Ranchers occupying the 1804 Spanish land grant of Jose Herrera established this crossing of the Nueces and named the scattered settlement Santa Margarita. In 1828, John McMullen and James McGloin received a land grant from the Mexican government for an irish colony north of the river and founded the town of San Patricio.
This site soon became a major crossing on the Matamoros Road into Texas. To protect the crossing, the Mexican army, in 1831, established nearby Fort Lipantitlan, which was captured November 4, 1835, by insurgent Texans. On Feb. 27, 1836, Gen. Jose Urrea's Army defeated the Texan forces of James Grant and F. W. Johnson here before marching to Goliad. After Texas won independence, Gen. Vicente Filisola led the defeated Mexican troops back to Mexico along this road. After crossing the river here in summer of 1845, Gen. Zachary Taylor held his army in this region until March 1846, when he moved to the Rio Grande, the action which precipitated the U. S. War with Mexico (1846-48). During the civil war the old Matamoros Road, then called the "Cotton Road", served as a trade outlet for the confederacy. Texas products were transported via the Santa Margarita crossing to Mexico, circumventing the federal blockade of confederate ports.