Description[Texas Revolution] Joseph P. Pulsifer Retained Letter Diary Spanning October 30, 1832-August 4, 1836. 146 letters, totaling 282 pages, 4" x 6.5", meticulously and legibly copied in ink by Massachusetts native Joseph Pulsifer. An interesting archive as it includes official and personal letters written and received by Pulsifer including many relating a remarkably informed story of the events of the Texas Revolution as they unfold. The letters also reveal fascinating details about life in Massachusetts and New Orleans in the 1830s.
Joseph Pulsifer was born in 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Brought up in a close-knit family, he trained as an apothecary and moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1827 to open a drug store. In an early letter dated May 30, 1833, Pulsifer was invited to move to New Orleans by a business proposal from Samuel Mason in an early letter dated May 30, 1833: "Do not be surprised to receive a letter from your old friend down at such a distance from the land of his birth for he is come here and contented to stay and now writes to invite you to come to this rich and beautiful country." Mason promised Pulsifer a " retail branch about 3/4s of a mile above our present store [in New Orleans] and would give you the charge of the same at a fixed salary or would give a portion of the profits as you might prefer. If you would like to try your fortune in this section of our continent answer soon."
Pulsifer accepted and moved to the bustling port city of New Orleans later in 1833 at the age of twenty-eight. As the correspondences in his diary reveal, New Orleans was a dangerous place. Outbreaks of various diseases were common: "Our City [New Orleans] is now very sickly, the yellow fever is raging to a great extent"; "I have seen by the papers that the cholera is now raging in New Orleans. I suppose it alarms you a little."
In 1835, two years after arriving in New Orleans, Mason died and Pulsifer entered another business partnership with Henry Millard and Thomas B. Huling. This mercantile business partnership required him to move to Texas in July 1835 to manage a store at Santa Anna-soon renamed Beaumont-in the piney southeast corner of Texas along the Neches River. There, just thirty miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, Pulsifer sold medicines, liquor, coffee, shoes, "calicoes", blankets, guns, gunpowder, and groceries to the thinly scattered Texas settlers.
Making life in southeast Texas more difficult was the absence of good roads through the thick pine forests and bayous, causing Pulsifer to remark unequivocally, "We have no roads." Travel was best done by canoe, steamboat, or on horseback. In one letter, Pulsifer claimed to Lucy that to travel from Beaumont to New Orleans (261 miles along modern Interstate 10) he "had 200 miles to ride on horseback to get to a steamboat and then 200 down the [Red] river to get to this place [New Orleans]." But despite the hardships, Pulsifer appears to have adapted well to his new home, even describing his dwelling in Beaumont as "a capacious log house placed in the midst of a forest bordering a view-than which there can be none more beautiful in the world."
For the next several months, Pulsifer managed his store while writing and receiving many letters which reveal details of the unfolding Texas Revolution. Two letters, however, are outstanding for their content about the revolution. The first was written from Beaumont to "Friend Brown" (George Brown, a close friend from New England), dated April 19, 1836. In this letter he writes, "The most correct particulars I can get hold of relating to its loss . . . were obtained if I mistake not by the black boy [Joe] owned by Capt Traviss and a lady that the Mexicans let go to her home [Susanna Dickinson]. There were at the time 184 men in the fort. . . ." In the riveting narrative that follows, Pulsifer gives what must have been all of the news he had at that time, only forty-four days after the fall. Included in his account is "the red flag waving, denoting that no quarter would be shewed them"; Travis emboldening his men with "here they come boys, thick as hail"; and the apocryphal account of the dying Travis killing one last Mexican commander before being killed himself. "Such friend Brown," Pulsifer ends his story, "is the melancholy tale of the fall of the Alamo, and dear dearly did the Mexicans purchase it."
Pulsifer devoted several pages in the letter to the aftermath of the Alamo, including the surrender of James Fannin ("he hoisted a white flag and capitulated with the Mexicans . . . [the Mexican soldiers] most inhumanly massacred them all . . . Cursed demons!") and the retreat of Sam Houston's army before the invading force of Santa Anna. Frustrated, Pulsifer ends this letter, "I can get no news from the U.S. for our mail is thrown into confusion again."
The second letter concerning the Alamo (and the longest letter in the diary) was written by Pulsifer to his sister Lucy on May 21, 1836. In this account, he gives an inclusive summary of the Revolution, going back to the events of June 1835 in Anahuac: "It seems before I left New Orleans [July 1835] the people had risen against the Mexican authority, and a few armed Texians had driven from Nacogdoches and a place called Anahuac . . . all the soldiers of the Mexican military government." Pulsifer blames the Revolution on Santa Anna, whom the Texians had at one time "worshipped", but the "patriotism of Santa Anna was soon swallowed up in his ambition and the title of President was too simple to fill his aspiring mind therefore another resolution was set at work in Mexico, and soon the constitution was trampled under foot to give place to a central or military system, with Santa Anna at its heads as Dictator perhaps for life. . . . Texas with a population not exceeding thirty thousand, at that time alone stood out against Santa Anna with his mighty power." About the Alamo: "The Mexicans with Santa Anna at their head suddenly made their appearance giving our men to the name of 184 only time to get into the Alamo something like 20 or 30 days provisions and themselves, when they took possession of St. Antonio. Then they commenced operations on the Alamo. . . ." Since writing the letter to Brown in April, Pulsifer had learned new information which he included in this letter, such as the story of the Mexican woman who was inside the form Catholic mission and "gave intelligence to the Mexicans without that all were asleep in the fort." Also included in this letter is the defeat of Santa Anna at San Jacinto: "In 15 minutes the Mexicans were completely routed for the watchword was that which could do no otherwise then make our men fight like lions-Remember the Alamo was the fearful cry. . . . The last victory have given them a dread of the Americans they can never recover from and I sincerely hope will be the means of giving us peace."
Following a final letter to Huling on August 4, 1836, the diary ends with the following entry: "I had the misfortune by breaking a Phial of phosphorous in my hat to destroy a letter from Thos B. Huling, two from Col Millard, one from John C. Read and one from Wm Moore one also from Franklin Hardin." After this unfortunate entry, Pulsifer's pen falls silent and he leaves several gatherings of empty pages. He died in Beaumont, Texas, in 1861 leaving his belongings, including a thirteen volume diary of which this single volume was a part, to his sister, Lucy Pulsifer Granger. (Joseph had no children and remained a bachelor all of his life.) Lucy and her husband George Granger moved from Newburyport, Massachusetts, to Galveston, Texas, after the Texas Revolution. The diaries remained with their descendants in Galveston until the devastating hurricane of 1900, when all but this volume was lost. The volume, which was chronologically the first volume, remained in the Granger family.
Throughout the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, Zulieka Semans, a descendant of Lucy Pulsifer Granger working as a librarian in Houston, painstakingly transcribed 104 of the letters into a 220 page typed manuscript. In her own letter to a Texas publishing house in 1965, she wrote that she "tried to copy the letters exactly as they were wirtten [sic], punctuation (and the lack of it), etc." Each letter was typed on a separate page. She tried to have the diary published, but the deal never happened. Later in the 1980s, she showed the diary to two Texas historians, Judith Walker Linsley and Ellen Walker Rienstra. With Ms. Semans' consent, the two historians made Pulsifer's diary public with the publication of the significant "Alamo" letter (dated May, 21, 1836) from Joseph to his sister Lucy in the November 1983 publication of the Texas Gulf Historical & Biographical Record. The remaining letters of the extant volume remain unpublished.
The diary is comprised of seven sewn gatherings. The pages are toned and brittle with occasional light chipping and faint staining; light dampstaining occurs on several of the blank pages near the end of the diary. The worn and wrinkled coated brown paper wrappers are detached but present. Only one leaf has separated from the binding. Considering its age and the amount of handling it has endured, this fragile item is in remarkably solid condition. Several documents, which illuminate the diary, are included.
Joseph Pulsifer in Texas
Pulsifer arrived in Texas with many other migrating Americans. He claimed that when he started for Texas "all was peace", but to his dismay, it quickly became a "country shaken almost to destruction by intestine strife a place where no sooner is one revolution finished or nearly completed than another commences." Much of the strife occurred as a result of the arrival of so many Americans to the Mexican state (before the Revolution, Texas was part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas). The strain between the Texians (Americans living in Texas) and the Mexican government was exacerbated by the long distance between Texas and the center of the state and national government, which made it difficult for Texians to voice their complaints. One of their major complaints came in 1834 when Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna rescinded the Mexican Constitution of 1824, which was favored by the Texians because of its broad promises of freedom, and replaced it with a new constitution.
As trouble loomed between the Texians and the Mexican government, Pulsifer continued to receive letters. His correspondences, however, do not communicate any uneasiness in Texas until a letter written by Benjamin Harper dated September 4, 1835. In this letter, Harper simply mentions that the people of Liberty, Texas, located several miles west of Beaumont, had a meeting "last Sunday for the purpose of ascertaining whether a majority of the people were in favour of a convention [the Consultation] or not. The votes stood thus for convention 68 against 31." While the Consultation wasn't held until November, other events leading to revolution begin to quickly unfold in Pulsifer's diary.
Harper's next letter, dated September 12, 1835, informs Pulsifer of "some news perhaps that you are not in possession of." That news concerned the return of Stephen F. Austin onboard the Texas schooner San Felipe and the colorful maritime battle that ensued on September 2, 1835-arguably the first shots fired in the Revolution. Austin was returning from Mexico City where he had been held against his will from January 1834 through July 1835. Before his captivity, he had insisted that Texas remain a part of Mexico, but following his release, he became an outspoken advocate for independence. Harper reports in his letter, "Stephen F. Austin is certainly at home. [Thomas M.] Thompson [Mexican naval officer of English birth commanding the Correo de Mejico] is taken together with his vessel and crew, he was taken by the Schr San Phillipi [the schooner San Felipe]." The Texian's won their first battle at sea and the Mexican Naval Commander Thompson and his crew were sent "heavily armed" to New Orleans where, Harper hoped, they "will receive their just deserts, insuring that Stephen F. Austin's return to Texas was safe.
Meanwhile, Henry Millard wrote on October 8, 1835, to update Pulsifer on the selections for the Consultation scheduled for mid-October. According to Millard, "Capt Rogers" seemed to be winning support as a delegate to the Consultation while he, Millard, was losing support. Millard was hoping to be sent to the Consultation and he appealed to Pulsifer to "Keep this to yourself and favour my election all you can." Millard then identified the ticket he wished Pulsifer to support, which included "D. J. Burnett [David G. Burnet, who later served as interim president]." Millard won the election, but before leaving for the scheduled October 15 meeting, he gave a copy of his will to Pulsifer, "not knowing what might be his fate". Pulsifer transcribed Millard's will into his diary and then passed it on to Millard's brother Alfred in Louisiana, through a December 5, 1835, letter.
After arriving at Washington-on-the-Brazos for the scheduled Consultation, he "found that most of the delegates had joined the army or left here for that purpose and we the Delegates from Liberty shall leave here tomorrow for the seat of war. The convention is adjourned until the first of November." The Consultation, attended by fifty-eight delegates, did finally meet at San Felipe on November 1. What actually happened at the Consultation was summarized by Millard in his next letter dated November 24, 1835: "We have this morning closed our session of the convention by adjourning to meet at the town of Washington on the 1st of March next. . . . We have established a provisional government with full powers to Legislate... Henry Smith of Columbia is chosen Governor . . . Saml Houston major General and commander in chief of the army of Texas." Millard goes on to correctly predict that a declaration of independence would be issued "at the next meeting of the convention."
Pulsifer and the Committee of Safety
With rebellion came an outpouring of volunteers. Around Beaumont, Pulsifer reported that twenty-four volunteered for the army in October 1835 to "drive from the state the minions of Santa Ana." Three weeks later, eight more men volunteered which left "scarce half a dozen men in the whole settlement." As a result, "We are quite lonesome here for almost everybody is gone to the war." Even though Pulsifer never volunteered as so many others, including his good friend Elisha Stephenson, he still contributed to the Revolution by serving as secretary of the Committee of Safety for the "District of Netches [Neches]". Serving in this role, he felt that he should not volunteer for the army, "it being absolutely necessary that I should fill my office of Secretary of the Committee of Safety."
Committees of Safety, first organized in Texas in 1832, were formed to organize militias to protect locals against hostile Indians. During the Texas Revolution, Committees were elected to keep Texans informed about revolutionary developments and to effectively organize and defend against the Mexican Army. In a letter to Lucy dated March 9, 1836, Pulsifer, appointed secretary on October 10, 1835, wrote that the Committee of Safety was elected to "administer the laws for the present-according to the Constitution, and keep records of all the transactions in their respective places that might be of moment to the government."
One fascinating and lengthy Committee letter which Pulsifer only partially copied into his diary is to the Liberty Committee from the "Netches" Committee [not dated, though likely written in November 1835] and foresees Texas independence. Written four months before the Texas Declaration of Independence, the Committee writes, "To declare ourselves independent in total from the Mexican government would leave us one thing certain could it be achieved which is-a constitution with laws in accordance with our dispositions, and which no one but ourselves could dispute about." This letter also suggests ways to finance the Revolution: "It is understood by us that a loan of one million dollars is to be contracted for Texas in the United States, why should we send there [the U.S.] for loans when money might be had in plenty from the payment in land offices of the money due for lands now surveyed?"
Another "Netches" Committee letter to Millard and dated December 1, 1835, conveys that they have "just received the Governor's [Henry Smith] message, and the object of this letter to you is to lay before you the opinion which that paper has left upon our minds after perusal." After grappling with the decisions of the Consultation, the Committee continues, "If we understand the message correctly we are as yet a sovereign state in the Mexican confederacy-for as no formal declaration of absolute independence from Mexico been declared... that in direct terms, the first Article of the 'Declaration of the people of Texas in general convention assembled' asserts we are defending the Federal constitution of Mexico of 1824 in these words 'That they have taken up arms in defence of their rights and liberties, which are threatened by the encroachments of military despots...'" The Committee then very thoughtfully lays out its disagreement with the Consultation and what it feels "cannot be carried into effect", such as Texas' capability to defend its coast ("Where in our country are we to find men to keep our army good and leave a sufficient force to defend this line of forts from the attacks of enemies?"), creation of a navy, the establishment of a tariff, and finally, the location of a "permanent place of meeting for the government".
Pulsifer took his responsibilities as secretary seriously, just as he took his business responsibilities seriously. The times were hard for business endeavors, which is why Millard reminded him, "We are now operating in troublesome times, make as few bad debts as possible be cautious and collect all you can this winter." The stakes were high; like so many Texians, Pulsifer felt that his financial future depended on the success of the Revolution: "does this country fail, I am but an encumbered ruined man, but should it stand firm, I have no doubt but in a short time I should be independently rich."
The summer following the victory at San Jacinto, Millard, dissatisfied with the political and military leadership in Texas, was involved in a conspiracy to arrest President David Burnet. Writing to Pulsifer on July 24, he wrote that the letter would be delivered by "Doct Cooper . . . who can give you many particulars of the battle of San Jacinto & the scenes & suffering of our little army owing to the bad policy pursued by the commander in chief in the first place. Both the corrupt councils of last spring & the proceedings of the present cabinet." Continuing, he complained about the conditions his men, many "having but barely clothing enough", had; these were the same men, he stressed, who "fought so gallantly in battle & took the artillery from the enemy on the memorable 21st April." What really made Millard angry was that the army of Texas should have pursued the Mexican army and destroyed it "but the commanding genl would not permit it." Instead, "the cabinet acted upon the same policy & commenced treating with a prisoner [Santa Anna] who had brought them and Texas into a pretty dilemma. . . . In our present situation the people must again to the field or Texas is lost." Millard's angry letter quotes at length from a letter written to the new commander in chief, Thomas Rusk from Henry Teal. Teal had written that he had been "detained here [Matamoras] for nothing but to keep you ignorant of the enemy's intention they will soon be down on you in great numbers. . . . They have heard that the President [Santa Anna] is at Velasco under a very weak guard and say that they will have him in less than 2 weeks." Even though Jose de Urrea was opposed to withdrawing from Texas, he did after the captured Santa Anna ordered it. Urrea never went on the offensive.
When the revolution was over, displaced Texians returned to their homes. The Mexican army crossed back into Mexico in June, and in October, Sam Houston became the first elected president of the new Republic of Texas. Just as nation building began, a strained peace ensued between the Republic and Mexico. Joseph Pulsifer got back to the business of doing business in Beaumont. In the spring of 1836, he was appointed postmaster of the growing town. According to some, he became romantically involved with the daughter of Joseph Grigsby, a wealthy planter. Sadly, she died shortly after their courtship began and he remained a bachelor the remainder of his life in Beaumont, Texas.
The diary is accompanied by: (1) Zulie Semans Typed Transcript (220 pages) of 104 letters, including the two lengthy Alamo letters. (2) Correspondence between Zulie Semans and the Naylor Company (from 1945 through 1965) concerning the possibility of publishing Pulsifer's diary. An agreement was never reached and the diary was never published. (3) Mary Pulsifer Granger Three Autograph Letters Signed, 1856, Beaumont, to family members. Mary Granger was Lucy Pulsifer Granger's daughter. (4) The Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, November 1883, which contains the only publication of any of Pulsifer's diary: the letter from Joseph to his sister Lucy, May 21, 1836, on pages 51-78. (5) Two sheets, 8.5" x 13", containing a family tree of "Elizabeth Pulsifer and Her Descendents." (6) Beaumont Enterprise newspaper clippings. One from September, 1937, with article "Commission of Beaumont's First Postmaster in Texas Republic Days Found in Yellowed Packet of Letters." Also, 1990 clippings about the displaying of the Pulsifer diary at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont. (7) Two spiral notebooks used by Ms. Semans during the transcription process. (8) Robert Barr Document Signed appointing Joseph Pulsifer "to the office of Post Master for the Town of Bumont [Beaumont]." One page partly printed, 9" x 11", March 6, 1837, Columbia, Texas, with heading "IN THE NAME AND BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS." Robert Barr (1802-1839) was appointed the Texas Republic's first postmaster general by Sam Houston. Interestingly, Beaumont is misspelled. Blind embossed seal of the Republic of Texas in lower left. According to a letter dated March 9, 1836, Pulsifer tells Lucy that he had already been appointed post master: "We have now a mail established in Texas, and I am appointed post master at our place which is called Beaumont." (9) Pearl Hendricks Typed Document, seven pages, 9" x 11", n.d. (though likely ca. 1930), n.p. A short history of the Pulsifers in Beaumont.
We have quoted sparingly from this diary as it is both fragile, and for the most part unpublished. What follows is a complete transcription of Joseph Pulsifer's letter to his sister Lucy dated May 21, 1836. This letter is exemplary of the content of the entire diary.
Sent by Mr. Moon
I think June 3rd
Beaumont, formerly Santa Anna
May 21st 1836
I wrote you sometime since by a vessel which sailed from here to New Orleans requesting Mr Benjamin Rogers, the gentleman who took it for me to put it in the Postoffice at New Orleans. It was dated 14th Apl; a time I will assure you dear sister that wove a hue dark enough as to my future prospects. I believe I must make a long letter of this Lucy and give you a kind of history of my life since I have left New Orleans, for I think an account of the circumstances in which I have been placed will not be without interest to you.
To begin then, with a joyful heart after some hindrance we made fast our little schooner called the Commercial, to the steam boat that was to tow us down the river between sunset and dark on the 10th July 1835, and the next morning at about 7 o'clk were again cast off just within the bar of the South West pass and during that day and the next had a fair wind with most pleasant weather, and the next day at about three o'clock made the land about three miles from the Sabine Pass through which we had to go to get to our place of destination. Beside the Cap. & crew there were on board of the vessel Mr Huling one of the partners of our company Mr Scott a young man whom I had heard a boy of abt 15 years old by the name of Joshua Spelman whom Mr Millard & Huling had taken from the orphan asylum at New Orleans, and myself. Mr. Millard could not get ready to come. We found the Pass most difficult to get through the channell being very crooked and narrow, and broken on each side by oyster banks that rise within a foot and half of the surface of the water. At its entrance from the main ocean or rather the Gulph of Mexico, it is about four miles wide but contracting very fast to not more than a mile in width and is called from its bar to the entrance of Sabine Lake six miles. After getting aground once or twice we succeeded during the next A.M. to get into the lake and now had twenty miles more to go to get to the mouth of the Neches River, on the banks of which our establishments were placed. We found the Lake very shallow, the water being not more than six feet deep, and frequently got aground putting us to a great deal of difficulty in getting off and find our way about. I t was on the second day I think after we entered the Pass a little past noon we, having got just into the Lake when we again grounded, and in the confusion the only boat we had was left unfastened and upon discovering her drifting away the Capt called upon the cook to swim after her. He undressed himself and jumped over, but the boat drifted so fast he could not overtake it so that we were most unwillingly forced to see the poor fellow drown without being able to render him any assistance. This accident stuck a damp over us all, so that we laid there aground in the midst of the lake with no boat to anyway assist in getting us off, in fact our feelings were such that we paid no attention to it. We hoisted our colours with the Union down, but it was of no use for no mortal was or likely to be in sight, for it was one of the most desolate places seemingly there could be. After a while on towards night they made a wary kind of raft on which two of the men reached the shore and finally succeeded in bringing the boat to the vessel a little after dark. The next day we anchored about two mile from the mouth of the river, and the next day I think the first Texian I ever had known came on board. His name was Grigsby quite a patriarchal looking old gentleman with whom I had much pleasant conversation relative to the manners & customs of the Texians. He was a planter of the country and at the time had shipped on board a sloop that lay there 24 bales of cotton with which he was going to New Orleans. Mr. Huling engaged of him a lighter to get the goods up to our place, which as soon as the cotton was taken out of her came along side bringing with her another Texian by the name of Savary together with two black boys belonging to Grigsby. Grigsby had been in the country I think six years and was from the state of Kentucky. Savary scarce a year and was from Michigan. From a very heavy rain we were not able to lead the lighter until the next day when she made her trip as far as Mr Grigsbys house which was about 7 miles from the mouth of the river, the reason we had to employ a lighter was from the little depth of water on the bar, at the mouth of the river which did not exceed three feet. Sabine Lake in which we were now riding at another is about twenty mile one way and ten the other, we now laying near the head of its longest par. The river off which we lay is called the Neches to the East of this and bounding the river as it were is a deep indentation apparently once the river's course and known by the name of the old river, its mouth is from three to four miles wide forming quite a bay. To the east of this about two miles further on six miles from the Neches, is the entrance to the Sabine river which makes the boundary of the United States. The lighter returned again the next day and that night about 9 O'Clock landed us at Mr Grigsbys place, and for the first time in my life I made my bed in the open air before a fire and not without some fear of snakes went to sleep. The next day the 21st July, after a hard day's work of rowing besides getting a thorough drenching from a heavy shower of rain, and covering the distance of twenty four miles, at about dark we stopped at the landing at Santa Anna hen a person who lived in the house above, about 8 or 19 rids from the river side by the name of Jesse Eaves invited us up to take supper and sleep with him. Our host was a thin consumptive looking man with a rather bent form and might be from thirty five to forty years old. We had a real presbyterian appearance, muttered a kind of grace over the meal and seemed from the flock of children around him who amounted to seven as if he had done his part in populating Texas. His house might have been 15 foot by 20 and perhaps 10 foot high built of wide and rather thick pieces roughly split out from the trees which are called here pecos, stuck into the ground, having a door way on each side the NW and SE but no doors, the roof was covered with rough oak staves having marks on the rough floor of having let in water during the rain of the day. The next morning early the light was unloaded and again proceeded down to Mr Grigsbys for the remainder of the goods taking Mr Scott with him while Mr Huling myself and Burril Eaves a brother to Jesse with a sled instead of a cart and oxen together with a young man whom Mr Huling had hired got the goods up to the store. The store might be 50 rods up the river from the landing on quite high ground perhaps twenty five foot from the surface of the river. It is placed in the midst of the forest perhaps 150 feet from the bank of the river, trees of every description pined, oak, ash, and hicory growing round so thick that not more than 600 rods could be seen any way from it excepting toward the river where the view could extend to the other side. It was 20 foot by 30 built of logs the inside and outside of which were dressed square, and merely laid on each other, with a stave out on the ends to keep them firm and steady, the roof was covered with rough split pieces about 3. Ft long from 8 to 12 inches wide and from ½ to ¾ in thick. The floor was made of good plank about 1 ½ in thick. Such is the place and store where I am doing business. We were now busy for a number of days in unpacking the goods and fitting up the store. It was the second day after we arrived that I took a walk up in the town as Mr Grigsby called it, with him. We followed a slight trod path through a dense thick wood about ¾'s of a mile when we came to a creek or Bayou as the term it here about 30 foot wide, over which we crossed on a lay log and again entered a thick wood. About 20 rod from the Bayou was a little log house perhaps 10 ft square, used for a school house and this was the first house we came to since I left ours. We proceeded on in the path still through the woods perhaps for a quarter of a mile when we came to a store built like ours of logs, and kept by a person by the name of Rogers, brother to the one who carried your letter to New Orleans but which we found fast closed. We then continued on perhaps half a mile further when we came to another house owned by a man by the name of Tevis, a most singular being who quickly set spirit and cups to drink out of. He had a large field embracing perhaps twenty acres cleared from trees, excepting a few peach and fig trees just round his dwelling. I had a sweet repast of figs which were then ripe. His house was likewise built of logs and consisted of two perhaps 10 ft separated from each other, but the whole was covered with a continuous roof and floored, thus having in the middle a most pleasant airy room in which he together with some strangers were setting. After setting a while we went further on and again through the woods to a partially finished log house in which lived a rather portly, but somewhat gray haired gentleman by the name of Read. He appeared to me quite an intelligent person indeed struck me more favourably than anyone I have seen. From the conversation carried on with him I learned that the house he was in was to be finished as a public house which he was to keep and that Capt Rogers, the merchant who had been trading here and who was now gone to New Orleans with cattle to get goods, had purchased a lot of fifty acres of land of Tevis at five dollars an acre and was about building him a store just above the house, where he intended to put his goods and trade when he returned. We then looked at the bank of the river a little distance below Read's house which Mr Huling thought of building a store upon provided he could buy another lot of fifty acres from Tevis. We then went a little distance further to another house where a person by the name of Dyches with his wife, mother and sister lived. Mr. Huling had some considerable chat with the sister who was a maiden lady of rather a portly habit black eyes and rather a brown skin, and far from a disagreeable appearance. This was the last house we visited and at this time the whole place consisted of but twelve homes and ninety individuals great and small. It was at this time we had a partition and mud chimney built to the store. On the 26th July we were called to elect offices and form a military company, the people thinking it time to put themselves in readiness to oppose the Mexicans who wished to establish their control system over them.
It seems before I left New Orleans the people had risen against the Mexican authority, and a few armed Texians had driven from Nacogdoches and a places called Anahuac pronounced An-a-wack, all the soldiers of the Mexican military government. The Mexicans had until within a short time lived under a constitutional government very similar to the United States, with Santa Anna as its President, and to get this form of government the Americans of Texas had joined Santa Anna, and worshipped him almost while patriotically fighting for it, and during this time he was President of it. It was from these high wronged feelings for him that this place was named after him for at the time this town was laid out he was worshipped by the people. The patriotism of Santa Anna was soon swallowed up in his ambition and the title of President was too simple to fill his aspiring mind therefore another resolution was set at work in Mexico, and soon the constitution was trampled under foot to give place to a central or military system, with Santa Anna at its head as a Dictator perhaps for life. State after State had been reduced to this form of government, until a short time before I arrived here, eighteen out of the nineteen states and three territories embracing a population of six million eight hundred thousand acknowledged the sway of Santa Anna and crouched like slaves to his military government, Texas with a population not exceeding thirty thousand, at that time alone stood against Santa Anna with his mighty power. They knew how they were situated and notwithstanding the overwhelming disproportion, they dared to make a stand for their freedom, to never live under a government less liberal than the constitution. The legislature of our state had been dissolved by the Mexican government, and our governor imprisoned and their laws declared null and void, for some unlawful speculations they entered into; so that it was left with a council of safety for the time being to call upon the people to arm themselves and form themselves into companies, for at this time it was thought a large force of Mexicans would be sent against us, for previous to this their soldiers had been driven from the country.
Our election took place on Sunday & Monday the 26th and 27th of July and resulted in the election of Burril Eaves as Captain, Charles Williams Lt and Frederick D Williams as ensign, the whole number of votes thrown being nineteen. Mr Scott and myself merely went to vote and returned directly back, the poles being held at Rogers' store. From this time to the first September proceeded on with my business. Mr Huling having been to Zaval the place where he keeps his store about 90 miles by land and 190 by water from this place, and taken his portion of goods up in his boat which was very large and completely covered with boards. Mr Millard had also arrived, he & Capt Rogers coming in the same vessel. I was selling off very fast, and made quite a profitable trade with about a dozen Indians. The people I found were very fond of drinking and one quarrelsome fellow in a drunken frolic stabbed another though not to hurt him much, the day Mr Huling's boat arrived-Capt Rogers' new store was built and he had got all his things in it, and up there all our political questions were discussed, for mention would frequently be made of our situation, and plans for defense. Not far from this time also we employed a person to teach school here and Mr Read, Capt Rovers, Burril Eaves and myself were appointed trustees. I drew up a paper of regulations which they all approved of. On the second of September a meeting of all our citizens was called to get the voice of the people wether it were advised to choose delegates by a general convention of the people to meet at some point, in order to petition the Mexican government to remove their soldiers from us, and to give them permission if they saw fit to establish custom houses among us. This meeting was called from news from the interior that the Mexicans were marching to the country and disarming all the men of the frontiers, and it was reported that they intended in that way to go through the country, and take all our arms and ammunition from us. The people's wish was still to live under the constitutional government they had sworn allegiance to, and are bent upon resistance to Santa Anna's system. Doct Welch from Trinity River and Judge West from Cow Bayou was at the meeting. Mr Millard addressed the people as also did Doct Welch who commented upon a letter of Judge Williams of Trinity who favoured the Mexicans, and who was trying to keep the people quiet. There was about twenty who attended this meeting and they were all in favour of calling a convention. After the meeting was over a notices was written requiring a meeting of the company for drills on Sunday night. It now began to put on the appearance among us of serious times, and I found myself in quite a different situation from what I had ever been placed before in my life. The sound now around was for preparation, and today for the first time in my life I fired a piece larger than a pistol for after the meeting was over I selected a rifle and began practicing with a ball. The next Sunday we again met as a military company but without guns, were exercised by Major Millard as the orderly sergeant, and also addressed by him and Capt Burril Eaves. The address of each were to rivet the members to that constitution they had sworn allegiance to, and couched in language that none could misunderstand. After this a series of resolutions drawn up by Major Millard were read by myself to the company, and were unanimously adopted. The first recommended a voluntary corps to be formed of the company by the name of the Neches Guards. Their motto "Try Us". The second recommended the choosing a committee to draw up a constitution and by-laws to be formed of three members: Major Millard, Jesse Eaves and myself. The third was a statement of the object of the formation of the company which was none else than to be in preparation were our rights to be taken from us. The fourth recommended it to be a mounted corps and invited it to join with the others to form an independent region then choose its officers. The fifth recommended a committee of correspondence who were Major Millard Burril Eaves and myself. As chairman of the committee of correspondence, I sent two copies of our proceedings together with some observations of my own to Cow Bayou & Liberty.
It was some short time after this that Col. Austin arrived in this country from Mexico where he had forcibly been detained a prisoner and at a public dinner given him at San Felipe had addressed the people, stating to them the necessity of calling a convention, that we should have some head to regulate us, and that they should let Santa Anna know what kind of government would suit us. It was on the 2nd October we were again called together to make a kind of government for ourselves, we convceiving ourselves without law but it amounted to nothing for we were given to understand that the constitutional laws were in effect so long as we were struggling for the constitution. The reason however of our coming together was from Judge Williams refusing to call the regular court or sit upon the bench to decide on trials he giving as a reason the rebellious state of the people, and from some remark of Col. Austin in his address. On the 10th October we met again to choose delegates to the convention. They had a meeting some days previous at Liberty and chosen six persons without giving any information to us or Cow Bayou, which when we were informed of we dissented from as both this place & Cow Bayou belonged to the same municipality and therefore ought to have voted together, we accordingly got up a ticket among ourselves placing Major Millard's name in the room of one of the names on the old ticket and run him in by a large majority. At this same meeting a committee of safety was chosen which consisted of Capt Saml Rogers chairman and myself as secretary. Mr Grigsby Mr Williams & Mr Lewis. We now heard the Mexicans were advancing in a large force, and our delegates instead of meeting together took arms and joined the army to keep the Mexicans from entering the country. On the day of our election of a delegate there were 14 of our men volunteered their services and departed the next Thursday to join the army. On the 16th October the committee of safety met and made a record of the names of those who had gone to the army, and this day I had the pleasure of forming an acquaintance with a young man by the name of Elisha Stephenson to whom I have ever felt most friendly disposed. We now frequently heard from the army, and of their success. About this time one hundred and fifty Americans took a very strong for at Labadie or Goliad without losing, I believe a man. It contained military stores &c to to the amoung of 100008, : also heard that our army was 500 and marching to San Antonio. We heard Cos the Mexican commander being at San Antonio with 1500 men and 500 iron hobbles to put upon the Americans. We also at this time stood much in fear of the Indians who in considerable numbers surround us, for it was said they were carrying their squaws to the mountains, and did not as usual hunt in the prairies. This was the manner they conducted themselves when they were preparing for war and gave us considerable alarm lest their intention toward us should be hostile. It was proposed by Capt Rogers that a block house should be built in the prairie with a swivel we had above us so large as to hold all the families that were with us, we sent out a person by the name of Timins who understands the Indian dialect, to ascertain if they were hostile, and which side they meant to go against. He brought us in word that they meant no hostility to either side, so that our fears on their account were allayed, this took place just before volunteers started & at this time our fears were completely done away respecting them by information that two of their chiefs had gone to our convention. Mr. Millard was chosen Capt by our men that went from here and went on with them as far as St Antonio but had no sooner got here than he with the rest of the members were ordered back to San Felipe to meet in convention for the maintenance of the army, and to form a government &c.
In the 12th Novr a party of seven volunteers left here for the army among them my friend Elisha Stephenson. We continued to hear of the successes of our army in a number of skirmishes they had with the Mexicans which always resulted in success on our side. The Mexicans had obtained information that but 90 of our men were then near St Antonio separated from the main army when the Mexican commander says to one of his officers take 400 men and go out and bring those rebels into me. Less than our whole force, he answered, would be useless for we have Americans to fight. Go out, replied Cos, with 400 and chastise them. He went out and attacked our men, but the 90 brave boys soon left 16 bodies in the field and drove them back again into the fort. Why did you not bring them back asked Cos of his general. I told you Sire, he replied we had Americans to contend with and less than our whole force would be useless! As secretary of the committee of safety I drew up a letter containing our reasons and wishes that our delegate should be in favour of declaring Teas independent completely from Mexico. We were now lonesome indeed in our place for all but four or five of the men had left it. I was lonesome too in the greatest degree for at this time Jesse Eaves who lived just below me and hand been employed by Mr Grigsby to take care of his house on the bluff below where we stopped the first night of our entering the river-so the nearest neighbor I had was more than a mile from me. Mr Tevis the singular gentleman I mentioned now lay very sick. He was one of the first settlers of this place, and after him the elder part of the community called it Tevis Bluff. With the exception of the creek or bayou the land is from 25 to 30 feet high all the way from Roger's new store, down a little below our store or for about 2 miles. The 3 & 4th of Decr our first company of volunteers with the exception of two or three returned. They reported the army to be in number between 7 & 800, were much pleased to see them again. At 11 o'clk on the evening of the 6 Decr died Mr Tevis his being the first death that had taken place since I came here. It was on the night of the 24th Decr not far from midnight, a heavy rain had been falling all night with an almost incessant blare of light from lightening, with continually repeated thunder claps, that I was awaked from a sleep I had made out to fall into, by the discharge of guns at my door, and whooping and laughing of men calling also upon me to wake. I got up and let them in when they made known to me the joyful news that St Antonio was taken. I placed wine before them to drink while they related to me the particulars. Mr Drake from this place who went out in the first company of volunteers had returned this evening he having been in the whole engagement. It seems that 300 men had volunteered from the army to storm St Antonio, notwithstanding reinforcement had augmented the number of Mexicans to 1500 men and the defended by a strong fortified place, and after five days fighting and losing only three men, the Mexicans to the amount of between 12 & 1400 capitulated and delivered up the place to us. Among the killed was the daring leader of this little squad Col Milam. This was much joyful news, particularly so when they informed me that the last company was returning so that we should all be together again soon. The next day but one I had the pleasure of seeing Elisha. On Christmas day two fellows came into the store and called for wine and after drinking so freshly as to begin to throw the bottles about the store I thought it was time they should desist, and refused to sell them any more, upon which one o them began to threaten me and finally pulled his knife out and made to me. I was at that time alone in the store and nobody within hearing. I made a pass to go into the back part of the store to get a pistol I had there to defend myself or intimidate them, when the stoutest of them and most rational one caught me by my clothes and held me, keeping the other one away from who was advancing upon me with his knife threatening to stab me, and reasoned with me awhile and finally. I let them have another bottle when they left. Such things as these are done at this time with impunity for there is no one to administer the law if there are laws among us, for no account was taken of this, and the men that stabbed one some months since here never was done any thing with on the account of it. It was received among us that a ball should be given on the evening of the first Jany in honour of our victory and I set down and wrote upwards of 50 invitations. I did not attend it however myself for I was alone and did not like to leave the store, for Scott had left me upwards 6 weeks since and I had considerable money by me, Mr Millard having left with me 750$ to clear out land with for him and I had between two and three hundred dollars of my own. I engaged Elisha to stay with me at 15$ per month believing he would be a help to me in gathering cattle he being well acquainted with such business. After this things went on pretty smoothly all thought of war were given up, and our attention pretty much turned to electioneering, wether we should declare for independence or still adhere to the constitution. There was however a regular army forming and Mr Millard who was appointed Lt Col in it was stationed at Nacogdoches as a recruiting officer. Mr Huling had written me a number of letters advising me to go to New Orleans to make purchases which I at last made up my mind to do, but was detained some days be being appointed to superintend an election at this place for three delegates from our municipality to meet on the first of March and declare the form of government Texas would live under, and form a constitution. This detained me until the third of February when taking Elisha with me we started for New Orleans by the way of Zavalla and Nachitoches. At this time the people had ceased to talk of war, no preparation whatever was made for it-no one was urged to involve themselves, and we understood there were but 75 men at St Antonio, all were concerned only in the elections. It was on Wednesday the 3rd Feby that Elisha and myself started for New Orleans, he having scarcely yet recovered from an attack of the measles. We had but one horse to ride until he could get to his brothers where was one that he had owned that I bought of him. We started and after walking two and half miles of tolerable decent road we came to a marsh where it was over half leg deep in water for ¾ of a mile. Through this I waded until we came to a ferry boat which took us and our horse about a mile down the river and to the opposite side of the river where we both had to wade a half or three quarters of a mile more through a boggy cypress swamp up to our middle in mud and water, and grown over with cypress knees or little stumps about as big as your leg and from a foot to two foot high. It required my utmost care in wading through the dirty water to keep from being thrown sprawling into it, by striking against these knees particularly from my being forced to carry a bundle with me, and in spite of all my precaution one of them did bring me to my knees so as to wet me breast high. After we got through this swamp the rest of the way was tolerable dry thru wading marsh. We finally got to Elisha's brother's and staid that night. The next morning we started I for the first time being mounted on horseback and rid on to Elisha's father's where we stopped a few minutes, then continued on our way. I t was a cold, most disagreeable chilly, cloudy day and we had now thirty miles to go through the worst kind of a road to the house where calculated to stop for the night my horse was an exceeding slow walking or trotting but so that he kept me continually behind, and most part of our way lay through marshy places higher than the horse's belly in some places. We went on at a very slow pace both of us nearly chilled through until we came to the crossing place on Cow Bayou where the horses had to swim. We took off our saddle bags and saddles and after some trouble drove them through when we crossed on a log with the things and saddled them again, in our journey we had to swim through two other bayous in the same way. We continued on until it was getting dark, and for sometime it had rained, and so cold as nearly to freeze which almost completely chilled us through and we were yet 9 or 10 miles from the house we were to stop at, or any house in fact. We had for sometime been riding through alternate patches of Pine woods and marsh, and had got some distance in a low swampy Pine wood patch, were also thoroughly wet when the darkness increased to so great a degree that we no longer could see the path, & no other resource was left to us but to stay where we were all night. It was nothing but a swamp where we were, and had now become so dark that we could not see where the highest place, not find anything to build a fire could we even scratch a match for the wet, besides I was by this time almost perished with cold, from the chilly rain. Elisha by groping about found a rather higher place than we were on, and thither we removed out blankets saddlebags and saddles, after which I groped about and finally got hold of a large pine knot, but had nothing in the world to split it up but a small penknife. I made out to cut a few pieces and got two or three matches a fire but everything was so wet we could not make it catch. I cut off some shavings and tried again, and by Elisha's standing over it with his cloak to keep the rain off until he was nearly smothered we got it to burning, and as soon as it made light sufficient I found plenty of pitch pine, and soon had a blaze that went half the distance nearly to the top of the tree against which it was built. Towards midnight it cleared off and we made out to get some sleep towards morning, and as soon as we could get ready after light, we continued on and arrived at breakfast time to Mr Richardsons. The road now became better, the land getting higher and there being nothing but one continuous Pine forest we overtook two men about noon, one of whom was the Mail carrier, and the other was on his way down to see me, and had a letter from Mr Huling and one from Col Millard urging me to go down to New Orleans. The one who brought the letter rode back with us, and we continued on this day as far as the next house which was thirty miles from Richardson's but did not arrive there until sometime after dark, and so wearied was I that the woods presented to me every kind of appearance you can imagine. I had been almost incessantly at work beating my horse, in order to keep up with my companions and so jolted was I that I was nearly ready to faint when we stopped and I got off the horse I came near falling to the ground in fact had to catch hold of the fence for support, and could for sometime scarcely walk. The next day we rode twenty five miles further to Mr Grigsby's plantation where we again staid for the night. The next day we arrived at Zavalla where we had to wait five or six days for Mr Huling. It is a most beautiful place embracing 15 or 20 houses surrounded by tall pine trees, hilly country like your own, with beautiful clear spring water. After Mr Huling had given me my instructions, we started again an in three days we arrived at Natchitoches and took a steam boat from there to New Orleans, where we arrived in three days more. I wrote you at New Orleans by Capt Chase, and about a week after we started we got on board of a vessel and again returned home. We had heard while in New Orleans that St Antonio was again taken with the exception of the Alamo or fort, also Santa Anna with 8000 men was on his way to Texas. After a pleasant passage of 5 days we anchored at the pass. We were all extremely anxious to get the news, so much so that a gentleman by the name of Edmonson one of the owners of the vessel, Elisha and myself went to shore to hunt for a person by the name of McGaffy, we to hear the news, he to get him to pilot the vessel. We had got on shore and travelled but little ways before it became dark, and soon after we encountered a bayou which we tried to go round but could find no head to it, and finally without any blankets were forced to come to a stop. It was a cold cloudy night with some mist, and fortunately I happened to have an old worsted coat that had a few matches in its pocket and with some phosphorous I had we soon contrived with the old grass to raise some fire; in doing which however we set the prairies on fire and soon we had quite a lake of fire around us. To prevent the small place we had selected to lay upon and the grass we had cut for out bed from being burnt Elisha & Edmonson with a bunch of twigs fought the fire, as they called it, by beating near the roots of the grass in a way to let the fire burn all around us but not come on to us, so that it left us as it were a little island in the midst of the burning prairie. In the morning we tried again to head the bayou but could not and finally returned to the vessel, when the boat again took Edmonson and a gentleman by the name of Walton up to McGaffy's landing and the next day brought him on board. Mr. McGaffy is a native of New Hampshire and says he has frequently been in Newburyport, and was well acquainted with Gilman who married Miss Page. He told us when he arrived on board that both San Antonio and the Alamo were taken, the particulars of which were as follows. The Mexicans with Santa Anna at their head suddenly made their appearance giving our men to the name of 184 only time to get into the Alamo something like 20 or 30 days provisions and themselves, when they took possession of St Antonio. They then commenced operations on the Alamo or fort, and for ten days made various charges upon it but were always repulsed by the bravery of our med, the Mexicans bearing with them the red flag of no quarter. The 11th day and night they kept up an incessant attack, giving our men no rest and also the 12th day & night the 13th day and part of the night, when they ceased and so completely exhausted were our men that they went to sleep soon as the proper guard had been set, and even the guard was so wearied out that they dropped asleep at their posts. Our med had three pieces each charged by their sides., besides pistols and knives. During this state of things a Mexican woman who was kept in the fort gave intelligence to the Mexicans without that all were asleep in the fort, when they immediately renewed the charge, by placing their infantry within the cavalry, and order was given to run every Mexican through who should turn back or descend the wall, and in this way were fairly driven over the four sides of the fort at once. One of the guard happened to be awakened in time enough to discharge his piece ere he was killed with Travisse the commander sprang up calling upon his men that they were coming over the walls thick as hail and immediately a general discharge was made upon them and so effectual it was said was the fire that lanes were mowed down through their ranks, but their great numbers enabled them to fill them up again immediately. Our men kept on until their pieces were discharged, and then attacked them with their knives and the butt end of their rifles until everyone but the last were stretched out upon the earth, he begged of them for quarter which they answered by running him through. After the fray was over a Mexican officer wished to see the brave Travisse when his negro pointed him out among the wounded, and he was in the act of putting an end to his existence when Travisse sprang up, telling him he would let him see Travisse and immediately run him through, but the exertion cost Travisse almost instantly his life. Thus again fell the Alamo but dearly did the Mexicans buy it for it cost them 1500 men. The next day we took a large shipp which we picked up on the seashore and all of us passengers lost the vessel in her to go across the lake and home, and that night we got as far as McGuffy's landing where we again camped as we call it, or slept in the open air with a fire to keep us warm, the wind blowing a gale from the N.W. which made so much sea as to wet everything in the boat. It was between five and six days before we got up with the skiff, and then I was five or six days more in getting some rice and molasses from the vessel. During this time conflicting reports had reached us one day that our army was successful the next day that the Mexicans were, the defeat of our men and the retaking of San Antonio had thrown quite a damp over the Americans although they had so nobly defended themselves and it was industriously spread abroad that the Mexicans showed no mercy but massacred everyone capable of bearing arms. Houston the commanded of our army which amounted to about 5 or 600 retreated to Gonsales which he burnt and afterwards to the Colorado, or as it is pronounced Col-a-rolo Banning one of our commanders who was in the fort at Labadie with 300 men received orders from Houston to blow up the fort and join him, but previous to this Fannin had dispatched something like a hundred men to assist a few others he had sent to assist some families, but at a place called Mission they were attacked by the Mexicans and finally were forced to give up after expending their ammunition and killed and wounded 1100 of the enemy, they not losing but 16 men. These brave fellows excepting some four or five who made their escape were massacred at the time Fanning's men were. Before Fanning had executed the orders of destroying the fort &c the enemy had advanced so near that he had placed an advanced guard of 30 men before to give intelligence of the enemy but the Mexican so managed themselves that this advance guard passed without seeing them, and the cavalry drew upon Fanning altogether unapprised of their being near. He however gallantly repulsed them and shortly after the whole force of the Mexican infantry made a charge upon him and these two he repulsed two or three successive times, killing upwards of 1000 of their men. The Mexicans after this hoisted a white flag and offered to capitulate receiving them as prisoners on parole and that they should be sent to New Orleans as quick as they could. Fanning who was suffering for water and whose cannon without water would be useless capitulated with them, although it was still the wish of a great number of his men to fight them. They accordingly gave themselves up as prisoners of war, and were kept so for about 5 days, when they were ordered out in squads with an armed Mexican at the side of each prisoner, in different directions, marched off a short distance from the Mexican turned their back to him, then shot. Such is the dependence to be placed on a Mexican's word. We soon after this understood that Houston had retreated to the Brazos or Brasses as we pronounce it, and that St. Felipe was burnt, which brings me down to the time I commenced giving you an account in my last letter. I stated towards the last of my letter that I had commenced to pack my goods. I kept on from time to time until I had packed the whole, in the meantime reports became more and more confounding and fears were entertained of an attack from the Indians. Families were still pressing towards the Sabine, but were now taking another direction passing in the prairie by here, to Grigsby's Bluff below, where they were taken by water to the Sabine. I was a few days after this that Elisha returned much afflicted with boils and stated that the Mexicans were at Harrisburgh, and had got this side of the army, so that they had nothing to hinder them from coming on. The next day Elisha went home, we heard the Mexicans and Indians numbering 2000 had taken Nachodoches, and nothing was more probable than that they should take between the Neches and Sabine rivers down to this place in order to form a conjunction with the main army thus completely cut off our army, such being the fear all the families about here were instantly on the move, while boatload after boatload was passing down the river from above. I was still alone far from any individuals still engaged in packing my goods, for I had no one to help me and even the moss I used to pack them with I had no one to gather for me, and so frightful no were the reports that I expected nothing more than to see the brown or red forms of Mexicans and Indians peering at me through the woods. It was three days after this when we were almost thunderstruck by the appaling report that the Mexicans and Indians had got to Cow's Bayou which is nearly opposite us between the Neches and Sabine, and their way must be across the lower ferry, through this place to Liberty to join the other army. Families had been all day crossing at the ferry below us, but now started back appalled at the news, and directed their way with all possible haste to the bluff below. I had gone up to Roger's store and while there a person brought the news. They heard it and considered upon it a moment as curtained that it was all possible and that the word was to fortify the lower bluff with Grigsby's cotton and send our swivel down there and every man to arm himself to keep them at bay until the families could be removed from there. I rode with him round to notify the people and finally he got the swivel with some powder &c had on board a gundalo to go down to the bluff. I have a little trunk in which are my letters and copies, and which I felt anxious that you should get in case of my death that you might keep if you saw fit in remembrance of me. This trunk I was very anxious should be placed in some comparatively safe place and Capt Rogers wishing to have his books and papers removed to the bluff I proposed going down there to carry mine and his in a canoe, and accordingly took them on board at about five P.M. and 11 o'clk that evening arrived at the bluff with them having paddled 21 miles in that time. I could easily distinguish the place of the bluff most of the way going down the river from the light of the numerous fires built over reflected from the atmosphere. After arriving at the bluff and tieing my canoe I spread my blanket and wrapped the other one over me to get some sleep. I had not laid long before the gondola or flat as they call them here, made to the landing place and I was forced to remove the canoe to give them a place to land their folks to cook them some supper also our swivel &c. There was also a long boat at the landing which I soon found belonged to the schooner I came to New Orleans in, and shortly after the Capt spoke to me, who was laying but a short distance from the water's edge. His brother had left some groceries with me, which I told him if he wished to save he had better take away and proposed his going with me in the morning. I fixed a place to lay again in the canoe and slept until morning when as soon as day dawned I hunted for Mr Grigsby in order to entrust my trunk and Roger's books with him. I found beds spread over every part of the ground, so that I had to use caution not to tread upon those they contained. For a great distance the ground was completely spotted with people lying a sleeping and this great number notwithstanding a sloop and large soow, or hulboat as we call them had the day before carried as many families from there as they could. They were taking them all to a cockle shell bluff on the American side of the Sabine. I at least found Mr. Grigsby who took my things under his care, when I returned to the boat and found Capt Francis Delisdeneau ready to go with me in the Schooner's boat back again to town. We got back by hard rowing and sailing that day at 12 O'clock, I feeling now quite satisfied for Capt Delisdeneau had promised me to get the trunk to you in case of my death. I found our place almost completely deserted though Elisha had returned while I was gone. I went up to Capt Roger's and got the key when we put all the things in the boat and Capt Dedeseneau with Elisha and his brother left here, taking with them their things for the bluff. I soon understood however that there was not truth in their report of the Mexicans being at Cow Bayou, and again went on to pack my things, for they are now coming up with Roger's large skiff, which the schooner had picked up on the sea shore, so that I had some prospect now of saving them I was now again left alone to my solitary labour. The next day there were crowds of families coming in from Liberty, and above Mrs Tevis cowpen they had formed quite a ship yard in building vehicles to float them away, for the Mexicans were fast coming upon us from the west and being not more than 60 miles from us, while we did not know how quick they would be upon us from Nacogdoches. The skiff was now gone below to the ferry to help families away and now our place was full of people who lay camped in every part. We now understood that a battle must take place between the Mexicans and Americans or Texians. I should write, and Capt Rogers had the promise of Judge Hardin to acquaint him with the particulars as soon as he learnt them. Capt Rogers wanted his boats to cross some cattle he had been buying and I went down early to the ferry to get them, but they were engaged until night when they wished me to come down again and bring them some bread for they had had nothing to eat since the morning before. With me it was impossible to get for all those I had boarded with were gone, and I had even been forced to beg a piece of bread from a friend. I happened by good luck to have a small quantity of arrow root in the store, this I cooked when I could get nothing else, and in this way made out to get along. I carried some bread and meat down toward night to the ferry, it being 3 miles or more below the store, and when I got there not a human being was there or in sight nor did one make their appearance until next morning, I found a few coals of fire, the remains of one that had been build there, and soon kindled one with the wood that was collected and dried my clothes before it, for I had to wade over half leg deep to get there, took some of the corn bread I had brought for them and with some molasses which I had brought down made a most delicious supper, then wrapping myself in and old sail there fortunately was there resigned myself to sleep in the midst of almost deafening musick of croaking frogs and the bellowing of alligators. The next morning a young gentleman who was camped at Rogers came down to see a friend of his and told me the most delightful news that Houston had had an action & completely whipped the Mexicans. Oh Lucy how my heart did jump for joy to hear this most glad tidings how grateful I felt to the relation of them. I soon returned home and in a day or two got the following particulars. The Mexicans between 10 and 1100 in number had crossed the San Jacinto or Sank-in-Sink as we pronounce it, and burn Harrisburgh. Houston with about 100 men now thought it a favourable opportunity to attack them which he did in the open prairie they having a wood to shelter them. Santa Anna it is said could hardly be made to believe it was the intention of the Texians to attack him for they had run before him so long, that he felt quite sure they would be defeated did they do so, or at least felt they could not cope with the immaculate Santa Anna. It was about 5 O'clock till our men commenced the attack and in 15 minutes the Mexicans were completely routed for the watchword was that which could do no otherwise then make our men fight like lions-Remember the Alamo was the fearful cry don't forget Fanning and the massacre of his men was again responded, and right heartily did our men play upon the Mexicans, for they could see nothing but death in its reiterate sound. They were completely routed 500 killed and six hundred taken prisoners, among them Santa Anna, Almonti and Coss the most famous Mexican generals there were, on our side there were but 7 killed and four wounded. Our army is still pursuing the Mexicans who fly before them and say they never will more fight the Americans. The last victory have given them a dread of the Americans they can never recover from and I sincerely hope will be the means of giving us peace. Families are daily returning from Sabine to their homes, but dreadfully in want of breadstuffs. There is at present no corn or flour to be bought on any terms, they have been selling here flour at 10cts 1b and corn two dollars bushel. There is plenty of meat. Scarce a family returns but has one or more sick in it and within the last three weeks between 6 and 8 have been buried from this place on the bluff. A young man died in the house below me of the measles the other night which I was watching with him and for the first time in my life I helped lay out his corpse also to dig his grave for I would hire no one to do it. Thus we are situated Lucy but how long we shall remain in our present state of safety no one knows. Since writing the first part of this letter I have understood from the US papers that 17000 Mexicans are on the march for this country, also that the Mexicans our army were driving had made a stand at Labadie and St Antonio for reinforcements which if all correct I know not what will be our fate more particularly when at this time we have but 1100 men in our army. Our situation was most critical so I understood just before the last battle with the Mexicans, for our Indians about numbering some four or six hundred were in the act of joining the Mexicans, & part of them on the march for that purpose also that nothing but the high water saved us from the attack of 800 Indians from Nacogdoches, which had they have come upon us most assuredly have massacred hundreds if not thousands of men women & children that were then here and on their way here to make their escape. This brings me to the 1st June and as you will see leaves me comparatively safe; but another fortnight Sister may place me in the utmost danger, for surrounded as we are by such a multitude & ourselves a mere handful to cope with them we never know when we are safe: indeed Lucy I am tired of it for my prospects are all broken up & I do most sincerely wish for the happy peace of our own highly favoured country but such wishes as yet are vain for duty compels me to stay. Give my love to Mother tell her I wish much again to see her aye indeed to you all but truly have doubts wether I ever shall. Remember me to George, kiss the sweet little ones for me. Remember me to Mr Davis and his family, tell them I frequently think of them and wish myself again with them. Remember to Eben whenever he comes among you, tell him I wish much to see him, and Lucy for yourself accept what I can no otherwise help than giving you my most sincere affection and never ending but with life gratitude and you will oblige your affectionate Bro.
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