territory and stop the efforts of the Republic of the Rio Grande. Then, in 1840, Laredo was again fought over by the Texan and Mexican governments in an effort to control the area. Texas Rangers were again sent to Laredo. This time, the goal of the Texas Rangers was to defeat and push the Mexican forces out of Texas. In 1840 the Texas Rangers successfully pushed out the Mexican forces. However, due to the continuous territory boundary struggles between Mexico and Texas, Texas did not establish continuous control over Laredo until the end of the US-Mexican War. [Elizabeth Volz, edited by Jennifer McPhail]
Learn more about the Texas Rangers in this video lecture.
Bauer, K. Jack. 1974. The Mexican War, 1846-1848. New York: Macmillan.