The Federalist division was made up of a regiment of infantry under Colonel Luis Lopez and two cavalry units commanded by Colonel José María González and Antonio Zapata, respectively. The Mexicans numbered about nine hundred men, but the command was without artillery. Down in Mexico, the states of Durango, Chihuahua, and Coahuila were reported to be "scratching together ways and means to assist Tamaulipas to drive the Texians off the Nueces."
In preparation for the forward movement of the main Federalist army, Zapata advanced from his position on the Río Blanco below the Nueces, to which place he had retreated upon the defeat of the Federalists, toward Guerrero, the first point to be attacked. At Guerrero his unit of 150 men was to be met by Canales and a combined attack would then be launched against the place. When the main body left
Master Genl., Post Béxar, April 22, 1839, Office of the Adjutant General, Texas, in W. P. Webb Collection, Texas Rangers, ms.
65. Antonio Zapata, known among the Indians as "Sombrero de Manteca" because his hat usually shone with perspiration and oil from his hair mixed with the dust and dirt which settled upon it, was one of the ablest and bravest of the Mexican military leaders. Born in Guerrero of poor parents, he became a sheepherder in his early youth, and eventually a ranchero, specializing in sheep raising. He married an orphan girl, and one of his daughters in 1839 married Budd Edmondson, a Texan. Zapata's ranching operations proved very successful and he gradually accumulated a fortune in sheep and land. At one time it is said that he drove 90,000 head of sheep to Mexico City in one drive, from which he made a large profit and established himself as a merchant in Guerrero. At the beginning of the Texas revolution, he was considered one of the wealthiest men of northern Mexico, but during the war the Mexican armies ravaged his flocks, carried away his property, and caused the foreign merchants to close their trading houses in northern Mexico. Their liquidation hurt Zapata, who was unexpectedly called upon to pay debts which he owed these foreign businessmen. Since he was a man of great personal honor and integrity, this meant bankruptcy for him and his family. It is reported that he paid the foreign merchants $70,000. In politics, Zapata was a staunch republican, adhering to and vigorously supporting, even to death, the principles of the constitution of 1824, which, after 1834, for many years was seldom adhered to by the ruling authorities of Mexico. Virgil N. Lott and Mercurio Martinez, Kingdom of Zapata, p. 51; Huson, "Iron Men," p. 66-67.
66. "From Capt. Benj. Hill," in Lamar Papers, VI, 134-135; Telegraph and Texas Register, Oct. 30, 1839.
67. A. S. Wright to Barnard E. Bee, City of Mexico, Nov. 10, 1839; see also, Same to William Bryan, Mexico City, Nov. 22, 1839, in Garrison (ed.), Diplomatic Correspondence of Texas, 1908, II, 618-620, 497.