« PreviousContinue »
received information that General Santa Anna was at New Washington, and would that day take up the line of march for Anahuac, crossing at Lynch's Ferry. The Texan army halted within half a mile of the ferry in some timber, and were engaged in slaughtering beeves, when the army of Santa Anna was discovered to be approaching in battle array, having been encamped at Clopper's Point, eight miles below. Disposition was immediately made of our forces, and preparation for his reception. He took a position with his infantry and artillery in the centre, occupying an island of timber, his cavalry covering the left flank.
The artillery, consisting of one double fortified medium brass twelve-pounder, then opened on our encampment. The infantry in column advanced with the design of charging our lines, but were repulsed by a discharge of grape and canister from our artillery, consisting of two six-pounders, [called “The Twin Sisters.”] The enemy had occupied a piece of timber within rifle-shot of the left wing of our army, from which an occasional interchange of small arms took place between the troops, until the enemy withdrew to a position on the bank of the San Jacinto, about threequarters of a mile from our encampment, and commenced fortification.
About nine o'clock on the morning of the 2 ist, the enemy were reinforced by 500 choice troops, under the command of General Cos, increasing their effective force to upwards of 1,500 men, whilst our aggregate force for the field numbered 783. At half-past three o'clock in the evening, I ordered the officers of the Texan army to parade their respective con ands, having in the meantime ordered the bridge on the only road communicating with the Brazos, distant eight miles from our encampment, to be destroyed, thus cutting off all possibility of escape. Our troops paraded with alacrity and spirit, and were anxious for the conflict. Their conscious disparity in numbers seemed only to increase their enthusiasm and confidence, and heightened their anxiety for the conflict.
Col. Sherman, with his regiment, having commenced the action upon our left wing, the whole line, at the centre and on the right, advancing in double-quick time, rung the warcry, “Remember the Alamo!” received the enemy's fire, and advanced within point-blank shot before a piece was fired from our lines. Our line advanced without a halt, until they were in possession of the woodland and the enemy's breastwork, the right wing of Burleson's and the left wing of Millard's taking possession of the breast work; our Artillery having gallantly charged up within seventy yards of the enemy's cannon, when it was taken by our troops.
The conflict lasted about eighteen minutes from the time of close action until we were in possession of the enemy's encampment, taking one piece of cannon (loaded), four stands of colors, all their camp equipage, stores, and baggage. Our cavalry had charged and routed that of the enemy upon the right, and given pursuit to the fugitives, which did not cease until they arrived at the bridge which I have mentioned before-Captain Karnes, always among the foremost in danger, commanding the pursuers. The conflict in the breastwork lasted but a few moments; many of the troops encountered hand to hand, and not having the advantage of bayonets on our side, our riflemen used their pieces as war-clubs, breaking many of them off at the breech. The rout commenced at half-past four, and the pursuit by the main army continued until twilight.
[In this battle General Houston himself was severely wounded, one ball shattering his ankle. After this,“the battalion of Texan infantry was gallantly charged by a Mexican division of infantry, composed of more than five hundred men.
The Commander-in-Chief, observing the peril, dashed between the Texan and Mexican infantry, and exclaimed, 'Come on, my brave fellows, your General leads you.'
The order to fire was given by Gen. Houston,
a single discharge, a rush through the smoke, cleaving blows of rifles uplifted struck down those whom the bullets had not slain. Only thirty-two of the five hundred Mexicans survived to surrender as prisoners of
Gen. Houston's wound in the ankle, meanwhile was bleeding profusely. His horse was dying, and with difficulty could stagger over the slain. Still the Commander-in-Chief witnessed every movement of his army, and as it rolled victoriously over the field, saw the tide of battle crowning his brave soldiers with unparalleled success.”—See Crane's Life of Sam Houston,
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE INDIANS.
(From a speech on the Indian Policy of the Gevernment, in the Senate, January, 1855.)
Sir, if the agent appointed by Mr. Polk, who has been restored by the present Executive—it is a bright spot in his Administration, and I commend him for it—had never been removed, there would have been peace to this day on the borders of Texas ; but as soon as the Indian agent who was appointed to succeed him went there, he must forsooth establish a ranche ; he must have a farm. The Indians who had been settled there from 1843 up to 1849, had been furnished by the Government of Texas with implements of husbandry, with seeds of every description, and they were cultivating their little farms. They were comfortable and independent. They were living in perfect peace. If you can get Indians located, and place their wives and children within your cognizance, you need never expect aggression from them. It is the Indian who has his wife in security beyond your reach, who, like the felon wolf, goes to a distance to prey on some flock, far removed from his den; or like the eagle,
who seeks his prey from the distance, and never from the Aocks about his eyrie.
The agent to whom I have referred lost two oxen from his ranche where he kept his cattle. He went to the officer in command of Fort Belknap, got a force from him, and then marched to those Indians, sixty miles from there, and told them they must pay for the oxen. They said, “We know nothing about your oxen; our people are here; here are our women and children; we have not killed them; we have not stolen them ; we have enough to eat; we are happy ; we have raised corn; we have sold corn ; we have corn to sell; we have sold it to your people, and they have paid us for it, and we are happy.” The agent and the military gentlemen scared off the Indians from the limits of Texas, and drove them across the Red River to the Wichita Mountains, taking every horse and animal they had to pay for the two oxen. This was done by an accredited agent of the Government, and by an officer who deserved but little credit. Are such things tolerable, and to be tolerated in the present age and condition of our Government?
What was the consequence? Those Indians felt themselves aggrieved. They saw that a new régime had come ; they had had the era of peace and plenty, and now they were expelled by a different influence. They felt grateful for the benign effects of the first policy toward them, and that only exasperated them to a greater extent against the second ; and they began to make incursions, ready to take vengeance on any white man they might meet in their neighborhood, and slay whoever they might find. They made their forays from the opposite side of the Red River, from the Wichita Mountains, and came like an avalanche upon our unprotected citizens. There is one fact showing how your interference with the Indians within her limits has injured Texas.
Well, sir, there is a remedy for all this, and it is very easy to apply it; but how are we circumstanced there? Is it supposed by some that we are deriving great aid from the army, and that the greatest portion of the disposable forces of the United States is in Texas, and protecting it? How can they protect us against the Indians when the cavalry have not horses which can trot faster than active oxen,
and the infantry dare not go out in any hostile manner for fear of being shot and scalped! Can they pursue a party who pounce down on a settlement and take property, and reclaim that property? Have they ever done it? Did the old rangers of Texas ever fail to do it, when they were seated on their Texas ponies? They were men of intelligence and adroitness in regard to the Indian character and Indian warfare. Do you
think a man fit for such service who has been educated at West Point Academy, furnished with rich stores of learning; more educated in the science of war than any general who fought through the Revolution, and assisted in achieving our independence? Are you going to take such gentlemen, and suppose that by intuition they will understand the Indian character? Or do you suppose they can track a turkey, or a deer, in the grass of Texas, or could they track an Indian, or would they know whether they were tracking a wagon or a carriage? Not at all, sir.
We wish, in the first place, to have men suited to the circumstances. Give us agents who are capable of following out their instructions, and who understand the Indian character. Give us an army, gentlemen, who understand not only the science of command, but have some notions of extending justice and protection to the Indian, against the aggression of the whites, while they protect the whites against the aggressions from the Indians. Then, and not till then, will you have peace.