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[56]

Chapter 5: the Texan Revolution.


On February 18, 1685, the adventurous La Salle, looking for a mouth of the Mississippi, which he had discovered in 1682, landed in Matagorda Bay. Six miles up the Lavaca River he built Fort St. Louis. This was the first settlement in Texas. Two years afterward, in attempting to pass by land from Lavaca to the French colony in Illinois, he was murdered near the river Neches by his own men; and in a few years the little post on the Lavaca was destroyed by disease, Indian assaults, and Spanish hostility. The claim to this territory was disputed between France and Spain, but the latter power practically settled the question in 1715 by founding the missions, which were the first permanent colonies in the country. Called at first the New Philippines, it took its name, Texas, from Tejas, a word meaning-friends. In 1744, and again in 1765, the Spanish population was estimated at 750, and the domiciliated Indians at the same number. On September 3, 1762, France ceded Louisiana to Spain. After this, though the seaports of Texas were closed by Spanish jealousy, the trade across the country between Mexico and Louisiana, possessions of the same power, gave some impulse to the settlement and growth of the country, though these again were retarded by the increased hostility of the Indians.

In 1800 Philip Nolan, with twenty men, made an expedition into Texas, as is said, in the interests of Burr and Wilkinson. He claimed to be in search of horses. He was attacked by 150 Spaniards, who killed him and some of his men, and made prisoners of the others. Ellis Bean, the second in command, was held a prisoner eleven years.

In 1800 Louisiana was restored by Spain to France, and in 1803 ceded by France to the United States. Under this cession the United States set up some claim to Texas, and the boundary-line itself between Texas and Louisiana was left undetermined. Hostilities seemed impending in 1806, but were averted by compromise. In the same year Lieutenant Pike explored Red River and the Arkansas, evading the Spaniards sent to capture him, until he was arrested on the Rio Grande and sent prisoner to Chihuahua. The population of Texas was at that time estimated at 7,000, of whom 2,000 were at San Antonio and 500 at Nacogdoches, including a good many Americans.

The first revolutionary movements in Mexico were in 1808. When Joseph Bonaparte took the throne of Spain in that year, the Spaniards in Mexico, adhering to their hereditary sovereign, established a regency. [57] Availing themselves of the confusion arising from these events, the natives, who had long groaned under the despotism of the Spaniards, tried to throw off the yoke. The patriot cause, led by Miguel Hidalgo, was at first eminently successful; but, having suffered some defeats, Hidalgo was betrayed to the enemy in March, and executed on July 27, 1811.

In 1812 Don Bernardo Gutierrez organized an attempt to revolutionize Texas and establish an independent government, in conjunction with Lieutenant Augustus W. Magee, a native of Massachusetts and graduate of West Point, who resigned from the United States Army to take military command of the expedition. The forces were mainly composed of restless young men of good families in Kentucky and Louisiana, but a body of outlaws, who infested the neutral ground, were accepted as auxiliaries. The movement was made in sympathy, though not in concert, with Morales, the patriot chief west of the Rio Grande. Magee invaded Texas with 365 men, and defeated very superior forces of the Spaniards wherever he met them. He was a man of military capacity and daring. He died of consumption during the expedition; but his successor, Colonel Samuel Kemper, completed the conquest of the country, taking prisoner, at San Antonio, General Salcedo and many others of note. Gutierrez, under some plea of retaliation, had General Salcedo and thirteen other prisoners put to death in cold blood, which caused part of the Americans to withdraw, and the remainder to depose Gutierrez and select as his successor General Toledo, a Spanish republican exile.

After victory had been secured, the inherent difficulties of all such enterprises came in to disconcert the plans of the adventurers and prevent a successful issue. Mexican jealousy of their Spanish leader and Anglo-American allies, American distrust of Mexican valor and fidelity, insubordination, discord, collision of authority, and other causes, led to the defeat, on the banks of the Medina, of 400 Americans and 700 Mexicans, by General Arredondo with 10,000 royalists. The revolution was disastrously crushed, and the unfortunate adventurers who survived expiated their temerity by all the sufferings that Spanish arrogance and vindictiveness could inflict. Albert Sidney Johnston's brothers, Darius and Orramel, shared in the hazards, the hardships, the victories, and the calamitous consequences of this expedition. Fever, privation, and Spanish prisons, brought them to early graves.

In 1817 General Mina, a Spanish republican, made another gallant but unsuccessful attempt to revolutionize Texas, but was finally captured and shot. Again, in 1819, Colonel Long with 200 or 300 Americans made two attempts, which ended in their own destruction. After the separation of Mexico from Spain, in 1821, the changes in the Central Government merely changed the masters who oppressed this distant [58] and suspected province, until 1823-24, when the constituent Cortes created the Federal Union of the Mexican Republic, and constitutional liberty seemed about to dawn on that unhappy land.

In the mean time, however, Texas had taken a step forward that rapidly led to unforeseen results. The establishment of the boundary of the Sabine had removed a constant source of suspicion against the United States, and the increasing hostility of the Comanches and other Indians required the interposed barrier of a hardy people, who would withstand and chastise their incursions. Hence ensued a change in the policy of the Government, which had hitherto sought to keep Texas a desert.

In 1821 Moses Austin, a native of Connecticut and resident of Missouri, obtained from the Mexican Government a contract for the introduction of a colony of 300 families into Texas. Each family was to receive an allotment of land, and the empresario, or contractor, was to receive a large premium, also in land. He died, however, before completing his arrangements, leaving the execution of his scheme to his son, Stephen F. Austin.

Stephen Austin, like his father, was a man of large designs and excellent administrative ability. Though an enthusiast, he was prudent, moderate, benevolent, and unselfish, and devoted himself to his work with an eye single to its success. It was only after all the delays incident to Mexican law and legislation, and a year's residence at Mexico, that he obtained a confirmation of his contract. The large civil powers granted to empresarios were exercised by Austin in the interests of the colonists, and his high qualities as a man gave to his enterprise a success not achieved by others. Nevertheless, others, following his example, introduced a large number of excellent people into Texas. Though most of the colonists were poor, some were persons of substance, and very many were of high character and superior talents. This is evidenced by the stability with which many of the original families have maintained their respectability and influence through the vicissitudes of more than half a century. Of course, many men of stained reputation found refuge in that vast and sparsely-settled territory; but malefactors, when known, were expelled by the colonists, and the foundations of the future republic were solidly laid. In June, 1825, Mr. Austin contracted for the introduction of 500 families; and Texas seemed destined to advance rapidly in her career of progress.

In 1826 an abortive insurrection, known as the Fredonian War, occurred at Nacogdoches, in which Austin and his colony did not sympathize. It had, however, the effect of arousing the suspicions of the Mexican Government, which gradually set on foot a more rigorous course of policy. Indeed, the growing wealth and numbers of an Anglo-American State on her borders were enough to excite the narrow [59] jealousy of that republic. The eagerness of the United States Government to purchase the Territory still further stimulated this feeling. When the Mexican States had, in 1824, adopted a Federal Constitution, based on that of the United States, Texas alone, of all the constituent members, thoroughly understood, heartily embraced, and really meant to fulfill the solemn pledge engrafted in the Constitution, “to obey and sustain, at all hazards, the Supreme Federal powers, and its own union with the rest of the States, and the constitutional independence of all and each of them.” Whatever was meant by others, the American settlers were in dead earnest, and intended to adhere to a Constitution that guaranteed self-government. Coahuila and Texas were temporarily united under the terms of this compact. In the vicissitudes of Mexican politics, which usually, however, did not affect greatly “the men between the plough-handles” who were settling Texas, General Bustamante, a vainglorious despot, attained the Executive power of Mexico by force, and tried to establish a centralized government by proscription and terror. Texas naturally fell under his displeasure; and, by a decree of April 6, 1830, he initiated measures for the complete subjection of that State. He suspended the colonization contracts, prohibited immigration from the United States, and prepared to make a penal colony of Texas by the transportation thither of convicts. The custom-house regulations were also made more stringent and onerous, and in the administration of the laws the Mexican officials practised the most invidious discrimination between citizens of Mexican and of American birth. To enforce these rigorous measures, the garrisons were reinforced with the lowest and most debauched of the mercenaries who propped the despotism on their bayonets. Immigration from the United States had raised the number of the colonists to 20,000; and it is not to be supposed that men born free, of the high-spirited Anglo-Saxon race, and not the most tractable of that race, who had faced the perils of an Indian frontier and an untried wilderness, would patiently submit to spoliation and oppression.

The first collision between the military forces and the colonists was brought about by the arbitrary acts of Colonel Bradburn, commandant at Anahuac, an American in the service of the Central Government. In 1830 Bradburn undertook to govern the country by military law, arresting citizens, abolishing the municipalities by force, and otherwise overriding the law of the land, in a way then deemed intolerable by men of Anglo-American descent. Finally, in 1832, a struggle ensued which has passed into the annals of the country under the name of the Anahuac Campaign. Bradburn arrested William B. Travis, Patrick C. Jack, and other leading citizens, under various pretexts, without warrant of law, and refused to release them, or allow them a trial. But those were days when life without liberty was disdained by Americans. [60] An armed force of colonists was collected and besieged his fort, when he agreed, if they would retire, to release the prisoners. Perfidiously availing himself of their compliance, he brought in a quantity of military stores, and then retracted his promise. He was again besieged; and a force was sent, under Captain John Austin, to prevent Colonel Ugartechea, commandant at Velasco, from assisting him. The conference with Ugartechea resulted in an assault on his fort by the Texans. After a hot fight of one day, the garrison, 125 strong, having lost half their strength, capitulated. The Texan loss was 23 killed and mortally wounded, and 40 wounded, out of a force of 112 men. The loss attests the valor of both parties.

In the mean time, the colonists, 300 strong, intercepted Colonel Piedras, advancing from Nacogdoches to aid Anahuac; and he was glad to compromise, by superseding Bradburn and releasing the prisoners. In order to give legal color to proceedings that might appear revolutionary to the Mexicans, and to secure the aid of one of the rival factions, the colonists declared their adhesion to the Plan of Vera Cruz, a movement, projected by General Santa Anna, in favor of the Constitution of 1824, against the despotic system of Bustamante. General Mejia, Santa Anna's lieutenant, was glad to accept the explanation, and withdraw such soldiers as would go with him, the colonists expelling the remainder.

In 1832 Texas suffered under the double calamity of Indian aggressions and cholera. In October, 1832, the people assembled in convention at San Felipe, and memorialized the Central Government for the separation of Texas from Coahuila, and for the repeal of the invidious law of April 6, 1830. The request for a separate government was not unreasonable, as the State capital was 500 miles beyond its limits. The convention adjourned, to assemble again the 1st of April, 1833, for the formation of a constitution, and to pray for the admission of Texas into the Mexican Union as a State. This was done in April, 1833; and Stephen F. Austin, Erasmo Seguin, and John B. Miller, were delegated to represent their grievances and urge their requests. Austin, though not strictly in harmony with this movement, recognized its essential justice, and faithfully performed the duties of his trust.

Apparently, no time could have been more propitious for his mission, as the inauguration of Santa Anna, as President, on May 15, 1833, seemed to be the triumph of the federal system over the centralized despotism of Bustamante. But Austin found that these plans and platforms had no real meaning in Mexican politics, and were but the war-cries of ambitious leaders. Mexico was in revolutionary turmoil: Santa Anna, the legal President, intriguing for a dictatorship; Gomez Farias, the acting President, projecting radical reforms; and various military chiefs in open revolt; but in all he found a like jealousy, hatred, and [61] ignorant contempt for the frontier, half-Americanized province of Texas. After waiting in vain from April till October, he wrote to the municipality of Bexar, advising the organization of a local State government, “even should the Supreme Government of Mexico refuse its consent.” This letter led to his arrest and strict imprisonment for many months; and, indeed, his detention did not end until September, 1835, when he returned to Texas after an absence of two years and a half.

On May 13, 1834, Santa Anna dissolved Congress by force and assumed dictatorial powers, and in January, 1835, assembled a Congress which destroyed the Federal Constitution and erected a central government on its ruins. The colonists of Texas, though greatly disturbed by the refusal of their request, and by the anarchy arising from the failure to elect State officers, remained at peace, not wishing to involve themselves in Mexican politics, unless their own rights were trampled upon.

Colonel Almonte, special commissioner to inspect Texas in 1834, estimated its whole population at 21,000 civilized inhabitants and 15,300 Indians, of whom 10,800 were hostile nomads. Kennedy places the civilized population at 30,000 whites and 2,000 negroes.

The northern States of Mexico were strongly republican; and the people of Puebla, Oaxaca, Jalisco, and other States, were also opposed to a change of government; but Santa Anna easily put down all opposition by force. Garcia, Governor of Zacatecas, tried the issue with arms, and was defeated with a loss of 2,700 men. A feeble and irresolute attempt at resistance was made by the State authorities of Coahuila, under their Governor, Viesca; but he was defeated by Santa Anna's brother-in-law, General Cos, captured and imprisoned. The Legislature was then deposed, and Santa Anna's authority fully established.

As the State government of Coahuila had corruptly and lavishly alienated the public domain of Texas, the people of Texas disregarded Viesca's appeals, and refused to make common cause with him.

Though Santa Anna tried to soothe the Texans with friendly declarations, they could not be deceived, as his theory of government was avowed, and he continued to assemble troops to carry it out. Austin, whose familiarity with Mexican affairs enabled him to penetrate the designs of its rulers, threw off his habitual caution, and submitted to the people the question whether they would, by assenting to the change from a federal to a central government, surrender the vested rights and State sovereignty secured to them by the Constitution of 1824; and he recommended a general consultation of the people of Texas to decide this question. In this movement he had the advice and countenance of Don Lorenzo de Zavala, a sincere republican, who had [62] been Governor of Mexico, Secretary of Finance, and minister to France. Santa Anna issued orders for their arrest, and for the disarming of the citizens; and General Cos moved toward San Antonio, declaring his intention to establish military rule in Texas.

The issue between military despotism and constitutional government was now squarely nade. Committees of safety were organized, which determined to repel invasion by force. The first shock of arms occurred on the banks of the river Guadalupe on the 20th of September, 1835. Eighteen Texans of Gonzales, under Captain Martin, repulsed a body of 200 Mexican cavalry, who attempted a passage of the river. On the 1st of October, 168 volunteers from the Guadalupe, under Colonel John H. Moore, without loss, defeated General Castafleda and a large Mexican force. This success inspirited the colonists; and Austin took command in the west, and Sam Houston at Nacogdoches.

On October 8th Captain Collinsworth captured Goliad with $10,000 worth of stores, and 300 stand of arms. Benjamin R. Milam, who had just escaped from Mexico, shared in this assault as a volunteer. On October 28th Colonel James Bowie, with 92 men, having approached within a mile and a half of San Antonio, found his little troop surrounded at the Conception Mission by a large force of Mexicans, which had moved out under cover of a dense fog. He engaged the enemy briskly, captured a cannon, and killed and wounded 100 Mexicans, with the loss of only one man. A number of other engagements resulted favorably to the colonists. General Cos had strongly fortified San Antonio, and intrenched himself there with an army of about 2,000 men. General Burleson, who then had command in the west, permitted Colonel Milam to lead 300 volunteers to the assault of this position on December 5th. The Texans effected a lodgment, and fought their way from house to house until they got possession of the public square. On the 9th Cos sent in a flag of truce, and on the 11th capitulated, his force being allowed to retire beyond the Rio Grande, on condition that they should not again serve against Texas. In the third day's fight, Milam fell, with a rifle-ball through his head. His death was a great loss, as he was a man of resources, daring, and experience. The first campaign thus ended with the complete success of the colonists.

The General Consultation of Texas met on the 3d of November, 1835, and chose Branch S. Archer as president. This body put forth a declaration stating that the people of Texas had armed in defense of their just rights and liberties, and of the republican principles of 1824. A provisional government was formed, and Henry Smith was elected Governor, with ample executive powers. Sam Houston was chosen commander-in-chief; and Stephen F. Austin, Branch S. Archer, and William H. Wharton, were appointed commissioners to the United States, with authority to borrow $1,000,000. Arrangements were made [63] for an army and navy, and for all the functions of civil government, and inducements were offered to volunteers to join their standard. In January, 1836, Austin wrote, advising a declaration of independence; and, on the 1st of February, delegates in favor of that measure were elected to a national convention, which, on the 2d day of March, 1836, declared Texts: a free, sovereign, and independent republic. On the 17th of March a constitution was adopted, and an executive government, ad interim, appointed — of which David G. Burnet was President; Lorenzo de Zavala, Vice-President; Thomas J. Rusk, Secretary of War; and other distinguished Texans chiefs of the usual bureaux. The President was a man of noble character-temperate but firm in opinion, tenacious of principles, diligent in business, pure, patriotic, and enlightened. He was a native of New Jersey, the son of a Revolutionary patriot, and had long been a resident of Texas. Yet, such was his sensibility that he felt a slight as if it were a stain, and this rendered him, even when most useful, most unhappy. His colleagues were men of like patriotism and fine abilities.

In the mean time events had moved rapidly. Santa Anna had set out on the 1st of February from Saltillo, with his grand army of invasion, computed at 7,500 men. On the 16th he crossed the Rio Grande, and on the 23d appeared before San Antonio. Instead of finding this stronghold of the west fortified, garrisoned, and provisioned against his advance, it was occupied by a small detachment, which, at his approach, retired to the Alamo, a mission which had been turned into a barrack. Two months and a half had completely changed the condition of affairs in Texas. The colonists, present at the fall of San Antonio, had retired to their homes immediately after that event; and the volunteers, who remained, weary of inaction, eagerly entered upon an expedition, projected against Matamoras, and said to have been approved by the Government and General Houston. Some 400 started, leaving only about sixty men as a garrison.

The civil Government had split into two hostile factions; the Council on one side, and Governor Smith and General Houston on the other: and the defenders of the frontier were perplexed, and eventually sacrificed, by the contradictory orders and neglect of preparation of these opposing heads. Clothing and munitions came in from friends in the United States, and a considerable number of volunteers also arrived; but, directed by no competent common authority, the energies of these valiant and enthusiastic men were wasted for the purposes of defense, and their blood served only to immortalize their own heroism, and to consecrate the cause to which it was devoted.

Thus, while Santa Anna was assembling his army, and making his preparations for invasion, the hardy but undisciplined militia remained at home. If a man with the true instincts of leadership had been at [64] this juncture at the head of affairs, he could have confronted Santa Anna at San Antonio, or on the banks of the Colorado, with 3,000 or 4,000 men, defeated him, and carried the Texan arms far enough into Mexico to have settled the question of independence forever. As it was, massacre and wide-spread desolation, from the Rio Grande to the Brazos, marked the path of the invader. While the main force of Santa Anna marched on San Antonio, a column under General Urrea swept up the coast-lands, laying waste the country, and surprising and destroying several detachments of volunteers. Urrea slaughtered his prisoners, and omitted no circumstance of outrage and cruelty.

Santa Anna entered San Antonio without resistance; the commandant, Colonel William B. Travis, retiring with a little band to the untenable position of the Alamo. He sent several appeals for relief, and reenforcements. On the 24th of February he sent “an address to the people of Texas.” He says: “I am besieged by a thousand or more Mexicans. ... I shall never surrender, or retreat. . . . Victory or death!” He received no aid, except 33 men from Gonzales, who broke through the enemy, to die with him. From the 23d of February to the 6th of March, 156 resolute men kept at bay 4,000 Mexican troops, of Whom at least ZZZ00 were killed and wounded. When the final assault was made, the defenders, worn down in strength, but erect in spirit, met it with unshrinking front. They perished with their slain around them-Travis, Bowie, Crockett, Bonham, and all that heroic band. It is said that one man escaped in the smoke of the fray, but no other sought to do so; they were a willing sacrifice. The bodies of the dead were savagely mutilated, thrown into a heap, and burned. This was the fall of the Alamo.

Another calamity, more destructive still, soon after befell the unfortunate volunteers. Fannin had collected at Goliad about 500 men; from whom he detached Lieutenant King, with 14 men, to remove the families at Refugio. King sent an express to say that he was surrounded; and Fannin dispatched 120 men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Ward, to his succor. Both detachments fell into the hands of the enemy, and were savagely butchered. Fannin, having received orders from General Houston, on March 14th, to retreat, delayed until the 18th, with the generous hope that he might be able to render aid to his detachments. At last, when he left Goliad, it was too late. He was overtaken and surrounded on the open prairie by Urrea's army, 1,700 strong. Three charges of the Mexicans were repulsed, with heavy loss to the assailants. After nightfall, the Indian skirmishers of the enemy killed and wounded 54 of the Texans. Daylight showed that Urrea had-been largely reinforced with artillery and infantry. After some negotiation, Fannin surrendered his command as prisoners of war. Out [65] of 365 prisoners captured with Fannin, 27 escaped, eight surgeons and attendants were spared, and 330 were led out and shot, in cold blood, on Palm-Sunday. Fannin, wounded as he was, put aside the hand that would have blindfolded him, and received, like a soldier, the death-shots in his breast.

Santa Anna now regarded the conquest of Texas as complete, and was with difficulty dissuaded from returning to Mexico and leaving the occupation of the country to his subordinates. Having finally resolved to finish his work, he proceeded to it with that celerity which was his sole military virtue. With presumptuous infatuation, he detached from his army three columns of about 800 men each, directing Gaona to move by Baqtrop across the country to Nacogdoches, Urrea to march by Hatagorda along the coast, and Sesma to precede the main body in the direction of San Felipe; thus exposing his force to be destroyed in detail. General Houston remained from March 18th to March 27th at Beeson's Ferry on the Colorado, with a force of over 1,500 volunteers, eager for combat; and it has never been satisfactorily explained why he did not attack and crush Sesma's inferior force within easy striking distance, and follow up the advantage by giving battle to Santa Anna's main body. His army was rapidly augmenting by the arrival of considerable bodies of men, anxious to protect their homes, and avenge the inhuman butchery of their comrades. Nevertheless, he retreated precipitately, without an avowed policy, leaving the Colorado and Brazos countries open to the ravages of the enemy. His army melted away; so that, notwithstanding considerable accessions, it only numbered 783 men at the battle of San Jacinto. The colonists could not leave their families at the mercy of a ruthless invader, who spared neither age nor sex.

General Houston's conduct and motives have been severely censured by eminent and honorable men; but it is a sufficient explanation to say that his talents were essentially popular, not military. His apology for his retreat was, that it drew the enemy from his base, and would, if continued farther, have enabled reinforcements from the United States to join the Texan army. That this is not a sufficient reply is evident, because the Mexican army was living on the country, while the Texans grew weaker daily by desertion. One all-sufficient answer, however, was held, as an ample justification in all his subsequent political contests and personal controversies — the result of the battle of San Jacinto; the splendid success of the Texan army condoning any previous mistakes or subsequent errors of the commander. Houston, though destitute of military capacity and the knowledge which sometimes makes partial amends for it, and, in the opinion of the writer, slenderly endowed with administrative talents or political wisdom, had all the qualities that go to make a popular leader. He was a man of imposing presence, [66] an agreeable orator, with an uncommon gift of political tact. His manners were free and persuasive, and he possessed that self-assertion so impressive to the multitude. He was a friendly man, too, when there was no possible chance of a conflict of interests; but vigilant and far-seeing to prevent the rise of any who would not subserve his ends. He really believed himself born to command, and was imperious in the exercise of power. Altogether, if neither a wise nor a great man, he was an able politician.

On the 28th of March Houston reached San Felipe; and, on the 29th, Groce's Ferry on the Brazos. Santa Anna pushed forward Sesma's column, followed by Filisola with the main body. On the 13th of April he crossed the Brazos with Sesma's division and arrived at Harrisburg on the 15th, and at Lynchburg on the 16th. Filisola was now low down the Brazos, the lowlands of which were flooded and nearly impassable; and Santa Anna was within the reach of a force of Texans not much inferior to his own. General Houston seemed to entertain a design to retreat beyond the Trinity, where he expected to receive reenforcements; but the voice of his army compelled him to confront the enemy, which he did on the 19th, on the San Jacinto River. On the 20th the cavalry, under Colonel Sherman, engaged the enemy; but the ardor of the Texan army was restrained by their commander until the afternoon of the 21st of April. On that morning the enemy were reinforced by 500 men under General Cos. At half-past 3, the Texans moved forward in line of battle. Colonel Burleson commanded the centre; Colonel Sherman, the left; Colonel Hockley, the artillery on the right; and, on his flank, Colonel M. B. Lamar, a troop of 61 cavalry. Sherman first encountered the enemy; and then the whole line burst impetuously upon the slight intrenchments thrown up by the Mexicans, with the war-cry: “Remember the Alamo! Goliad and the Alamo!” The combat lasted only eighteen minutes. It was a rout, not a battle. The Texans lost two killed and 21 wounded, six of them mortally. The Mexican loss was 630 killed, 208 wounded, and 730 prisoners, among whom were Santa Anna, Cos, Almonte, and others of note. General Houston was wounded in the ankle.

The opinion of the army favored the execution of the butcher of the Alamo and of Fannin's men; and, surely, he had forfeited his right to mercy by these crimes and by the devastation of the land. It was thought more politic, as well as more humane, to spare his life; in consideration of which he agreed to a convention, by which Filisola and Gaona were to retire to San Antonio, and Urrea to Victoria. According to Filisola, such was the condition of his army, from the weather, starvation, dysentery, and demoralization, that, but for this convention, it would have fallen an easy prey to the victorious Texans. As it was, the Mexican army gladly retreated not only to the points stipulated, [67] but beyond the Rio Grande; not, however, without a violation of the articles of the convention, by dismantling the Alamo. On the 14th of May the Government, by General Houston's advice, agreed to release Santa Anna and the Mexican prisoners, on condition that the Texas prisoners should be released and that hostilities should cease. Santa Anna also stipulated secretly for the reception of a mission from Texas, for a treaty of amity and commerce, and for the Rio Grande as the boundary between the two republics. On June 1st Santa Anna was embarked, but on the 3d the Government was compelled by the soldiers to bring him ashore again, and his execution was strongly urged.

The hope was soon dispelled that his release would effect anything favorable to Texas. Already, on the 20th of May, the Mexican Senate had annulled his stipulations, and preparations were begun for a more formidable invasion of Texas. It was not until December, 1836, that Santa Anna was dismissed to the United States, when he illustrated his perfidy by solemnly denying and repudiating all the engagements he had made while in captivity.

The massacre of Fannin's men, the fall of the Alamo, and the other crimes of the Mexicans against humanity, had aroused the warmest sympathy for Texas in the people of the United States. The appeals of the agents of Texas stirred the heart of the South, and volunteers poured in, singly and in companies, to aid the cause of independence. San Jacinto virtually settled that question; but this was not then apparent, in view of the threatening attitude of Mexico with its 8,000,000 inhabitants.

Mr. Clay made a brilliant speech in favor of the independence of Texas, and on June 18th made a report in the United States Senate in favor of its recognition, to which effect both Houses of Congress passed resolutions. On June 27th the Senate, on motion of Mr. William C. Preston, of South Carolina, adopted a resolution for sending a commissioner to Texas; and the President, General Jackson, was known to be favorable to its annexation to the United States.

In September, General Houston was elected President over Stephen F. Austin, the known friendship of General Jackson contributing not less powerfully than the eclat of San Jacinto to his success. General Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected Vice-President. The constitution was ratified, and a declaration given in favor of annexation to the United States by a vote of the people. Congress met on October 3d.

Albert Sidney Johnston shared in the general sympathy with the Texan cause, but there were personal reasons which increased the intensity of his own feelings. In early youth, as has been mentioned, he had spent some time in Alexandria, Louisiana, then a border village, and consequently had familiar recollections of many from that region who were now earnest actors in the events of the revolution. His [68] brothers, too, had taken part in Magee's expedition in 1812, and the remembrance of their extraordinary sufferings may have further influenced him. It is now difficult to estimate how far mental disquietude and the spirit of adventure may have entered into his motives. He was unhappy, he was unemployed, and here was a field open alike to his energies, his patriotism, and his philanthropy.

It was the cause of a community struggling for self-government against a central despotism, for the maintenance of guaranteed and vested rights against a military usurpation, for constitutional freedom against chronic anarchy. It was a contest between 20,000 Americans, kindred in race and sentiment, who had been invited by Mexico to take possession of the soil, and 8,000,000 alien Mexicans, incapable of stable government. It was the weak against the strong, order against political confusion, Americans against a foreign enemy. The men of that day had been bred in republican ideas and nurtured with visions of the greatness and the expansive force of our people, and they were willing to lay down fortune and life to forward these mighty ends.

Albert Sidney Johnston was a republican from the bottom of his heart, and, though not a propagandist in either temper or sentiment, he was a sincere believer in the blessings of regulated liberty and the supremacy of law. With these ideas of public right, and with the conviction of his call to render public service, he thought his talents could not be put to better use than in aiding to secure their liberties to men of his own race, who were ready to sacrifice all else to achieve them. Originally, however, the most potent motive that urged him to enlist in this enterprise was the hope that, Texas having been freed, he might promote its annexation to the United States; and, since readmission into the army was impossible, that he might employ the sword, for which his country deemed she had no need, in laying an empire at her feet. Of course, after he had devoted himself to the cause of Texas, her interests became paramount; but he frequently admitted that, in the first instance, he was in large measure animated by the desire of assisting to add another star to the American constellation. Indeed, strong as were his feelings in behalf of the infant nation, he did not consummate his resolution to enter its service until the Government of the United States had recognized its independence. With this sanction he felt no further hesitation, and threw himself into the cause with all the ardor of his nature.

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Texas (Texas, United States) (52)
United States (United States) (16)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (15)
Mexico (Mexico) (14)
San Antonio (Texas, United States) (12)
Nacogdoches, Tex. (Texas, United States) (5)
Louisiana (Louisiana, United States) (5)
Goliad (Texas, United States) (5)
France (France) (5)
Anahuac (Chihuahua, Mexico) (3)
San Jacinto (Durango, Mexico) (2)
West Point (Georgia, United States) (1)
Vera Cruz (Veracruz, Mexico) (1)
Starved Rock (Illinois, United States) (1)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (1)
San Jacinto River (Texas, United States) (1)
Saltillo (Coahuila, Mexico) (1)
Red River (Texas, United States) (1)
Red (New Mexico, United States) (1)
Puebla (Puebla, Mexico) (1)
New Jersey (New Jersey, United States) (1)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (1)
Mississippi (United States) (1)
Matamoras (Indiana, United States) (1)
Matagorda Bay (Texas, United States) (1)
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Lynchburg (Virginia, United States) (1)
Lavaca (Texas, United States) (1)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (1)
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (1)
Harrisburg, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Harrisburg (Texas, United States) (1)
Gonzales, Gonzales County, Texas (Texas, United States) (1)
Connecticut (Connecticut, United States) (1)
Chihuahua (Chihuahua, Mexico) (1)
Bexar (Texas, United States) (1)
Austin (Texas, United States) (1)
Alexandria (Louisiana, United States) (1)

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