William Corner.

San Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history online

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artiller>- in the centre. The Indians broke at the first shock; only the Cooshatties
and a few others stood their ground. These received two other charges, in which
they lost two killed and several wounded. The Americans had now^ made their
dispositions, and proceeded to execute them with matchless coolness. They charged
up the hill, stopped at thirty yards of the enemy's line, fired three rounds, loaded,
then charged again, and straighway the slope towards San Antonio was dotted with
Spanish fugitives, whom the Indians pursued and butchered regardless of quarter.
The Spani.sh commander, who had pledged .sword and head to Governor Salcedo
that he would kill and capture the American army, could not endure the sting of
his misfortune. He spurred his horse upon the American ranks, attacked Major
Ro.ss, then Colonel Kemper, and while in the act of striking the latter, was .shot b)'
private William Owen. The vSpanish loss is .said to have been near a thousand
killed and wounded.

Next day the Americans advanced to the outskirts of vSan Antonio and de-
manded a surrender. Governor Salcedo desired to parley, to delay. A second
demand was made — peremptory. Governor Salcedo then marched out with his
staff. He presented his .sword to Captain Taylor ; Taylor refu.sed, and referred
him to Colonel Kemper. Presenting to Colonel Kemper, he was in turn referred
to Gutierrez. No, not to that rebel ! vSalcedo thrust his sword into the ground,
whence Gutierrez drew it. The victors got .stores, arms, and treasure. Seven-
teen American prisoners in the Alamo were released and armed. The troops
were paid — receiving a bonus of fifteen dollars each in addition to wages — clothed



* A pioimueiit Mfxu-au, olTLXas, of slroii); but uiicuUivaUd iiiU



SIDXIvV LAXIICR'S HISTORICAI. SKICTCH. 79

and niouiilecl out of the booty. The Indians were not forgotten in the distribu-
tion: thc\ " were supplied," says Voakuni, " witli twc) dollars' \v(jrth oi ver-
milion, to.^ether with presents of the value of a hundred and thirt\- dollars, and
sent away rejoicin.i;'."

And now flowed the blood that must answer that which dripped down the
pole from poor Colonel Delgado's bead. Shortly after the victory, Captain Del-
gado, a son of the executed rel)el, falls upon his knees before Gutierrez, and de-
mands vengence n\)on the ]^risoner. Governor Salcedo, who apprehended and
executed his father. Gutierrez arrays his army, informs them that it would l)e
safe to send Salcedo and staflF to New Orleans, and that it so hap])ens that ves-
sels are about to sail for that port from Matagorda Bay. The army consents (we
are so fearfully and wonderfully republican in these days : ///t' aryny consents)
that the prisoners be sent off as ])roi)osed. Captain Delgado, with a company of
Mexicans, starts in charge, ostensibly en route for Matagorda Bay. There are
fifteen of the distinguished captives : Governor Salcedo, of Texas, Governor
Herrera, of New Leon, Ex-Governor Cordero, whom we last saw holding levees
in San Antonio, several Spanish and Mexican officers, and one citizen. Delgado
gets his prisoners a mile and a half from town, halts them on the bank of the
river, strips them, ties them, and cuts the throats of every man : " some of the
assassins," says Colonel Navarro, whetting " their knives upon the soles of their
shoes in presence of their victims."

The town of San Antonio must have been anything but a pleasant place for
peaceful citizens during the next two months. Colonel Kemper, who was really the
commanding officer of the American army, refused further connection with those
who could be guilty of such barbarity, and left, with other American officers.
Their departure leit in the town an uncontrolled body of troo])s who feared
neither God nor man ; and these immediately proceeded to avail themselves of
the situation by indulging in all manner of riotous and lawless pleasures. With
the month of June, however, came Don Elisondo from Mexico with an army of
royalists, consisting of about three thousand men half of whom were regular
troops. His advance upon San Antonio seems to have been a complete surprise,
and to have been only learned by the undisciplined republican army in the town,
together wnth the fact that he had captured their horses, which had been out
grazing, and killed part of the guard which w^as protecting the caballada. If P^l-
isondo had marched straight on into town, his task would probabh* have been an
easy one. But he committed the fatal mistake of encamping a short distance
from the suburbs, where he threw up two bastions with a curtain between, on a
ridge near the Alazan Creek.

Meantime the republican arm\- in th.e town recovered from the confusion into
which they had been thrown by the first intelligence of Elisondo's proximity,
and organized themselves under Gutierrez and Captain Perry. It was determined
to anticipate the enemy's attack. Ingress and egress w^ere prohibited, the senti-
nels doubled, and all the cannons spiked except four field-pieces. In the darkness
of the night of June 4th the Americans marched quietly out of town, b}- file, to
within hearing of the enemy's pickets, and remained there until the enemy was
heard at matins. The signal to charge being given — a cheer from the right of



80 SAN ANTONIO DR BRXAR.

companies — the Americans advanced, suq^rised and captured the pickets in front,
mounted the enem^-'s work, lowered his flag and hoisted their own, before they
were fairl}' discovered through the dim dawn. The enemy struggled hard, how-
ever, and compelled the Americans to abandon the works. The latter charged
again, and this time routed the enemy completely. The royalist loss is said to
have been about a thousand in killed, wounded and prisoners; and that of the
Americans, ninety-four killed and mortally wounded.

For some reason Gutierrez was now dismissed from the leadership of the
army (we republican soldiers decapitate our commanders very quickly if they
please us not !), and shortly afterwards troops and citizens went forth in grand
procession to welcome Don Jose Alvarez Toledo, a distinguished republican
Cuban who had been forwarding recruits from Louisiana to San Antonio ; and
having escorted him into town with much ceremony, elected him commander-in-
chief of the Republican Army of the North. Toledo immediately organised a
government ; but ihe people of San Antonio enjoyed the unaccustomed blessing
of civil law only a little while.

In a few days enter, from over the Mexican border, Gen. Arredondo, with
the remnant of Elisondo's men and some fresh troops, about four thousand in all,
en route for San Antonio. Toledo marches out to meet him with about twentj^-
five hundred men, one-third of whom are Americans, the balance Mexicans under
Manchaca ; and on the 18th of August, 1813, they come together. Arredondo
decoys him into an ingenious ad de sac which he has thrown up, just south of the
Medina River, and has concealed by cut bushes ; and pours such a murderous
fire of cannon and small arms upon him, that in spite of the gallantry of the right
wing where the Americans are, the retreat which Toledo has ordered too late
becomes a mere rout, and the republican army is butchered without mercy. One
batch of seventy or eighty fugitives is captured by the pursuing royalists, tied,
set by tens upon a log laid across a great grave, and shot !

On the 20th Arredondo enters San Antonio in great triumph, and straight-
way proceeds to wreak fearful vengeance upon the unhappy town for the massacre
of his brother governors. Seven hundred citizens are thrown into prison. Dur-
ing the night of the 20th eighteen die of suffocation out of three hundred who are
confined in one house. These only anticipate the remainder, who are shot, with-
out trial, in detachments. Five hundred republican women are imprisoned in a
building, derisivel)^ termed the Quhiia, and compelled to make up twenty-four
bu.shels of corn into tortillas every day for the royalist army. Having thus sent
up a sweet savor of revenge to the spirits of the murdered Salcedo, Cordero>
Herrera, and the others, Arredondo finally gathers their bones together and
buries them. In all this blood the prosperity of San Antonio was drowned. To
settlers it offered no inchicements ; to most of its former citizens it held out notli-
ing but terror ; and it is described as almost entireh' abandoned in IsKi.

In December, l.S2(), arri\-ed a person in San Antonio wlio, though nt)t then
known as sucli, was really a harbinger of better times. This was Moses Austin,
of Connecticut. He came to see Go\-ernor Martinez, with a view of bringing a
colony to Texas. The two. with the I'.aroii ck- Haslro]), put in train tlie i)relimi-
nary application for permission to Arretlondo, Connnandanl-Cieneral at Monterey.






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FAC-Snm.KS OF SKiNATURKS (JF inSTOKICAL PFRSONA



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SIDXlvV LANIl-R'S HISTORICAL SKl/rCII. 81

Austin, il is true, died soon afterwards ; l)Ut lie left his project to his son Stephen
F., who afterwards carried it out with a patience tliat amounted to j^enius and a
fortitude that was equivalent to the favor of Heaven.

On the -ilth of August, 1S21, Don Juan O'Donoju and Yturhide entered into
the Treaty of Cordova, which substantially perfected the separation of Mexico
from the mother-country. When the intelligence of this event had spread, the
citi/.en.s of San Antonio returned. Moreover, about this time a tide of emigra-
tion began to set towards Texas. The Americans who had composed part of the
army of Gutierrez had circulated fair reports of the country. In IS-i."! San
Antonio is said to have had five thousand inhabitants ; though the Comanches
appear still to have had matters all their own way when they came into town, as
they frequently did, to buy beads and other articles with skins of deer and
buffalo. One would find this difticult to believe, but rea.soning a priori, it is
rendered probable by the fact that in the decree of the the Federal Congress of
Mexico of the 24th of August, 182(3, to provide for raising troops to serve in
Coahuila and Texas as frontier defenders, it is ordered that out of the gro.ss levies
there shall be first preferred for military service " ^.s- %'ao;os y iiial cntreienidos,'"
vagrant and evil- disposed persons ; and a posteriori, it is ([uite confirmed by the
experience of Olmsted in San Fernando (a considerable town west of the Rio
Grande) so late as 1S.54, where he found the Indians "lounging in and out of
every house .... with such an air as indicated they were masters ot the
town. They entered every door," adds Olmsted, "fell on every neck, patted the
women on the check, helped them.selves to whatever suited their fancy, and dis-
tributed their scowls or grunts of pleasure according to their sensations."

In the year 1824 a lot of French merchants passed through San Antonio en
route to Santa Fe on a trading expedition. Some distance from town their pack-
animals were all stolen by Indians ; but they managed to get carts and oxen from
San Antonio, and so conveyed their goods finally to Santa Fc, where they sold
them at an immense profit. In 1831 the Bowie brothers, Rezin P. and James,
organised in San Antonio their expedition in search of the old reputed silver
mines at San Saba Mission. In the course of this unlucky venture occurred their
famous Indian fight, where the two Bowies, with nine others, fought a pitched
battle with one hundred and sixty-four Indians who had attacked them with
arrow, with ritle, and with fire from sundown to sunset, killing and wounding
eighty-four. They then fortified tlieir position during tlie night, maintained it
for eight days afterwards, and finally returned to San Antonio with their horses
and three wounded comrades, leaving one man killed.

It is related that in ls;')2 a Comanclie Indian attempted to alxluct a Shawnee
woman in San Antonio. She escaped him, joined a partv of her people who were
staying some thirty fi\-e miles from town, ami informed them where the Comanches
(of whom five hundred had been in town for some purpose) would probably camp.
The Shawnees ambushed themselves at the spot indicated. The Comanches
came on and stopped as expected : the Shawnees poured a fire into them, and
repeated it as they continually rallied, until the Comanches abandoned the con
test with a loss of one hundred and se\entv-five dead.



82 SAN ANTONIO DK BKXAR.

Early in IS.'Jo (or perhaps late in December 1832) arrives in San Auconio
for the first time-one who is to be called the father of his country. This is Sam
Houston. He comes in company with the famous James Bowie, son-in-law of
Vice-Governor Veramendi, and holds a consultation with the Comanche chiefs
here, to arrange a meeting- at Cantonment Gibson with a view to a treaty of
peace. Meantime trouble is brewing. Young Texas does not get on well with
his mother. What seems to hurt most is the late union of Texas with Coahuila.
This we cannot stand. Stephen F Austin goes to the City of Mexico with a
memorial on the subject to the federal government. He writes from there to the
municipality of San Antonio. Oct. 2d, 18:5o, informing the people that their
request is likely to be refused, and advising them to make themselves ready for
that emergency. The municipality hand this letter over to Vice-President Farias,
who, already angry with Austin on an old account; arrests liim on his way home
and throws him in prison, back in the city of Mexico.

In October, 18;U, certain people in San Antonio hold what Yoakum calls
" the first strictly revolutionary meeting in Texas;" for Santa Kw\\a.\\2iS pronoiniced,
and got to be at the head of affairs, and he refuses to separate Texas from Coa-
huila. So, through meetings all over the state ; through conferences of citizen
deputations with Col. Ugartechea, Mexican Commandant at San Antonio, for
the purpose of explaining matters ; through confused arguments and resolutions
of the peace party and the war party ; through confused rumors of the advance
of Mexican General Cos with an army ; through squabbling and wrangling and
final fighting over the cannon that had been lent by the Post of Bexar to the
people of Gonzales ; through all manner of civic trouble consequent upon the
imprisonment of Governor Viesca of Texas by Santa Anna, and the suspension of
the progress of the civil law machine, we come to the time when the committee
of San Felipe boldly cry : -'Let us take Bexar and drive the Mexican soldiery out
of Texas!" and presently, here, on the 28th of October, 1885, is General Cos
with his army in San Antonio, fortifying for dear life, while yonder is Austin
with a thousand Texans, at Mission Concepcion, a mile and a half down the river
below town, where Fannin and Bowie with ninety men in advance have a few
hours before waged a brilliant battle with four hundred Mexicans, capturing their
field-piece, killing and wounding a hundred or more, and driving the rest back
to town.

(icneral Austin believes, it seems, that Cos will surrender without a battle ;
and so remains at Concepcion till November 2d, then marches up past the town
on the east side, encamps four or five days, marches down on the west side, dis-
plays his forces on a hill side /;/ terrorcm, sends in a demand for surrender — and
is flatly answered no. He resolves to lay siege. The days pass slowly, the
enemy will not come out though allured with all manner of military enticements,
and the army has no "fun," with the exception of one small skirmish, until the
2()th, when "Deaf" Smith-'= discovers a party of a hundred Mexican troops, who
have been .sent out to cut prairie-grass for the horses in towu, and reporting them
in camp, brings on what is known as the "grass-fight." Colonel James Bowie

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Online LibraryWilliam CornerSan Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history → online text (page 12 of 22)