At the time of the American Revolution, Texas was a backwater province of Spain's New World empire.
The capital of Spanish Texas had just been moved from Los Adaes (near present day Robeline, Louisiana to the village of San Antonio de Bexar on the Western frontier.
To encourage men of means and ability to settle the area, the crown had begun a generation before granting huge ranchos in the San Antonio river valley. By the 1770s there were huge droves of longhorn cattle on the plains from San Antonio to La Bahia (Goliad).
Cut to the British colonies on the Eastern seaboard. They had just declared their independence and were going toe to toe with the greatest military power on the planet. Their ports were blockaded, keeping their French allies from landing supplies.
American leaders turned their eyes to the back door of the continent: the Mississippi.
Bernardo de Galvez
Patrick Henry wrote Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana (and the man for whom Galveston is named) asking for military supplies. Galvez was happy to help.
Over first two years of the war over 2000 barrels of gunpowder, tons of lead and even clothing made its way up the Mississippi to the Ohio River and into the hands of a grateful General Washington.
Of course the Brits didn't like this delvelopment and prepared to put a stop to it. They had forts at Baton Rouge and Natchez, putting them in a pretty good position to do so. But Galvez was determined to keep the back door open.
He raised an army to run the Brits out of the Gulf region. Only problem was he didn't have the means of feeding them in the field. That's when he turned to the rancheros of Texas.
In 1779 the first cattle drive in Texas history started from San Antonio and made its way along El Camino Real to Nacogdoches and on into Spanish Louisiana. Nearly 9000 head made the same trip from 1779 to 1782.
Sustained on Texas beef, Galvez and his men would chase the British from Baton Rouge and Natchez, take Mobile from them and Pensacola too.
Supplies would make it up the Mississippi for the entire war and having to contend with Galvez on the Gulf front used up British resources. General Washington made full use of both these gifts.
America would win her freedom, and Texas longhorn cattle played a part in it.