Army of Texas, 1836


The following series of forty-one “dispatches” are historically accurate. Although fiction, since they were never actually written in this manner, they do reflect events during the retreat of the Texas Army from Gonzales until its final, victorious, confrontation with the Mexican Army on the plains at San Jacinto. Alexander Horton was a real person, the secretary and aide-de-camp to General Sam Houston, commander of the Texas army. It was his job to make copies of General Houston’s correspondence and orders. The contents of these “dispatches” are based up those correspondence and orders and reflect the conditions, events and attitudes of the Texas Army during what was later called, “The San Jacinto Campaign.” Other sources were consulted in order to augment the official correspondence. The dispatches were written by author and historian C. David Pomeroy, Jr. who attempted to capture the style of writing and the flavor of words in use during the period.

Headquarters, Gonzales, March 11, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Sam Houston arrived about 4 this evening at Gonzales to take command of the Army. Having been elected commander-in-chief of all of the land forces in Texas on March 4th, he departed from Washington for this staging area on the 6th with Inspector General G. W. Hockley, recruit Richard Scurry and myself. Sidney Sherman, Mosley Baker and Jesse Billingsley were already in camp. Volunteers have been arriving at this place in preparation for marching to the aid of the defenders of the Alamo. We found the camp full of rumors concerning the fall of the Alamo. Houston will immediately send out spies to try to ascertain the true status of Travis’ command.

The army, if in fact you can call it that, is in much need of provisions. There is only two days worth of food in camp and few guns and ammunition. General Houston arrived with only his white horse, saddlebags with maps, linen, writing paper and a book or two. He had a feather in his hat and a red blanket.

Orders have been sent to Fannin at Goliad instructing him to fall back to Guadalupe Victoria, leave a security guard and bring the remaining force to Gonzales,

It is my intention of keeping you informed daily of the status of our army and our objective of removing this land from the rule of the tyrant, President Santa Anna.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Headquarters, Gonzales, March 12, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

Still no confirmation has been received concerning the fate of the Alamo and her defenders. The situation with Fannin likewise is unclear. In order to assess the situation at Gonzales, Houston ordered a report and found that there are 374 effective men in camp upon our arrival. More volunteers are expected daily, as several have arrived since yesterday. Unfortunately, many of the men do not have arms and even those with arms have inadequate ammunition. The volunteers will be organized into companies and training will commence in order to establish a meaningful fighting unit. Meanwhile, a request for arms, ammunitions and supplies has been sent. The spirits of the volunteers are high, but adequate discipline lacking.

Orders have been sent to Dimmit at Victoria, instructing him to bring his forces to Gonzales. General Houston feels that a small, unorganized force can not maintain sieges in fortresses, in the country of the enemy. We must not stand against the enemy in open plains using conventional tactics. Our strength is in the woods, with strategic thrusts before the enemy can form their lines. Our sharp shooters will be best applied at long range and not in close quarters.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Headquarters, Gonzales, March 13, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

General Houston has been keeping me quite busy making copies of his orders and correspondence. I believe that he wants to make sure that he is not misquoted and in fact, might have some form of subsequent publication in mind due to the popularity of David Crocket’s Journals.

This morning we were able to organize a Regiment and will begin organizing the men for military duty. Col. Burleson was appointed the commander, with Sidney Sherman and Alexander Somervell as his assistants. Since Deaf Smith spends so much time in the saddle I am not surprised that he was assigned to the cavalry corp. However, with all of the spying work he does, I am a bit surprised that he has been put in charge of the recruits. Houston has even now sent Smith, Henry Karnes and Robert Eden Handy out to make a determination as to the situation at the Alamo.

Post script: Oh, the camp is in commotion. Smith has just returned this evening with a lady, baby child and two young Negro boys, reportedly with news of the Alamo. I must beg your leave and will continue with details, as they are determined.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Headquarters, Camp on Lavaca, March 14, 1836:

Dear Fellow Texians,

My correspondence of yesterday was interrupted by the arrival in camp of the wife of Mr. Dickinson of the Alamo. Deaf Smith and company had intercepted her just west of Gonzales and brought her into camp about 8 p.m. She confirmed the most horrible of truths about the fall of the Alamo and the total loss of life. Although they gave their lives in our gallant cause, they inflicted extremely high causalities among the enemy before they perished. Following up on the Alamo news, it was learned that General Sesma of the Mexican Army was within 40 miles of Gonzales and in full march to our location.

General Houston immediately ordered a retreat. There being a shortage of oxen and wagons, the two artillery pieces were thrown into the Guadalupe and most of the camp equipage burned since it could not be taken with us. Most of the baggage wagons were given over to the women and children, as they wanted to leave Gonzales before the arrival of the enemy. The army, with civilians, departed about midnight last night and force-marched to Peach Creek. The ladies at McClure’s place were very gracious to our tired army. True Women in every sense of the word. After a brief rest and some food, we continued along the San Felipe road to the Daniel’s place on the Lavaca River.

Being on the move we are lacking news on the government at Washington and Fannin’s departure from Goliad. My tent was one of those items burned at Gonzales last night so I must be satisfied with my simple bedroll. Pray for pleasant weather, especially dry.

Respectfully yours, Alexander Horton, aide-de-camp.

Next Dispatch set (March 15-18), March 19-22, March23-26, March 27-30, March 31-April 3, April 4-7, April 8-11, April 12-15, April 16-20.

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