Day by Day with the Armies to San Jacinto
 
History in Our Backyard:

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The Battle of San Jacinto

David Pomeroy
Harris County Historical Commission

The following series of forty-one “dispatches” are historically accurate.  Although fiction, since they were never actually written in this manner, they do reflect events during the retreat of the Texas Army from Gonzales until its final, victorious, confrontation with the Mexican Army on the plains at San Jacinto.  Alexander Horton was a real person, the secretary and aide-de-camp to General Sam Houston, commander of the Texas army.  It was his job to make copies of General Houston’s correspondence and orders.  The contents of these “dispatches” are based up those correspondence and orders and reflect the conditions, events and attitudes of the Texas Army during what was later called, “The San Jacinto Campaign.”  Other sources were consulted in order to augment the official correspondence.  The dispatches were written by author, historian and Harris County Historical Commission member, C. David Pomeroy, Jr. who attempted to capture the style of writing and the flavor of words in use during the period.

 


The fighting for freedom was over and the building of a new nation was just beginning. Although a prisoner-of-war and officially with no authority, Mexican General Santa Anna instructed second in command General Filisola to withdraw the 2,500 troops stationed on the Brazos River. Filisola did not have to honor the orders, but because of Santa Anna’s forceful reputation, he acquiesced. As was noted at the time, God smiled on Texas and caused such a rain that the retreating Mexican Army got stuck in the mud along the San Bernard River. By the time they dug their way out and crossed the Colorado River, they had lost the will to continue to fight.

For those that would like to read more about the events, see Stephen Moore’s 18 Minutes and then Gregg Dimmick’s Sea of Mud.

Congress woman Barbara Jordan was elegant in describing what is the meaning of San Jacinto. In the Principal Speech at the San Jacinto Commemorative Ceremony for the Texas Sesquicentennial on April 21, 1986 she said, "Freedom. That was what it was all about. Freedom. … The Battle of San Jacinto was not a battle against the Mexican people. Three signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence were Mexican Texans. The Texan Army was made up of many native-born Mexicans, some of whom were killed at the Alamo. Three Mexican states joined Texas in the revolt against the dictatorship of Santa Anna. And freedom . . . that was what it was all about. … We are revolutionaries, we Texans . . . we Americans, born of revolution. Born of a desire for the God-given right of the individual . . . be he brown, white, yellow . . . to live his own life as he chooses. Or, as she chooses. Here at San Jacinto, we won that right for Texas and eventually for Mexico by defeating a dictator. On this 150th Anniversary of that battle, let us publicly state our respect for the dignity of Mary and Maria . . . Juan and John . . . Richard and Ricardo . . . and for their inherent right to choose their own destiny . . . and to enjoy freedom . . . for that was what San Jacinto was all about . . . freedom!"

The consequences of that freedom changed world history. Because of the small 18 minute battle, eventually approximately a million square miles of land changed hands from Mexico to the United States. The results elevated that event, located in Harris County, just a few miles from here, and enshrined the Battle of San Jacinto as one of the most important battles in world history. The United States completed its westward expansion and became a bi-coastal nation. From that position it was able to build itself into a world power. That’s a Texas fact, not a Texas myth.

Over the course of the balance of this year we will address some of the stories, and mysteries, associated with the battle. What became of the Twin Sisters? Who was Emily Morgan, the so called "Yellow Rose of Texas?" Who was Wash Cottle and why was Jimmy Curtis so mad? How many times did the Texians almost lose the war? What was the first San Jacinto monument? How did the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park come to be? What is the second battle for the battlefield? Did U. S. President Andrew Jackson try to steal Texas from Mexico? Did the U. S. Army infiltrate the Texian Army? What music was played at the battle? Who were the youngest and why were they there? And the list of possibilities goes on….

Map of conceded territory 

 


Headquarters, Camp at San Jacinto, Friday, April 22, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

The troops combed the area for Mexican soldiers who had escaped the carnage and capture yesterday evening. Stragglers came in all day long. Many were lone soldiers who had been captured, then given a paper and told to report to the prisoner-of-war camp. Some were escorted in. As one group arrived the Mexican prisoners became excited and began yelling "General, General." James Sylvester of Colonel Sherman’s company from Kentucky had spied a Mexican walking east of Vince’s bridge and with the help of Messrs. Alfred H. Miles, Joseph Vermillion and Charles P. Thompson apprehended him. There was later some confusion as to who else was present. Joel W. Robison and Sion R. Bostick were possibly nearby. David Cole and Anderson Barclay would later also claimed to have been there. But Sylvester delivered the prisoner to the camp guard and left before the identity was revealed. Houston sent for Sylvester and acknowledged that it was he who captured Santa Anna.

Santa Anna was quickly taken to Sam Houston where he formally surrendered to the injured Houston. Translators were brought in and a somewhat cordial conversation ensured. The troops were urging Houston to let them string Santa Anna up for the atrocities he had committed but Houston obviously felt that Santa Anna was more important, and useful, as a prisoner than a corpse. A tent was set up nearby for Santa Anna with sufficient guards to prevent his escape, or harm coming to him.

The captured Mexican troops feared that they would be murdered but soon realized that was not to be. The wounded were treated. Blankets and a fire were provided. However, Santa Anna would not allow them to bury their dead brethren.

The day was also spent in collecting "the spoils of war." Colonel Forbes was to make an accounting and then Houston would determine a disposition. It is rumored that most of it would be auctioned off and the money distributed to the men. A portion was to be given to the Texas Navy since they were effective in preventing supplies from reaching the Mexican Army.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the rest of the Mexican Army: Don Miguel Aguirre, the captain of the Tampico Regiment that was acting as General Santa Anna’s guards arrived in Filisola’s camp on the Brazos River at Old Fort with the news of the total destruction of the Mexican army at San Jacinto. Aguirre was wounded in his escape. A few soldiers and domestics also arrived and confirmed the news. Filisola was unsure about marching to Santa Anna’s aid (if Santa Anna was still alive) and risk the death of all Mexican prisoners by the Texian’s hands. The alternative was to pull back to the Colorado River and request instructions from Mexico City. The Mexican Army was spread out over twelve leagues along the Brazos River from Old Fort to Brazoria where Urrea had arrived that morning. First, Filisola had to concentrate the army and then decide which course of action to take.

The Interim Government: Continued conducting business at Galveston. They were not aware of the battle and its positive outcome.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Along with the Mexican cannon, dubbed "The Golden Standard," the Twins were stationed at the prisoner-of-war camp in a threatening manner.

WD Capture of Santa Anna


Headquarters, Camp at San Jacinto, Thursday, April 21, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Our Commander slept unusually late this morning, well after the 6 a.m. sunrise. At about 10 a.m. Mexican General Cos arrived with 400 men. He had left 100 men at the difficult Sims Bayou crossing moving the baggage and ammunition across. The camp was all excited that the Mexicans now had fresh troops which might affect the outcome of the inevitable battle. Houston attempted to down play the event, saying that it was a rouse. Houston claimed that Santa Anna had sent a company out under cover and them marched them into camp with great fanfare to discourage the Texians.

Unbeknownst to the camp, Deaf Smith approached Houston for permission to destroy Vince’s bridge in order to impede any additional re-enforcements. Houston agreed and told him to return quickly. At noon Houston called the first Council of War for the campaign. Houston, Rusk and 8 officers discussed the options. A senior ranking officers were against attacking the Mexicans that day, but rather wait for the Mexicans to attack the Texian’s defendable position. The younger officers want to attack immediately. Houston made no decision and dismissed the meeting at 2 p.m.

Houston felt that a surprise attack in the afternoon might be victorious. It had been observed that Santa Anna had allowed Cos’ men to rest, had permitted the rest of the camp to take lunch and a siesta, had allowed the cavalry to unsaddle their horses to water and feed them and best of all, Santa Anna had failed to post sentries to watch the Texian camp. Houston could form up his army in a low impression in front of his camp without being seen by the Mexican Army. The army could march to within 200 yards of the Mexican breastworks without being spotted. The element of surprise was in his favor.

At 3 p.m. Houston announced that all companies should be assembled for battle. At 3:30 a line, two men deep, spread out 900 yards in the gulley in front of the camp. Houston visited with each company. At 4 p.m. he issued the order to "Trail Arms! Forward!" Sherman was in charge of the second brigade on the left flank. Burleson commanded the first brigade on Sherman’s right. In the center the Twin Sisters advanced with protection provided by Millard’s Regular troops. On the right flank newly promoted Lamar lead the cavalry.

At 4:30 p.m. Sherman’s men invaded the camp of General Cos’ resting troops. Panic quickly developed among the Mexican soldiers and they rushed behind the breastworks for protection. That flood of soldiers disrupted the orderly assembly of the main body of the Mexican Army. About that moment the rest of the Texian Army crested the ridge and began firing randomly which shouting "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad." To the professional Mexican soldiers it appeared as if they were being attacked by savages. The Twin Sisters began pumping canister shot into the midst of the Mexican camp. The Mexican cannon got off three shots before its crew was killed. Santa Anna emerged from his tent to witness chaos and confusion. He quickly realized the battle was lost and mounted a nearby horse to escape. He knew Filisola had approximately 2,500 troops near Old Fort and Santa Anna took the road back to Filisola by way of Harrisburg. His cavalry followed. Without effective leaders the Mexican infantry broke and ran. The Texians crossed the Mexican breastworks in about 18 minutes as the leaderless infantry scattered.

Although Houston called for his men to stop, the battle had been won, he was generally ignored as the Texian volunteers sought to extract revenge for their fallen comrades at the Alamo and at Goliad. By sunset about 6 p.m. some 600 Mexicans died. Those that surrendered were guarded by officers. Meanwhile Santa Anna’s escape was impeded by the destruction of Vince’s Bridge. Most of the Mexican cavalry had been shot en route to Vince’s and Santa Anna and three others went into hiding among bushes at dusk.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the rest of the Mexican Army: Filisola and the main Mexican Army camped at Thompson’s Ferry with 1,408 men. Urrea with 1,165 men left Mrs. Powell’s home at 4 a.m. and arrived at Columbia at 4 p.m., which was deserted. He then marched to its port (La Puerta) two miles distance.

The Interim Government: Continued conducting business at Galveston. No word has been received about Houston since the 18th.

Route of the Twin Sisters: The injured artillery commander Neill was replaced by Inspector General Lt. Col. George Washington Hockley. The Twins were towed by rawhide ropes by the cannon crew to the rise that separated the two armies. On the command, the Twins opened fire. They were used "with terrible affect" on the Mexican Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies

 


Headquarters, Camp at San Jacinto, Wednesday, April 20, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Scarcely were the fires set last night when the call to march was received. We marched into the rising sun and reached Lynch’s ferry to learn that the enemy had not crossed. We withdrew to a high wooded ridge about a half-mile back and set up camp. Our scouts encountered a contingency of lancers and banished them in gallant style. It was learned that Generalissimo Santa Anna has put New Washington to the torch and is headed in our direction.

Contact has been made with the villainous enemy that struck down our brothers at the Alamo and at Goliad. The main body of our army was concealed in the timber along Buffalo bayou so as to deny Santa Anna the knowledge of our true strength. Col. James Neill commanded our two cannons and from a forward position exchanged fire with the lone Mexican cannon of superior caliber. Col. Neill was wounded and the Mexican piece was damaged and one of her artillerymen wounded. Col. Sherman advanced with the cavalry in an attempt to capture the disabled Mexican cannon, but was driven back by Mexican Dragoons. Private Mirabeau Lamar made a valiant defense, which spared the life of our beloved Secretary of War, Thomas Rusk. General Houston honored Lamar by elevating him to commander of the cavalry. Since both Houston and Santa Anna declined to present their full armies to the engagement, the skirmish ended and the Mexican army withdrew to establish its camp.

The demand for vengeance and the small victorious moments today has elevated the spirits of the men. It will be hard to keep them calm tonight as surely a decisive battle will be waged tomorrow.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Capt. Barragan brought the news to Santa Anna at 8 a.m. that Houston was in the area. The Mexican army was preparing to march and had torched the warehouse on the wharf & all houses. Santa Anna was surprised at the news about Houston and recklessly rushed to the head of the column, running over troops and pack animals. At 2 p.m. the Mexican Army came in sight of the Texian camp. The Texians were camped in a wooded area with only the two small cannon visible. The initial confrontation began as an artillery duel. Mexican skirmishers tried to engage the Texian troops but were unsuccessful. Realizing that there would not be a battle that day Santa Anna set up camp in what was determined to be an unsuitable location. Col. Delgado was left in charge of the cannon but his pack animals were confiscated to bring up the troops gear. The Texian cavalry attempted to capture the exposed cannon but the Mexican dragoons drove them off. About 5 p.m. the cannonade and the cavalry duel ended and the armies retired for the evening. Filisola and most of the other generals in the field were at Old Fort. Urrea marched from the San Bernard to the home of Mrs. Powell and camped there.

The Interim Government: The government continued its business at Galveston on board the Cayuga.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Traveling with the Texian Army. First time used in combat. Spent the afternoon dueling with the Mexican cannon. Texian artillery commander Lt. Col. Neill was wounded by grape shot and was removed to the makeshift hospital across Buffalo Bayou at the home of Vice President Lorenzo de Zavala. Ironically the Mexican artillery commander Captain Urriza was severely wounded and his horse killed. Both armies lost the service of their artillery commanders on the same day.

View a map showing the location of the armies


Headquarters, Camp south of Buffalo bayou, Tuesday, April 19, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

This morning the army began crossing Buffalo bayou about a half mile below the remaining rear guard camp. An old ferryboat was repaired using the flooring from a nearby cabin that was owned by Isaac Batterson. It’s main use was to transport the cannons across, weapons and ammunition, and what men that did not swim or ride their horses across. The landing on the opposite shore was a few paces below the mouth of Sims’ bayou. The crossing took the greater part of the daylight and the army was on the move by dusk. Near the bridge over Vince’s bayou Santa Anna had camped a few days earlier and his extinct campfires were in evidence. The march continued along the very wet, muddy plain, following the tracks of the enemy, for another couple of miles. The army was allowed to rest at a small ravine in the open prairie. While it was not a camp in the conventional sense of the word, some of the men took the opportunity to set fires and cook what game and cattle could be conveniently had nearby. Others cleaned their weapons while I composed this report. Few slept.

Ahead of us is the despotic serpent of Mexico. Behind us is the balance of his merciless army. There is no turning back from this course of action. Blood will flow. Our just cause, and a passion for vengeance, will give us the strength to strike this blow for freedom. All will be gained, or lost, soon.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna still at New Washington. He sent Capt. M. Barragan with some dragoons to check out the Lynchburg Crossing. Meanwhile supplies were being loaded onto a boat to float to Lynch’s in anticipation of the Mexican Army crossing at that point. Colonel Almonte went to repair a boat at the house of Mr. Routh. Filisola was moving troops over at Old Fort to the east side of the Brazos River. Gaona arrived at Old Fort. Urrea camped on the San Bernard in anticipation of crossing and moving on Brazoria.

The Interim Government: The Interim Government is located at Galveston. Word was received that Houston had arrived at Harrisburg with the Texian Army in pursuit of Santa Anna. The business of the republic was conducted on the Cayuga, the temporary capitol. The Cayuga was an eighty-eight-ton side-wheeler, 96'11" long, 17'4" wide, and 5'4" deep. She had one deck, two boilers, a high-compression engine, a cabin on deck, a plain head, and a pointed stern.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Traveling with the Texian Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies 


Headquarters, Camp opposite Harrisburg, Monday, April 18, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

We arrived opposite Harrisburg about noon and witnessed the smoking ruins of the city. The army established camp down river about 800 yards. Deaf Smith with Henry Karnes crossed over the river, called Buffalo bayou, and set out to spy on the enemy. They returned jubilantly with captured couriers and a report confirming the location of Santa Anna at New Washington. This is less than a day’s march from this spot. With only 500 men, Santa Anna is in a most vulnerable position. General Houston, with the council of Secretary War Rusk, is busy at work on a plan of action.

Although General Houston and Secretary Rusk put out a General Appeal to the people of Texas to rally to the cause, it is too late to wait for additional supplies and volunteers. Victory goes to the swift. The camp has been put on alert that we cross the Buffalo tomorrow and will march to our destiny.

The army has moved quickly to this point and many men are sick and infirm. Without proper transport, the crossing of the bayou will be difficult. The army can not be burdened with supply wagons during this final assault, but must arrange to carry the cannons across. A rear guard camp will be established with sufficient effective men to protect the infirm and baggage. Those men selected to move forward were instructed to travel light and prepare rations to carry. The night was passed in anticipation.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna arrived at New Washington/Morgan’s Point about noon. General Woll arrived at Old Fort. Gaona has no doubt reached San Felipe and is marching on through to get to Old Fort with the rest of the Mexican Army. Urrea in the woods along the San Bernard.

The Interim Government: There being no accommodations on Galveston Island for the cabinet members and their wives and families, they stayed on boat the ship.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Travelling with the Texian Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies

 


Headquarters, Camp at the head of a little bayou, Sunday, April 17, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

We continued to march along the muddy road to Harrisburg, resting for the night at the head of a little bayou about six miles from Harrisburg. The days are now rather hot and quite uncomfortable with all of the water around. We are close to a forced march, as we believe that we are on an intercept course with the enemy.

As of this writing I have no confirmation of a report given by a civilian that Santa Anna himself has taken a small force and has rushed to Harrisburg to catch the new Texian government. The government had moved there from Washington, but had then departed for Galveston by way of Morgan’s point before Santa Anna‘s arrival. In an effort to catch the government, the Mexican army then proceeded to New Washington on Col. Morgan‘s point on Galveston Bay. The main body of the Mexican army is still on the Brazos at Thompson’s ferry. This is perhaps the opportunity we have been looking for, to confront the enemy while vulnerable with a decisive battle. The spirit of the men has risen to a higher pitch than I have witnessed on this whole campaign.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: After putting the town to the torch, Santa Anna left Harrisburg at 3 p.m. for New Washington. After a difficult crossing over Sims Bayou the army encountered Vince’s Bridge over Vince’s Bayou. The bridge was too shaky to handle the Mexican cannon so second in command Castrillion and a company of infantry were sent with the cannon around the headwater of Vince's. A terrific rainfall that evening so Santa Anna camped in or near William Vince’s cabin. Still no word from Gaona but should be approaching San Felipe. Urrea camped on the outskirts of the woods on the San Bernard river.

The Interim Government: President Burnet boards the Flash and is taken, with the rest of the cabinet, to Galveston where they will remain for the duration of the war..

Route of the Twin Sisters: Travelling with the Texian Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies

 


Headquarters, Burnett‘s Place on Cypress Creek, Saturday, April 16, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Praise the Lord, we are moving against the enemy. May the justice of our mission be realized against the tyrant of the land.

Due to an early morning rain, our march today did not begin until 10 a.m. It was three miles to Abram Roberts’ place near New Kentucky on Spring Creek and we stopped briefly. Mr. Roberts has served in the army and has been a staunch supporter of the cause. No one is sure if the General ordered the men to take the right fork which leads to Harrisburg and certain confrontation with the enemy, or if the head of the column simply turned on its own when Mr. Roberts pointed the way. The civilians traveling with the army did not follow, but continued on the left fork of the road to Liberty on the Trinity River. There was an incident involving Mrs. Mann. At Groce's’ she lent her oxen teams to pull the two cannons. She caught up with the army several miles after the turn and demanded her oxen back since she had understood that the army was going to Liberty and the eastern border. General Houston protested, but to no avail. She was quite forward in taking possession of her oxen and Wagon Master Capt. Rohrer took up the army protest. He sadly underestimated the conviction and determination of that woman. I am afraid that it has so broke his spirit that his effectiveness has been greatly weakened. Anyway, the day’s trip was on a level, boggy prairie that frequently gave way to wagon wheels. Even the General would assist in pushing the wagons out of the damnable mud. We arrived at dark at Burnett’s and fatigue kept the camp quite all night.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: After an all night march, the Mexican foot soldiers with Santa Anna’s company straggled into Harrisburg all day long. Almonte with 50 mounted men leave Harrisburg at 5 p.m. to go to Lynch’s Ferry and New Washington/Morgan's Point looking for government stragglers. About this time Santa Anna sent dispatch to Filisola to send Gen. Cos with 500 "chosen" infantry. Gaona should be approaching San Felipe. Urrea marching from Matagorda to the San Bernard River.

The Interim Government: Steamer Cayugo left Lynchburg early in the morning with the Provisional Government, bound for Galveston. Government transferred to the armed privateer Flash at Morgan's Point. President Burnet got off and spent the night at Morgan's Point. The Flash moved offshore about 2 miles in the direction of Red Fish Bar and spent the night.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Travelling with the Texian Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies


Headquarters, McCarley‘s Home, Friday, April 15, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Baker and Martin have arrived back at camp with their commands. Martin is particularly outspoken in his criticism of General Houston’s command. Martin’s impatience to fight and his frustration at having failed to prevent the enemy from crossing the Brazos has tested the friendship bond that once linked him with Houston. The General took the diplomatic approach by relieving Martin of command and "reassigning" him to organize the swelling band of civilian refuges following the army. Martin’s company continues with the army.

This morning we left Donoho’s by way of the middle road. The upper road, or left fork, leads to Robbin’s Ferry on the Trinity River and then to Nacogdoches and Louisiana. The middle road leads to the Spring Creek settlement of New Kentucky and then on to Liberty on the Trinity. The lower road, or right fork, leads back to San Felipe on the Brazos. Colonel Sherman was in the lead with the Second Regiment. The march today was approximately eighteen miles on a nearly impassable muddy road. Although better disciplined and equipped now, the army is a pitiful sight to behold attempting to maintain its composure as it struggles its way through the mud. Upon arrival at McCarley’s place any consumable livestock and crops were requisitioned and again, rail fences and post were used as firewood. The army how contains about 1,100 men.

The camp is in great turmoil tonight as we grow closer to another decision point of turning south. The next fork would take us towards Harrisburg. Will we engage the enemy or continue our eastward fallback to the Trinity river? The General continues his silence and private company. The whole matter is quite taxing.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna reached William Stafford's plantation by noon and feasted until mid-afternoon. They burned to plantation and force marched on to Harrisburg. The vanguard reached HB just before midnight. Captured three printers and learned that Burnet and his cabinet had left just a few hours earlier. Also learns that Sam Houston is still at Groces , with less than 800 men and two 4# cannons. Gen. Filisola arrives at San Felipe in the morning and then headed south along the Old Fort road to link up with Sesma & Santa Anna.

Gen. Filisola arrives at Old Fort to learn that Santa Anna has left for Harrisburg. Gen. Sesma still at Old Fort. Gaona has not arrived at San Felipe yet. Urrea left Matagorda, leaving 230 infantry and a 12 pound cannon to defend the place. Heading to Columbia on the Brazos River.

The Interim Government: Having now been warned that Santa Anna was marching towards Harrisburg, the Provisional Government left Harrisburg at noon by boat for Galveston. That night the Cayuga stopped at Lynch’s with President Burnet, Hardiman, Thomas & all inhabitants of Harrisburg. The Cayuga was towing the Schooner William and four open boats filled with evacuees. The Cayuga spent the night. Zavala stopped at his house nearby.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Travelling with the Texian Army.

View a map showing the location of the armies


 

Headquarters, Donoho‘s Plantation, Thursday, April 14, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

We had a short march today to this place. General Houston has recalled all of the army units to assemble at this point. Major Wiley Martin has communicated that he had inadequate forces to prevent the enemy from crossing the lower Brazos river, but that he gave a fine account of the forces at his command in numerous engagements. He is presently in route to this place, escorting some retiring families. He has about 46 men under his command.

Mr. Donoho is not sympathetic to our cause, and therefore the men take every advantage they can of this man. Although he forbade them to cut timber for fires, the men are in the process of burning all of Donoho’s fence rails. Being dry, they make better firewood anyway. And to make matters worse, a party is planned for this evening in Donoho’s house. I suspect he will not put in an appearance as his health might become endangered.

As to the direction of the march, and the plans for engagement, General Houston continues to be very quiet. I assume he fears enemy spies. He is waiting for the arrival of Baker and Martin’s commands to strengthen our numbers. In the meanwhile he has sent our more spies to properly assess the present strength and location of the enemy since much has happened recently. I am pleased that he has Rusk to consult with, as he takes no council from any others.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna left Old Fort crossing in the afternoon for Harrisburg without waiting for Gen. Filisola to arrive with the rest of the troops. Santa Anna takes 700 infantry, 50 cavalry and a six-pound cannon. Gen. Filisola and Gen. Woll depart the Atascosito crossing of the Colorado in transit to San Felipe. Gen. Gaona’s exact position is unknown but is in transit to San Felipe. Gen. Urrea is at Matagorda.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg. Aware that Santa Anna had crossed the Brazos River and was thus nearby.

Route of the Twin Sisters: From here on the Twin Sisters travelled with the Texian Army on their route to San Jacinto.

View a map showing the location of the armies


 

Headquarters, Camp at Groce‘s Plantation, Wednesday, April 13, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

The army has completed its move across the Brazos at 1 p.m. this afternoon and is preparing to march. General Houston holds few in his confidence at this time. The two six pound field pieces have arrived and have been assembled. Though few and small in size, I am sure that we can make them effective weapons for our cause.

The General continues to fight rumors and makes a call for all freedom loving citizens to fight. Another open call was sent out this morning. Even Rusk issued a call for volunteers and to avenge the deaths of our murdered countrymen. It is estimated that the enemy does not exceed nine hundred men in this region and none are as far as the Trinity, as previously claimed. The General has likewise sent a dispatch to his friend Chief Bowles of the Cherokees in the Redlands urging them to remain neutral in the conflict. Word has been received that the Coushatta are assisting members of the runaway scrape as they travel through that region.

A letter from the Acting Secretary of War was received today with unfavorable remarks about the conduct of this campaign. General Houston exercised great control in responding to those that would criticize without the knowledge of the true circumstances. The spectators would demand certainty and miracles, yet retain their distance from the realities of the situation. One would wonder who was the worse enemy, the invading army or the critical politicians?

General Houston has directed our scattered forces to assemble at the house of a settler named Donoho. It is apparent that we will be traveling east, to what objective is unknown.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Gen. Sesma joined Santa Anna at Old Fort from San Felipe. Sesma arrived. SA learns that the Texan government is at Harrisburg. Changes his plans to attack Houston at Groces and instead to capture the government. Gen. Filisola finishes crossing the Colorado at Atascosito. Still not word from Gaona. Urrea took possession of Matagorda at 10 a.m.. Town was abandoned but the warehouses full of material.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Twin sisters arrive at Groce’s and are turned over to Lt. Col. James Neill. A company of nine men were assigned to each cannon. The guns were unpacked and assembled. Additional shot was prepared. The crews began drilling on firing and reloading the guns.

View a map showing the location of the armies


 

Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Tuesday, April 12, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

The order has been issued by General Houston that we are to cross over the Brazos to the east bank. The steamboat Yellow Stone and a small yawl have been impressed into service for that purpose. The first division of the first regiment under Col. Burleson will remain as the rear Guard until further orders are issued. The removal started at 10 a.m. this morning and will probably take a couple of days to effect.

Volunteers continue to arrive. Peter Bell arrived yesterday on his 26th birthday, having walked up from Brazoria. Today, a Georgian by the name of Mirabeau B. Lamar arrived from Harrisburg. He reports that the provision government is still in that place. Lamar likewise reported that Capt. Smith had left Harrisburg on the 9th with two small iron cannons, assumed to be the six pounders previously landed at Velasco. They were being transported by horses and due to the condition of the roads, Lamar passed the convoy on his way here. The field pieces should arrive tomorrow, if not later today. The spirit of the Artillery corp. is high.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Mexican cannonade at San Felipe stops when Sesma receives orders to march to Thompson’s crossing at Old Fort to join Santa Anna. Filisola is still moving the baggage train across the Colorado River. No communications as to where Gaona is located. Urrea leaves Tres Palacios Creek and heads toward Matagorda. Traveled five leagues from Cayce’s to the left bank of the Colorado River.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Twin Sisters are in transit to Texian Army at Groce’s. Difficult trail due to weather, water soaked prairie and not well travelled.

View a map showing the location of the armies


Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Monday, April 11, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Word has been received that the enemy has crossed the Brazos at Thompson’s ferry. Capt. Martin has withdrawn his men and they are moving northward in order not to be trapped by the Mexican army. The General has consulted with Capt. Joseph Ross, the commander of the Yellow Stone and has determined that upwards to 500 men can be transported down stream safely due to the protection provided by the cotton bales on board the steam boat. This would allow the army to surprise the Mexican army in the south. Another option is to transport the equipment and men over to the east bank and march to a favorable battlefield to confront the enemy. There are some rumors in camp that Houston might chose to head straight to the United States border in the hopes of forcing U. S. General Gaines to bring his trained troops to the aid of the Texian army.

The sense of the camp is that a major action is building and it is hoped that General Houston will respond directly to the challenge. There has been much dissatisfaction among the troops, the men want action and do not fully appreciate the General’s insistence on drill, discipline and patience. It is whispered that several officers have offered themselves up as replacement for Houston if he does not act.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna found a crossing of the Brazos at Old Fort. It is called the lower or Thompson’s crossing. General Almonte spoke good English and convinced the ferryman on the opposite bank to come over to pick up some runaway scrape settlers. Having secured a crossing, Santa Anna sent orders that date to Sesma & Filisola to join him there. Sesma ceases the cannonade and leaves San Felipe. Filisola and Gaona have yet to arrive there. Filisola is crossing the Colorado River at the Atascosito crossing with the help of General Woll. It will take him several days. Urrea finally finishes crossing his army across Colorado River at Cayce’s crossing, which took five days.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Twin Sisters are in transit to Texian Army at Groce’s. Difficult trail due to weather, water soaked prairie and not well travelled.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Sunday, April 10, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Houston received a dispatch from Captains Baker, Kimbro, Wallace and Sutherlands stating that their position opposite San Felipe is quickly becoming indefensible. The enemy’s cannon has compromised the position. Thus far there has only been one casualty. The enemy is actively building barges in preparation of an assault upon the position and the Captains request permission to fall back. Houston has not responded as of yet to the request.

It is becoming apparent that we must begin to act. A sizable Mexican force withdrew from San Felipe a few days back and was seen marching south. Obviously they are looking for a lower crossing on the Brazos. The situation with Capt. Wiley Martin and his defense of the Scroggins, Thompson and Old Fort crossings is not known. Martin was expecting to be reinforced by volunteers up from Velasco and Brazoria, but there is no confirmation of such reinforcement and that he will be able to hold those lower crossings. The Mexican General Urrea is known to be along the coast and might cross the Brazos further south at Velasco or possibly Brazoria and surprise Martin from the rear. Until General Houston decides what to do next, we can only drill and prepare ourselves for battle.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna traveling south along the west bank of the Brazos River trying to find a crossing. He stops briefly at Madam Powell’s place. Sesma and Tolsa continue to cannonade the Texians. Gen. Filisola arrived at the Atascosito crossing of the Colorado with the baggage & equipment. Gaona’s position still unknown. Urrea continuing his crossing of the Colorado River.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Twin Sisters are in transit to Texian Army at Groce’s. Difficult trail due to weather, water soaked prairie and not well travelled.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Saturday, April 9, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Forty-five men have been sent to reinforce Captain Baker opposite San Felipe. This will bring his force to at least one hundred and fifty men. They hold a superior position and should be able to hold the Brazos crossing at that point despite bombardment from the two Mexican cannons. It has been learned that Private John Bricker of Baker’s command was struck down yesterday by a musket ball to the head. He is the first person to die in combat in our present campaign.

Private James Wells, one of our spies, reports that based upon the size of the Mexican encampment at San Felipe, their strength would be numbered between six and seven hundred men. No doubt they have sent out riders looking for other favorable Brazos river crossings. The rain-swollen river offers few fording opportunities for the time being. However, the rain has ceased and the river should begin to fall soon.

The army has now been reorganized into two regiments. Col. Edward Burleson has been appointed commander of the First Regimental Volunteers and Col. Sidney Sherman of the Second Regiment. The camp is healthy.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna decides to take 500 grenadiers and riflemen & 50 mounted men and search from crossings furthers down (south) river. Sesma and Tolsa are still cannonading the Texian defenders but to no results. Filisola arrives at the edge of the timber on the Colorado. Woll still waiting at the Atascosito crossing of the Colorado for Filisola’s arrival. Gaona claims to be lost in the desert between Bastrop and San Felipe but is probably spending his time looting all of the farms he can find. Urrea is still crossing the Colorado at Cayce’s.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: The Twin Sisters are off loaded from the sloop to ox-carts for transport to the Texian camp. Major Leander Smith had acquired horses to haul the ox-carts and left Harrisburg for Groce’s along with Capt. Allen and Capt Alfred Wyly.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Friday, April 8, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Word has been received from Captain John M. Allen that he is on march to our camp with 100 men and possibly two cannons received at Velasco from the good citizens of Cincinnati. The men in camp joyously welcome this news that field pieces are in transit. General Houston has instructed Allen to confiscate the property of those who refuse to join us and to regard those individuals as deserters from our cause.

Shots have been heard from San Felipe and the men grow restless to know the nature of the engagement and whether the Mexican army will march north to our position. General Houston put the army on notice to be in "readiness for action at a moment’s warning." He has put the men on alert in order to discipline but he feels that our camp in the bottoms is secure from any immediate attack. Any approaching army would be slow moving in the terrain and would make enough noise breaking through the cane and timber so as to alert us in amply time to prepare for any encounter.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: The cannonade and sniper fire has not dislodged Baker’s company of Texians. Meanwhile barges are being built so the army can pass once it is cleared. The river is scouted north and south for an alternate crossing but none is found nearby. Santa Anna getting impatient as he wants to end the campaign before the spring rains. Sesma commands the First Brigade and Tolsa commands the Second Brigade. Gaona commands the Third Brigade and has been ordered to march to San Felipe. However, his location and arrival is unknown. Filisola travels to the Navidad River on his way to the Colordao. Urrea is still crossing the Colorado at Cayce’s.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Sloop Ohio arrived at Harrisburg in the evening.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Thursday, April 7, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

It is now known that the advance of the enemy, only 30 in number, arrived at San Felipe yesterday. One of our sentries was captured and the enemy knows our position, as well as the strength of our forces lead by Captain Baker on the east side of the Brazos. General Houston has issued the statement "The moment for which we have waited with anxiety and interest, is fast approaching. The victims of the Alamo, and the names of those who were murdered at Goliad, call for cool, deliberate vengeance. Strict discipline, order and subordination will insure us the victory."

Regimental Quarter Master E. Winfield has been sent to Washington to procure blankets, domestic for summer clothing and tents. Aide-de-camp Major James Collinsworth has been ordered to take command of the men at Washington, just north of our position, and James R. M. Williamson has been reprimanded for killing two Mexicans instead of sending them to us for interrogation. One can never know the source of valuable information.

With Rusk in camp and the ongoing organization of the men as volunteers arrive, the spirits of the men continue. Although we have not rebuilt to the strength we enjoyed at the Colorado river, our numbers are increasing daily.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna, Sesma & Tolsa arrive at San Felipe and find the town in ashes. Texian Mosley Baker’s company is protecting the crossing of the Brazos River. A cannonade is set up to try to dislodge the Texians. Filisola completed the crossing of the Guadalupe River at Gonzales and begins marching towards the Atascosito crossing of Colorado River where Woll is waiting with barges to transport the camp equipment. Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea stated crossing his army across the Colorado. Because the river had expanded due to the heavy spring rains it will take him five days to complete the crossing..

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Sloop Ohio traveling from New Washington to Harrisburg with the Twin Sisters on board.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Wednesday, April 6, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Dispatches from Acting Secretary of War David Thomas have been received stating that the supplies are on their way. Captain Jacob Eberly has been authorized to raise a company of 56 men. Sergeant Foard should arrive shortly with 25 men raised by Merriweather W. Smith in Alabama. Smith is too sick to bring them himself even though he is presently located at Fort Bend.

General Houston has written Capt. Baker about rumors that Baker allowed for waste and destruction in San Felipe. Baker is supposed to have put the town to the torch, on Houston’s orders. Houston said he did not order it and that Baker might have misunderstood his order. This confusion has created a rift between the two men.

Another deserter from the enemy has been brought into camp and confirms the previous reports about the miserable conditions of the enemy army and the lack of adequate provisioning. Our spies continue to be active in reporting the location and deplorable condition of the enemy’s camps.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: San Anna with Sesma heading toward the San Bernard River on the way to San Felipe. Leaves General Woll at Atascosito with a battalion and a cavalry picket in charge to build a barge so that the artillery can cross the river as well as the 12 transport wagons, baggage and other equipment that Gen. Filisola was bringing up from the Guadalupe at Gonzales. Advance troops under Gen. Castrillon and Col. Trevino captured an American sentry. Learned that a detachment of 60 men were on the opposite side of the Brazos River. Also that Sam Houston was north at Groce's on the west side of the Brazos with 800 men after 400 recently deserted. The river was running high and frequently flooded due to the frequent spring showers. Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea occupied Cayce’s Crossing of the Colorado River and explored the area.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: The Flash arrived at New Washington with the Secretary of Navy and the Twin Sisters on board before noon. The Twin Sisters were moved from the Schooner Flash to the steamboat Ohio under the command of Capt. Lt. Aaron Burns.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Tuesday, April 5, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Col. Rusk, the Secretary of War, arrived in camp last night. His support is greatly appreciated by the General. I am sure that his presence will encourage the men in our cause.

General Houston has dispatched Captains Kimbrough and Bryant to Captain Mosley Baker’s camp opposite San Felipe on the Brazos to assist him in his defense of that position. He has also instructed Baker to protect the remaining stores at San Felipe.

Major Ira Ingram has been dispatched to the east to raise men and forward troops for the service of the Army of Texas. Houston plans to concentrate his forces at this place and feels that the enemy currently offers no threat due to their high losses at the Alamo and in combat with Fannin before his surrender.

Suspicious persons are being detained in order to stem the flow of information to the enemy. Although men are regularly leaving camp, it is their intention of putting in this season’s corn crop with the hostilities now at a lull and that they will return once their mission is accomplished.

There is little more to report as the daily routine of drills continues, so I will retire early and hope for good news tomorrow.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna reaches the Atoscosita Crossing on Colorado, 4 miles below Beeson’s. He joins up with Sesma and Tolsa with their force of 1,400 men and heads towards San Felipe. Filisola still trying to get the camp gear across the Guadalupe. Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea joined Alcerrica at Tres Palacios Creek and spent the night.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: At Galveston the Twins were placed on the schooner Flash under the command of Captain Luke Falval and were sent immediately to New Washington.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Monday, April 4, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

The firing squad for John P. Garner was formed, his grave was dug and the prisoner placed at one end for the completion of his sentence from April 1st. At that moment, General Houston granted him mercy with a reprieve. Houston proclaimed that he would rather spare the lives of all that would be useful to the Country, but any future crimes of mutiny and desertion will be dealt with according to the Law. What an experience, and one that will undoubtedly insure better discipline among the men.

The General feels secure with this place, as the bottoms nearby will soon overflow with the rain we have experienced. If the weather continues we may have to move again, either out beyond the timer, or to cross the Brazos for higher ground. He is most concerned that the horses be protected from the enemy, as they are our only burden for travel. He expects the Mexican army to possibly move south to visit Matagorda and then Velasco and has therefore instructed his agents and the government to land provisions at Galveston and to bring them overland to this camp. If we cross over the Brazos, which we can do only with the aid of the steamboat Yellowstone, we will drop down opposite Fort Bend. With the state of the river and that to come due to the continued rains, the enemy will not be able to cross for at least a month. As for the moment, Capt. Kimbro has been ordered to join Capt. Baker opposite San Felipe and keep that crossing secure.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna in transit between the Guadalupe to the Colorado to join Sesma and Tolsa. Sesma & Tolsa completed the crossing of the Colorado River and was waiting for Santa Anna’s arrival before pushing on the San Felipe de Austin. Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea at La Navidad River but sends Alcerrica on towards Tres Palacios Creek as he moves up along the coast.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still dealing with matters of the new Republic at Harrisburg.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Capt. J. M. Allen had left Brazoria and the Twin Sisters and was marching back to the Texian Army by way of Harrisburg. Before his arrival he met Major Leander Smith who was traveling from Houston’s camp to Brazoria to get the Twins. Allen told him that Quartermaster-General Huston had taken control of the guns and were sending them to Galveston. When Allen arrived later at Harrisburg he told Secretary David Thomas (acting Secretary of War in Thomas Rusk’s absence) that the guns were being sent to Galveston. Thomas sent the Steamboat Ohio to go get the guns in Galveston and bring them back to Harrisburg.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Sunday, April 3, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Houston sent his papers today to S. P. Carson at Harrisburg with his servant, Willis. In this way the General has relieved himself of two worries, that of packing around his papers and the dealing with Willis, who does him no good in this situation.

The young Mr. Zavala has arrived and informed us that Secretary Rusk will join the camp shortly. His arrival will lift the spirits of the men. Eighty Redlanders have arrived on the opposite bank of the Brazos and will join us as transportation allows. The arrival of others is daily expected. The army is being reorganized to include the new volunteers and each man will be assigned to some Company.

Tonight an express arrived with unpleasant news. As reported earlier, Col. Fannin and his command were forced to surrender to a superior Mexican force. Fannin negotiated an agreement that they would be treated as prisoners of war and in eight days would be sent to New Orleans on parole. General Austin had accepted General Cos and the Mexican surrender at Bexar back in late December under similar terms. The godless tyrant General Santa Anna revoked the surrender agreement and in a surprise move, killed all of the prisoners, including Fannin. Our initial disbelief was quickly followed with a fury of anger not often seen in civilized men.

Now is the time for our friends to step forward and to avenge the wrongs, which have been inflicted on our honorable comrades. General Houston proclaims that the day of just retribution ought not to be deferred.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna departs Gonzales with his staff and a picket of cavalry for the Colorado River to join Sesma. Left Gen. Filisola in charge on the crossing of the Guadalupe. Sesma still crossing the Colorado. Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea marched the rest of the infantry to the La Navidad to join Alcerrica.

The Interim Government:  Easter Sunday.  Weather very pleasant. Houston has sent a suspected spy and he was examined by the Cabinet and they have decided to send him to Col. Morgan’s for safekeeping. Word received from Houston’s army that it is about 1,500 strong and that the enemy is still crossing the Colorado and not at the Brazos as has been rumored. A report was received about Fannin’s capture. He was said to have fought until only 30 men were left and they were sent Goliad where they were shot.

Route of the Twin Sisters: The Twin Sisters arrive at Galveston on board the schooner Pennsylvania. Col. Edward Harcourt, appointed by Houston at the Army’s Chief Engineer had been sent by Houston to Velasco to build some breastworks. However, Secretary of the Navy Robert Potter ordered Harcourt to Galveston to supervise the work there. Harcourt spotted the Twin Sisters on board the Pennsylvania, sent a letter to Houston and began working on getting the Twin Sisters to the Texian Army.  

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Saturday, April 2, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

A deserter from the enemy entered our camp last night and has reported that there is great dissatisfaction in the enemy camp due to their great want of the necessities of life. With the current estimated strength, the condition of their animals, the dissatisfaction of the individual soldiers, the burden of civilians traveling with the company, and the damnable weather and resulting impassible roads, we do not fear an immediate engagement. Time is on our side. Volunteers are in movement to our place and supplies should begin to arrive.

Dr. James Phelps has been assigned to the commissary department of the field hospital and has taken it upon himself to address Sec. Rusk concerning the destitute condition of supplies, especially for the sick. He threatens to close the hospital if supplies are not immediately forthcoming. With measles in camp, that would cause more injury than the enemy can inflict at this time.

Morale is generally strong, but the General has issued warning against named individuals who might be spies for the enemy, or that would give aid and comfort to them. A court martial was convened this date and Private Scales was charged with threatening Lt. Miller with a loaded weapon and for deserting the guard house on the evening of the 27th. Private John T. Garner was likewise arraigned. He was charged with disobedience of two direct orders. Both were found guilty as charged and both cared to Suffer Death by Shooting. General Houston approved the order and set the sentence of execution for the 4th inst. Capt. Roman’s company is to provide the detail to carry the sentence into effect. Upon certification by Dr. W. M. Bomar as to the mental condition of Private Scales, General Houston accepted the recommendation of mercy. But he was compelled to state that this was to be an exception to the rule. The man who abandons his post is more dangerous to the security of the army than a loss of twenty men from the battle lines.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: San Anna arrives at Guadalupe River outside of Gonzales. Rain swollen river took 3 days to cross. Artillery train caught up from Bexar. Santa Anna went on ahead, leaving Gen. Filisola to supervise the rest of the crossing. Sesma still crossing the Colorado River. General Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea remained in town of Santa Anna. Sent the Tres Villa group under Alcerrica to the left bank of the La Navidad with 200 men.

The Interim Government: Cabinet still at Harrisburg and still working on the loan agreement. The weather is very warm. Cabinet worried since they have no new news about the Texian Army. News is received that the civilian crossing at Lynch’s ferry resembles a camp meeting and is covered with carts, wagons, horses, mules, tents, men, women and children, Negroes, cattle and all the baggage of a fleeting multitude.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Schooner Pennsylvania moved from Brazoria to Galveston with the Twins on board.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Friday, April 1, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Inspector General George W. Hockley has written T. R. Rush, Secretary of War, to report the arrival of our army to this place. It is a secure and effective place with excellent water from a nearby lake. We are located about three-quarters of a mile from Col. Groce’s ferry and are in a position to cross the Brazos if the need should occur. The steamboat Yellowstone is presently at Groce’s taking on cotton and General Houston has ordered that it be taken in charge of for the use of the army, whether for crossing or rapidly descending the river to confront the enemy. Major Cooke is on board and has taken command of the vessel.

The general camp orders have been relaxed during our movement, but will be reinstated as soon as the men have rested, washed their clothes and arranged their arms. One death occurred as we crossed Mill Creek due to his exposure to snow (?) and cold. The spirits of the men are otherwise generally high. Because of the rains and the poor condition of the roads, the enemy, if it desires to follow us to this place, will take several days at best to arrive, and we will be ready.

A few cases of measles have been reported and a hospital has been established on the other side of the Brazos in order to reduce the risk to the rest of the army.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Santa Anna sent his carriage back and continued onto Gonzales on horseback. General Sesma sent word to Santa Anna that he was crossing the Colorado, but was having great difficulty in crossing because of high water. It will take him some time to get the equipment and men across. General Gaona’s situation is still unknown. Urrea joined up with his infantry brigade at the town of Santa Anna.

The Interim Government: Finally the loan agreement is settled. Secretary of War Rusk leaves for Groce’s to consult with General Sam Houston. Houston’s retrograde movement is troublesome and many think he should have fought the Mexicans at the Colorado River. Because of his retreat volunteers are deserting the army.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Quartermaster General Col. Almanzon Huston wanted to send the Twins from Brazoria to Galveston on the schooner Pennsylvania.

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Headquarters, Camp West of Brazos, Thursday, March 31, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Houston has decided to remain at this place in order to receive reinforcements and supplies. He has written Rusk, Secretary of War, requesting flour, sugar and coffee, on packhorses. Wagons could not make the trip with any speed. Rumors are threatening our very survival. The rumors spread by deserters have the country in great turmoil. The rumors of troops arriving for reinforcement, but never arriving, have us in an anxious state. Rumors that the enemy had crossed the Colorado caused the citizens of San Felipe two nights since, to set fire to their town and reduced it to ashes. Houston denies ordering such an act. General Houston has issued a message directly to the people of the country in order to ease the panic and to clarify rumors.

Spies, I believe including Deaf Smith, arrived this afternoon at four o’clock and reported the enemy, only 800 to 1,000 men strong, are now within a few miles of San Felipe. They have only 30 cavalry and can be easily whipped, if confronted. We have somewhere between seven and eight hundred effective men that can provide the challenge.

The continued rain is a test to our constitution. Discourage all negative remarks you encounter. Houston would have fought at the Colorado, in fact, that was his plan for March 27th, but the report of Fannin’s capture and the report of reinforcements to the enemy, caused our retreat. Our time will come, and we will be victorious. Encourage all volunteers to quickly arrive at this place. Supply ships with provisions to our ports, but direct that they should come by packhorse, not wagons to our camp. The weather and roads are the worse I have every seen.

Respectfully yours, An Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Commander-in-Chief General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna left Bexar by carriage with troops marching to San Felipe to join Generals Sesma and Tolsa. Santa Anna had wanted to return to Mexico City but his subordinates persuaded him to lead the Mexican army to an apparent easy victory over the rebel Texians. Generals Sesma and Tolsa are waiting at the Colorado for Santa Anna’s arrival before marching to San Felipe. General Gaona’s situation is unknown. General Urrea leaves Victoria and camps on the Arenosa River.

The Interim Government: Warm weather, almost summer like. Cabinet still working on the loan contract, modifications being offered.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Twin Sisters are still at Brazoria. Capt. J. M. Smith received contradictory orders from Quartermaster-General Colonel Almanzon Huston that all items of arms and provision are to be sent to Galveston Island, which included the Twin Sisters. Being outranked, Capt. Smith decided to march his men back to Houston’s camp without the guns.

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Headquarters, Camp in the Brazos bottoms, Wednesday March 30, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

The army is continuing its movement north, upwards towards Washington. Only the General knows where we are headed. We only traveled three miles today and then set up camp on a high ridge near the Brazos River and about three-quarters north of Jared Groce’s place on the opposite side. Groce is our ally and from his large plantations can supply us with corn and other crops. On our way here, we came through a dense canebrake and had to cut runways through it in order to reach this place. There is a small lake nearby. The General feels that from this position we could whip any approaching enemy, even if he comes ten to our one.

Captain Benjamin Bryant arrived on the east bank with forty-three volunteers from the eastern settlements of our country. Not only were they mounted on fine Texas ponies, but also they came armed with long rifles.

A slow rain has begun again and the moon is partly obscured by the clouds. The weather is hampering all progress and making life miserable. Fortunately, the same is true for our tormentors.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Leaving Salado Creek Amt encountered abundant rains began followed by violent storms that made the road impassable. Hundreds of buffalo spotted. Arrived by 8 p.m. at Cibolo Creek. Brig. General Jose Urrea sent out the second brigade with two pieces of artillery under Colonel Juan Morales to march to the Villa of Santa Anna.

The Interim Government: Lorenzo de Zavala goes home to recuperate. Young son de Zavala leaves for the army. Rusk would have joined him but is very ill. The loan negotiations are finally concluded. General Houston has fallen back to a site on the west side of the Brazos opposite Jared Groce’s plantation. Colonel William Ward and Dr. Grant have both been cut off.

Route of the Twin Sisters: Captain John Melville Allen wrote Houston about the situation and had concluded that he would send the cannon back to Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos River. He would march his men to Houston’s camp.

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Headquarters, Camp above Mill Creek, Tuesday March 29, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

This damnable weather will be the death of us. General Sam Houston slept last night in his saddle, feet on a log and wrapped in a wet blanket. Travel is very slow and the crossing of Mill Creek was very difficult. The General has written Secretary Rusk with the admonishment “Let no troops march with baggage-wagons, or wagons of any kind.” Moreover, the torment is aggravated with increasing cases of measles in camp.

General Houston is depressed with the removal of the Government to Harrisburg. This event has caused more panic than is appropriate. The number of the enemy continues to be greatly exaggerated. Perhaps this is because of the large number of civilians and noncombatants traveling with the Mexican army. However, the fact remains, we need more volunteers. Captain David Burke and Edward Conrad have been dispatched to New Orleans to assist William Christy of that city in raising more troops.

Correspondence has been received from William H. Wharton saying that the ladies of Nashville have fitted out, at their own expense, no less than two hundred men. We need more angels like those if we are to win this war.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Colonel Augustine Amat left Bexar with the battalions of sappers and Guadalajara with two eight-pound cannon, two four-pound cannon and one mortar. This would be 550 men, with fifty boxes of ammunitions and food. General Santa Anna reviewed the troops and they left at 4 p.m. They traveled eight miles and spent the night camped on Salado Creek. Brig. General Jose Urrea sent out the cavalry to reconnoiter the banks of the Lavaca and La Navidad Creeks.

The Interim Government still at Harrisburg. The steamboat Cayuga, Captain Harris, arrived in the afternoon. Lorenzo de Zavala is again sick. Bailey and Thomas Hardeman arrived. Each day the acceptance, that Lt. Colonel James Walker Fannin was probably cut off increases. General Houston is retreating to the Brazos.

Route of the Twin Sisters: The problem with sending the Twin Sisters to General Houston and the Texian Army overland was that the roads were in bad condition and Mexican troops were in the area and could possible intercept the supply wagons.

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Headquarters, Camp near Mill Creek, Monday March 28, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

There is much discontent in the army today as General Sam Houston ordered us to move up river from San Felipe. Many wanted him to cross the Brazos to put it between the army and the enemy. Others wanted him to drop down river, to be closer to the troops that are assembling there. The General asked for no counsel and declared that if there were any blame, it would be his alone to shoulder. Houston feels that by heading north on the west bank of the Brazos the enemy will continue to pursue him instead of falling down toward Matagorda, the coast and the large civilian population in that region.

General Houston has ordered Moseley Baker to post his command of about ninety men on the east bank of the Brazos, opposite San Felipe and to obstruct the passage of the enemy. Edward Harcourt’s was ordered to proceed to Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos to fortify the coast. Wiley Martin was ordered south with twenty men to guard the four crossings at the old Atascosito (Scroggins) crossing, Thompson’ Ferry, a ford on Random Point and at the Foster or Fort Bend crossing (Morton’s). Martin is expected to intercept two hundred men coming up from Columbia and will re-enforce his company with those fresh volunteers.

The cursed rain has begun again and the temperature is falling. Without a proper road, a poor crossing at Mill Creek and no tents for shelter at nights, our journey north will be difficult on the men and animals. The only satisfaction we can have is that the weather will be harder on the enemy.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: General Santa Anna’s plan of operation communicated on March 23rd. Colonel J. Mariano Salas, with two battalions set out to reconnoiter the ports of Lavaca Lake.

The Interim Government still stumbling over negotiations on the loan, Thomas being the problem. Lorenzo De Zavala better, but Samuel P. Carson now ill. Weather cloudy and rainy. There is much complaining that there is no word from Houston.

Route of the Twin Sisters: A gift from the City of Cincinnati, two iron six-pound cannon were manufactured in Cincinnati and shipped to New Orleans, arriving there on March 16th. They were kept in hiding since the United States was neutral in the Texas independence battle. When they could be forwarded to Texas, they were placed on the schooner Pennsylvania. On the same ship, Dr. Charles Rice was sailing with his twin daughters Elizabeth and Eleanor.

When the cannon arrived at Brazoria, a major port of entry into Texas, the twin girls donated the two cannon to the Republic. Thereafter, the two Cincinnati cannon were called, “the Twin Sisters.” Capt. J. M. “Tampico” Allen had arrived at Brazoria with 40 men, two cannon, on Howitzer with 160 shells, 880 round shoot, and 400 stands of Muskets with a large quantity of powder, both cannon and rifle.

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Headquarters, Camp near San Felipe de Austin, Sunday March 27, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

With embarrassment, we have discovered that in our haste to withdraw we failed to recall our pickets. Moses Lapham and seven others were left behind. We made the same mistake upon leaving Gonzales and had to send a messenger to retrieve the pickets. A small matter, but a better-organized army would not make such senseless mistakes. General Houston constantly makes this point and forces the men to drill daily, except, of course, when we are on the march.

Wiley Martin will be retained at the San Bernard to guard the crossing and to redirect the anticipated two hundred volunteers from Brazoria. Our camp tonight is in the Brazos timber short of San Felipe. We traveled about 20 miles today. Although almost half of the volunteers deserted as we began our withdrawal from the Colorado river, new recruits are continuing to arrive daily. A great number of the deserters were men of the area who left without furlough in order to help their family and friends to safety in the face of the advancing enemy. Surely, they will return to our cause once they have discharged this duty. Where, oh where, are those artillery pieces?

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Palm Sunday, Lieut. Col. Nicolas de la Portilla acted on General Santa Anna’s orders and executed all of the captives at Goliad. It is estimated that 342 men died, 28 escaped and 20 more were saved through efforts of Francita Alavez, later to be called “the Angle of Goliad.” Miller’s men were not executed because when captured they were not bearing arms (although weapons were captured at the same time). Brig. General Jose Urrea did not learn of the fact until the following day and all were distressed to hear the news. Colonel Augustin Amat was instructed to prepare the last of the infantry still in Bexar to prepare to march to San Felipe de Austin.

The Interim Government continued to negotiate the loan that now seems further from acceptance than before. Lorenzo de Zavala got sick and his son arrived that afternoon on his way to the army.

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Headquarters, Camp east of Benjamin Beason‘s, Saturday March 26, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

With the excitement in camp, time is quite short for writing. This afternoon we again find ourselves in retreat. Despite our current force of some one thousand and two hundred or four hundred men, the lack of adequate supplies and weapons as well as the unknown presence of various units of the enemy causes great uncertainty for General Houston. He has sent Colonel J. W. E. Wallace to notify all persons that the Army is moving out of the post oaks, and will probably fall back towards the Brazos river.

All troops in movement to the Army should also fall back to Columbia and to protect the mouth of the Brazos and the supplies arriving at that point. Captain William Fisher has arrived with a company of volunteers. The Army will march slowly to provide a rear guard defense for those seeking to leave the country. Deserters are again a problem. Most assuredly are leaving to protect their families since the enemy is now entering into our settlement areas. Orders have been sent to put Beason’s Landing and DeWees’ Crossing to the torch.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Brig. General Jose Urrea received some re-enforcements at Victoria and continues to reorganize. Lieut. Col. Nicolas de la Portilla, the military commandant of Goliad, received General Santa Anna’s order to kill the prisoners.

The Interim Government still squabbling over a current loan proposal. Secretary Robert Potter went to Galveston to inspect the fort and the port. The cabinet knows Houston is on the east side of the Colorado with the enemy on the other side. No fight yet. Colonel James Walker Fannin’s fate is unknown but one of Fannin’s advance scouts reported that Fannin was fighting with the Mexicans.

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Headquarters, Camp near Benjamin Beason‘s, Friday March 25, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Dreadful news has been received by way of Peter Kerr. He has reported that Lt. Colonel James Walker Fannin has surrendered his forces. Fannin had delayed his departure of his four hundred men from Goliad in order to assist evacuating settlers in the area. The men he sent chose to engage the enemy and were thus defeated. Upon hearing this news, Fannin continued to delay his departure from Goliad. Instead of immediately withdrawing as light and swiftly as possible, he chose to haul the nine cannons and 500 spare muskets, which greatly slowed his rate of retreat. His command was caught on the open plains, just eleven miles from Goliad and was immediately surrounded and put under assault. It was then that they discovered that they had failed to pack food and adequate water. Although the men fought bravely and used the cannons until they were too hot to reload, the position was hopeless. The oxen were shot by the Mexicans so there was no way to evacuate the serious wounded. During the night, the enemy bought up fresh reserves and three field pieces. By then it became obvious even to Fannin that their position was hopeless and he surrendered to Urrea that next morning. The prisoners where marched back to Goliad and held prisoner in their own fort.

This sad news has been received with great panic and anger by the troops. What will we do? What can we do?

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Thinking that war was probably over, General Santa Anna was thinking he should return to Mexico City. He sent instructions to Brig. General Antonio Gaona to break off his march to Nacogdoches and to converge on San Felipe after he crossed the Colorado River at Mina (Bastrop). General Santa Anna also sent instructions to Brig. General Jose Urrea to explore the entire coast from Guadalupe Victoria to Galveston. Orders were also sent to the commandant of Goliad (Lieut. Col. Nicolas de la Portilla) for the execution of the prisoners there. General Santa Anna changed his mind and decided to remain in Texas and lead the final battle against the Texians. General Urrea sent Ward and 80 of his companions to Goliad, retaining 20 to build boats at Victoria.

The Interim Government at Harrisburg worked on securing loans to pursue the war. No decisive movement of the army yet. Colonel William T Austin arrived from Velasco and informed the group that it is said that revolution had broken out in Mexico and that Santa Anna had returned to Mexico.

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Headquarters, Camp near Benjamin Beason‘s, Thursday March 24, 1836: 

 

Dear Fellow Texians,

The feeling persist that the enemy poses no threat to our current position. On the Colorado, we will make our stand. We must not respond to the enemy in haste, but rather deploy our forces in strategic positions and engage the enemy when the terms are favorable to our forces. Strict silence is ordered in camp for the night times.

Men are flocking to the camp and we expect even more shortly. Hopefully Major Ira A. Lewis has been appointed agent for the Cherokees so that they may be used for our defense, or at least persuaded to remain neutral. General Gregory of North Carolina, Colonel William Nibbs and several other gentlemen of Washington have arrived in camp with Major George Washington Poe. They report that 200 men will arrive tomorrow.

Forty-eight muskets and a supply of ammunition arrived last night. But we are still without tents and other basic necessities of life. Even the General is sleeping in the open. Capt. B. J. White has been dispatched to Cox’s Point and Captain Philip Dimmitt’s Landing to remove or secure the supplies at that place.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Brig. General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma continues to watch the Texians across the Colorado River. Brig. General Eugenio Tolsa arrived to supplement Sesma’s troops. The combined force now is 1,300 infantry, 2 field pieces and 150 cavalry. Reports have been received that there are about 1,000 Texians and desertions are common. To dislodge Houston, Semsa is planning a frontal assault with a second force crossing up or down river and threatening Houston’s flank. Brig. General Jose Urrea is at Victoria and spends the time in reorganizing his troops, equipment and ammunition.

The Interim Government at Harrisburg. David G. Burnet and Lorenzo de Zavala return from their nearby homes.

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Headquarters, Camp near Beason‘s, Wednesday March 23, 1836:

  

Dear Fellow Texians,

Word has been received this day that Lt. Colonel James Walker Fannin finally began his retreat on Saturday last (the 19th). His command was attacked by the Mexican Army before sundown. The battle continued into the night, and the result is not known. If what is heard is true, his ill luck is based in an attempt to begin his retreat in daylight in the face of superior force. He is an ill-fated man. The express also states that Colonel William Ward’s command had not returned and their situation is likewise not known. Spies have been dispatched to obtain more information.

Besides the Benjamin Beason’s crossing, the army controls the upper Colorado crossing at Captain Robert Mosley's with 200 men and the lower Colorado crossing at Atascosito. There are upwards to 700 men in camp and not one on the sick list. There is good order and discipline among our troops. Today a wagon, with arms, ammunitions and other goods arrived. It is much needed and the men were joyous. Captured enemy soldiers report that Brig. General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma has from 500 to 600 men, 150 cavalry and two small artillery. His troops are badly clad and the state of the weather such as to render them almost ineffectual due to the cold. However, they are building a boat with the intention of crossing.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: General Sesma camped opposite Texian army at the Colorado River. Building boats for an eventual crossing. By order of the 23rd from Santa Anna, Brig. General Jose Urrea is authorized “to take from the colonist their cattle and everything that belonged to them, using it for the support of my troops” Urrea returned to Victoria with Colonel William Ward and his men. Learned that Colonel Rafael de la Vara had captured Major William P. Miller and his 82 men at Capano with all their arms and munitions.

The Interim Government located at Harrisburg. Young Lorenzo de Zavala, Jr. was preparing to join the army.

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Headquarters, Camp near Benjamin Beason’s, Tuesday March 22, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Training continues and Brig. General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma continues to watch. He is reinforced with the arrival of Brig. General EugenioTolsa and his company. Our men are restless, but restraint continues. Captains Henry Teal and Martin K. Snell arrived today with 30 volunteers from Nacogdoches by way of Washington. They did not have any new information concerning the removal of the government. Our little army is approaching a thousand volunteers as more arrive daily. However, some are leaving; a few to help their families and friends escape the approaching Mexican army, and a few in disgust that Houston will not engage the enemy at this time. General Sam Houston has ordered all deserters detained and their arms taken from them and returned for the use of the army. Families moving for safety will be entitled to one-armed man for their protection. Our spies continue to engage the enemy in skirmishes.

Benjamin Fort Smith is presently serving as the Quartermaster, a temporary position, as well as adjutant to General Houston in the absence of men regularly appointed to these stations.

Respectfully yours, Observer and aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: With 200 infantry, 50 horses and one cannon Brig. General Jose Urrea marched towards the port called John Joseph Linn’s House. At 2 o’clock, 10 leagues from Victoria, he arrived at Las Juntas and captured four of Colonel William Ward’s men. After surrounding Ward’s hiding place and a face-to-face discussion, Ward surrendered his 100 men.

The Interim Government continued towards Harrisburg. They stopped at Mrs. Burnett’s (no relation), a widow woman who keeps the only house on the road between Abraham Roberts’ and Harrisburg, a distance of forty miles. After lunch, they proceeded to Harrisburg, which was reached after dark. The cabinet took up residence at Mrs. Jane Birdsall Harris’, the widow of the founder of the town. Only the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of State slept on beds, the rest slept on the floor, often sharing blankets.

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Headquarters, Camp near Beason’s, March 21, 1836

 

Dear Fellow Texians,

           

Robert Calder’s company from Brazoria arrived today with Dr. Anson Jones (although a medical doctor, he carries the rank of private) and John A. Wharton.  Mr. Wharton had been the Texas agent at New Orleans seeking donations and supplies.  He reports that the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio are sending two field pieces to Texas and they should arrive sometime in March.  The continual arrival of new volunteers and the news that artillery pieces are on their way has lifted the spirits of the men.  Sherman has taken up camp opposite Sesma’s position on the Colorado, about two miles upriver from our main camp.  We are in a favorable defensive position and the river continues to be swollen and impassable to a large force.  John Ingram and others are keeping an eye on the Atascosito crossing down river from here.  Unfortunately we are still not in receipt of news from Fannin, Dimmit or the government. 

           

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

 

Meanwhile the Mexican Army:  General Sesma with the central column reached the Colorado and set up camp on the west side of the river. The Colorado was swollen and thus difficult to cross.  Arrived with 725 men and found the river crossings well fortified.  Urrea with the right column arrived at Victoria at 7:30 a.m. and captured several Texians.  About 11 o’clock spotted Ward and a company of 100 Texians but could not engage them as they went into hiding in a wooded area.

 

The Interim Government left Groce’s and proceeded towards Harrisburg.  The entourage included the cabinet, interested parties like William Fairfax Gray, and a self proclaimed government body guard of approximately 12 Tennessee volunteers.  President Burnett wanted the cabinet to stay separate from the rest and when the rest stopped at McCarley’s for the night, the cabinet pushed on to Robert’s, about three miles further. At Robert’s the cabinet learned that Fannin had left Goliad and Houston did not know where the Mexicans were.   


Headquarters, Camp near Beason’s, March 20, 1836

Dear Fellow Texians,

New stationary has arrived and I am able to continue my correspondence, or rather, to share with you the record of our journey in defense of our country. General Houston has busied himself with the drilling of the troops and has not taken time to send correspondences, which allows me the liberty of sending these daily dispatches. We have not received word from Fannin or the government in several days. I fear that the government has vacated Washington as has been feared, but as of this moment we have not received any confirmation of their travels or destination. This action by the government has an unsettling effect on the volunteers.

Captain Logan has arrived with recruits from the Liberty area, along with Dr. Labadie. The jubilation in camp was curtailed when word was received that the Mexican General Sesma has arrived on the opposite bank of the Colorado river. Thus far there has been little contact with the enemy, but surely peace will not last long. Some of the men are anxious to cross the river and to engage the enemy before they can be reinforced. General Houston has denied them satisfaction, desiring to continue to drill the men until a better opportunity presents itself. To maintain an engagement while divided from the battlefield by a fast moving river is inherent with risk that we can ill afford at this time. More volunteers are expected shortly, along with much needed camp gear, food stores and artillery pieces.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Urrea was re-enforced with 100 infantry, two four pound cannon and much needed ammunition. However, Fannin raised a white flag. Negotiations began and ultimately Urrea went to meet Fannin. Urrea was only authorized to accept unconditional surrender. Because of respect between professional soldiers, Urrea offered to use his influence to Santa Anna to provided reasonable terms. Fannin surrendered his force, 365 men, of which 97 were wounded, and 27 dead. Urrea then proceeded towards Victoria with most of his infantry, some of the cavalry and one cannon. They spent the night on the road.

The Interim Government still at Groces. Travis’ servant, Joe, arrived and reported the fall of the Alamo.


Headquarters, Camp near Beason’s, March 19, 1836

Dear Fellow Texians,

There has been much complaining in camp about General Houston’s decision to abandon Gonzales even though any right thinking man would agree that the lack of manpower, the lack of weapons, the lack of proper military training and the size of the approaching enemy dictated the course of action. Having now put the Colorado between us and the enemy, I believe that we can establish a defensive position that can not be challenged by the enemy. If Fannin and Dimmit can make it to this place with their men, if the artillery pieces from Velasco will arrive and if the government will continue to send supplies and volunteers, here we can make our stand. The river is high and that is to our advantage. From here we can defend the three crossings of the Colorado river, at Dewees, at Beason and at the Atascosito crossing. Our spies continue to seek out the enemy and supply us with valuable reports. There are rumors that Santa Anna is no longer in Texas, but has left the command of his army with General Woll, an Englishman.

This is all that I have time to report today. Stationary is in short supply, but I hope to be able to continue my daily dispatches. Much is in turmoil although we have the talent and dedication to bring about victory.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: General Urrea was preparing to attack Goliad when they discovered the fort was abandoned. Fannin had left that morning for Guadalupe Victoria. At 11 o’clock Urrea began pursuing Fannin with 360 infantry and 80 cavalry. At 1:30 p.m. Urrea’s cavalry cut off Fannin’s retreat in a prairie before they could reach some nearby woods. A fierce battle ensued. Fannin had nine cannon and used them expertly. The Mexican infantry carried at least three rifles and were forced to lay on the ground to reload or be shot. Urrea was forced to withdraw for the night. He was waiting for re-enforcements and cannon.

The Interim Government conducted business at Groce’s plantation.


Headquarters, Burnham‘s crossing, Colorado River, March 18, 1836:

 

Dear Fellow Texians      

           

It appears that we will be at this place for several days.  The General is committed to protecting the settlers who are fleeing and the army will act as a rear guard until all settlers are across the Colorado.  Smith, Karnes, Handy and three others spied back to the Navadad and encountered the enemy at Rocky Creek.  Although they captured one of the enemy scouts, the General was unhappy that they shot the second scout.  Had the second scout been a courier he might have had information beyond the documents he was carrying.  Smith argued that it was easier simply to shot the courier, especially if there were several because to chase each of them is difficult and might expose the pursuing spies to enemy patrols.  I see the logic of both sides, but the greatest amount of information that can be obtained from the enemy, without jeopardizing lives, should control the decision at the time.

           

We are waiting for artillery pieces from Col. Wharton of Velasco.  Col. Neill is with the army and is quite ready to train crews to man the new pieces.   We are hoping for the arrival of flour and other foodstuff, as we are tired of eating dried corn and roasted beef. 

           

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

 

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: General Urrea continued to reconnoiter Goliad from a distance.  Colonel Morales arrived with his men.  A cavalry unit out of Goliad was confronted with the Mexican forces and returned to the fort.  Continuous rain lasted all night with strong north wind made the col unbearable and there was not rest that night.

 

The Interim Government continued its travels towards Harrisburg.  The morning was cloudy and drizzly. Moving along the same road where many families in the exodus called the Runaway Scrape.  


Headquarters, Camp near the Colorado River, March 16, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

With the rain we had today I am tired and cold. Oh, how I will miss my tent tonight. General Houston decided to turn northward from the San Felipe road. I am lead to believe that he was fearful that we would be overtaken by the enemy as he decided to get off of the main road. Further, it is his hope that this rain would cover our tracks. But the path that 400 men plus several wagons of civilians make should be easily discovered by any decent scout. Unfortunately there is no arguing with the General and he has decided to cross the Colorado at Burnham’s instead of continuing on to Beasons. Although the distance is a short 15 miles, the weather and the lack of a roadway has slowed our progress and we shall not make Burnham’s until tomorrow some time. This evening General Houston dispatched Smith, Karnes, Hand, Washington Secrist and John Sharp to spy on the enemy and to provide us with accurate reports as to their location, strength and rate of travel. Rumors are abundant, and absolutely unreliable.

No word has reached us as to the whereabouts of Fannin and Dimmit.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Although Urrea was ordered to execute all prisoners, he reluctantly ordered the execution of only non residents, 30 in number, and released colonist and Mexicans. He then left with 200 men toward Goliad. A captured Texian had a message from Fannin stating that he was abandoning Goliad and heading for Victoria.

The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas. Dr. Southerland arrived from Gonzales and confirmed that the Alamo fell. President Richard Ellis created great confusion and lost all dignity and control. Although the Convention adjourned, after dinner they returned and the Constitution was finalized and adopted by midnight. An ordinance organizing a provisional government was then adopted and David G. Burnett was elected President, Lorenzo de Zavala elected Vice-President, Samuel P. Carson elected Secretary of State, Bailey Hardiman elected Secretary of Treasury, Thomas J. Rusk elected Secretary of War, Robert Potter elected Secretary of Navy and David Thomas elected Attorney General. The new officers were sworn in at 4 a.m. and the session adjourned.


Headquarters, Camp at Navadad River, March 15, 1836:

 

Dear Fellow Texians,

Thank goodness the weather is holding and we are able to make good time in our travels toward the Colorado River. The crossings of Rocky Creek and the Navadad went quite well. There is some concern that traveling on the open road with civilians might expose us to attach from the enemy, but our spies indicate that they are not nearby. My apologies for this brief message, but the situation here has the General in turmoil and I need to be close at hand. It was good to see some volunteers join the camp this evening. We are anticipating news from the Congress at Washington about the completion of the new constitution and arrangements for supplies and volunteers. In addition to weapons and provisions we need new tents to protect us from the nighttime weather.

General Houston has appointed Major William T. Austin as an aide-de-camp and has been sent to the mouth of the Brazos to acquire from Col. John A. Wharton seven pieces of artillery (six and nine pounders) and an abundant supply of grape and canister shot. Hopefully they will be able to join us on the Colorado River where Houston says we will next make our stand.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Urrea occupied the Mission at Refugio and sent his cavalry looking for the Texians. The cavalry caught up with them on the road to Goliad and killed 16 and took 31 prisons.

The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas. Lieutenants Teal and Snell with thirty

men arrived from Nacogdoches on their way to the army. They were honored and promoted to Captains. News was finally received from General Houston about the fall of the Alamo on March 6th.

The Convention adjourned at 9 p.m. although several delegates returned after dinner to continue to work on the draft of the Constitution.  


Headquarters, Camp on Lavaca, March 14, 1836:

 

Dear Fellow Texians,

           

My correspondence of yesterday was interrupted by the arrival in camp of the wife of Mr. Dickinson of the Alamo.  Deaf Smith and company had intercepted her just west of Gonzales and brought her into camp about 8 p.m.  She confirmed the most horrible of truths about the fall of the Alamo and the total loss of life.  Although they gave their lives in our gallant cause, they inflicted extremely high causalities among the enemy before they perished.            

 

Following up on the Alamo news, it was learned that General Sesma of the Mexican Army was within 40 miles of Gonzales and in full march to our location. 

           

General Houston immediately ordered a retreat.  There being a shortage of oxen and wagons, the two artillery pieces were thrown into the Guadalupe and most of the camp equipage burned since it could not be taken with us.  Most of the baggage wagons were given over to the women and children, as they wanted to leave Gonzales before the arrival of the enemy.  

 

The army, with civilians, departed about midnight last night (13th) and force-marched to Peach Creek.  The ladies at McClure’s place were very gracious to our tired army.  True Women in every sense of the word.  After a brief rest and some food, we continued along the San Felipe road to the Daniel’s place on the Lavaca River.

           

Being on the move we are lacking news on the government at Washington and Fannin’s departure from Goliad.  My tent was one of those items burned at Gonzales last night so I must be satisfied with my simple bedroll.  Pray for pleasant weather, especially dry.

           

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

 

 

Meanwhile, the Mexican Army: General Sesma entered the deserted village of Gonzales, finding that the Texians had set fire to the town and had retreated with all of the women and children. General Urrea arrived at Refugio Mission at daybreak with 100 mounted men, 180 infantry and the four pound cannon.  There were a few skirmishes and the Texians escaped that night.

 

 

The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas.  A provision was introduced today to give large land bounties to military volunteers.  In order to win independence, volunteers from the United States are necessary and an attractive reward should be offered.  

 


Headquarters, Gonzales, March 13, 1836:

 

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Houston has been keeping me quite busy making copies of his orders and correspondence. I believe that he wants to make sure that he is not misquoted and in fact, might have some form of subsequent publication in mind due to the popularity of David Crocket’s Journals.

This morning we were able to organize a Regiment and will begin organizing the men for military duty. Col. Burleson was appointed the commander, with Sidney Sherman and Alexander Somervell as his assistants. Since Deaf Smith spends so much time in the saddle I am not surprised that he was assigned to the cavalry corp. However, with all of the spying work he does, I am a bit surprised that he has been put in charge of the recruits. Houston has even now sent Smith, Henry Karnes and Robert Eden Handy out to make a determination as to the situation at the Alamo.

Post script: Oh, the camp is in commotion. Smith has just returned this evening with a lady, baby child and two young Negro boys, reportedly with news of the Alamo. I must beg your leave and will continue with details, as they are determined.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: General Urrea moved against Texians Amon B. King & William Ward at Refugio. Fannin had sent these men with a small company to evacuate the colonist in the area. Urrea left his baggage and followers behind at San Patricio.

The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas even though it was Sunday. They had not recessed from daily business. A provision was added to the proposed Constitution that no man could be imprisoned for debt. No word from the Alamo and three of the delegates have relatives there.  


Headquarters, Gonzales, March 12, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,
 

Still no confirmation has been received concerning the fate of the Alamo and her defenders.  The situation with Fannin likewise is unclear.  In order to assess the situation at Gonzales, Houston ordered a report and found that there are 374 effective men in camp upon our arrival.  More volunteers are expected daily, as several have arrived since yesterday.  Unfortunately, many of the men do not have arms and even those with arms have inadequate ammunition.  The volunteers will be organized into companies and training will commence in order to establish a meaningful fighting unit.   Meanwhile, a request for arms, ammunitions and supplies has been sent.  The spirits of the volunteers are high, but adequate discipline lacking.


 Orders have been sent to Dimmit at Victoria, instructing him to bring his forces to Gonzales.  General Houston feels that a small, unorganized force can not maintain sieges in fortresses, in the country of the enemy.   We must not stand against the enemy in open plains using conventional tactics.  Our strength is in the woods, with strategic thrusts before the enemy can form their lines.  Our sharp shooters will be best applied at long range and not in close quarters.


Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp

 

Meanwhile, the Mexican Army: Urrea receives praise from General Santa for killing Dr. Grant and his detail and for capturing Johnson and his detail.  Although Santa Anna had instructed Urea to kill all prisoners, Urea refused and sends the 21 captives to Matamoros. Urea continues his march towards Goliad.

 

The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas. All sections have been gone over and is much altered and amended.  However, more work is necessary to make it a viable document. No news has been received from the Alamo or from Houston.



Headquarters, Gonzales, March 11, 1836: 

Dear Fellow Texians,

           

General Sam Houston arrived about 4 this evening at Gonzales to take command of the Army.  Having been elected commander-in-chief of all of the land forces in Texas on March 4th, he departed from Washington for this staging area on the 6th with Inspector General G. W. Hockley, recruit Richard Scurry and myself.  Sidney Sherman, Mosley Baker and Jesse Billingsley were already in camp.  Volunteers have been arriving at this place in preparation for marching to the aid of the defenders of the Alamo.  We found the camp full of rumors concerning the fall of the Alamo.  Houston will immediately send out spies to try to ascertain the true status of Travis’ command.

           

The army, if in fact you can call it that, is in much need of provisions.  There is only two days worth of food in camp and few guns and ammunition.  General Houston arrived with only his white horse, saddlebags with maps, linen, writing paper and a book or two.  He had a feather in his hat and a red blanket. 

           

Orders have been sent to Fannin at Goliad instructing him to fall back to Guadalupe Victoria, leave a security guard and bring the remaining force to Gonzales, 

           

It is my intention of keeping you informed daily of the status of our army and our objective of removing this land from the rule of the tyrant, President Santa Anna.

           

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp

 

Meanwhile the Mexican Army: Mexican Commander-in-chief, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna is still in Bexar after the defeat of the defenders of the Alamo.  To complete his extermination of the rebel “pirates” in Texas he ordered General Sesma with 725 men and two cannon to march to San Felipe and then on to Harrisburg as the center prong of the Mexican Army sweep across Texas.  General Gaona was sent north east along the Camino Real to Mina (Bastrop) and then on to Nacogdoches if necessary.  He had 725 men and two cannon. This would be the left flank of the Mexican Army.  General Urea constituted the right flank of the army and was working his way up the Texas coast.  He is at San Patricio on his way to Goliad. Santa Anna sent Col. Juan Morales with three cannon, sixty-five cases of rifle cartridges and four battalions of troops. 

 


The Convention of 1836 is meeting at Washington (on the Brazos), working on a Constitution for the Republic of Texas. No news has been received from the Alamo. 

 

All too often we are led to believe that history is something that happened far away, to someone else and a long time ago. Actually, each of us makes history every day. And everyone around us also makes history. We simply do not realize it at the time. Maybe, after time passes and we stop to look back, we realize “that was historic.” My grandfather survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, witnessed the first airplane flight in Texas, shook the hands of the last two survivors of the battle of San Jacinto and witnessed man’s first step on the moon. When asked about his “history” he simply replied, “it’s not interesting, it’s only my memories.”

It was 176 years ago that one of the most significant battles in World History occurred here in Harris County. If you were raised in Texas you know about the Texas Revolution, the fall of the Alamo, the battle at San Jacinto, the Republic of Texas and that Texas ultimately joined the United States of America. Unfortunately Harris County is growing so fast there are many people who do not know the story and the significance of the battle of San Jacinto. This year we will try to provide information so that our new Texans can truly become TEXANS and our indigenous Texans can remember to appreciate our history and heritage.
 
Texas came into being as a section of New Spain.  The residents of New Spain wanted more control over their lives through representative government and began a revolution in 1810. The bloodiest battle on Texas soil occurred at Medina in 1813 when 1,300 Tejanos and Anglo-Americans died fighting the Spanish Royalist troops for Mexican freedom. Mexico was finally successful in achieving freedom in 1821.  Texas was then a part of the new United Mexican States.  However, the politics in Mexico were volatile and the nation vacillated between democracy and dictatorship.  Stephen F. Austin introduced the first Anglo-American settlers to Texas in 1822 under a new colonizing law.  The Mexican Constitution of 1824 was modeled after the United States and the French Democratic and Republican form of government.  Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was elected President in 1833 and in 1835 decided to transfer all powers to Mexico City where a Centralist government unilaterally replaced the Representative government system.  Several regions revolted, including Texas.  Santa Anna marched federal troops into the state of Zacatecas and annialated the opposition.  He turned his troops loose to rape and pillage to penalize the populous for opposing him.  Then he redrew the boundary of the state to remove the rich silver mining district and placed it in the adjoining state.  Zacatecas was broken, and broke.  Now, Santa Anna turned his eyes toward Texas.
 
Next week we will begin the story of Texas’ battle for independence.  This was not a struggle between nations, but a people’s rebellion against an oppressive government.  Tejanos and Anglos joined together to again resist a tyrant. It all happened in east Harris County at the junction of Buffalo Bayou (now called the Houston Ship Channel) and the San Jacinto River.  This is an exciting history, and it is our history to celebrate.