Relic restored: Velasco battle flag to be unveiled at BHA event

March 29, 2019

Just in time for Texas History Month, a restored relic tied to an old Brownsville family will be unveiled this Saturday at “Taste of Texas,” an annual fundraiser put on by the Brownsville Historical Association at the Laureles Ranch House in Linear Park.

On June 25-26, 1832, the Battle of Velasco took place in the run-up to the Texas Revolution, pitting Texians (early Anglo settlers of Texas) against Mexican forces at Fort Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos River. Taking part in the battle that day was the schooner Brazoria, commanded by Capt. William Jarvis Russell, an ancestor of the Rentro family.

The silk battle flag that flew from the Brazoria somehow survived and was passed down from generation to generation. Nearly two years ago the family donated it BHA, which had the deteriorated relic restored by a textile-restoration specialist in New Orleans. A grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution, combined with a match from BHA, made the months-long restoration possible.

The restored flag will be on display inside the Laureles Ranch House during Taste of Texas, scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 30. BHA Executive Director Tara Putegnat said the permanent collection at the Brownsville Heritage Museum will be reorganized to make room for the important new exhibit. For the time being, the flag remains under lock and key in BHA’s Market Square vault.

In 1831, Mexico was suspicious that the United States was going to try to annex Texas, a Mexican province, and so erected Fort Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos in present-day Brazoria County. The Texas State Historical Association says the fort was meant as a customs port-of-entry after Mexico clamped down on American immigration to the province and put in an occupying force of Mexican soldiers.

In June 1832, Texian leaders John Austin and Henry Smith traveled to Brazoria to requisition cannons to use against Mexican forces at Anahuac in what is now Chambers County. The big guns were loaded aboard the Brazoria, which the Texians planned to sail down the Brazos to the Gulf of Mexico.

Fort Velasco’s commander, Domingo de Ugartechea, would not allow passage of the schooner, however, prompting the Texians to attack the fort just before midnight on July 25. The Brazoria transported about 40 men from Brazoria to the fort in preparation for the attack. De Ugartechea’s forces ran out of ammunition and surrendered.

Texas History Month takes place each March.

Velasco Battle Flag Unveiling

Brownsville Historical Association Taste of Texas fundraiser

Saturday, March 30, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets available at the door

$50 adults, $15 children 12 and under

Linear Park