United States United States Oct 01, 2023

Archaeology of the Battle of Medina


The only battle to involve over half of Texas’s population—Tejanos, Native Americans, Anglos, and former Spanish royalists alike—is one that has been all but forgotten by historians.

The Battle of Medina was fought on August 18, 1813, between 1,830 Spanish Royalists under the command of General Joaquin de Arredondo and 1,400 irregulars of the Republican Army of the North under the command of General Jose Alvarez de Toledo, Colonel Miguel Menchaca, and Major Henry Perry.

The two armies camped 4-6 miles apart from each other on the edges of the sandy, oak-filled Encinal de Medina (south of the Medina River) the night before the battle on or very near the Old Laredo Road.

A mounted Royalist scout force was first engaged by the Republicans waiting in ambush sometime mid-morning, giving away their initial position. The Republicans then pursued the outnumbered Royalist advance guard a short distance through sandy and waterless ground. After a few miles, they stumbled into the main force, and the general battle commenced.

The battle raged for 2-4 hours at very close range and ended in a total rout of the Republican Army and the deaths of more than 1,000 of its members, whose dead were strung out for several miles along the road to the Medina River and not interred until 1822.

The location of the battle has been lost since…until now.

For Season Three:

The 2022 fieldwork seasons consisted of two 3-week systematic metal detection surveys of three sites, two of which were associated with Historical Markers. Negative results were obtained near the markers placed at Losoya Middle School and the Old Pleasanton Road/Bruce Road intersection.

The third site, however, chosen based on the most recent scholarship of the battle, revealed a concentration of 26 munitions appropriate to the early 19th century. X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis undertaken by archaeologists at Texas State University established metallurgical similarity between these musket balls and munitions previously linked to this campaign. The project plan for season three is to focus on expanding the area of interest with metal detection survey and LiDAR.


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