The Naval Battle of the "Hannah Elizabeth"


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The Naval Battle of the Hannah Elizabeth

[Happened After: Tampico Expedition]

Among the Mexican population of Texas there was a want of union. The most of them were in favor of the constitution of 1824, but a difference of race and treatment induced many of them to side with the enemy. John N. Seguin, of an ancient Mexican family residing on the river, a few miles below San Antonio, at the head of a company of rancheros, joined the Texan standard in October, 1835 ; and was of much service, especially in giving notice of the designs of the enemy. Colonel Jose Maria Gonzales, a Mexican of distinction and influence, and formerly of the army of Mexico, applied for leave to enter the Texan service, with a number of his countrymen. The permission was granted, and an outfit of five hundred dollars was voted him from the humble treasury of the republic. He issued a stirring address to his people, which had the good effect of drawing out some, and neutralizing others. Colonel Sandoval, who had been so handsomely captured at Goliad by Collingsworth, also applied for permission to join the Texan army ; but the council, deeming him too recent a convert to be entrusted with arms in their ranks, ordered that he and those captured with him should be sent to San Augustine for safe keeping : for want of means, however, they were not sent.

As early as the month of November, the enemy had upon the Texan coast the " Bravo" and " Montezuma," two small vessels-of-war, charged with the importation of recruits and stores for Texas. These vessels were quite annoying to the revolutionists, and efforts were made to fit out like armed vessels to repel them. On one occasion, the schooner " Hannah Elizabeth," freighted with cannon, arms, and ammunition, intended for the Texan service, and an adventure of goods and provisions belonging in part to Peter Kerr, sailed from New Orleans for Matagorda. Kerr was himself on board, as were likewise Jose M. J. Carbajal and Fernando de Leon, the latter two having charge of the other freight. She was discovered, pursued, and run aground, at Pass Cavallo, by the Bravo. In the chase she had thrown overboard her cannon and ammunition. She was boarded by a prize-crew, consisting of Lieutenant Mateo and eleven men, from the Bravo ; and Carbajal, De Leon, and some others, were transferred as prisoners to that vessel. Shortly after, the Bravo was driven off by a norther. In a day or two afterward, the citizens of Matagorda, having received notice of the wreck, purchased and armed the schooner " William Robbins," placed her under the command of Captain Hurd, and, with a small force on board, commanded by Captain S. Rhoads Fisher, retook the stranded vessel, and made the prize-crew prisoners. This was all very well ; but they went further, and appropriated to themselves the goods and provisions, allowing Kerr to retain his part on payment of half their value! But Kerr, being unable to do this, got none.* Governor Smith, being duly advised of these proceedings, took occasion, in a special message, to reprehend them severely. [See Next: Houston Organizes Texas Army]

* Fisher's statement, December 17, 1835. Poor Kerr! this was but the beginning of his troubles. He was shortly afterward, greatly against his will, made to play a conspicuous part in the Texan Revolution, as we shall see. It is only a short time since he received from the United States treasury, under the award of the " mixed commission," some remuneration for his adventure on the " Hannah Elizabeth."




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