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At the Top of Erna Hill
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 • Posted February 15, 2012

In leading up to the settlement of the Leon Valley and the Erna area, I found that I needed to go back and review the battles for the Texas Independence as in all accounts of the Ranging Companies, brutality was a part of the encounters on all sides. I found that the term REMEMBER THE ALAMO was the encouragement to fight in all occasions and get revenge, so the following is going back to the battle of San Jacinto.So, as I read the accounts after Santa Anna captured the Alamo and brutalized the garrison and marched on to Goliad where he plundered and killed all the citizens who remained thinking he would take pity on them. Sam Houston had formed an army in Goliad of about 600 men and withdrew from the settlement before the Mexican Army arrived and moved to the east, as it was not his choice to fight with his new army or in that location, due to the size of the Mexican forces. As Houston continued to move east, many of the new army figured that Houston was running to East Texas and was not to fight, so about 200 left the ranks to return to their communities. As Houston moved east, the army encountered wet, miserable weather and flooding rivers. When he reached the Colorado near Columbus, the river was on a flood so the army built brush bridges to cross. While in the process of crossing, men joined the effort to add to his force and they moved east.While in the process of crossing the Colorado, Houston performed some training exercises and cattle were killed to finally have wholesome food, as the routine menu while traveling was not much more than dried corn on the cob. Houston’s Army continued to move east as he had reports from his spies that Santa Anna was on the move from Goliad, eastward. Since this is mid March, the weather was cold and rainy, so mud and floods were a problem while on the move. Houston’s Army reached the Brazos River at Fort Bend and he crossed the river and moved up stream to Boones Farm, where he chose to camp as long as he could. While camped in this area, food supplies were good as some buffalo and cows were killed for the food supply. Houston’s spies met up with the army and reported that Santa Anna had split his forces and part had gone up the Colorado to Bastrop and the other to the coast and Santa Anna was heading for Harrisburg. While camped on the farms, the army had grown to about 600 once more and after learning of the actions of the Mexican Army, Houston broke camp and forced marched his army to Harrisburg, where the provisional capitol of Texas was located and after he appeared, the officials loaded all the state documents on a boat and left for Galveston via the Buffalo Bayou, barely beating the Mexicans by about 5 hours.Houston set up his battle area at Lynch’s Landing at the junction of the Buffalo Bayou and the San Jac. River and awaited the arrival of Santa Anna and finally the Texas Forces realized that a battle was about to take place. In Santa Anna’s haste, he outran his flanking forces and moved to confront The Texican Army. During the course of the afternoon, the Mexican Army made camp and prepared for a SIESTA. It was all Houston could do to hold his forces from a charge but he had given orders to hold tight until the sound of charge was given. The cannons were loaded with round, grape and chopped up horseshoes charges and at about 4 PM that April afternoon, the sound to charge was made as cannons fired and the battle was on. The eager men charged the startled Mexicans with the battle cry REMEMBER THE ALAMO AND GOLIAD. And about 18 minutes later, the Mexican Army was in defeat, as all that remained was a so-called mopping up operation. Santa Anna was captured the next day clothed in his lady friend’s apparel and I am assuming that the Army, as a whole, was escorted out of Texas.With the defeat of the Santa Anna forces, in April of 1836, the Republic of Texas was formed and the capitol was established at Washington on the Brazos, but in the ten years as a nation, Texas was in constant defense of some form of attack, especially, those settlements west of the Colorado River. In 1839, a band of about 400 Comanche Indians raided the settlements from about what is now Waco all the way to Refugio, killing and plundering and taking livestock and captives as they went. Upon their return to the Plains, a Ranging Force was formed and the Indians were confronted at the Battle of Plum Creek, near the present town of Lockhart, where they were defeated in such a manner, that a large force of Indians never made an effort again, but smaller forces of 40 to 80 plagued the frontier for years to come.Since the battle of independence, each battle was fought to seek revenge and with the thought of remember the Alamo and Goliad. Brutality was a natural result of battle as the tactics used was usually the line of three using musket rifles, ie the front line would fire, line two would advance and fire and then line three, giving each time to re-load. As a result of this tactic, the line of defenses came closer and ended up in pistol range and hand to hand combat. The Texas Ranging forces had the advantage in close combat as they had the issue of the Texas Navy Colt 5 shot repeater. The Indians were accustomed to the line of three with muskets and wait until after the third volley and charge. When the Ranging forces came out with the 5 shot repeater pistol and extra cylinders, this took the Indian by surprise and they were now at a disadvantage. My March article will get back to the ranging Companies as Cap’t. Hays returns to San Antonio to muster a new force after the Pinta Trail battle on the Guadalupe River where he was able to muster about 20 men in early 1842 when the frontier was quiet for a few months.

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