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By Bartee Haile

The Republican Army of the North, a motley crew of American adventurers and Mexican rebels, reached La Bahia on Nov. 1, 1812 and made themselves right at home in the empty fortress.

When Jose Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara hurried off to Washington, D.C. in March 1811, the Mexican revolt against the Spaniards was treading water. As he begged the U.S. government for desperately needed aid, his compatriots went down for the final time.

But Don Bernardo refused to call it quits and resolved to foment another rebellion. Learning from the fatal mistakes of his dead predecessors, he chose a more favorable site, the poorly guarded province of Texas, and more experienced fighters, the outcasts and outlaws of the Neutral Ground.


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