For Liberty and For Texas
“The Texas Revolutionary Experience: February 1st to May 1st, 1836”
Part One: February 1836
Rev. Mark Adams, D.Min., (March, 2014)
During this historic month in Texas, it seems appropriate to reflect on the struggle for liberty in the Texas Revolution. We will look at what was happening 178 years ago here in Texas. Who were the important people in this revolution? What did they want and how did Texas finally become free? We will take a day-to-day look at the Texans’ pursuit of liberty through the Texas Revolutionary Experience.
February 3rd: Captain William Barrett Travis (1809-1836) arrives in San Antonio de Bexar with about 30 riders; Travis’ Texas Cavalry is the Republic’s first official horsemen unit. It exited San Felipe de Austin on January 24th making a slow progress to the Alamo via Beason’s Ferry which is Columbus today, Burnam’s Ferry (north of present day Weimar), and over Cibolo Creek. Travis had earlier been granted a divorce from his wife, Rosanna Cato, in Alabama on January 9th. It is his first, and final, entry to San Antonio. William Barrett Travis is 26 years old.
February 6th: Colonel David Crockett (1786-1836), the newspapers at that time called him “Davy”, arrives in San Antonio de Bexar for his first, and final, visit. He has been in Texas for about six weeks, having left his native Tennessee at the end of October in 1835, making his way from San Augustine with four traveling companions. Crockett’s one year colonelcy was granted him when he was elected leader of the Lawrence County Militia in Tennessee in 1821. In 1822, he was elected to the US Congress. Losing the election of 1835, he headed for Texas – hoping to regain his political career. True to their natures, Crockett and Travis become friends. Former US Congressman David Crockett is 50 years old.
February 12th: Colonel James Neill (1790-1845), commander of the Alamo since its capture from Mexican General Perfecto Cos (1800-1854) in December 1835, leaves San Antonio to deal with a family sickness (probably cholera or typhus) in Milam County. He will not return to the Alamo but will later join Sam Houston for the San Jacinto campaign. Thirty-six year old General Cos is Santa Anna’s brother-in-law. Col. Neill, age 46, leaves Travis in command with a field commission of Colonel. James Bowie (1796-1836), a San Antonio citizen with Neill since the town’s capture, resents Travis’ appointment and begins to cause dissension among the defenders. Bowie and Travis will never be friends. James Bowie is age 40.
February 16th: Generalissimo Antonio de Padua Maria Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón (1794-1876) crosses the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande River) into Texas at Laredo with about 3,500 Mexican regulars. This army arrives after subduing the Zacatecas rebellion (in late 1835). Santa Anna, a non-practicing Roman Catholic is age 42, orders General Jose Urrea (1797-1849) to cross into Texas at Matamoros with about 1,200 soldiers. Urrea’s unruly host have been mustered from the Yucatan and Petén area and many of them do not speak Spanish. His orders are to attack the Texas coastal areas, occupy the fortress a La Bahia (near Goliad), and capture Victoria. Jose Urrea is 39 years old.
February 17th: Travis spends his last $2.00 for corn to supply the Alamo. He has used his entire fortune in the fight for Texas liberty. He orders the southeastern wall, next to the chapel, to be fortified. The Texans are hearing rumors of Santa Anna’s advance toward them.
February 20th: Santa Anna arrives on the Rio Hondo, 40 miles southwest of San Antonio. He orders reconnaissance and foraging parties across the area.
February 22nd: The forward elements of the Mexican army arrive in San Antonio de Bexar (3:30 PM). Many citizens begin to make their way into the Alamo or leave town all together. The 13 day siege of Alamo begins.
February 23rd: Travis answers the Mexican demand for unconditional surrender of the Alamo with a cannon shot, from his largest gun, a 12 pounder atop the chapel. Santa Anna orders the red flag flown atop the Cathedral San Fernando proclaiming “No lo Degüello” (the bugle call for “take no prisoners”) sealing the fate of the Alamo defenders.
February 24th: Travis’ final letter to Texas from the Alamo: “Victory or Death”. It is day number three in the siege of Alamo.
February 26th: Urrea attacks Captain Frank Johnson and his group of Texans at San Patricio (northwest of Corpus Christi). Johnson and his 34 Texans were dispersed at this “Battle of San Patricio” to meet Urrea again on March 2nd at the Battle of Augua Dulce Creek.
February 28th: Travis orders Captain Juan Seguin (1806-1890) to Goliad to bring Colonel James Fannin’s (1804-1836) Georgia Battalion to the Alamo. About 20 Tejanos will ride with Seguin to La Bahia. These are the only Texans who will have been at the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. Juan Seguin is 30 years old.
February 29th: At La Bahia, Seguin and Fannin argue over command authority. Fannin, a former student at the US Military Academy, believes his Colonelcy out-ranks Travis’ orders and refuses to leave with Seguin. Seguin and his Tejanos leave Goliad, disgusted, in search of Sam Houston. Sam Houston (1793-1863) arrives back at Washington-on-the-Brazos with a signed peace treaty from Cherokee Chief Bowls. The Cherokees will keep watch for the Republic on the warlike Comanches of north and western Texas. (During Mirabeau B. Lamar’s presidency (1838-40) the Republic will turn on its Cherokees allies and eradicate them. Chief Bowls will die in battle protecting his people.) Sam Houston is 43 years old.
As we look at the day-by-day experience of these brave men and women, we remember their wisdom, determination, and courage. Their willingness to protect and grow freedom, even at the risk of fortune, future, and life gave us Texas liberty.