We have learned that February was a time for preparation in the Texas Revolution – a time of building walls, packing, and arriving at the final place to fight Mexico. And now, we learn that March of 1836 might be named “Battle Month”.
March 1st: A blizzard drops a foot of snow in many places across Texas. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention begin to take up legislative work in a frozen Washington-on-the–Brazos. Many of the delegates are staying in Pamelia Mann’s (?-1840) boarding house. Captain Albert Martin brings 32 volunteers from Gonzales in DeWitt’s colony to San Antonio de Bexar. Arriving at dawn, having slipped through the surrounding Mexican force, this is the final reinforcements that will reach the Alamo.
March 2nd: Texas Independence Day; freedom is born in Texas! 45 delegates from 27 municipalities draft and sign the Declaration of Independence for the Republic of Texas in Washington-on-the-Brazos. At the Alamo (day number 9 of the siege), Col. Crockett leads a raid against the Mexicans encircling Bexar, capturing a shelter of rifles and gun powder. General Urrea ambushes Captain James Grant and his Texans at the Battle of Augua Dulce, a few miles west of Corpus Christi. Dr. Grant and 11 Texans are killed, 6 are captured, and five escape to Fannin at La Bahia. Refusing Santa Anna’s execution command, Urrea sends the prisoners to jail in Matamoros.
March 3rd: Delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos begin to draft a Constitution for the Republic. At the Alamo Col. Travis leads the final officer’s call. He “draws a line in the sand” as Ben Milam did at the Battle of Bexar in December 1835. All but one or two decide to stay with the defenders.
March 4th: Delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos make former Tennessee Governor Sam Houston Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army.
March 6th: A little after 4 AM, Santa Anna orders his troops silently forward against the Alamo. Crossing the San Antonio River the Mexican army quietly surrounds the fortress, killing the sleeping outside-the-walls pickets. As the army tumbles over the north wall, the first shots are fired at the Battle of the Alamo. The Texan defenders, startled from deep sleep, spring to life firing their Springfield long rifles. (These one shot muzzle loaders take almost a minute to reload; after one or two shots the rifles become the defenders’ fighting clubs.) Santa Anna’s army uses the less accurate (with the non-rifled barrel) British Brown Bess muzzle loaders. Affixing bayonets, the Mexicans’ guns become spears after the first shots.
Hearing the commotion, the suddenly awakened Col. Travis races from his quarters in the Long Barracks out into the parade ground and up the north wall cannon ramp – where he is shot in the head. William Barrett Travis is one of the first killed at the Alamo. As the Mexican soldiers stream over the walls, breach the south (main) gate, and pour into the parade ground, the overwhelmed defenders abandon the walls and attempt to fall back to the chapel. The Texans have previously prepared for “the final stand” inside the church building. Susanna Dickenson later reports that as she was hiding in the sacristy, she watched David Crockett rush up to the altar for a brief prayer and race back to the battle. It is here in the Chapel that Captain Almaron Dickinson, Thomas McKinney, and David Crockett meet their end. (One legend says that Crockett was the final defender killed later that morning.)
In the Long Barracks, on the east wall stretching north from the chapel, James Bowie lies in the delirium of typhus. As the Mexican regulars burst into his room bayonets flash, shots are fired, and Jim Bowie is instantly killed – probably unaware of his surroundings. His famous Bowie Knife (an 11 inch by 2 inch blade with a hilt, made for him by his brother Rezin before Jim’s famous 1827 Sandbar Fight where Bowie murdered Major Norris Wright), disappears from history. It may have made its way to San Jacinto and even back to Mexico after the Revolution.
By sunrise the two hour Battle of the Alamo is concluded. Santa Anna orders the gathering of the defenders’ bodies to be burned, an order that required the remainder of the day to complete. It is estimated that each Texan defender killed between 5 and 10 Mexican soldiers during the battle; Mexican casualties were about 800 dead and 1000 wounded. The whole Texan complement (about 189 men) is killed.
March 7th: Santa Anna allows three survivors of the Alamo to leave Bexar. Mrs. Susanna Dickenson (1814-1883), her daughter Angelina, and Joe (Travis’ emancipated servant) leave San Antonio to find General Houston in Gonzales. Joe’s and Mrs. Dickenson’s testimonies become the main witnesses to the Battle of the Alamo for years to come. Having burned the defenders’ bodies, their remains are buried in a mass grave near modern Alamo Plaza.
March 8th: The Texan warship “Liberty” captures the Mexican ship “Pelicano” -attempting to supply Urrea’s army that has not, yet, arrived at Matagorda. The captured supplies are sent to Galveston for use by the Republic. Sam Houston leaves Washington-on-the-Brazos, without an army, for Gonzales.
March 9th: Recruiting Texans for the army on his way to Gonzales, Sam Houston orders Col. James Fannin to withdraw with his full complement from La Bahia and meet him at Gonzales.
March 10th: The Mexican army completely arrives to Santa Anna in San Antonio de Bexar. With a full and secure compliment of troops around him, the Mexican Generalissimo turns his thoughts east towards Sam Houston.
March11th: Houston arrives in Gonzales and learns about the fall of the Alamo. Santa Anna orders General Antonio Gaona (1793–1848) from Bexar to occupy Bastrop. The Texan civilian population begins to flee east toward Louisiana in the “Runaway Scrape”.
March 12th: Susanna Dickenson’s group arrives to Sam Houston in Gonzales. Their eyewitness accounts confirm the fall of the Alamo.
March 14th: The Battle of Refugio, 30 miles south of Goliad, pits General Jose Urrea’s 1,200-1,500 soldiers against 150 Texans, led by Lt. James Ward from Fannin’s command, in the Nuestra Senora del Refugio Mission. Ward has been ordered to evacuate the Texan population prior to Urrea’s arrival. Being caught in the old church (dating from 1795), the ensuing battle kills 150 Mexicans and 16 Texans. By the end of the engagement 107 Texans are captured, of which 15 are executed and 10 escape back to Fannin at La Bahia. From Gonzales, Houston withdraws east (down the FM 532 corridor) towards Burnam’s ferry on the Colorado River. Disobeying Houston’s orders not to burn the town many residents set fire to their own homes to keep them out of Santa Anna’s hands. Santa Anna orders General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma (dates unknown) from Bexar with about 500 cavalry and 1000 foot soldiers to occupy San Felipe and later Anahuac. Sesma decides to follow Houston to his objectives. (General Jose Urrea)
March 15th: Houston’s Texas Army crosses the Navidad River on the Old Oakland Road (in upper La Vaca County) and camps on the east shore 6 miles southeast of modern Schulenburg. General Sesma occupies the ruins of Gonzales and spends the night there.
March 16th: Houston’s Texas Army marches north from the Navidad, three miles east of modern Schulenburg, for 20 miles to cross the Colorado River at Burnam’s Ferry (11 miles north of current town of Weimar). After his crossing Houston orders the ferry burned. From Burnam’s, Houston moves rapidly south to Beeson’s Ferry on the Colorado, at present day Columbus. General Sesma quickly advances from Gonzales to cross the Navidad River hoping to intercept Houston at Beeson’s on the Colorado.
March 17th: At Washington-on-the-Brazos the Republic of Texas ratifies its Constitution and elects David G. Burnet (1788-1870) as Interim President. A political enemy of Sam Houston, the quick tempered Burnet promises a decisive end for the Revolution.
March 18th: Col. James Fannin begins his slow withdrawal from La Bahia, unaware that Urrea is approaching Goliad. The Republic of Texas government adjourns at Washington-on-the-Brazos and all delegate return home to join the Revolution.
March 19th: At the Battle of Coleto Creek (9 miles east of Goliad) Fannin’s force is surrounded by General Urrea’s Mexican army. Fannin surrenders after a brief skirmish. At Beeson’s Ferry Houston sends spies across the Colorado to keep him informed about Sesma’s approach and then burns the ferry.
March 20th: Urrea returns Fannin’s command of 300 back to La Bahia as prisoners of war.
March 21st: Sesma arrives at Beeson’s Ferry; the Texans and Mexicans exchange a few shots across the swollen Colorado River. Sesma is unable to cross due to heavy rains up stream. Houston keeps his battle plans to himself.
March 22nd: General Urrea occupies Victoria without a shot fired. Houston’s and Sesma’s armies stare down each other across the Colorado River.
March 23rd: Houston, on the east bank of the Colorado River, learns of Fannin’s capture.
March 24th: Santa Anna, in Bexar, orders the execution of Fannin and his command. Houston withdraws east from Beeson’s Ferry towards San Felipe (down the I-10/US 90 corridor). Sesma watches Houston’s departure, determined to catch the retreating Texans at the Brazos River.
March 25th: Republic of Texas President David Burnett declares martial law across the nation in an effort to protect property during the Runaway Scrape.
March 26th: Sesma’s Mexican army crosses the Colorado at Beeson’s and set off in pursuit of Houston’s army.
March 27th: General Urrea reluctantly follows Santa Anna’s command, and from Victoria orders Fannin’s execution. Col. James Walker Fannin is tied to a chair and shot by 20 guns (suggesting a coward’s death to his Mexican captors). 25 escape the massacre (two of whom find their way to San Jacinto) through the help of the “Angel of Goliad” Senora Francita Alavez (1816–1906). As the wife of a Mexican army Captain, Sra. Alavez entered the presidio the night before the massacre and brought out several Texans to hide them until after the executions. Houston’s Texan army arrives at San Felipe de Austin on the west bank of the Brazos River. (James Walker Fannin)
March 28th: General Urrea orders the burial of Fannin’s command in a massive grave outside the walls of La Bahia. He sends an official report of the massacre to Santa Anna.
March 29th: Houston orders the burning of San Felipe-Texas’ first colony-(an order that will haunt his future political ambitions), crosses the Brazos, and turns north towards Croce’s Plantation. General Sesma arrives in San Felipe as the Texans are burning the ferry. The Texan and Mexican armies exchange gun shots across the Brazos.
March 30th: The fire-fight at San Felipe continues as Sam Houston escapes Sesma. With San Felipe occupied and destroyed, Sesma turns to his orders which send him south towards Anahuac.
March 31st: His army rested, Generalissimo Santa Anna orders it eastward from San Antonio towards Ft. Bend on the Brazos River. Sam Houston moves the Army of Texas north towards Croce’s Retreat on the Brazos River. General Urrea orders his army from La Bahia to Victoria.
April of 1836 saw The Texas Navy in battle and Mexico’s withdrawal from the Republic of Texas.
April 1st: The Mexican Consulate, Manual E. de Corotiza (dates unknown) in Washington, DC, refuses the claims for payment of debt to Americans by the Republic of Texas explaining to federal officials that Texas is in rebellion. The Texas Revolution is financed mainly through gifts and loans made to the Republic by American individuals. Houston’s Texan army arrives at Croce’s retreat (near present day Hempstead) 20 miles north of San Felipe and begins to set of camp. The Texans will be there two weeks training and preparing for the battle with Santa Anna.
April 2nd: Republic of Texas Interim President Burnett orders the enforcement of the Republic’s Constitutional prohibitions against slavery. This order focuses on the military and slavery but is intended for the entire population of the Republic. The fledgling nation is moving towards emancipation, in the face of opposition of newly arrived southern American immigrants. The 120-ton Texas brig “Invincible” engages the Mexican ship “Bravo” off the sandbar at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Texan Captain Jeremiah Brown (dates unknown) sends a smaller boat to assist “Bravo” off the sandbar and then claims the captured vessel.
April 3rd: The “Invincible”, the fastest ship in the Texas Navy, captures the Mexican ship “Pocket” near the mouth of the Rio Grande River at it attempts to supply the Mexican Army at Matamoros. This is Brown’s second capture in as many days.
April 5th: US Army General Edmund P. Gaines (1777-1849), from his post in Natchez, Louisiana, warns the Native American populations in Texas not to interfere with the Texas revolutionary efforts. Defiance of his order will bring a military response from the US Army.