The next day, about nine o’clock, troops were discovered advancing along the prairie ridge in the direction of the Mexican encampment, which produced some excitement.
Continuing The Texas Rebellion,
with a selection from a Speech by Sam Houston published in . This selection is presented in 4, each one 5 minutes long. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in The Texas Rebellion.
The General ordered a halt after marching a short distance from the road to secure a place in a chapparal. The army rested for perhaps two hours, when, at the tap of the drum given by the General, they were again on their feet, and took up the line of march for San Jacinto and Buffalo Bayou. It was necessary for Santa Anna to cross the San Jacinto to unite with the Mexicans in Nacogdoches County, and excite the Indians to war. Santa Anna had provided a boat through the instrumentality of Texans who had joined him, and was in readiness to cross. He had marched down to New Washington, some seven or eight miles below the San Jacinto, and was returning to take up his march eastward.
After sunrise some time, the army having halted to slaughter beeves and refresh, the signal was given that our scouts had encountered those of the enemy; eating was suspended, everything packed, and we were on the march. We marched down to the ferry of San Jacinto and there halted. There was no word of the enemy. About half a mile or a mile up the bayou, where the timber commenced, we fell back and formed an encampment in the timber, so as to give security from the brow of the hill, as well as the timber that covered it, at the same time running up the boat which he had provided, and securing it in the rear of our encampment.
That was the position taken. The artillery was planted in front, for it had never been fired, and the enemy were really not apprised that we had a piece. The troops were secured so as to expose none but the few artillerists to view. There were but eighteen of them, and nine were assigned to each piece. The enemy, within about three hundred yards, I think, took position with their artillery and infantry, and opened fire from a twelve- pounder. It continued until evening. It did no execution, however, with the exception of one shot. Colonel Neill, of the artillery, was wounded, though not mortally. That was the only injury we sustained. At length Santa Anna ordered his infantry to advance. They were advancing, when our artillery were ordered to fire upon them; but they being so much depressed, it passed over their heads and did no injury; but they returned in such haste and confusion to their encampment that it inspirited our troops and caused the welkin to ring.
Upon our left, a company of infantry was, by Santa Anna, posted in an “island” of timber, within one hundred fifty yards of our encampment. An officer desired the General to let him charge, which was readily conceded. He wished to, and did, make the charge on horseback, though not in accordance with the General’s opinion. It proved unsuccessful. The enemy, after receiving some injury from the discharge of our artillery, fell back to the heights of San Jacinto, and commenced fortifying.
In the evening, the General ordered a reconnoitering party, under Colonel Sherman, to reconnoiter; but they were ordered not to go within the fire of the enemy’s guns or to provoke an attack; but if he could, by his appearance, decoy them into the direction of a certain island of timber, they would be received there by the artillery and infantry that had been ordered to be in readiness to march to that point. No sooner was he out of sight, than a firing commenced, with a view, as Sherman himself declared, to bring on a general action, in violation of the General’s orders. Confusion was the result of it. Two men were wounded in our line. A confused retreat took place; and the consequence was that two gallant men were wounded, and one subsequently died of his wounds. This was done in direct violation of the General’s orders; for it was not his intention to bring on a general action that day. The guards that night were doubled. The next day, about nine o’clock, troops were discovered advancing along the prairie ridge in the direction of the Mexican encampment, which produced some excitement. The General, not wishing the impression to be received that they were reinforcements, suggested that it was a ruse of the Mexicans, that they were the same troops that were seen yesterday; that they were marching around the swell in the prairie for the purpose of display, because they were apprehensive of an attack from the Texans. He sent out two spies secretly — Deaf Smith and Karnes — upon their track, with directions to report to him privately. They did so, and reported that the reinforcement which the enemy had thus received amounted to five hundred forty men.
Things remained without any change until about twelve o’clock, when the General was asked to call a council of war. No council of war had ever been solicited before: it seemed strange to him. What indications had appeared he did not know. The council was called, however, consisting of six field officers and the Secretary of War. The proposition was put to the council, ” Shall we attack the enemy in position, or receive their attack in ours? ” The two junior officers — for such is the way of taking the sense of courts in the army — were in favor of attacking the enemy in position. The four seniors, and the Secretary of War, who spoke, said that “to attack veteran troops with raw militia is a thing unheard of; to charge upon the enemy, without bayonets, in an open prairie, had never been known; our situation is strong; in it we can whip all Mexico.” Understanding this as the sense of the council, the General dismissed them. They went to their respective places.
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