Page 1

★ a. r ay st eph e ns ca rtogr a ph y by

ca rol z u ber-m a l l ison

TEXAS A Historical Atlas A. Ray Stephens Cartography by Carol Zuber-Mallison

University of Oklahoma Press : Norman


List of Charts and Diagrams List of Tables Preface





part i NATURAL TEXAS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

section three Mexican Texas, 1821–36



Extent of Texas 4 Geologic Age of Surface Materials Physiographic Regions 11 Precipitation and Weather 13 Major Aquifers in Texas 17 Minor Aquifers in Texas 20 Native Plant-Life Regions 22

part ii THE TEXANS


Texas Capitals and Early Communities Texas Counties Created 1836–45 109 Texas and Mexico, 1841–44 112 Later Empresario Grants, 1840–83 119




section two European and American Explorers, 1528–1821 34 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Texas as a Part of Mexico in 1824 72 Empresario Era, 1823–36 74 Fredonian Republic, 1826–27 78 Anahuac and Nacogdoches 80 Conventions of 1832 and 1833 82 Texas in 1835 84 Alamo 88 Texas Declaration of Independence 90 Goliad Massacre 94 Texas Revolution 98 Battle of San Jacinto 101

section four The Republic of Texas, 1836–45 31 32 33 34


section one The First Texans 8 Texas Indians


20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Spanish Explorers, 1528–43 36 French Explorers, 1685–1721 44 Le Champ d’Asile, 1818 47 Spanish Missions and Presidios 49 San Antonio de Béxar 52 Philip Nolan Expedition, 1800–1801 54 Neutral Ground Agreement, 1806–21 56 U.S. Exploration, 1806–20 58 Gutiérrez-Magee Expedition, 1812–13 61 Adams-Onís Treaty, 1819 64 James Long Expeditions, 1819–22 67

section five Annexation and Statehood, 1844–61 122 35 Annexation and War, 1844–48 124 36 Texas in the Compromise of 1850 128 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

U.S. Exploration, 1839–58 131 Major Roads in Early Texas 135 Federal Military Posts, 1845–61 138 Frontier Conflicts, 1836–60 142 Texans from Around the World 147 Texas Counties Created 1846–57 151 Overland Transportation Routes, 1851–61


section six The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Late Nineteenth Century 162 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Slavery in Texas 164 Secession Movement in Texas 168 Texas in the Civil War, 1861–65 172 Reconstruction, 1865–73 176 Frontier Army Posts, 1865–90 180 Texas Counties Created 1858–75 183 Red River War, 1874–75 186


51 52 53 54 55

Range Cattle Industry, 1866–90 189 Lighthouses and Lightships 192 Texas Counties in 1921 197 The People’s Party in Texas, 1891–1904 200 Red River Boundary Disputes, 1860–2000 204

part iii MODERN TEXAS, – section one Modern Texas, 1900–45 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Hurricanes, 1851–2008 212 World War I Military Installations 215 World War II Military Installations 218 Rivers and Reservoirs 228 River Authorities 231 Seaports, Airports, and Waterway 235 Texas Railroads 239 Texas Roads and Interstate Highways 243 State Parks, Historic Sites, and More 246 National Parks and Historic Sites 253 National Public Lands 256 Oil and Gas Industry 260

section two Contemporary Texas, 1945–2009 268 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75


Power Plants and Coal Mines 270 Nonfuel Minerals 274 Lumber Industry 277 Farms in Texas 281 Agriculture—Crops 286 Agriculture—Animals 294 Colleges and Universities 300 Core Based Statistical Areas 307


76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86

Regional Councils in Texas 311 Population, 1990–2000 314 Business, Industry, and High Technology Major Defense Installations, 2005 327 Tourism as an Industry 330 African American Texans 336 Hispanic Texans 340 Congressional Districts 344 Texas State House of Representatives 347 Texas State Senate 350 Contemporary Texas 353


Appendix William Barret Travis’s Letter from the Alamo, February 24, 1836 359 William Barret Travis’s Final Appeal for Aid, March 3, 1836 360 Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836 362 General Sam Houston’s Official Report on the Battle of San Jacinto, April 25, 1836


Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress to Annex Texas, March 1, 1845 368 Texas Ordinance of Secession, February 1, 1861


Texas Declaration of Causes for Secession, February 2, 1861 370 Bibliography Index




Charts and Diagrams

A Slice of Texas

Number of Producing Oil Wells, 1935–2006


The Alamo in 1836

Natural Gas Production, 1932–2006


The Presidio La Bahía in 1836

Fannin’s Defeat at the Battle of Coleto The Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836 Immigration to Texas

State Oil and Gas Rig Count, 1970–2007

97 103

Coal Production, 1890–2006

Death of the Buffalo


Population Growth

Fresnel Lens Orders


Ten Most Populous Counties in 2000


Crude Oil Production, 1935–2006


318 318

Counties with 50 Percent or More Increase in Population, 1990–2000 319


Texas Gubernatorial Elections


Urbanization of Texas


State Manufacturing Employment, 2006




Ten Largest Cities in Texas History


How a Fresnel Lens Works


Number of Producing Gas Wells, 1936–2006






Geologic Time Scale

Civilian Conservation Corps Camps in Texas


Extent of Major Aquifers


National Forests in Texas

Extent of Minor Aquifers


National Grasslands in Texas

Land Grants during the Mexican-Texas Period The Variable Vara


258 258

National Wildlife Refuges in Texas Coal-Fired Power Plants in Texas


The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence 92–93

Nuclear Power Plants in Texas

Texas Counties Created 1836

State Forests

Texas Counties Created 1837–45


U.S. Senate Vote to Annex Texas, February 27, 1845 127 Federal Military Posts in Texas, 1845–61 Population in Economic Centers






Number of Farms by County in 1850


Number of Farms by County in 1900


Number of Farms by County in 1950


Number of Farms by County in 2002


Public Universities

Dates of County Creation by the Legislature, 1846–57 153



Permitted Coal Mines in Texas



Public Health-Related Institutions


Election Returns, February 23, 1861, For and Against Secession 170–71

Texas Public Community and State Colleges

Military Posts in Texas after the Civil War

Texas Independent Senior Colleges and Universities 305

Population Centers in 1870

Texas Public Technical Colleges






Dates of County Creation by the Legislature, 1858–75 185

Independent Junior Colleges

Fresnel Lens as Determined by Order

Core Based Statistical Areas—Metropolitan


Core Based Statistical Areas—Micropolitan


Lighthouses and Lightships Population in 1920

Independent Health-Related Institutions



Population of Texas, 1850–2000


Dates of County Creation by the Legislature, 1876–1921 199

Regional Councils

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Oil and Gas Refineries


Ten Most Populous States, 1990 and 2000


Federal Military Installations in Texas during World War I 217

Aluminum Smelting Motor Vehicles




Iron and Steel Production Tin Smelting



Hurricanes of Categories 3 and 4 that Made Landfall in Texas 214

U.S. Army Facilities



323 323


Naval Air Stations and Marine Corps Air Stations 221


Army Air Forces Installations

Some Large Manufacturers of Semiconductors and Computers 323

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


World War II Prisoner of War Camps



Lakes and Reservoirs with Capacity Exceeding 400,000 Acre-feet 230

Texas Companies on Fortune 500 List, April 2008 324–25

Major River Basins

Major Defense Installations in Texas, 2005


Tonnage Handled by Texas Ports


Passenger Enplanements at Major Texas Airports Railroad Mileage in Texas, 1853–2005


Texas Drivers and Their Vehicles, 1917–2006 Experiencing the Great Outdoors





Top Tourist Attractions of In-State and Out-of-State Respondents, 2008 333 Therapeutic Baths, Mineral Waters, Spas, and Uranium Dirt 334–35 Texas Today: Counties and County Seats




Part I ★




omeone once said “Texas is a State of Mind”; a patriotic Texan might hold that “Texas is a State of Mine.” Light expressions aside, most would agree that Texas’s delightful location in the Temperate Zone, diverse

terrain ranging from seashore to tall mountains and from swamps to desert, distinctive climatic regions, weather variations ranging from serene to violent depending on the season, and varied animal and plant life are unmatched as a package. Perhaps contemplation of natural Texas aided flour salesman W. Lee O’Daniel, a Texan by way of Ohio and Kansas, to become the state’s governor in the 1930s when he penned the popular song “Beautiful, Beautiful Texas, Where the Beautiful Bluebonnets Grow.” Texas is larger in land mass than five contiguous nations in Western Europe and is approximately the same size as thirteen contiguous U.S. states stretching from New England to the Upper South to the Midwest. Persons traveling across the state may be surprised to learn that Texarkana, Texas, is closer to Chicago, Illinois, than to El Paso, Texas, and El Paso is closer to Los Angeles, California, than to Texarkana. Allow adequate time when motoring between Texarkana and El Paso, even on modern interstate highways! As for weather, Texans face gentle breezes most of the time, but can experience the ravages of hurricanes near the Gulf Coast or tornadoes on the prairies and plains. Snow is a common occurrence in the Panhandle but an oddity in the Big Thicket. Rainfall varies from plenty to a tad excessive at times in the east to scarcity in the west, but resilient people adapt. Vegetation ranges from a thick growth of pine trees in the east to short grass and sparse, thorny shrubs in the west, with an abundance of productive soil for crops and range forage in most of the state. Cool-season crops grow in the extreme north, while citrus trees flourish in the extreme south. Knowledge of subsurface rock formations and geologic outcrops led to the tapping of crude petroleum and natural gas deposits and mineral resources. The existence of a number of aquifers made possible the growth of Texas from a rural to an urban state as they provided life-giving water to farms, factories, municipalities, and industries. Texans have been keen to exploit the plethora of natural resources in this region as it became the land of opportunity for Americans and Europeans during the nineteenth century and, later, home to people from around the world.



Extent of Texas Texas, situated in the south-central United States, became the twenty-eighth state in the Union on December 29, 1845. Possessing common boundaries with eight American and Mexican states—New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua—Texas also has a lengthy tidewater coastline of 624 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Distance and Texas are almost synonymous. The longest straight-line distance in a north–south direction from the northwest corner of the Panhandle to the estuary of the Rio Grande is 801 miles. In an east–west direction, the greatest distance is 773 miles between a point on the Sabine River at its eastwardmost bend in Newton County at longitude 93˚31' west and a point at longitude 106˚38' west on the Rio Grande near El Paso. Texarkana is even closer to Chicago, Illinois, crossing three large states, than it is to El Paso, within the same state. El Paso is closer to Los Angeles, California, than it is to Texarkana. At the time of its admission into the Union, Texas replaced Virginia as the largest state; it held that position until Alaska achieved statehood on January 3, 1959. The total area of Texas is 268,581 square miles, or 171,891,840 acres. Land area is 261,797 square miles (167,550,080 acres); water area is 6,784 square miles (4,341,760 acres). Comparing it to other regions, one finds that Texas is larger than the combined area of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland (255,967 square miles). In relation to other areas of the United States, Texas is almost the same size as all of New England plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia (273,595 square miles). Texas is in the transition zone between the humid Eastern Woodlands and the drier Great Plains, with portions of both regions situated in


Extent of Texas

the state. Texas has forested areas in the east, a long coastline on the south, mountains in the southwest, relatively level terrain in the west and the far northwest, rolling plains in the west-central area, and mildly undulating prairie country in the middle. Elevations range from sea level to the state’s highest point of 8,749 feet at Guadalupe Peak in Culberson County. Other heights that exceed 8,000 feet are Bush Mountain (8,631), Shumard Peak (8,615), Bartlett Peak (8,508), Baldy Peak (8,378), Hunter Peak (8,368), Mount Livermore (8,206), and El Capitan (8,085). All of these are in Culberson County except Baldy Peak and Mount Livermore, which are in Jeff Davis County. Eastern and western animals and birds may be found in the same proximity, which indicates their approximate limits. Central American birds fly across the Gulf of Mexico to Texas for their northernmost migration, and Canadian waterfowl go as far south as the Texas coast during the winter. A wide variation in the growing seasons and rainfall patterns influences the lifestyles of wildlife and human beings. The latitude of contemporary Texas extends from 25˚50' north, which is on the extreme southern bend of the Rio Grande in Cameron County near Brownsville, to 36˚30' north, the northern boundary of the Texas Panhandle. The extreme eastern boundary of Texas is on the Sabine River in Newton County at longitude 93˚31' west. The westernmost point in Texas is in El Paso County on the Rio Grande at longitude 106˚38' west. The eastern boundary of the Texas Panhandle is longitude 100˚ west from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River to latitude 36˚30' north along longitude 103˚ west. The southern boundary of New Mexico that borders Texas begins at the intersection of longitude 103˚ west and latitude 32˚ north and extends due west to the Rio Grande near El Paso.

Ar cti cC irc le

Bigger in Texas 801 miles long NETHERLANDS



773 miles wide








Western Europe 255,967 square miles
















a c e









El Paso








e f M o f ul

ic Trop


LENGTH From the northwest corner to Brownsville estuary AS THE CROW FLIES Austin to Washington, D.C. Austin to Los Angeles Austin to Mexico City Texarkana to Chicago Texarkana to El Paso

er anc of C



Distances MILES 773



of C anc er

WIDTH El Paso to Sabine River in Newton County

c t i n a a n e






Washington, DE OH D.C. MD


Los Angeles


Tro pic





A t O l c

c i f i P a c






Population in 2008 (estimate) 24,105,417

WA 40°



Number of counties Number of incorporated cities



Highest point Guadalupe Peak, 8,749 feet

Northeastern U.S. 273,595 square miles

Total area of 268,581 square miles

6,784 square miles

Total water area




261,797 square miles

Total land area



JAMAICA Mexico City




bbean Sea

EL SALVADOR NICARAGUA 1,318 1,236 751 676 729






Location of Texas in North America

Extent of Texas


The eastern boundary of Texas, as stated in the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, lay along the Sabine River from its mouth at Sabine Pass to latitude 32˚ north, and from that point due north to the Red River near Texarkana along longitude 94˚4' west. In 1840–41, a joint commission from Texas and the United States surveyed and marked the exact boundary from the thirty-second parallel to the Red River. In 1848, the U.S. Congress declared the TexasLouisiana boundary from the Gulf of Mexico to the thirty-second parallel to be the middle of the Sabine River. Decades later, in 1941, the state of Louisiana challenged that law and held the boundary to be the west bank. Extensive legal proceedings followed until in 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the states’ common boundary as the middle of the Sabine. A special master appointed by the Supreme Court determined state jurisdiction of islands in the river according to their location at the time of the 1819 treaty. Adjustments to other boundaries have occurred. In the Treaty of Velasco (May 14, 1836) between Texas and Mexico, and by act of the Republic of Texas Congress (December 19, 1836), the Rio Grande became the boundary even though no

Satellite image of Texas (U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Imagery Program; image courtesy of Texas Natural Resources Information System)


Extent of Texas

Anglo Texas settlements extended beyond the Nueces and Medina rivers. Mexico repudiated the Treaty of Velasco and asserted the Sabine River to be its official eastern limit until the conclusion of the American-Mexican War (1846–48). In the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848), the United States and Mexico agreed upon the Rio Grande as the international boundary. The Compromise of 1850 adjusted the northern and western boundaries of Texas as that act of the U.S. Congress trimmed back the Texan claim that once extended as far north as the Arkansas River and as far west as the Rio Grande in New Mexico and Colorado. The final adjustment to Texas land claims occurred when territory situated between the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and the North Fork of the Red River became the subject of controversy between Texas and the United States over which fork should be considered the main branch of the Red. In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved the dispute by declaring the Prairie Dog Town Fork as the main branch, thereby granting exclusive jurisdiction for Greer County to the United States. Some Texans still hold that Old Greer County is Texas irredenta.


European and American Explorations, 1519–1821


hat is it about the human personality that drives someone to risk health, treasure,

by design, as in the expeditions of Coronado and

and perhaps life to attempt what no one else has

Moscoso, Spain learned about Texas. Apparently,

accomplished? Is it the spirit of the times or the

the information these worthies reported convinced

exertion of one’s will that causes one, no matter the

Spanish authorities that Texas did not possess the

historical period, to seize the fleeting moment as a

types of riches they sought, for later explorers and

means of self-expression? Individuals in sixteenth-

settlers adjusted these motives to fit their times and

century Western Europe responded aggressively

purpose, but they too exhibited great courage in

to the opening of the Great Frontier, as historian

their quest for achievement.

Walter Prescott Webb termed the phenomenon,

Rivalry between the Spanish and French affected

and in the process wrought great changes in the

Texas in significant ways. Conflicting claims limited

world as they knew it. Acquisition of riches and

community development and changed the course of

fame, expansion of geographical knowledge, and

empire for each nation. Spain countered the French

propagation of their religions awaited those who

threat to its Texas claim by establishing missions


and presidios; France transferred its interest in

1525 to 1825




November 1528

Spring 1541


Hurricane drives Narvaez Expedition survivors ashore in Texas

Coronado Expedition journeys through West Texas to Quivira

Spain begins to establish missions and presidios in East Texas


March 19, 1687

Moscoso Expedition searches for way through Texas

La Salle is murdered by his men in East Texas

Fall 1534

Cabeza de Vaca group escapes from Indian captors


By accident, as in the case of Cabeza de Vaca, or

February 1685

La Salle Expedition establishes Fort St. Louis on Garcitas Creek

colonization to other areas in North America.

to establish an American-based presence in Texas.

In time, other entities became interested in

With the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase

Texas. The broad expanse of land with abundant

and its uncertain western boundary, differences of

natural resources served as a magnet for traders,

opinion regarding a prior French claim to Texas led

official explorers from neighboring nations, and

U.S. negotiators to press for the Rio Grande, then

freebooters who sought to profit from the tenuous

the Colorado River, and then the Neches River as

Spanish presence. These outsiders came with various

the true boundary of New France as transferred

purposes. Philip Nolan sought profits by capturing

to the United States in 1803. Spain objected so

and taming wild horses and selling them to southern

strenuously to these arbitrary desires that the

U.S. buyers and the Spanish military in Louisiana.

American diplomats settled for the Sabine River

Bernardo Gutiérrez, Augustus Magee, and their

as the boundary. This slighting, or “surrender,” of

compadres desired to wrest Texas from Spain and

U.S. claims to Texas contributed to the next round

set up a republic of their own. Pursuing a similar

of desires for U.S. expansion across the Sabine.

goal, James Long and his associates understood the land hunger of their fellow frontiersmen and sought







August 1812

October 1821

St. Denis journeys to San Juan Bautista on Rio Grande

Spain withdraws missions and presidios from East Texas; establishes San Antonio as capital of Texas

Philip Nolan Expedition enters Texas to capture mustangs.

Gutiérrez-Magee expedition enters Texas to establish republic

November 6, 1806

March 1818

Long takes La Bahía and advances on San Antonio before Spanish capture him

Neutral Ground Agreement averts conflict between U.S. and Spain

Lallemand establishes French colony at Le Champ d’Asile

July 1806–July 1807

February 22, 1819

Zebulon M. Pike Expedition explores Great Plains before capture by Spanish troops who escort them through Texas to Sabine River

Adams-Onís Treaty sets boundary between U.S. and Spain


Spanish establish San Antonio de Béxar 1719–21

Frenchmen explore along Red River and Texas Gulf Coast 1722

Los Adaes becomes capital of Spanish Texas until 1772



June 1819

James Long enters Texas and forms an independent republic



Spanish Explorers, 1528–43 Following exploits in the New World by Christopher Columbus and his crews, other adventurers obtained the Spanish Crown’s permission to venture outward from the West Indies and Caribbean regions in search of treasure and fame. Spanish explorers actively investigated portions of the Western Hemisphere’s mainland and sought gain in present Mexico, Central America, South America, and the southeastern and southwestern United States. The focus here is on the initial Spanish explorers who ventured into Texas from the south, west, and east. Cabeza de Vaca, 1528–36 A name famous among early Spanish explorers is Cabeza de Vaca. Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca served as treasurer of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition of approximately 600 persons that sailed in 1527 from Spain to the New World with the mouth of the Rio Grande as their destination. They planned to settle where attempts by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda and Nuño de Guzmán had failed. After stopping off briefly in Cuba, Narváez and an exploring party landed in Florida to search for gold, then missed connections with their ships and wandered around the interior from Tampa Bay to present-day northwestern Florida. The stranded 242 men constructed five crude boats, set off by sea for Pánuco, and interacted, sometimes tragically, with native inhabitants along the way. A mighty storm separated the boats and washed

Cabeza de Vaca in the New World 120°




T E XA S an de









O ce



Spanish Explorers, 1528–43



Tampa Bay

Gr o

es Corazones


500 km 500 miles





Mexico City


f fo


o exic

DeVaca’s route CUBA



those men who did not drown ashore at various locations now thought to range from Last Island, Louisiana, to Galveston, San Luis, Matagorda, St. Joseph’s, and Mustang islands in Texas. Many historians contend that the place where Cabeza de Vaca landed, which he called Isla de Malhado, the island of misfortune, is Galveston Island. The same name could be applied to any of the various barrier islands because the other Spaniards had comparable experiences with native tribes. The survivors, fortunate to be alive, faced great misery and deprivation. Many died of hunger, exposure, and illness, or at the hands of their captors. Enslaved by Indians, the strangers became the gatherers of wood and the performers of other menial camp tasks. They also served their Indian hosts as traders and healers. Of the 242 men who left northwestern Florida, only four rejoined their Spanish comrades in Mexico eight years later. These four—Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo, Andrés Dorantes, and Dorante’s slave Esteban, an Arab from Azemmour, Morocco—often went with their captors in search of tunas, the fruit of the prickly pear. While on such a food-hunting trip in 1534 to the brush and cactus region south of present San Antonio, these four survivors of the Narváez expedition escaped. Accounts vary regarding the way across Texas and Mexico these men took. The accompanying map indicates routes suggested by interpreters who applied their understanding of topography, geography, climatology, mineralogy, hydrology, botany, and anthropology to the areas possibly traversed to determine plausible paths the Spaniards took to Mexico and freedom. Bethel Coopwood claimed that the four journeyed from St. Joseph’s Island to the Rio Grande at Mier, then went south into Mexico before shifting to the west toward the Pacific Coast. Harbert Davenport and Joseph K. Wells wrote that the four traveled along the coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi, crossed the Rio









Big Spring


El Paso

l Ha


b en




San Angelo


Wil l ia m


Fort Stockton

To Corazones and Culiacán


Cas 30°







San Antonio

Del Rio














Ri oG

Krieger Freer





Galveston Castañeda Williams Davenport & Wells Hallenbeck

DeVaca’s arrival




Coopwood Corpus Christi









o ic x e




100 km

100 miles

To Compostela

Possible Routes of Cabeza de Vaca 34°

Carlos E. Castañeda

Cleve Hallenbeck

Bethel Coopwood

Alex D. Krieger

Harbert Davenport and Joseph K. Wells

J.W. Williams Lubbock

City Location of later community

Grande at Reynosa, went westward to Monclova, headed north to the Rio Grande near Del Rio, and then skirted the Big Bend region to the north as they made their way to Presidio and El Paso. Carlos E. Castañeda stated that the wanderers went as far north as San Marcos before going south to San Antonio and then west to Del Rio, the Big Bend, and El Paso. Alex D. Krieger held that the Spanish left the Matagorda Bay region, journeyed to Roma on the Rio Grande and through northern Mexico, then entered Texas again briefly between Presidio and El Paso before turning westward to the Pacific coast. Other interpreters mapped the Spaniards along a more northerly route. Cleve Hallenbeck wrote that the trekkers left the Galveston area, went

northwest to Austin, down to San Antonio, angled northwestwardly to the southern edge of the Great Plains at Big Spring, and then headed to El Paso by skirting north of the Guadalupe Mountains. J. W. Williams contends that the wanderers went northward to the southern edge of the Great Plains at San Angelo before altering their route southwestward to the Rio Grande at Presidio and then going to near El Paso. By whatever direction they went, this foursome endured extreme hardships on their way to the Mexican Pacific Coast, where they arrived in the spring of 1536 and put their captive days behind them. The explorers carefully observed the natural terrain, animals, and native tribes of areas traversed.

Spanish Explorers, 1528–43


They had a keen eye out for precious metals, which obviously would be of great interest to the Spanish officials who had sent them to the New World. Interpreters of the Coronado Expedition state that Indians who greeted Coronado’s men a few years later spoke of other white men passing not far to the south of the Great Plains. The legacy of Cabeza de Vaca and his companions is the first observation by Europeans of the land, people, plants, and animals from Galveston through Texas and Mexico. They also heard references to great cities of wealth in the north country, although they did not actually see them. Their stories impressed the viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, and influenced a major expedition led by Coronado into the North American interior in search of a mythical city of wealth. Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain and later led an expedition of his own in South America. Dorantes and Castillo remained in Mexico and married rich widows. Esteban, still a slave, served as advance scout for a Franciscan priest, Fray Marcos de Niza, to search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cíbola. While in an Indian village in the present southwestern United States, he died at the hands of local Indians. Coronado, 1540-42 Tales of the Seven Cities of Cíbola in northern New Spain had already excited the Spanish even before Cabeza de Vaca told his story. Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza at first offered an expedition’s leadership to Cabeza de Vaca, who declined the honor, then appointed Fray Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan priest, to head an advance party. Fray Marcos took with him Esteban the slave, survivor of the Cabeza de Vaca group whom Mendoza had borrowed from Andrés Dorantes, as a guide and

oronado s Expedition Coronado’s Route 120°



CO AZ Cíbola 30°




OK Tiguex NM TE XAS o




an de





O ce





Compostela 500 km 500 miles


Spanish Explorers, 1528–43


Mexico City


of lf



sent him ahead with some Indians to observe and report his findings. When a messenger returned to Fray Marcos, who trailed behind, bearing a large cross as a sign of a rich discovery, the Franciscan priest claimed that he went to Cíbola, where he saw houses made of stone in a community larger than Mexico City. He hastened back to Mexico with the news. His account encouraged Viceroy Mendoza to send forth a mighty expedition led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to claim the land for Spain. In the spring of 1540, the Coronado Expedition of soldiers, Indian attendants, and a huge supply train left Compostela, journeyed through presentday northwestern Mexico, and arrived at a Zuñi settlement near the present-day Arizona–New Mexico boundary that Fray Marcos called Cíbola. The Spanish subdued the Zuñis, explored to the north and east, and wintered at Tiguex on the Rio Grande near present-day Albuquerque. They moved to the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plains, in the spring of 1541. The Spanish acquired a guide whom they called “El Turco,” who was probably a Pawnee Indian. The Turk had been captured and enslaved by Indians of New Mexico, and he looked secretly upon the Spanish as his ticket home. He offered to guide the Europeans to a fabulous place a distance away, known as Quivira, where riches abounded. The Spanish trudged along in amazement at this vast country of the Great Plains as they at times experienced extreme fatigue, searing heat, heavy rains, a severe hailstorm, and a shortage of food other than buffalo meat. They watched endless herds of buffalo, greeted various Indian tribes, and ate the produce of native fruit-bearing plants when available. Because of the absence of distinctive land features to guide them in the relatively flat High Plains country, the explorers attempted to keep on a straight line by using a “sea compass,” observing the rising and setting of the sun, shooting arrows one over another in the direction they desired to go, and marking their trail by dropping buffalo dung and pieces of bone. It soon became apparent that the Turk had lied about knowing the way to Quivira, so the Spanish shackled him to the rear guard and listened to a new Indian guide. After wandering around until his entourage came across sharp topographical breaks near the Caprock Escarpment, Coronado divided his force. Determining the exact barrancas the expedition’s



Repu blica n Rive r


100 km


100 miles














s a s Ri ver


Hutchinson A r ka ns

Dodge City

as Ri v





















n lto Bo a d i a n R i v e r ue Can ogh Don

Santa Rosa

Elk City

Amarillo Palo Duro Canyon

Fort Sumner


Pe c


Wi l







Llano Estacado






Red River

nco Blaanyon C

o s Riv er


le n Tu nyo Ca





Winsh ip








Pecos Coronado’s Pueblo route Tiguex

ns Wi


Ri o




No r t

Boise City



Pe c o


Co l o ra d o Riv e r


s Ri ver

an de 105°


Possible Routes of Coronado Herbert E. Bolton

W. Curry Holden

Route of Coronado

David Donoghue

J. W. Williams

Return route of part of Coronado’s army

Frederick W. Hodge

George P. Winship


Location of later community Llano Estacado (Staked Plains)

Spanish Explorers, 1528–43s


Arrival of Coronado, by Gerald Cassidy, 1921. (Central panel of mural in Federal Building, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photograph courtesy of W. David Baird.)


Spanish Explorers, 1528–43

chronicler told of has been debated heatedly by route interpreters. Coronado sent the main force back to Tiguex while he led a contingent of thirty horsemen in search of Quivira. Accounts vary as to the route the chosen thirty took. By applying their understanding of archaeology, botany, ecology, geography, geology, hydrology, and physiography, a host of interpreters have compared their observations of the region with the record to come up with a number of proposed paths. A difficulty in projecting the Spaniards’ route is that the distributiion of native botanical species may or may not have changed markedly over four centuries. The chosen thirty may have gone northward through the Tule and Palo Duro canyons to the Canadian and Arkansas rivers on their way to Quivira. Then again, to pass through the country where types of vegetation that Coronado’s chronicler mentioned are abundant, they may have continued to the southeast for a distance below the Caprock before heading “north by the needle.” Some interpreters hold that the phrase meant true north, while others state that it meant magnetic north. It may have been the chronicler’s expression to signify in a northerly direction. The question that has been speculated about remains: was the magnetic declination in 1541 at approximately zero or as much as twelve degrees northeast of true north? The accompanying map presents various interpretations of the quest for Quivira. After the expedition’s main body started back to Tiguex, did the route of the chosen thirty begin in the vicinity

of the Palo Duro and Tule canyons and from there continue across the Canadian River to the Arkansas River at present-day Ford, Kansas, and then eastward along the Great Bend of the Arkansas to central Kansas as claimed by Herbert E. Bolton? W. Curry Holden maintained that the northward journey began west of the Caprock canyons, went near present-day Amarillo, and closely approximated Bolton’s projection beyond the Canadian. Perhaps the northward trek “by the needle” began near the Colorado River in present-day Coleman County, as contended by Frederick W. Hodge and George P. Winship. From there it may have gone due north to the juncture of the Salt Fork and Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River north of present Vernon and then proceeded through western Oklahoma into Kansas before reaching the Arkansas River. J. W. Williams differed in his understanding regarding the route. Based on a comparison of horticultural species mentioned by the expedition’s chronicler with their current locations, Williams traced the route of those who returned to Tiguex from Tule and Quitaque canyons south to Blanco Canyon in Floyd County and to Sterling County on the North Concho River before heading northwest to near Lubbock and then back to the Rio Grande. Metal artifacts used by the Spanish at the time—including a chain-mail glove and vest, an iron crossbow part, and a copper crossbow bolt head recently discovered in the Blanco Canyon area in Floyd County—may have been lost or discarded by these wanderers. These objects are housed at the Floyd County Historical Museum in Floydada. Other relics of Spanish origin, allegedly from that period, include Spanish ring bridle bits and a saddle horn found near Mangum and Granite, once part of Greer County, Texas. They are displayed at the Old Greer County Museum in Mangum, Oklahoma. Most scholars claimed that Quivira lay between the Arkansas and Kansas rivers in present-day Kansas. Williams and David Donoghue disagreed. Donoghue speculated the northward trek got no farther than a bend in the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle before the men returned to Tiguex on the Rio Grande. The majority of route interpreters stated that Coronado reached Quivira in the summer of 1541. The Spanish, extremely disappointed at their discovery of villages with grass-thatched

26 ★


Colonel James Bowie (Courtesy of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas, 1989.65)



No name stands higher in the esteem of Texans who are conscious of their heritage than that of the Alamo. Called the “Cradle of Texas Liberty” because of the events of 1835–36, the mission-fortress, located in San Antonio, is the symbol of Texas for tourists and residents alike. During the course of the Alamo’s early existence, the buildings housed missionaries, Indians, Spanish soldiers, Mexican soldiers, and Texas patriots long before it became a shrine commemorating the disaster that befell it during the Texas Revolution. Spanish authorities established the Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1718. Construction of permanent facilities continued over the next several decades to provide a chapel, convento (monastery), workrooms, a granary, corrals for work animals, and housing for neophytes. Pastures, fields, and irrigation canals were located nearby. Following secularization in 1793, a company of Spanish soldiers from San Carlos del Alamo de Parras in Coahuila used the buildings as its headquarters. The soldiers had referred to their previous post as the Alamo and applied that name to their new assignment. Another explanation for the name refers to the alamo (cottonwood) trees growing along the stream banks there. In November 1835, delegates from communities in Texas convened as the Consultation of All Texans, declared their loyalty to the Mexican Constitution of 1824, created a provisional state government, and sent a military expedition to San Antonio led by Stephen F. Austin to expel units of the Mexican dictator’s army. After a successful siege, the Texans forced General Martín Perfecto de Cos to retreat beyond the Rio Grande. The Consultation appointed General Sam Houston as the commanding officer of the Texas army. Houston attempted unsuccessfully to consolidate the army into a single unit of resistance closer to the interior and ordered the outlying posts abandoned. In early February 1836, Colonel James Bowie commanded

the volunteers at the Alamo, and Colonel William Barret Travis commanded the regulars. They decided to defend the Alamo and called upon Texans to come to their aid. General Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator-president, marched toward Texas after brutally suppressing revolts in northern Mexico. He split his army and led the central force from Guerrero, across the Rio Grande from near presentday Eagle Pass, Texas. The command led by General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma crossed the Rio Grande at Laredo and marched upstream to rejoin the main force. When Santa Anna arrived in San Antonio on February 23 and demanded the surrender of the Alamo garrison, Travis answered by firing a cannon. The Mexican commander responded by raising a red flag over San Fernando Church to signify that no quarter would be given or expected in battle. The church lay approximately eight hundred yards from the west wall of the Alamo fortress. When Bowie became ill on February 24, Travis assumed command of both the regulars and the volunteers. In response to Travis’s repeated calls for reinforcements, a group of thirty-two men from Gonzales responded, as did other individuals, but never in sufficient numbers with resources to alter the course of battle. The Alamo defenders contended with inadequate food and munitions, winter weather, and constant nightly bombardments. On the evening of March 5, after twelve days of siege, Santa Anna ordered his men to move quietly near the outer walls of the Alamo. There they remained without coats or blankets even though a fresh norther blew in. In the moonlit pre-dawn cold on March 6, Mexican soldiers rose to their feet when signaled by staccato blasts from a bugle as it sounded “El Deguello,” which sent them forward against the Alamo. That particular call meant that no mercy would be given or expected. On the third assault, Mexican soldiers breached the north wall and rushed into the compound, where both groups engaged in hand-to-hand combat with knives, swords, tomahawks, and bayonets. Some defenders, seeing the battle going against them, attempted to escape in

the brush outside the Alamo grounds, only to be run down by Mexican lancers. Within two hours after the battle commenced, an eerie quiet hung over the devastated fortress. A search of the rooms revealed that not all the defending combatants had died in battle. Some accounts of the battle contend that five or six or seven had survived. One unresolved controversy is whether Davy Crockett, the legendary Tennessean, was among the survivors. A Mexican officer later wrote that Crockett died by execution after the battle, while Mrs. Susanna Dickinson, wife of Travis’s artillery officer, claimed she saw Crockett dead among his fellow Tennesseans in their place of defense. The survivors were summarily slain. Santa Anna ordered his own dead buried but denied that custom to the Texans except one, Gregorio Esparza, whose body was released to his family after their personal petition to Santa Anna. Burial details threw some of the Santanista dead into the San Antonio River, to the extent that the river became jammed until local Tejanos freed enough bodies so the water flow could carry them

downstream. Mexican soldiers placed Texan corpses in three stacks interspersed with wood soaked with grease and oil and then set them aflame. Later, sympathetic Tejanos collected the cremated remains of the deceased for burial. Santa Anna’s army of approximately 2,600 had 600 killed and wounded, although those totals range lower in Santa Anna’s official report and higher in some Texan accounts. All Texan combatants, whose estimated numbers on the final day vary in conflicting accounts from 189 to 257, died. Of those Texans who perished, at least nine were of Hispanic ancestry. Approximately David Crockett thirty women, children, and slaves (Courtesy of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas, 1989.45) survived the siege and fall of the Alamo. Santa Anna met with Susanna Dickinson and sent her eastward to tell other Texans what to expect from continued rebellion.

Cattle pen


Lunette Artillerymen’s quarters

William Travis killed Lunette




Walls 23 feet high, 3 feet thick

Convento Well

Palisade defended by Davy Crockett


Dry irrigation canal



Survivors found

462 feet by 162 feet


Powder magazine


Officers’ quarters


Walls 6 feet high, 3 to 4 feet thick

Built 1757 72 feet by 62 feet

Horse pen

Infantry barracks

Platform for 8-pounders


Formerly convent garden 189 feet by 102 feet

Officers’ quarters and hospital

Kitchen 8-pounders




Jim Bowie killed

Officer of the Guard

Artillery command post

The Alamo in 1836 Currrently existing area


Trench around lunette

Walls 9 to 12 feet high, 2 to 3 feet thick


GONZALES 76 miles east





S GOLIAD 95 miles south Alamo


27 ★

Texas Declaration of Independence On December 10, 1835, the General Council of the Provisional State of Texas called for an election to be held on February 1, 1836, to choose representatives to meet in plenary session on March 1 at Washingtonon-the-Brazos. Delegates would assess events that had occurred since adjournment of the Consultation the previous November and decide on the future of Texas. When the Convention of 1836 opened on March 1, the members had much to consider: failure of the General Council to conduct state business because of a feud between Governor Henry Smith and the council, an empty treasury, foolish attempts to capture Matamoros, rivalry between the regular army and volunteer forces, the arrival of regular Mexican Army units north of the Rio Grande, and creation of a government to their liking. The siege at the Alamo was already in its eighth day, with a gloomy outcome forecasted. On March 1, after unanimously electing Richard Ellis as convention president, delegates approved appointment of a Committee on Independence with George C. Childress as committee chair. On March 2, Childress, a recent arrival in Texas and nephew of empresario (colony manager) Sterling C. Robertson, presented a draft that the delegates promptly approved unanimously. Evidently, Childress had worked out in detail the sentiments of those assembled before the convention began. The Texas Declaration of Independence, adopted on March 2, 1836, contained a litany of grievances that placed the blame for this action squarely on the Mexican central government in general and on President Santa Anna in particular. Fifty-nine delegates eventually signed the document. They, together with the three persons delayed by security circumstances, represented all of settled Texas.


Texas Declaration of Independence

After a point-by-point listing of the justification for separation, the Declaration of Independence concluded, “We, therefore, the delegates, with plenary powers, of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the Supreme Arbiter of the destinies of nations.” The Convention of 1836 established a government ad interim of the Republic of Texas on March 16, adopted a constitution on March 17, and adjourned on March 18. The list of signers indicates the age, place of birth, and Texas area represented at the Convention of 1836, in addition to their length of residence in Texas prior to the convention. Many delegates had experience as government officials before they arrived in Texas. These newly arrived Texans determined the destiny of all Texans, many of whom had lived in this Mexican province for several years. Only fourteen of the sixty-two persons lived in Texas prior to 1830. Most of the delegates were born in the South, especially Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Most delegates had moved around a bit before migrating to Texas. Only seventeen of the fifty-nine non-native Texans moved here from their birth state. Forty-nine of the sixty-two delegates came to Texas directly from their former residences in the Old South.

RED RIVER Richard Ellis Samuel P. Carson Robert Hamilton Albert H. Latimer Collin McKinney

SHELBY William C. Crawford

NACOGDOCHES Robert Potter Thomas J. Rusk Charles S. Taylor SAN AUGUSTINE Stephen W. Blount Edwin O. LeGrand Martin Parmer MILAM George C. Childress Sterling C. Robertson

SABINE William Clark, Jr. James Gaines Sydney O. Penington JASPER Stephen H. Everitt LIBERTY Augustine B. Hardin George W. Smyth Michel B. Menard James B. Woods

WASHINGTON George W. Barnett Benjamin B. Goodrich MINA Jesse Grimes John W. Bunton James G. Swisher Robert M. Coleman HARRISBURG Thomas J. Gazley Andrew Briscoe John W. Moore AUSTIN Lorenzo de Zavala COLORADO Thomas William D. Lacey Barnett GONZALES BEXAR William Menefee Charles B. T. Matthew Jesse B. Badgett BRAZORIA Stewart Caldwell Samuel A. Maverick Asa Brigham John Fisher José Antonio JACKSON John S. D. Byrom Navarro Elijah Stapp James Collinsworth Francisco Ruiz James Kerr Edwin Waller VICTORIA MATAGORDA José M. J. S. Rhodes Fisher Carbajal GOLIAD Bailey Hardeman John J. Linn Junius William Mottley

Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence


Edwin Conrad Sam Houston James Power David Thomas

District each delegate represented


John White Bower John Turner

JEFFERSON William B. Scates Claiborne West

75 km 75 miles


Texas Declaration of Independence


29 ★

Texas Revolution

Antonio López de Santa Anna (Courtesy of Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 1986/115-3)


Texas Revolution

While the Mexican army led by El Presidente, Antonio López de Santa Anna, besieged the Alamo, Texans met as previously arranged on March 1, 1836, at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The following day, delegates approved a declaration of independence to inform the world that usurpation of power by Santa Anna’s government ended any hope of reconciliation between Texas and Mexico. Therefore, to these leaders, security in their adopted homeland could be obtained only by independence. Assembled representatives of Texas elected by popular vote from all municipalities favored democracy and justice as opposed to dictatorship and tyranny. The Convention of 1836 appointed Sam Houston commander-inchief of the Texas army and began work on a constitution for the Republic of Texas. General Houston went immediately to Gonzales, where he learned from Mrs. Susanna Dickinson, a survivor of the Alamo tragedy, the fate of the Alamo’s defenders and the intentions of Santa Anna toward all Texans who resisted his authority. Houston needed time to enlist and train an army for the coming struggle. With his men he retreated eastward to Burnam’s Crossing (La Grange), Beason’s Ferry (Columbus), San Felipe, and Groce’s Landing (near Hempstead). Apparently Houston’s strategy was to draw the enemy deeper into territory where most Anglo Texans resided and from whom he hoped to gain recruits, and because he understood that the greater distance an adversary’s supply line can be stretched, the weaker he becomes. The news of Mexican atrocities at San Antonio, San Patricio, Agua Dulce, Refugio, and Goliad spread rapidly that spring as horror stories multiplied with subsequent telling. Fear stalked the land. Families hastily gathered necessities of food and clothing, hid personal treasured possessions, turned out livestock to forage for themselves, and began a trek eastward to Louisiana and safety. Untold hardships became their lot as they experienced muddy roads, swollen steams, and epidemics of whooping cough and measles. This rush eastward later became known as

the “Runaway Scrape.” Although men knew they were needed for the Texas army, most of those otherwise willing to fight first wanted to escort their families out of harm’s way. Not all Anglo settlers who had lived in Texas for several years agreed with the harsh reality of a “revolution.” Santa Anna followed closely on Houston’s trail from Gonzales, continued eastward to the Atascosito Crossing of the Colorado River, marched to San Felipe on the Brazos River, and then turned downstream to the Fort Settlement (present-day Richmond) area because the Texan rear guard prevented his crossing at San Felipe. A Mexican officer, hiding in the brush on the west side of the Brazos, called in English to a Texan crossing the river to dock near him, whereupon the officer commandeered the boat for Santa Anna’s crossing to the east side. With his main army of approximately 3,400 officers and enlisted men remaining on the Brazos until summoned, Santa Anna crossed the Brazos at Thompson’s Ferry, two miles above Fort Settlement, and led a unit of approximately 900 choice combatants to Harrisburg on Buffalo Bayou and New Washington on Galveston Bay as he unsuccessfully pursued Texas government officials. The Mexican president/commanding general turned back toward Lynch’s Ferry when he learned that Houston had begun a march in his direction. Both opposing commanders knew of the other’s movements through spies. General Martín Perfecto de Cos with 540 men from Fort Settlement arrived at Santa Anna’s camp the morning of April 21, which reinforced Santa Anna’s forces. The opposing armies met for battle near the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River, where on the afternoon of April 21, 1836, the Texan army attacked the Mexican camp with remarkable results. Following the battlefield carnage, the victorious Texans rounded up the Mexican army survivors. Among them was the president of Mexico himself. Despite demands by Texan soldiers to hang Santa Anna forthwith, Houston refused to comply because he knew that a live Santa Anna could assist in getting Texas independence recognized by Mexico,






The Texas Revolution Texas forces Mexican advance Mexican retreat Current Texas counties City Existing community City Location of later community


Br az r








Groce’s Beason’s Landing Ferry Burnam’s San Crossing Felipe



San Antonio




a nn aA



Texans flee eastward in “Runaway Scrape”



a on Ga Sam Houston and Texas Army Mexican Army Gonzales

The Alamo Co

Eagle Pass



Atascosito Crossing Mrs. Powell’s

Me Retr xic eat an of Ar my


Harrisburg Lynch’s Battle of Ferry San Jacinto Anahuac New Washington Fort Settlement Columbia



Galveston 29°

Velasco Matagorda







m í re zy



San Patricio

Se sm

Corpus Christi




n A r my d Mexica Ur rea an rmy Mexican A Retreat of



75 km

75 miles




Matamoros 98°

whereas a dead Santa Anna would be just another enemy casualty. Houston had been wounded during the battle, so he soon left for New Orleans to seek medical treatment. Texas president ad interim David G. Burnet negotiated with Santa Anna. At Velasco on May 14, 1836, both presidents signed a public agreement and a secret agreement. By the public agreement, Santa Anna would cease hostilities and direct his remaining force to withdraw beyond the Rio Grande. Further, all private property belonging to Texans captured during the war would be restored, prisoners would be exchanged, and neither the Texan nor Mexican armies would come in contact with the other. Santa Anna would receive safe passage to Veracruz in time. The secret agreement called for Santa Anna

to order his government to receive a Texas delegation to negotiate all differences, establish a trade treaty with Texas, acknowledge Texas independence, and set the international boundary at the Rio Grande. Both sides violated terms of the treaties. As a result, Mexico did not recognize its loss of Texas until the conclusion of the American-Mexican War in 1848. The Mexican force—by now approximately 2,900 officers and enlisted men along the Brazos within striking range of San Jacinto—had the potential capability of overcoming the meager and exhausted Texan army had General Vicente Filisola, now in command, been willing to disobey Santa Anna’s order to withdraw and had struck the Texans

Sam Houston (Courtesy of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas, 2001.4)

Texas Revolution


immediately. But Filisola did not know the size of Houston’s army or about the increasing flow of volunteers from the United States coming to support the Texans. He realized that a miscalculation here would have been even more disastrous to the honor of the Mexican nation. The Mexican army commanders with their combat units who could have pressed an attack were Generals Filisola, Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma, and Antonio Gaona at Fort Settlement, General José Urrea at Brazoria, Colonel Mariano Salas at Columbia, and Colonel Agustín Alcerrica at Matagorda. A rear guard could have arrived in a reasonable amount of time from Victoria, Goliad, and San Antonio. Rather than continuing the conflict in that region, Filisola obeyed his captured commander’s orders. He assembled his combined forces at Mrs. Powell’s house and tavern southwest of Fort Settlement on Turkey Creek, a tributary of the San Bernard River, and began an organized withdrawal. When the army moved beyond the San Bernard and turned northwest along the Middle Bernard toward

the Atascosito Crossing, it encountered a record rainfall that turned the prairie into a quagmire. The retreating army took twelve days to cover twenty miles through a sea of mud or, as General Filisola termed it, “un Mar de Lodo,” resulting in a loss of equipment, a shortage of draft animals, a reduction of essential supplies, debilitating hunger, extreme fatigue, and low morale. A Texan army unit commanded by General Thomas J. Rusk followed the retreating Mexican army to ensure their exit. By early summer, all Mexican soldiers (reported by Filisola as 4,643 officers and enlisted men following the consolidation of units from San Antonio, Matagorda, Victoria, and Goliad) had evacuated Texas. The two months between the siege of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto had been a time of anxiety. Texas was born in a dream, nurtured in despair, and matured in victory. No longer fearing an immediate organized assault from Mexico, the people of Texas returned to their homes. Ahead lay the awesome task of forging a republic that would endure.

GENERALS SANTA ANNA AND HOUSTON President of the Republic of Mexico and commanding general of the


Commander-in-chief of the Texas army, Sam Houston (1793–1863)

Mexican army, Antonio López de Santa Anna (1795–1876)

was born near Lexington, Virginia. Moved to Tennessee at an early age,

was born in Jalapa, Mexico, became an officer in the Spanish army at

served as an officer in the War of 1812, and became a protégé of General

the age of fifteen, served as governor of Veracruz after independence

Andrew Jackson in Tennessee politics. He was 6'4" in height, weighed

from Spain, and had some success as a military commander before his

235 pounds, had a 34" waist and a 48" barrel chest—a man’s man for that

election to the presidency in 1833. Between 1833 and 1855, he held the

time—and had little formal education before becoming a schoolteacher.

office of president numerous times. He was slimly built on a 5'10" frame

After serving as a member of the U.S. Congress (1823–27) and as

(which was tall for his time), had little education, and loved luxury and

governor of Tennessee (1827–29), Houston lived with the Cherokee

ostentatious display of accoutrements. Although elected as a federalist,

Indians in present-day Oklahoma before moving to Texas in 1833. He

he soon became a centralist and assumed dictatorial power. His

became a member of the Convention of 1833 and the Consultation

incursion into Texas in 1836 to quash a rebellion met initial success at

of All Texans in 1835. The General Council of the Provisional State of

the Battle of the Alamo, but he suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle

Texas in the Mexican federation appointed Houston to be commander of

of San Jacinto on April 21. Upon his return to Mexico after being held

regular forces until the Convention of 1836, of which he was a member,

as a prisoner of war, Santa Anna became obsessed with the reconquest

declared Texas independence from Mexico and appointed him to be

of Texas, but a chronic shortage of funds, an insufficient military force,

commander-in-chief of the Texas army. Houston pulled his untrained

and persistent internal quarreling in the army officer ranks brought

force of inconstant numbers eastward from Gonzales and recruited more

his efforts to naught. He nearly succeeded in his challenge of the U.S.

citizen-soldiers as he withdrew eastward to more populated regions

Army at the Battle of Buena Vista during the American-Mexican War.

of East Texas to stretch the enemy’s logistical support line farther and

As president of Mexico in the early 1850s, Santa Anna agreed to the

farther away from its base while awaiting the main chance. That decisive

Gadsden Purchase, by which the United States acquired additional

moment came on April 21, 1836, on the San Jacinto prairie. With his

Mexican territory on the southern reaches of New Mexico and Arizona.

popularity as “Old San Jacinto,” Houston served twice as president of

His legacy in Mexico is negative. In the National Museum of Mexico in

the Republic of Texas, then after annexation became a U.S. senator and

Chapultepec Castle, sparse words by Mexican historian Rafael F. Muñoz

governor. His forced retirement from politics came when the Secession

describe Santa Anna: “Banished by all America; Wealthy and Pauper,

Convention of 1861 deposed him as governor because he refused to

Eminent and Persecuted; Tyrant and Prisoner; Patriot and Traitor, Hero

take an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America. Houston

and Villain.”

retired to his home in Huntsville.

Texas Revolution

30 ★

Battle of San Jacinto The Texas army under the command of General Sam Houston had only a limited amount of military training before its deciding encounter with Mexican forces on the San Jacinto battlefield on April 21, 1836. But what the men lacked in appreciating close-order drill and understanding battle tactics they more than made up by a fierce determination to protect their homeland and provide for a democratic government. Good fortune befell the Texans on April 18 as they camped near the burned-out town of Harrisburg when they learned from captured Mexican couriers that General Antonio López de Santa Anna had left his main army near Fort Settlement (present-day Richmond) while he led an advance party to, then set ablaze, New Washington on Galveston Bay. General Houston became convinced that his army, by moving quickly, had a better than even chance of success on the battlefield against a greatly reduced number of enemy combatants. The Texas commander sat his horse with his men positioned in front of him so they could view smoke rising in the clear April morning from the direction of New Washington, some twenty miles away. He gave a stirring speech that victory would be certain if they trusted in God and feared not as they avenged the victims of the Alamo and Goliad. With shouts of “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad,” the men responded wholeheartedly when Houston gave the order to march. In a sense, the hunted became the hunters. The Texans—after leaving 255 men, who were too ill to march farther, to guard the baggage because Houston wanted to travel lighter and faster—crossed Buffalo Bayou slightly below Harrisburg, marched on to Vince’s Bridge, and continued to an encampment in timber near the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River. Santa Anna learned of the Texan army behind him as he burned New Washington, so he turned to meet the enemy. After brief sorties on April 20, and after Santa Anna ordered his bugler to sound “El Deguello” as he had done at the Alamo to indicate no quarter, both armies withdrew to their camps.

When April 21, 1836, dawned, the two forces faced each other approximately three-fourths of a mile apart. A slight rise in the prairie between them prevented direct sight of the other camp, but spies on both sides kept their commanders informed. Santa Anna received reinforcements during the morning of the 21st when 540 men under the command of General Martín Perfecto de Cos arrived after an exhausting march from the Brazos via Harrisburg and Vince’s Bridge. Because his own men also needed rest after several days of rapid marches across the muddy Texas countryside, Santa Anna, apparently assuming that the Texans would hunker down and await a Mexican attack, permitted his entire camp to take a siesta. The Mexican force, numbering approximately fourteen hundred men, felt so secure that the soldiers slept, ate, or played cards without posting sentries to watch the supposedly trapped Texans. About noon on April 21, Houston called his first council of war since he had assumed command of the army. He listened to his commanders and dismissed them without announcing his intentions. He then sent Erastus “Deaf ” Smith with a half dozen men to destroy Vince’s Bridge and advised that they return quickly. The downed bridge would obstruct any Mexican reinforcements coming up behind the Texans to create a vise between them and Santa Anna’s current force; it would also prevent an orderly retreat for the Texans should the ensuing battle go against them.

San Jacinto battle flag carried by Texans on April 21, 1836. Presented to Sidney Sherman by women of Newport, Kentucky. The restored flag hangs behind the Speaker’s rostrum in the Texas State Capitol. (Courtesy of The State Preservation Board, Austin, Texas, 1989.68)

Battle of San Jacinto


in ac nJ Sa

acinto R. k San J

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20 km

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R to .

San Felipe

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San Jacinto Battlefield Harrisburg (Houston)

iver Trinity R

Groce’s Landing

Sa and m Hou Tex ston as A rmy

20 miles

Lynch’s Ferry

Liberty 30°


Trinity andy Bay a New nn Arm Bridge A ta n at Vince’s Washington San exica Galveston Bayou Fort M Bay Settlement

Brazos Riv




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Columbia Sa

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Be d ar



Current Texas counties

Quintana 96°

At 3:30 that afternoon, General Houston ordered his army to prepare for an attack. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery units, assembled in a two-man-deep formation nine hundred yards wide with Houston on horseback directly in front, advanced rapidly and quietly across the open prairie. The Santanistas did not discover the advancing Texans until they got within approximately two hundred yards of the enemy. Pandemonium broke loose, however, when Anglo Texans scaling the enemy’s breastworks shouted, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” Some thirty Tejanos under the command of Captain Juan Seguín wore white cardboard on their hats to distinguish themselves from the Santanistas. Their battle cry in Spanish: “Recuerden el Alamo! Recuerden La Bahía!” had a strong effect on the enemy. Mexican officers unsuccessfully attempted to rally their soldiers for defense as disorder turned to rout.


Battle of San Jacinto

March to San Jacinto City Existing communities (City) Community’s current name

In the carnage that followed, Mexican soldiers attempting to flee were pursued and slain without quarter on the open prairies and in nearby marshes. Some Mexican soldiers, seeing that escape was impossible, fell to their knees calling out, “Me no Alamo! Me no Goliad!” but to no avail; they were slaughtered on the spot. Houston’s officers attempted without success to stem the terrible vengeance when they saw that the battle had been won. Houston realized that if his men exhausted their ammunition and ruined their weapons using them as clubs he would have no means to repel enemy reinforcements coming from encampments on the Brazos. Although in his official report General Houston stated that the main battle lasted only eighteen minutes, furious search-and-destroy activities continued until nightfall. A roundup of captured prisoners, which included General Santa Anna, went on for several days.

Burnet’s Tory Hill

Lynch’s Ferry



B ur n e t’s B ay


lo B ay o


The Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836

LI 30 BER m TY ile s

n Ri Ja c i n ver to


ANAHUAC 40 miles



Gen. Houston’s headquarters P CA M TE XA N




f In

Present-day monument

n sio es r p de ge a ain ne Dr eli g d Ri





til Ar



Santa Anna’s escape

N W NE GTO N SHI les WA 8 mi


According to Houston, the Texans had 783 fighting effectives—or as Houston stated, “our aggregate force for the field”—at the time of battle and lost 2 killed and 23 wounded. Six of the wounded later died. Houston reported the Mexican losses numbered 630 killed and 730 captured, of whom 280 were wounded. Approximately 40 Mexican soldiers escaped. Some Texas soldiers too ill to participate in the battle remained in camp when Houston began the attack. With a stroke of daring favored by good luck, the Texan army seized the initiative, took the battle to the enemy, and triumphed on the prairie at San Jacinto. This battle shaped the course of Texas

y ve er




Pe g g y’s Lake














Bayou crossed by fleeing Mexicans April 21


T Ca exa va n lry






f In




V HA 8 mince 13 R i ’s m RIS les Brid ile B ge s UR G

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Gen. Santa Anna’s headquarters MEXICAN CAMP


history as no other single event. Among other things, it brought about the withdrawal of the remaining Mexican army of forty-six hundred still dispersed in Texas, at the time under the command of General Vicente Filisola, beyond the Rio Grande and obtained Santa Anna’s promise to work for the recognition of Texas independence by Mexico once he got back home. In the crucible of San Jacinto, political fortunes were made. In addition to serving as republic and state officials, many of the combatants have been memorialized with the naming of cities, counties, and schools as a lasting reminder of this aspect of the Texas heritage.

Battle of San Jacinto


Texas: A Historical Atlas  

The most comprehensive, state-of-the-art work of its kind, Texas: A Historical Atlas is more than just a reference. It is a striking visual...

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