Tejano History

Placido Benevides

       BENAVIDES, PLÁCIDO (?–1837). Plácido Benavides, a native of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was renowned for his contribution to the settlement of Victoria, Texas, and to the Texas Revolution. He was a godson of Capt. Henrique Villareal, who had him educated and later sent to Texas in 1828 as secretary to Fernando De León, commissioner of De León's colony and son of Martín De León.qqv For three years Benavides issued land titles and recorded the business transactions of the settlement. In 1831 he married Agustina De León, daughter of the empresario, and settled on a league and a labor of land on Zorillo Creek, which was renamed Placido Creek in his honor. The ranch was near the grants of his brothers, Eugenio, Isidro, and Nicolás.

       Benavides was elected alcalde of Guadalupe Victoria in 1832 and again in 1834. He was one of the important “Ten Friends” for whom the town's main street was named Calle de los Diez Amigos. After the death of his father-in-law in 1833, the Mexican government authorized him to continue the settlement contract and recruit colonists. As captain of the colony's militia he built a fort, the Round Top House, for the defense of Guadalupe Victoria, and with his brother-in-law Silvestre De León led several attacks against the Comanches and Tonkawas.

       Benavides continued his prominent role during the Texas Revolution. In October 1835 he successfully led the resistance against surrendering to Mexican forces a cannon and another De León son-in-law, José M. J. Carbajal, who was sought for arrest by Col. Domingo de Ugartechea for his participation in the Coahuila and Texas legislature. With John J. Linn Benavides went to Gonzales to train the volunteers amassing there after the battle of Gonzales. The two proposed to intercept Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos, who had landed at Copano and, after marching to Goliad, was en route to reinforce Ugartechea at Bexar; but finding most at Gonzales unwilling, Benavides and Linn joined Benjamin Fort Smith's company, which set out to liberate Goliad. Benavides arrived in Guadalupe Victoria ahead of the company and became one of many Victorians joining George M. Collinsworth's Matagorda volunteers, who were on the way to liberate Goliad themselves. He became leader of a company of about thirty Mexican rancheros in Collinsworth's force, which captured Goliad on October 9–10, 1835 (see GOLIAD CAMPAIGN OF 1835). On October 14 he and his rancheros left with Smith's men, following Gen. Stephen F. Austin's orders, and marched to San Antonio, where they fought against Cos in the siege of Bexar. Benavides received notice for his gallantry and efficiency, especially as part of the division under Francis W. Johnson that assaulted the house of Juan Martín Veramendiqv.

       In early 1836 Benavides was warned by the alcalde of Matamoros that Antonio López de Santa Anna planned to draw Texans to Matamoros in order to defeat them from the rear while Santa Anna simultaneously attacked Goliad and Bexar. Benavides traveled to San Patricio and informed Robert C. Morris of the plot; Morris enclosed Benavides's warning in a letter dated February 6 to James Walker Fannin, who was then at Refugio planning to carry out the provisional government's campaign against Matamoros. Benavides's message caused Fannin instead to remove his headquarters to Goliad.

       Later in February Benavides, appointed by the General Council as a first lieutenant in the regular cavalry, was with Morris and Reuben R. Brown as part of Dr. James Grant's party of twenty-six men who were procuring horses near San Patricio for Grant's and Francis W. Johnson's own Matamoros expedition (see MATAMOROS EXPEDITION OF 1835–36). Grant's men were surprised by Mexican general José de Urrea's forces, and in the ensuing battle of Agua Dulce Creek, Grant dispatched Benavides to Goliad to warn Fannin of Urrea's advance.

       Though Benavides was an ardent foe of Santa Anna, like many colonists he remained loyal to Mexico and therefore could not support the move toward Texas independence that he found at Goliad. He returned to Guadalupe Victoria after carrying Grant's message to Fannin and attempted to isolate himself and his family on his ranch, only to find himself later rendering aid to Isaac D. Hamilton, quartermaster of Jack Shackelford's Red Rovers,qqv who had escaped the Goliad Massacre. Confronted by lancers of Urrea's army looking for stragglers, Benavides was compelled to surrender his severely wounded companion. Hamilton was later saved by Francita Álavez, the “Angel of Goliad,” and then escaped.

       After the battle of San Jacinto Benavides was ostracized with most other Mexican Texans for his supposed sympathy with Mexico and forced to flee with the De León family to New Orleans. He died in Opelousas, Louisiana, in 1837. His widow died five years later in Soto la Marina, Tamaulipas, where she had fled with her mother, Patricia De León. In 1838 Benavides's brothers returned to Victoria to claim what they could of their lands, which had been taken over by Anglo settlers. Plácido and Agustina Benavides had three daughters, Pilar and Martinita, who settled in Rio Grande City, and Librada, who married Patricio De León, grandson of the empresario, and settled in the Mission Valley area.

Joe Tom Davis, Legendary Texians (3 vols., Austin: Eakin Press, 1982–86). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). A. B. J. Hammett, The Empresario Don Martín de León (Waco: Texian Press, 1973).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.
Craig H. Roell, “BENAVIDES, PLACIDO,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbe46), accessed November 07, 2011.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.