Sam Houston Organizes Texas Army

 

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Houston Moves to Organize Army

[Happened After: Texas Naval Battle]

AT the beginning of the Texan Revolution Sam Houstonin 1835, the country was unusually well represented by men of talent. In proportion to the population, few countries ever equaled it. The stirring events in prospect, offering a fine field for ambition and adventure, had drawn many hither. Soon after the organization of the provisional government, and even during the sitting of the consultation at San Felipe, some discontent was manifested by those who did not obtain what they claimed as their share in the distribution of offices. To such a height did this feeling rise, that an open rupture was threatened. On one occasion, a desperado entered the council-hall, while the council was in session, and ordered the members to dissolve and go home. But, on the 19th of December, a more serious movement was made. A meeting was called at San Felipe, at which Wylie Martin presided. Mosely Baker introduced a series of resolutions, declaring the existing authorities not equal to the crisis ; that the officers and the members of the council were worthless and imbecile; and that it was necessary forthwith to reorganize the government and give it a more energetic administration, in order to save the country from ruin. This was the substance of the resolutions, which were supported by the mover in an eloquent speech of an hour—for he was one of the most able as well as restless and ambitious men in Texas. The effect of the speech was manifest: the concourse wavered, and the continuance of the government seemed doubtful.

Sam Houston replied to Baker, and answered his objections to the existing government. He said he was astonished to hear such a manifestation of discontent at a time when the least division in their ranks would be fatal to their cause and the cause of liberty ; that it was true their temporary system of government was not perfect in all its parts, yet it would answer the present emergency; and he could not but denounce as a fratricide and miscreant any one who, at a period so critical, would interpose an obstacle to the authorities then in power. This was followed by strong personal allusions. At the close of the discussion, the mover of the resolutions tore them up, declaring that he washed his hands of the whole matter.

General Houston had remained at San Felipe, to give aid and advice in organizing the army, and in framing such measures as were intimately connected therewith. Among these were—an ordinance to establish a corps of rangers ; an ordinance to raise a regular army ; an ordinance to regulate the militia; an ordinance appointing a commissary; and ordinances to purchase munitions, provisions, clothing, &c., for the army and the defense of the coast. The regular army was to consist of eleven hundred and twenty men, to be enlisted for two years, or during the war. After the passage of this law, and the appointment of the necessary officers, the commander-in-chief dispatched the latter on recruiting-service to the different points ; notifying them that each enlisted soldier should be entitled, in addition to the pay and rations allowed by the United States, to a bounty of six hundred and forty acres of land. The recruiting-officers were to report at headquarters by the 25th of February following. General Houston then issued a proclamation, calling for aid, and reciting the past events and the then present condition of Texas and her wants. Governor Smith, on the 16th of December, ordered him, as soon as circumstances would permit, to establish his headquarters at Washington, on the Brazos, until further orders, and to exert his efforts to organize the army ; but circumstances prevented his departure until the 25th of December.

The news of the first successes at San Antonio, and a call for immediate supplies of men and munitions, was met by the governor and council with a corresponding spirit. Thomas J. Rusk and J. W. Fannin were appointed—the first to proceed east, the other west of the Trinity—to collect reinforcements, to purchase and procure ammunition, provisions, and other necessaries, with power to press such articles as were needed by the besiegers. These agents immediately set out in the discharge of their duties, but victory anticipated them ; though the fruit of their labors was still necessary for the army.

On the return of General Mexia from his unfortunate expedition to Tampico, he applied to the provisional government to assist him in an expedition to the interior of Mexico, with the view of carrying the war into the enemy's country. The council passed an ordinance, directing William Pettus, contractor for the volunteer army, with the advice of Thomas F. McKinney, to make the necessary provisions for General Mexia, and that the latter report his plan to the provisional government. The governor vetoed the resolution, informing the council that he had no confidence whatever in the cooperation of General Mexia; that he had no doubt of his intention to make a descent on the seaports west of Texas, for the purpose of robbing, in order to recruit his own desperate fortunes, but he could see no possible good that would result there from to Texas ; that it would be unwise to incur the expense of fitting him out, without any guaranty, or control over his conduct, or even knowing his plans : in short, the governor thought it bad policy to fit out or trust Mexicans in any matter connected with the interests of Texas ; for, in the end, he was satisfied they would prove inimical and treacherous. The council, however, passed the ordinance, notwithstanding the veto, and a copy was dispatched to General Mexia. But in a short time afterward they passed a resolution requesting his cooperation with the army before Bexar, and sent him notice thereof. He was then at Columbia, and declined joining the Texans before Bexar—stating that he could not risk his military character by taking a command under the provisional government of Texas, as Viesca was not governor. He stated that his plan was to go to Copano, and join to his force two hundred Mexicans then at Palo Blanco ; and thence take Matamoras, if possible. This response served much to moderate the ardor of the council, and they gently withdrew their aid from General Mexia. Thus Texas was finally rid of a man of more pretension than worth, and whose indecision might have endangered her high purposes.

A difference between the governor and council has already been intimated. The origin and progress of this difference, so painful and destructive in its consequences, require a special notice. Dr. James Grant originated the project of an expedition to Matamoras. His domicile was in Coahuila, where he had a splendid estate. He had never resided in Texas ; it was not his home. His feelings, his interests, and his efforts, were all in favor of the old union of Coahuila and Texas. True, he was at the siege of San Antonio, and fought gallantly there, and was severely wounded on the first day ; but he fought against Cos, who had driven him from the legislative hall of Monclova, and not for the cause and right of Texas. He therefore had a motive in carrying the war to Matamoras, and thence into the interior of Mexico, that he might return to his princely domains at Parras. Among the volunteers and adventurers at San Antonio he was incessantly painting in lively colors the rich spoils of Tamaulipas, New Leon, Coahuila, and San Luis Potosi, the facility of the descent, the cowardly nature of the inhabitants, and the charming beauties of the valleys of the San Juan, the Sabinas, and the Santander. This was enough : the bold and fiery spirits who had just driven twice their number from the strong walls of Bexar and the Alamo, were ready to go. They wanted but a leader and a cause. The authority of Texas was invoked. The governor was prudent, and preferred to follow the landmarks laid down by the consultation. The council was otherwise. This body, changing almost daily, contained but few of the original members, and the change had not been for the better, in either wisdom or integrity. They had ceased to feel any responsibility for their official conduct.

The council had created the office of judge-advocate-general, and had elected D. C. Barrett, one of their own body, to fill it. They had also chosen Edward Gritton to the office of collector of revenue for the important port of Copano. Governor Smith refused to ratify these appointments, and, in his message of the 17th of December, gave his reasons. In regard to Gritton, he said it was well known that he first made his appearance in Texas as the secretary and traveling-companion of Colonel Almonte, who was an avowed spy, sent to Texas by Santa Anna ; that Gritton was an Englishman, and by adoption and long residence a Mexican, allied to the enemy by affinity and commerce ; that he had never joined the Texan army, and the governor had ever considered him a spy, and hoped the council would make a better selection. As to D. C. Barrett, he was infinitely more severe. He alleged that he had forged an attorney's license, in North Carolina ; that he had taken fees on both sides of a cause as an attorney ; that he had passed counterfeit money knowingly ; that he had embezzled the funds furnished himself and Gritton as an outfit, when sent on an embassy to Cos, the previous summer, without going to their intended destination, or reporting their proceedings. These were some of the caustic charges preferred by his Excellency against one of the leading members of the council. They were scandalous if true, and more so if false. He not only gave them as reasons for refusing to commission the nominee, but asked the council to fix a day for the proof of the charges, and it should be made, in order to expel the obnoxious member. The council sustained their member : they declared that the governor had no right to object to their appointments ; that the charges against Barrett were partly beyond their jurisdiction—the others they denounced as untrue ; and required the governor forthwith to issue commissions to the two nominees.

Thus the contest became personal; and the council, already enthusiastic on the subject of the Matamoras expedition, began to devise ways and means to carry it on without the concurrence or aid of the governor. Two members of the military committee engaged in a correspondence with the most adventurous spirits at Bexar, to start the enterprise there. This, added to the influence and eloquence of Dr. Grant, soon resulted in an organized plan.

After the capture of Bexar, the troops, having nothing to do, became restless ; and it was deemed necessary, in order to retain the volunteers, that they should be engaged in some enterprise. On the 20th of December, there were about four hundred men at Bexar, seventy at Washington, eighty at Goliad, and two hundred at Velasco, making a total of seven hundred and fifty men—besides several companies who were on their march to the different places of rendezvous.

Before detailing further the movements in Texas, we will refer to those of the enemy. General Cos retreated to Laredo, where he was shortly afterward joined by General Sesma with a thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry. Another army was concentrating at San Luis Potosi, to be commanded by Santa Anna in person. The news of the fall of Bexar had astonished and united Mexico. All parties became eager to wipe from the Mexican eagle the stain inflicted by the surrender of Cos. The letter of Grant, of the 13th of November, had already reached the country of the enemy, and preparations were making at Matamoras, under the command of General Urrea, not only to defend that place, but to advance upon Goliad. The Texans were, however, unadvised of these preparations.

The Matamoras Expedition

On the 17th of December, Governor Smith directed the commander-in-chief to make a demonstration upon Matamoras ; or at least to secure Copano, and harass the enemy in that direction. Houston, on the same day, issued an order to Colonel James Bowie, then at Goliad, to proceed to raise, if possible, a sufficient force, and march upon Matamoras ; but, if he could not succeed in that enterprise, at least to secure and hold the most eligible point on the frontier, and use all the means in his power to annoy the enemy. Bowie was selected for this expedition because of his distinguished valor and prudence, his accurate knowledge of the country, and also of the people among whom he was to march; but, as it happened, the order did not reach Colonel Bowie, as he left Goliad for Bexar a short time before it arrived at the former place.

The intended expedition against Matamoras was based entirely upon the expected cooperation of the Mexicans ; and their support at least depended upon Texas remaining true to the constitution of 1824. This was impossible : the scenes of Concepcion and San Antonio had entirely destroyed the last feeling of regard for that celebrated document. The cry of " Independence !" had already made itself heard in the settlements, and every day its voice grew stronger. It was idle to suppose for a moment that the Mexicans in the interior of the confederacy would assist Texas in breaking the shackles that bound her to them.

The First Texas Declaration of Independence

Captain Philip Dimit, in command at Goliad, on the 2d of December wrote a strong letter in favor of the expedition to Matamoras, promising the cooperation of the republicans of Tamaulipas : yet, so sudden was the change of feeling, that on the 20th of that month the troops and people of Goliad, with Captain Dimit at their head, affirmed their independence, and published a solemn declaration to that effect! In that racy and spirited document they disclaim all hope of cooperation from any portion of the Mexicans, and fully exhibit the tone of the Texans at that time. " We have indulged sympathy," say they, " for the condition of many whom we vainly flattered ourselves were opposed, in common with their adopted brethren, to the extension of military domination to the domain of Texas. But the siege of Bexar has dissolved the illusion. Nearly all their physical force was in the line of the enemy, and armed with rifles. Seventy days' occupation of Goliad has also abundantly demonstrated the general diffusion among the creole population of a like attachment to the institutions of their ancient tyrants. Intellectually enthralled, and strangers to the blessings of regulated liberty, the only philanthropic service which we can ever force on their acceptance is that of example. In doing this, we need not expect or even hope for their cooperation."

They dispatched their declaration to every municipality in Texas, and also to the council at San Felipe. In the latter body it was referred to the committee on the judiciary and affairs of state, who reported (and the report was adopted by the council) that the declaration was premature ; that it jeoparded the community, and tended to destroy the government. The council succeeded in having its further circulation suppressed. Thus they endeavored to restrain the feeling of independence that had already occupied the public mind.

During the stay of the commander-in-chief at San Felipe, and while waiting for certain documents relative to the organization of the army, he was engaged in placing troops and provisions at proper points. Colonel A. Huston, the quartermaster-general, having been dispatched to New Orleans, he appointed Lieutenant William Eaton assistant quartermaster-general, and directed him to take post at Velasco, and notify all troops arriving at the mouth of the Brazos, if they came in armed vessels, to proceed to Copano, and take position at Refugio ; if the vessels should not be armed, then to land at Matagorda, and proceed by land to Goliad. He addressed like instructions to the Texan military agents at New Orleans in regard to the shipment of provisions. Thus he was concentrating his forces on the frontier at Refugio and Goliad, and storing provisions and munitions at Copano and Matagorda. At the same time, A. G. Kellogg, assistant quartermaster-general, was stationed at Gaines's ferry, on the Sabine, with directions to furnish supplies to volunteers coming by land. Lieutenant-Colonel James C. Neill was ordered to take command of the town and district of Bexar, and to superintend the recruiting service at that station. Colonel William B. Travis, of the first regiment of infantry, was ordered to San Felipe, to recruit; and Colonel J. W. Fannin was ordered to Velasco for a like purpose, and also to take the command there.

On the 25th of December, the commander-in-chief removed his headquarters to Washington. Here he met Colonel Wyatt with two companies of volunteers, numbering eighty men, from the state of Alabama. About the same time arrived at San Felipe Major William Ward, of the state of Georgia, with three companies, comprising a hundred and twelve men. They were ordered to the west. Captain Ira Westover was ordered to Goliad, to relieve Captain Dimit.

On the 30th of December, General Houston wrote to Colonel Fannin, informing him that all volunteers were ordered to Copano, there to remain until they had orders to advance ; and directing that no campaign be undertaken without orders ; that he would be there by the earliest moment at which the campaign should open ; and at the same time he requested Colonel Fannin, if possible, to report in person at headquarters as soon as practical. These dispatches were sent by Captain G. W. Poe, of the general's staff, who was directed, while at Velasco, to ascertain the exact number and description of the forces and of the munitions and provisions there, and report the same to headquarters.

These were the dispositions made, with a view to meet the enemy early in the spring. In fact, the news of the contemplated attack upon Matamoras having reached Mexico, that point was already well guarded by the enemy, and reports were constantly received in Texas of their advance east of the Rio Grande.

The Matamoras Expedition

We will now return to the council. On the 25th of December, Mr. Hanks, from the military committee, made a report, recommending that Colonel Fannin be ordered to proceed forth-with to the west and take command of the regular and auxiliary troops ; and that Colonel Travis be ordered to the same destination, with all the troops he could bring into the field; also that the commander-in-chief be requested to concentrate the forces at Goliad or Copano. This report was laid upon the table. It, however, showed the disposition of the military committee to substitute themselves as commanders-in-chief of the army. On the next day the council appointed Sam Houston, John Forbes, and John Cameron, commissioners to treat with the Cherokee Indians and their associate bands, and authorized the governor to give the commissioners detailed instructions.

On the 3d day of January, 1836, the council received and referred a communication from Colonel Francis W. Johnson, for himself and others, for authority to proceed to Matamoras. This application was based on a movement begun at San Antonio ; for, on the evening of the 30th of December, Dr. Grant, with some two hundred volunteers, without any authority or command, after pressing the property of the citizens of Bexar, and helping themselves to such munitions, &c., at that town, as they desired, set out on the march to Matamoras. The committee on military affairs reported in favor of the expedition, and, among other reasons for its adoption, they said the taking of Matamoras would deprive the enemy of the revenue of that place, estimated pretty highly; that it would give employment to the volunteers until a regular army, sufficient for the protection of the country, could be raised and organized ; and that it was necessary to sustain the volunteers, who had already set out under Grant, for, if they were defeated, the result might be fatal to Texas. As these contemplated movements required some supply of provisions, the council appointed commissioners to examine two small schooners, the " William Robbins" and the " Invincible," belonging to Messrs. McKinney and Williams, with a view to purchase them, and to use them as vessels-of-war, to protect the transfer of provisions by water along the western coast of Texas.

On the 5th of January, a select committee of two--Messrs. Barrett and Clements—were appointed to wait on Colonels Fannin and Johnson with the resolutions respecting the expedition to Matamoras, and learn their views on the subject. The latter having concurred in the resolutions, they were taken up for consideration ; but, for want of a quorum, they were not immediately acted on. In the meantime, Colonel James Bowie exhibited to the council his orders of the 17th of December, 1835, and took leave of them. This body immediately appointed a committee to wait on him, and obtain a copy of his orders, which copy was obtained and filed.

At length, on the 7th of January, 1836, Colonel F. W. Johnson having declined to participate in the Matamoras expedition, the council unanimously adopted resolutions appointing J. W. Fannin agent to raise, collect, and concentrate, at or as near the port of Copano as convenience and safety would admit, all volunteer troops willing to enter into an expedition against Matamoras, wherever they might be found, at the mouth of the Brazos, city of Bexar, or elsewhere—whether in Texas, or arriving in Texas ; and, when thus collected and concentrated, to report either to the commanding general, or to the governor, or council, as he might prefer ! He was further empowered to call upon any public agent for provisions, stores, &c. ; also to borrow not exceeding three thousand dollars, at a rate of interest not above ten per cent. ; and also, on the concentration of said forces, to hold an election for a commander and other officers ; that, when all this should be done, the said agent, if he deemed it practicable to take said place, should make a descent upon Matamoras or such other place as he might deem proper. To carry these powers into execution, J. W. Fannin was authorized at pleasure to appoint special agents under him, and give them such power as he might think proper, not exceeding his own.

The second article of the organic law of the 13th of November, under the military head, declared that the major-general should be commander-in-chief of all the forces called into public service during the war; he to be subject to the orders of the governor and council. The ordinance thus appointing, Colonel Fannin to this agency was therefore a clear violation of the organic law. It excluded the commander-in-chief and also the governor from the command or control of this expedition. Calling him an agent, did not alter his functions ; and authorizing him to report alone to the council, was a virtual usurpation of the authority given to the governor and the commander-in-chief. And the further authority given to Colonel Fannin, to delegate his powers to other agents, was a consummation of folly. The fruits of such an expedition, raised under such auspices, might be foreseen. The council was aware of the governor's opposition to its views, and endeavored to carry them out without his consent. To obtain the " Invincible," and get his sanction to the ordinance for that purpose, the council represented that the Mexican vessel, the "Montezuma," was in Galveston bay, and required the immediate use of that ship to drive it out or take it.

At length, the governor received a communication from Colonel Neill, commandant at Bexar, informing him of the defenseless and destitute condition of that place, caused by the action of Dr. Grant and his followers before their departure for Matamoras. He dispatched a message to the council, on the 9th of January, full of bitterness and reproaches. He charged that body with acting in bad faith, and some of the members with positive corruption and dishonesty. " Look around upon your flock," said his Excellency, with more feeling than good taste ; " your discernment will easily detect the scoundrels. . . Let the honest and indignant part of your council drive the wolves out of the fold." With such epithets as these did he regale them, and concluded his message by assuring them that, unless they publicly retracted their error, all intercourse between them would cease at twelve o'clock the next day.

The governor was very deliberate in sending this message. He notified the council beforehand, and requested that it might be read in secret session. As soon as the message was read, a committee of five was appointed to take that document into consideration ; and Lieutenant-Governor Robinson was deputed to confer with the governor, and endeavor to produce a reconciliation. No agreement having taken place, the committee reported strongly on the 11th, and their report and resolutions were unanimously adopted. They resolved that the governor be forthwith ordered to cease the functions of his office, and be held to answer to the general council upon certain charges, a copy of which was to be furnished him in twenty-four hours ; that all public functionaries be notified of his deposition ; and, in short, that his message be returned to him, with a copy of their proceedings thereon. Thus was brought to a crisis the quarrel between the governor and his council. The council was guilty of usurpation, and the governor of great imprudence. The disagreement was not only ruinous to Texas in her then critical condition, but was well calculated to bring her into public scandal and reproach among civilized nations.

On the 6th of January, Governor Smith ordered the commander-in-chief " to repair to Bexar, or such other point on the frontier as he might deem most eligible, and establish his headquarters ; also to establish such subordination, and place the army in such situation, as to commence active operations by the earliest day possible ; and, in the meantime, to annoy and injure the enemy as much as circumstances would permit."

In pursuance of this command, Houston on the same day issued an order, directing all the troops on the frontier to hold themselves in readiness to march against the enemy at the earliest notice ; at the same time the requisite supplies were ordered to Copano. After appointing Colonel Travis superintendent of the recruiting-service, and requesting the attendance of Colonels Thomas J. Rusk, J. K. Allen, and A. Horton, at head-quarters, the commander-in-chief set out for the west on the 8th of January.

The quarrel between the governor and his council gave rise to two parties, and other questions that came up in the affairs of the country were seized upon and made instrumental to party views. The council had called a meeting of the convention, to assemble at Washington, on the 1st day of March; and had fixed the 1st of February as the time for the election of delegates thereto. The anticipated action of the convention was a subject of warm discussion between the citizens and the candidates. Those who favored the Matamoras campaign, naturally fell into the opposition to a declaration of independence, as that step would cut off all hope of cooperation on the part of the Mexicans west of the Rio Grande. General Houston, previous to his departure for the western frontier, expressed himself fully on that point. " I now feel confident," says he, " that no further experiment need be made, to convince us that there is but one course left for Texas to pursue, and that is, an unequivocal declaration of independence, and the formation of a constitution, to be submitted to the people for their rejection or ratification.

It is, however, proper to state that other gentlemen of high respectability and influence in Texas took a different view of the subject. The idea of a great republic, composed of the eastern Mexican provinces, had got a hold on the minds of a large number. This scheme had taken deep root among many at Nacogdoches, and throughout eastern Texas. " When I arrived here," says Colonel Henry Millard, in a letter dated Nacogdoches, January 14, 1836, " they were in a fine state of successful experiment, as they imagined, and, by the arrival of Dr. Cameron and some others from the west, new prospects and new views seemed to be opened to them, or at least were publicly expressed. Some of those persons represented that Colonel F. W. Johnson had marched to Matamoras at the head of three hundred men, who had declared for the constitution of 1824, and were determined not to unite with or be under the command of any officer appointed by the provisional government, unless they chose to do so ; and that they had an understanding with officers and influential men in three or four of the adjoining Mexican states, who were to meet them with men and money to prosecute the war: and that those states were to form a single grand state separate from the Mexican government. This plan suited well the great land-speculators.

These were the sentiments of many leading men in Texas, and thus did they connect their views with the Matamoras expedition. General Houston met on the route a letter from Colonel Bowie, dated the 10th of January, informing him that Dr. Grant had arrived some days before at Goliad, and would leave the next morning (the 11th) for Matamoras. The delay of Dr. Grant appears to have been caused by the absence of Colonel F. W. Johnson, who had come by way of San Felipe, to have the expedition legalized. He declined going in with Fannin, probably because he desired a more independent command. At all events, his forces and those of Grant wanted more privileges than the law allowed them. After some hesitation, the council gave him a sort of carte blanche, and he proceeded to join Dr. Grant.

At this time much dissatisfaction existed among the volunteers. Major Wyatt refused to have anything to do with the expedition without orders from headquarters. Captain Dimit, the commandant at Goliad, was on bad terms with the volunteers from Bexar, and for a good reason : Dr. Grant, without law or order, had seized his caballada of horses. The volunteers left at Bexar held a mass meeting on the day after Dr. Grant's departure, somewhat denunciatory of his course in jeoparding the safety of the place by taking from it two thirds of its defenders, and also the clothing, ammunition, and provisions, intended for the winter supply of the garrison. Colonel Gonzales, a former Mexican officer, but now fighting under Texan colors, had left Bexar about the 25th of December, with some one hundred men, and had not since been heard from. In addition to this desertion of Bexar, the sick and wounded there were left naked and hungry.

General Houston, having reached Goliad on the 16th of January, ordered the command of Major R. C. Morris to take up the line of march for the mission of Refugio on the next day at ten o'clock. On the 17th, he dispatched Colonel Bowie, with thirty men, to Bexar, with a letter to Colonel Neill, desiring him to demolish the fortifications at that place and bring off the artillery, as it would be impossible to hold the town with the force there. " In an hour," says Houston, in a letter to Governor Smith of the 17th of January, " I will take up the line of march for Refugio mission, with a force of about two hundred effective men, where I will await orders from your Excellency. I do not believe that an army of such small force should advance upon Matamoros, with a hope or belief that the Mexicans will cooperate with us. I have no confidence in them. The disaster of Tampico should teach us a lesson to be noted in our future operations I would myself have marched to Bexar, but the ' Matamoros fever' rages so high, that I must see Colonel Ward's men. You can have no idea of the difficulties I have encountered. Patton has told you of the men that make the trouble. Better materials never were in ranks. The government and all its officers had been misrepresented to the army."

It may be proper to state that the order to Colonel Neill to demolish the Alamo, and retire with the artillery, was induced by the information received from that officer on the 17th, advising of the approach of one thousand of the enemy to reduce the place. The commander-in-chief not only dispatched Bowie to that point, but relieved Captain Dimit from the command at Goliad, and ordered him to raise a hundred men, if practicable, and repair to San Antonio. Captain Wyatt was left in command at Goliad until he could be relieved by the regulars, when he was ordered to proceed to headquarters with the force under him.

The letter to Colonel Neill was duly received by that officer; and, in reply, he stated that he could not remove the artillery for want of teams, and therefore did not demolish the fortifications of the place. The volunteers at Bexar had been promised their pay monthly, which not receiving, they gradually abandoned the service, until there were but eighty troops left. Governor Smith, on being informed of this fact, removed Colonel Travis from his position as superintendent of the recruiting service, and dispatched him, with a small force, to Bexar. Shortly after his arrival, Colonel Neill retired to his home. Colonel Travis called for five hundred more troops, " mostly regulars." — " Militia and volunteers," said he, " are but ill suited to garrison a town." He also asked for money, provisions, and clothing. " Enthusiasm," he justly remarked, " may keep up an army for a few days, but money, and money alone, will support an army for regular warfare." None of these things had the commander-in-chief to give. The council had authorized Colonel Fannin to borrow money for his expedition : they had not applied the first dollar to the recruiting-service. The letters from the recruiting-officers all complain that they can not succeed without funds. Colonel Travis had been improvidently removed from its superintendence, thus destroying all hope of filling the ranks of the regular army. The council had also, by its conduct, commended Dr. Grant in stripping the sick and wounded at Bexar of the blankets needed to cover them, and, according to the account of Surgeon Pollard, of the medicines requisite for their recovery !

On the 8th of January—the day on which the commander-in-chief set out for the west— Colonel Fannin issued a proclamation, calling upon the volunteers from " Bexar, Goliad, Velasco, and elsewhere," and ordering them to rendezvous at San Patricio between the 24th and 27th of that month, and report to the officer in command. He himself proposed to sail with the fleet from Velasco on the 18th, and invited all to go on board who desired to keep the war out of Texas. On the 10th, Colonel Johnson issued a like proclamation, calling his the federal volunteer army, marching for the country west of the Rio Grande, under the flag of 1824.

The country between the Texan settlements and the Rio Grande is about one hundred and fifty miles wide, extending in length from the coast to the great mountains in the direction of Santa Fe. It is an undulating prairie, almost entirely destitute of timber. The Nueces and Rio Frio furnish the only permanent supply of water throughout this wide waste. This " Zahara" formed a sort of natural barrier between the Texan settlements and those of Mexico on the Rio Grande. The town of Matamoras, situated on the right bank of that river, a few miles above its mouth, was the fruit of a commerce that had sprung up between the United States and the northeastern provinces of Mexico subsequent to the Mexican Revolution. The only Mexican town on the left bank of the river was La-redo, situated about one hundred and twenty miles above Matamoras. It sprang into existence in 1805, as being the crossing and resting place of Governor Herrera, when he brought on his contingent from New Leon to aid in driving General Wilkinson from the left bank of the Sabine.

The Irish colony at San Patricio had pushed the Texan settlements along the coast to the banks of the Nueces. This was the nearest point to Matamoras. But San Patricio was poor, and unable to furnish anything for the subsistence of an army. To carry on offensive operations against Mexico from, Texas, would require a considerable capital invested in provisions, clothing, munitions, and means of transportation. To transport these articles by sea would have been quite uncertain, as the navigation was dangerous, and the intercourse between the two arms of attack would be rare. Looking at all these difficulties—added to the fact, then fully ascertained, that Texas had no friends in Mexico—it was madness to persevere in the expedition.

General Houston, having reached Refugio, ascertained that there were no breadstuffs either there or at Copano, as he had directed in his orders of December 30th and January 6th. He remained at Refugio to await the arrival of Major Ward and Captain Wyatt—the latter being relieved at Goliad by Lieutenant Thornton and twenty-nine regulars. On the evening of the 20th of January, Colonel F. W. Johnson arrived at Refugio. On the 21st, and previous to receiving notice of his arrival, the general-in-chief issued an order to organize the forces as they reached Refugio, agreeably to the " ordinance for raising an auxiliary corps" to the army. Colonel Johnson then called upon him, and made known to him the resolution of the council of the 14th of January. So soon as he was made acquainted with the mission of Colonel Johnson, and also with the powers granted to Colonel Fannin, he could not be mistaken as to the object of the council, which was, to supersede him. He also received an intimation that that body had deposed Governor Smith. Under these circumstances, General Houston had but one course to pursue : the management of the expedition being thus taken out of his hands by the council, he returned to Goliad, and thence to Washington, where he made a full report of what had occurred to Governor Smith. As the consultation had created an executive and a council, to act until the new convention assembled, he did not see that either had the power to destroy the other. His reports were accordingly made to Governor Smith.

Loan from the United States

The Texan commissioners to the United States concluded a loan on the 11th day of January, 1836, of two hundred thousand dollars, payable ten per cent. in cash, and the balance in installments. On the 18th of January, they negotiated another loan of fifty thousand dollars, entirely in cash. For these successes they were indebted to Colonel William Christy, of New Orleans, to whom, above all other men out of Texas, is she indebted for the favorable prosecution of the war of independence. These funds enabled the Texan agents to throw into the country, at a critical moment, such supplies as kept the army together.

The Cherokees

The consultation, on the 13th day of November, 1835, entered into a solemn declaration, to which each member signed his name, setting forth that the Cherokee Indians and their twelve associate bands had derived their just claims from the government of Mexico to the lands lying north of the San Antonio road and the Neches, and west of the Angelina and Sabine rivers ; that the governor and council, immediately on its organization, should appoint commissioners to treat with said Indians, and establish the definite boundary of their territory, and secure their confidence and friendship ; that they would guaranty to the Indians the peaceable enjoyment of their rights to their lands ; that all surveys, grants, and locations, made within those limits after the settlement of the Indians, are and of right ought to be utterly null and void. These were among the solemn pledges made by the delegates of all Texas to the Indians ; and in pursuance of which, as we have seen, the governor and council appointed Messrs. Houston, Forbes, and Cameron, to treat with them. Moreover, this became the more necessary, as the emissaries of Mexico were already among these Indians, striving to obtain their aid in the contest with her revolted province.

On the return of Houston from Refugio, he received from the governor a furlough till the 1st of March. In the paper (dated January 28) granting this, the latter says : " Your absence is permitted in part by the illegal acts of the council, in superseding you, by the unauthorized appointment of agents to organize and control the army, contrary to the organic law, and the ordinances of their own body. In the meantime, you will conform to your instructions, and treat with the Indians." In pursuance of the commission and instructions of the governor, Messrs. Houston and Forbes proceeded to Bowles's village, and on the 23d day of February, 1836, entered into a treaty with the Indians, in accordance with the solemn declaration of the consultation of the 13th of November, 1835.

At the beginning of the year 1836, Mexico contained eight millions of inhabitants. Of these, four millions were Indians ; two millions were mestizos, or a mixture of Indians and Spaniards ; one million two hundred thousand were creoles of pure Spanish blood ; six hundred thousand were mulattoes, and a mixture of Indians and negroes ; one hundred thousand were negroes ; ten thousand were natives of Spain ; and the remainder were foreigners of different countries. From this it will be seen that Indians and mestizos form the bulk of the population. The Indians, however, have not increased in number for three centuries. Were it not for her bad government, Mexico would be one of the most productive countries in the world. Sugar, coffee, cotton, wheat, maize, and, in fact, all the productions of the temperate and equatorial zones, would grow there in luxuriance. Horses, cattle, sheep, &c., of excellent quality, can be raised there at a trifling expense. Common laborers could be procured at twenty-five cents per day ; mechanics, however, received much higher wages. The pay of the infantry soldier was one dollar and twenty-five cents per day ; of the cavalry, two dollars : but out of this they purchased their own food and clothing, the government furnishing only arms and ammunition. As the government sold to them their rations and clothes, the soldiers were generally in debt ; and, as their supply of provisions was often deficient, they were as frequently compelled to make it up by robbery. Hence the march of Mexican troops, even in their own country, was anticipated with horror by the people along the route. Such were the people, who, guided and stimulated by Santa Anna, were about to bring forth all their power against the fifty thousand colonists who, since 1821, had been filling the extensive territory of Texas.

Santa Anna on the March

General Santa Anna the Mexican president, having determined to lead the invading army in person, reached Saltillo in January, where for a time he made his headquarters. On the first of February, he set out for the Rio Grande, by way of Monclova, with a force of six thousand men. He reached the river on the 12th, where be halted till the 16th, waiting for the troops to come up, ,and to make suitable preparations for crossing the uninhabited prairies which lay between him and Bexar. While tarrying at Guerrero, he was engaged in dictating to the central government his views as to the policy to be pursued toward Texas when it should be reduced. His plan was as follows : to drive from the province all who had taken part in the revolution, together with all foreigners who lived near the seacoast or the borders of the United States ; to remove far into the interior those who had not taken part in the war; to vacate all sales and grants of land owned by non-residents ; to remove from Texas all who had come to the province, and were not entered as colonists under Mexican rules ; to divide among the officers and soldiers of the Mexican army the best lands, provided they would occupy them ; to permit no Anglo-American to settle in Texas ; to sell the remaining vacant lands at one dollar per acre—allowing the French to buy only five millions of acres, the English the same, the Germans somewhat more, and to those speaking the Spanish language without limit ; to satisfy the claims of the civilized Indians; to make the Texans pay the expenses of the war; and to liberate and declare free the negroes introduced into the province.

General Jose Urrea, late governor of the state of Durango, who had joined Santa Anna at Saltillo, was ordered to advance from that point to Matamoras, where he united his forces with others there awaiting him. He reached the latter place on the 1st of February, and remained there till the 18th. Learning that Grant and Johnson were at San Patricio, with a force of two or three hundred men, Urrea set out with three hundred and twenty infantry, three hundred and thirty cavalry, and one four-pounder, in pursuit of them. After a severe march, during which he lost six of his men, who perished with the cold and rain, he arrived at San Patricio on the 27th of February, at three o'clock in the morning.

The army raised by Santa Anna was not brought together without difficulty. The number of mules and horses for purposes of transport, and the great amount of baggage, were extraordinary. In addition to this, a great number of women followed the camp ; but for what purpose they were permitted, unless to take care of the plunder, we are not informed. Every means was resorted to in order to supply the army. According to a letter of Major Morris, an inventory of each person's property was taken, upon which one per cent. was demanded every twenty days !

The next in command to Santa Anna was General Vicente Filisola, by birth an Italian, but for many years a citizen of Mexico ; and, in addition, were Generals Sesma, Gaona, Tolsa, Andrade, Woll, and Cos, all of whom were ordered to concentrate with their commands before San Antonio. At noon, on the 23d of February, the invading army reached the height north of the Alazan—the place where, twenty-three years before, the republicans under Gutierres had gained a signal victory over the adherents of Spain.

To return to the Texans, and the steps they were taking to resist this well-appointed army. At the beginning of the war in 1835, they had shown remarkable zeal and activity in providing for their defense ; but, having driven the enemy utterly out of Texas, they returned to their homes and private affairs. The news of the fresh invasion had spread over the country; the officers of the army, the governor, and the council, had respectively issued their proclamations, and sent forth their hand-bills ; but a lethargy had come over the people. They seemed to disregard all the warnings and invitations to fly to the field. Among the causes to which their apathy may be attributed, were — an exaggerated report of the number of volunteers that had already come and were on the way from the United States ; incredulity as to the fact of the invading army ; exhaustion from the toils and privations of the previous year; and, finally, the paralyzing effect of the quarrel between Governor Smith and his council.

After the governor's suspension by that refractory body, an effort was made to force from him the executive records ; but he stoutly resisted, and retained possession of them. He did what he could in the discharge of his duties ; the council did likewise ; but there was no official intercourse between them. They proceeded against his secretary for contempt. The latter appeared before them, and alleged in his justification that the office of governor was created by the consultation, as was likewise the council, and that therefore he could not recognize any other government. The defense, however, was of no avail : they fined him twenty-five hundred dollars ! In answer to their mandate for the papers, Governor Smith declared that he would defend them with force ; and, in retaliation, sent a writ to the lieutenant-governor, Robinson, for certain papers which he held.

The two parties almost daily inflicted upon the public some explanation or handbill ; but the people, soon apprehending the true state of the case, began to conclude, with Secretary Stewart, that both being creatures of the consultation, neither had the right to dismiss the other. The council, seeing this, began to leave, one by one ; and, from the 18th of January, they never had a quorum, until, by the meeting of the convention in March, they were relieved from a natural death.

But the fruit of this quarrel was fast ripening, and gallant men, who had come hundreds of miles to hold up the arms of Texas against a powerful enemy, were compelled first to partake of it. As one among many instances of confusion produced by this discord, John A. Wharton, one of the military agents, dispatched to New Orleans for provisions, having arrived at Velasco on the last of January with a supply, was ordered by Colonel Fannin to proceed with them to Copano, while the commander-in-chief had directed them elsewhere ! " I shall await with them," writes Wharton, " at Matagorda. I do this because I believe that, to execute your previous orders, and proceed to Copano, would not meet your present wishes I enclose an original copy of Colonel Fannin's orders for them. I perceive that there are more commanders-in-chief than one." Thus matters stood, and for which there could be no relief until the meeting of the convention on the first of March

The consultation had provided that the council should pass no laws, except such, as in their opinion, the emergency of the country required. Besides the decree to raise a regular army, they passed another to organize a corps of rangers, which was much needed, especially on the northwestern frontier, to protect the country from the Comanche and other Indian tribes; also another, authorizing the commander-in-chief to accept the services of five thousand auxiliary volunteers ; and yet another important act, authorizing and commissioning Thomas J. Chambers to raise an army of reserve. This law, accompanied by an advance, on the part of General Chambers, of ten thousand dollars in behalf of Texas, was very essential. Besides these provisions, they made others organizing the courts, the treasury, and the navy; and still others in regard to the municipal affairs of the state—thus laying the foundation upon which subsequent legislative bodies have built up what is called the "Texas System." Taking these measures as a whole, and looking to the circumstances under which they were framed, the rule of civil polity was good. The most important duties of the governor and council were, to provide ways and means for the support of the army. Had they attended more to these, instead of interfering with the command and movement of the troops, of which they were ignorant, the country would perhaps have suffered less, and not been witness to fields of slaughter. [See Next: Battle of San Patricio]

 

 

 

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