This is my first AAR, and indeed, my first post. So I felt like being ambitious: Texas, a little rump state that I've never seen survive three consecutive decades.
I get the impression that the VIP generally knees you in the groin for the sake of remote historical accuracy. It certainly didn't do so to Texas -- in fact, if it weren't for the VIP, this game probably would have been nasty, brutish, and short.
Asides will appear in slate-gray, and I'm going to keep them to a bare minimum: it sorta kills the 'wha?' factor that makes a lot of AARs fun to have everything explained right there in the middle of the action.
That said, it commences.
Part 1: Humble Beginnings
Texas at the dawn of 1836: frighteningly small and weak
1836 was, as can hardly be overemphasized, a monumentous year for Texas: the secession from Mexico had taken place but a short time before, and the wrath of Mexico seemed unavoidable. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to preserve independence through Santa Anna's determination to bring 'Tejas' back into the fold.
It can be understood, then, that many of the early measures taken by Texas seem foolish, aggressively isolationist, and vigorously contradictory, when compared to the state of affairs later on. In fact, it is difficult to understand how modern Texas grew from those few, sparsely-populated provinces in a particularly cantankerous corner of Mexico.
The first seeds were not sown with Houston and the early military figures: they were guilty of the most backchannel and peculiar stunts possible for men of their relatively small stature and means. In fact, if anything, they came close more times to ruining the Lone Star Republic than anyone in its history, or turning it into a backwater of Mexico or the United States.
1836 dawned on the Letters of Marque incident, in which Texas was asked for and granted letters of marque to various private vessels: in essence, a modern extension of privateering not much divorced from that which struck at Europe in Shakespeare's day. The decision dismayed both Mexico and the US, but Mexico hated Texas and the US favored it too much for this to change anything, and both saw Texas as a minor threat at best.
In March, various great events shook Texas: the Declaration of Independence, the first victory at sea. Overseas, the Dutch civil war closed with the creation of a new country, and the fierce civil wars of Spain and Brazil raged on.
At the end of the month, the Alamo was taken with little effort by the Mexicans, and Goliad attacked. The event, strangely, did nothing but bolster Texan elan: now they had martyrs to fight for, a flag to rally around! April came, and with it more victories by the Independence: the Texan ship captured the brig Pocket. The Americans, irritated, arrested the crew of the Invincible when it went to port in New Orleans: reciprocality was a hard lesson for Texas to learn. With its best crewmen jailed in Louisiana, the Invincible made the fateful decision to set sail before their return, bringing the ship back to harbor in its home country.
The Mexicans, by all appearances, used the Pocket's arrest as a pretense to reinvigorate the war. "The United States of America are clearly prepared to stand with us in putting Texas down like the base villains they are," Santa Anna reportedly said upon hearing of the arrests. The chain of events which followed would, in spite of being mostly defeats for Texas, give the Lone Star Republic the foundation upon which it would build its future.
On the 16th, the Invincible was attacked by Mexican ships and swiftly captured. This would have been a disaster but for the fact that in less than a week, the Mexicans launched a heavy-handed military assault on a Texan force near the town of Corpus Christi. After a day's running fight, the Texans turned to attack and the Mexicans suddenly found themselves surrounded on all sides by half of the Texan army.
It was a large-scale bushwhack, one of many dirty tricks the Texans seemed to derive a perverse enjoyment from employing, which would have had little impact on the war as a whole had the group the Texans ambushed not been lead by Santa Anna himself! The Mexicans, especially Santa Anna, were rattled enough by the experience to withdraw from Texas.
Texas at the end of the Houston presidency: a country rich only in ambition
With the threat of Mexican war suddenly a distant thing, the Texans realized it was time to rest, lick their wounds, and try as hard as possible to prevent another round of fighting. The Mexicans were many times their size, this war had been won by little more than luck, and idle saber-rattling would do nothing but lead to inevitable defeat.
A serious historian here would go into detail about the minor border raids and piracy against Mexico which dominated the pre-Lamar era. Unfortunately, the avid reader will have to seek serious history elsewhere: the Indian wars, border raids, and Yucutan rebellion were so minor that even in their own time, the leaders of Texas seemed to realize that they would go nowhere.
The only events worthy of note in 1837 would be two with far-reaching implications: a near-mutiny by the Army in June, first; second, the establishment of a minor company which would dominate Texas for decades.
Next time: Running Before You've Learned To Crawl