The Kemp Sketch
HUNTER, ROBERT HANCOCK - Born in Circleville, Ohio, May 1, 1813, a son of Dr. Johnson C. and Martha (Harbert) Hunter. (See Sketch of Dr. Johnson Calhoun Hunter.) He came to Texas in 1822 with his father’s family. He participated in the Capture and Storming of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835 and in the campaign of 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 3021 for 320 acres of land, April 24, 1838 for having served in the army from October 10 to December 13, 1835. On January 4, 1838 he received Bounty Certificate No. 1573 for 320 acres of land for his services in the army from March 5 to June 5, 1836. On April 1, 1839 he was issued Donation Certificate No. 846 for 640 acres of land for having been detailed to guard the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg, April 21, 1836. In 1836 he was a member of Captain William W. Hill’s Company, joining Captain Peter B. Dexter’s Company shortly after the battle of San Jacinto- (Service Record No. 566)
In 1841 Mr. Hunter was married to Samirah M. Beard in Fort Bend County. Miss Beard was a daughter of William and Martha (Harris) Beard. They moved to Guadalupe County in 1845 where he erected a water mill on San Geronimo Creek, two miles east of Seguin. In 1857 he moved to Victoria in 1857. In 1880 he moved to Flatonia, Fayette County. There he died in the spring of 1901, while a member of the Texas Veterans Association. Mrs. Hunter died in 1888. (Note: Texas May 1829 H R No. 112 1/3 L Ft. Bend)
Children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Hunter were Mary M., who married William Burke of Galveston; Joryna, who married Dr. M. F. Walker; John C. who married Kate Briem in Jackson County; F. F. of Galveston; Marcus W., who died while serving in the Confederate army; Messenia; and G. Ann Hunter.
HUNTER, ROBERT H. - Came to Texas in May, 1829. This is stated in Headright Certificate No. 112 for one-third of a league of land issued to him in 1838 by the Board of Land Commissioners for Fort Bend County.
DIARY OF MY LIFE
R. H. Hunter
I, R. H. Hunter, was born May 1, 1813, in Ohio, in a little town Circleville in Pickaway Plains. I was about 4 years old when Father moved to Missouri, and in April, 1822, came to Texas.
On April 7 we landed in San Jacinto Bay; we came around by water in a small boat and a scow. As we were sailing along the coast we spied a small boat on the beach and went in shore at the mouth of the Mamantough. There we stayed 5 or 6 days and fixed up the little schooner and we corked her up tight, put in the old mast that was broke down, and put in something to eat that day and tied our little scow behind and set sail for Galveston with all of our goods and chattels in the scow.
While out a piece, a southeast gale blowed up & we come on untill about 8 or 9 o’clock, when our scow broke loose and wnet ashore and we come on to the mouth of what is now called Taylors bayou. There we campt. Father and Jack, our sailor, went back to git the scow.
When they got there, old Yokham and about 30 men was there and no scow, and all the men were drunk on Pa’s rum; he had a barrel of rum on the scow and he had to come away the best he could and got nothing; he lost everything we had. Pa got back the next evening; he was gone two days and we had nothing to eat. Jack killed an aligator & rosted the tail and we eat it & not a drop of water to drink. Pa saved (?) trunks out of the scow and in one of them was a bolt of domestic. Pa took it & spread it out on the grass and got it wet with dew and rung it in a bucket and that saved us until we got to Galveston that evening.
When we got to Galveston we found 5 large emigrant ships laying at anchor in the horbor, Capt. John Rock and his big balck ship laying at ancor. He fiard a cannon to bring us too. When Pa came to Texas in 1821 he got acquainted with old man Anson Taylor on Trinity and old man Taylor was on Capt. Rocks ship and knew Pa, and with his speaking trumpet called us along side and and Capt. Rock let down a chair and took us abord.
Us little ones was hungry; we had not eat anything for 3 days but the aligator tail. The cook was at the Caboos a-cooking; he had a post of rice setting by; the old Irishman ast us if we were not hungry & we, the children, told him yesser. He gave us some spoons and we pitched in to the rice. Pa came around and seen us. “Children, children, what are you doing there?” The old Irishman hollowed out, “Let them alone; I put them there. They are hungry, let them eat.” That rice et good.
We stayed with Capt Rock that night. Next morning Capt. Rock gave Pa a half barrel of pork and a sack of rice, half a barrel of flower and a sack of French brown sea bread. When we left, we took two families aboard with us and sailed up to San Jacinto bay, landed at what is now called New Washington (Morgan’s Point), the 7th day of April, 1822. Pa put us up a big sail tent and he left us there and went back to Galveston & brought all of them families to shore; he made about a hundred dollars a trip.
The Tankaway Indians and the Cronks (Karankawas) were hostile and troubled the whites. They lernt how to give a signal by putting up a white flag. There was two families come up from Galveston in two small boats; the Cronks put a white flag on the Beach at little Cedar Bayou and the boats went ashore. The Cronks run on them and killed them; there were 3 men and 2 wimmen and 4 or 5 children. One man got away by jumping out into the bay, swimming and wading 4 or 5 miles across to the point about, and came around to Pa’s. Pa and a man by the name of Fowler got in their boats and collected some 10 or 15 men and went down to Little Cedar Bayou that night and found the Indians a-cooking the people’s hands and feet and eating and dancing. The white lay close in the grass by them untill daylight & fired into them and killed 15 or 20 of them and the balance left. They never bothered us any more.
Pa before this went over to the Trinity and bought 2 cows & calves from old man Anson Taylor; he gave $100 for them and broought them home and it was prairie across from our house south to Galveston-bay, one mile and a quarter, and I would have to go over there and drive the cows home. Sometimes I would stay late and Pa would git his old gun and go after men, thinking the Indians had me. Where we lived we could see the Indians’ fires over on the beach at Little Cedar Bayou.
We had a little field of 8 or 10 acres and Pa got somesugar cane from Attakapas and we planted it and raised fine cane. We would ship the cane up to Harrisburg and exchange to old man Stafford for corn. Mr. Stafford would bring his corn from the Brassos where he lived to Harrisburg. We had a big canoe that we shipt our cane up in and we would exchange cane for corn. One time Brother John and myself tuck up a boat load of cane to Harrisburg and got our corn and come down to theBay and a September gale set it; the wind was very high & the waves was running high. Pa was on the bank at home with a white sheet a-waveingit to us to turn up the bay. I steered to the nearest land, about 2 miles above home, and we got about 20 feet of the shore and we went under, but our boat was under such headway that we run her on the bank. We got our corn all wet and had to shuck it all out upon the beach, every other (?) we could make corn on the bay.
Pa sent me up to Harrisburg with a shovel or a renter plow to have sharpened; while up there a cold norther come. I went down to Uncle Billy Vince’s; I stayed there 2 days. The norther broke off a little the second day. In the mean time my horses got away from me. Mr. Vince let me have a horse & I started home. Mr. Vince rapt me up in a blanket & an over coat. It was 25 miles home; I got about half way home when the norther sprung up afresh, rained & sleeted and my lazy horse I would get him along and I got so cold that I had no feeling; the icicles hung to my hat brim so that I couldhardly see my way.
I finely got home; I rode up to the gate & pa come out to get some wood and saw me. He called me to git down. I heard him but I could not speak. He came to me and took me off the horse and stood me on the ground and I fell over. He took me up and carried me in to the house. Mr. Lynch was in, they told to bring him to the fire. Pa told them to bring in a tub of water that was out under the eaves. They done so and broke the ice, and Pa put me down in the water and thawed the ice before he could get my closthes off; my moccasins was froze to my feet. Pa gave me some alcohol & put me to bed. That was in the evening, and I knowed nothing untill next day 12 o’clock. When I woke up I was all wright.
Pa used to trade up the San Jacinto river with the Coshatta Indians; would buy deer skins, bear skins, coon skins and all kinds of bear oil. I always went with him; we went in a boat. The old chief, Francisco, treated us fine. When would leave them, Francisco would give us as much bear meat as we wanted to take home with us. He would say to Pa, “You scaw and Poppas.”
Pa would buy his bear skins and oil to Attakapas and sell them for sugar mollasses rum, red flannel brod cloth, for the Indians. Pa done right smart trading with the Indians (Cashatta) I think in August of the year.
Pa went out to San Antonio; he hired a Coshatta Indian to guide him out there. He got his money & medicine that he left there in 1821 and brought a drove of horses & mules. He came home by the way of Labadie (La Bahia); there he was robbed of his money, $1300 all in gold. He brought his horses, 50 head, home.
When he left for San Antonio he hired his little schooner to a Mr. Scott on the bay to go to New Orleans, and Scott lost the schooner and Pa never got anything for her.
He took his horses and mules to Attakapas and bought a sloop with them. He took a sloop loat of corn from old man George Orrs on the Trinity river, where Liverty now is, and took it to Attakapas, La., and brought back sugar and Molases and rum. Now all this time Mother and us children remained on San Jacinto Bay, what is now called New Washington, surrounded by the Tonks (Cronks?) and Tonkaway Indians, Mother and 5 children; I was the oldest.
We could see 25 or 30 Indians over on the beach south of us on Little Cedar Bayou, 7 or 8 miles from us, and could see them for weeks at a time. I would go out in the evening to drive up the cows (we had 2 cows); sometimes I would stay late and Ma would go out in the edge of the prairie and call me, and when Pa was at home he would go out on the prairie with his gun to look for me.
Father shipped the first cotton that we ever shipped from Texas to Attakapas, La. He shipped it from the Brassos River in the seed; I think that was in 1824. The next trip he got cast away on the west end of Galveston island, on an island on the mainland. He lay there for 21 days and had nothing to eat but fish and oysters.
Capt. Decrow was running a little sloop from the Brassos to San Jacinto Bay. Pa seen him twice pass and raised a white flag, but Mr. Decrow thought it was Indians and would not go in. The third time he passed Pa and his man Fowler got some drift logs and tied them together and started to cut Mr. Decrow off and went out and past the point of Galveston, and was going out into the breakers in the gulf. Mr. Decrow seen they were white men, and put out for them and took them off the raft and brought them up to San Jacinto home.
Father was the doctor on the Bay at that time, and done a good deal of the surveying at that time on the Bay. When father went to San Antonio for his money and medicines and brought his horses in, he got a young Mexican boy with him. He learnt to talk Mexican, and in a very short time I could talk as good as he could. The Mexican would bring in horses and mares to sell and I would have to interpret for them. They gave choice of mares for a cow & calf. Pa has bought good horses for 3 and 4 dollars apiece.
We lived 7 years on the Bay. Father sold his land there to two men, one by the name of Cloper, and the other by the name of Louis; he got 25 cents per acre. Pa got about 30 head of cows & calves from them and then we moved to the Brassos in Fort Bend county. Pa bought 200 acres of land from a Mr. Alex McCoy. I believe Pa paid 4 cows and calves for the land. We drove 40 head of cattle to the Brassos.
Pa cut a big pole 20 feet long and put it up against 2 trees and cut some long poles and put one end on the ridge pole and the other end on the ground and split out lathing and put on the poles, and split out 3-foot boards and covered it. It made a good house; we lived in it 3 or 4 years. We then went into the cane brake and cut cane, cleared us up a field. We planted our corn with hand spikes and axes for 3 years before we could plow it for the cane roots. We made from 40 to 60 bushels of corn per acre and good big corn. After we got to plowing, we planted cotton; we made a bale and a half of cotton to the acre. Pa sold his cotton 5 or 6 cents a lb.
Pa boughta negro woman, Ana, from old man Brown in Sanphilop (San Felipe), and the next year he bought another woman of Brown, Ana’s daughter Harriet. I believe it was three years he bought 2 negroes, Freeman and Seger, and the next year he bought a woman, Mary, a African.
Father shipped 59 bales of cotton down the Brassos river on 2 large canoes made out of 2 large cotton wood trees with a platform on them. James McCoy, a Dutchman, Pa and myself we started on Christmas morning 1834; got down the river by McHenry Jones, and our boat run on a snag and turned over. We got wet and cold and we had no way to git off. We hoop and hollowed, and one of Mr. Jones’ men came to the bank. He got a skift and came to us and took us off and we cut the cotton loose and floated it ashore. The river had been very high that summer and the banks was muddy. We got a yoke of oxen from Mr. Jones and chains and ropes and hauled the cotton up on the bank, and the next spring, I believe it was the last week in March, James McCoy and myself took a conoe and went down to the cotton, rolled it in to the river and floated it down to Columbia and hauled it out, and father sold it to Night & White for 3 dollars a bale.
In the Runaway Scoope, Father drove 5 or 6 hundred head of cattle down to the San Jacinto ferry to cross, but there was so many people there that he could not cross & had to leave them to the mercy of both armies and the most of them were killed. We got about a hundred twenty five or thirty head. San Jacinto ferry was the place General Houston fought Santa Anna.
I believe it was in October 1835 I volunteered to go to San Antonio to fight General Cos. We whipped him out and I was discharged and came home. While I was at San Antonio Capt. James Perry went out on a Scout and I went with him. We were out 5 days. We took some beef with us but it spoiled and we threw it away the first day and we had nothing to eat. One of the boys killed a turkey and we et that. We came in the fifth day in the evening. They were killing beeves at Camp. We rode up to the pen and went in to the beef, cut & rough; I cut off a piece of col fat and eat it, I thought it was the best meat I ever et.
I was at the grass fight at San Antonio in 1835. The battle was fought in a small prairie on the bank of a hollow. There was about 75 or 80 mules with packs of hay on them; you could see the mules noses and feet. We took advantage of the pack mules and got on the Mexicans before they seen us. The Mexicans backed down the hollow, which was about 12 feet deep. We were not more than 15 feet apart. We shot at a angle of about 45 degrees down at them. We kild some 35 or 40 Mexicans. We got a man slightly wounded, a Mr. Murphy was hit with a rent ball from a cross firing, from a reinforcement of Mexicans from town. He was hit in the forehead; he staggered over on Daniel Perry, our Capt’s brother. I was standing next to Perry. Perry said, “Are you hurt?” He said no, and put his hand up on his forred and then behind and looked at his hand. “Blood through and through, by gad,” and commenced loading his gun.
We had to leave on double quick, about 1500 cavelry right on us. Washures (?) was up on a tornt of a ridge and he would wave his hat for us to go. In the chaparel we could not see the Mexicans, but he could and gave us signs how to go. We got down tothe river at a ford and just as we got over, the whole cavelry tried to cut us from the ford. We gave them a shot or tow, but I tell you we got on doubble quick. Capt. Perry and Capt. Everley of Brasorio, we had about 150 men and our guns no account—little doubbel barreld shot guns, some men had rifles. I had a Harperferry younger; the lock was tied on with a buckskin string, the stock and barrel was tied togeather with buckskin strings, and the Mexicans had fine muskets. We had a bad show for our lives, 8 or 10 men to one against us, but I tell you we pulled through.
After we took General Coss & the town of San Antonio we were discharged and came home, but it was only a short time untill Santa Anna came to San Antonio, and leutenant colonel W. B. Travis, commander of the Alamo, sent a dispatch to San Felipe & Brazoria for help, that Santa Anna had reached San Antonio and he wanted help; that he would hold the Alamo. A courier came to our place on the Brassos in Fort Bend Co. He showed his dispatch, stating that Colonel Travis wanted men to defend the Alamo.
Brother John, Robert McAnella and his brother Pleasant McAnella and Merdeth Tunget and myself was on the top of the gin house nailing on shingles. Father said, “Well, boys, who of you is going to Travis?” I said, “I am one,” and the balance all said, “I with you.”
The courier said that Capt. John Bird was making up a company at San Felipa and wanted every man that was going to meet him there at midnight. This was about 4 o’clock in the evening and we had to go about 30 miles. We got our horses and a extra suit of clothes & some grub and left for camp. We got there about 2 o’clock in the morning. We left next morning with 65 men for the Alamo. We got as far as the Bernard, camped and organized that night.
Mrs. Orbane, a French lady, and another lady—the name is forgotten—made a fine large flag and sent it to Capt. Bird’s company. Next morning we left under Capt. John Bird.
There was a company of 32 men made up from Gonzales; the 1st of March they got in the Alamo, through the enemy safe to Travis. We got on as far as what is called the Big Hill on Peach creek. There was a good many of the boys along that never seen a hill much bigger and a sand mound. I called Capt. Bird, “Less stop on the top of that big hill and let the Boys see them big hills yonder, the Capola hills.”
The Capt. said, “We haven’t time.”
“Well, our waggon is a good ways behind. Wait untill it comes up.”
He said “Well.”
We had an old man with us, I have forgotten his name; he said, “Captain, we need not go by Gonzales, we will lose 10 miles. Cross the Tan Marcas (San Marcos), one mile from here, and there is agood road on the Guadaloupe and good crossing. I have bin that way several times.”
While we were there talking we saw a courier coming from Peach Creek. The Capt. said, “Well, boys, we’ll wait and see who that is; it may be that we will get some news.”
The courier come up and he said, “What company is this?” and he was told that it was Capt. Bird’s company. He said, “I have a dispatch for you.” He handed the dispatch to Bird and he red it.
He said, “Boys, bad news; the Alamo has fallen. This dispatch is from General Sam Houston at Gonzales.” He ordered the captain and company to camp at Peach Creek and said he would join him next morning on the retreat east. (If we had gone the straight road through to San Antonio we would have gone right into Santa Anna’s army, and we would have shared the same fate of poor Travis and his men.)
Capt. Bird’s company was ordered to act as rear guard of General Houston’s army. That same morning two women with five children with bundles of clothing on their heads came. The captain ast them which way they were going. They said, “We are trying to get away from the Mexicans.” The Capt ast them if they had no waggons. They said yes, their husbands was kild in the Alamo. “Our horses was out on the prairie and it was dark and we could not find them. We left our supper on the table and took what little clothing we could carry and our children and left.”
The Capt. had his own waggon and team. Colonel Knight & White of San Felipe had put 2 large tobacco boxes in our waggon. The Capt. told Lieutenant McAlister to throw them tobacco boxes out of the waggon & give room for those women & children. “Capt., that tobacco was given to the company.”
I was sitting on the waggon tongue. The Capt. said to me, “Bob, give me that axe.” I gave it to him. The boxes was too large for one man to handle, so he took the axe and chopt the boxes to pieces and threw it out on the ground and called to his men to come and git their tobacco. They took what they wanted.
About this time General Houston’s army come along, and the Capt. hailed them, “Boys, don’t you want some tobacco?” They hollowed out, “Yes.” “Here, help yourselves, “ and they took all the tobacco. That gave room for the women and children, so we got them all aboard.
General Houston’s army passed on and we fell in the rear guard. Nothing much occurred untill we got to the colorado. At Mr. Beason’s ferry General Houston had some cottonwood trees cut down on the east side of the Colorado for breast works. We camped there 5 days; in the meantime 5 or 6 families came up from below to corss the river at Beason’s ferry. Capt. Bird and Capt. Beason or Earlens’ company was trying to cross a large herd of sheep over the river but failed.
At this time the Mexicans marched up on the hill about one mile from us and fired a cannon at us but overshot us. We then crossed over and tied our horses back in the woods and camped behind the cottonwood logs. Four or five of the boys went up about a half mile up the river to Mr. Beason’s home; he had a smoke house full offine bacon. General Houston had it guarded and only one man was there.
We told him that we wanted some bacon. He said, “Well, you can’t git it.”
We said, “Why?”
He said that Houston had it guarded.
We said, “By you alone?”
He said, “There is 10 of us.”
“Where is the balance of your men?”
“They have gone over behind that hill to git a shot at the Mexicans.”
“Well, we want some bacon & we are going to have it.”
He said, “I can’t keep you from it.”
There was five of us; we got down and broke the door down, got us a middlen apiece, and cut each one in 2 pieces and tied them together and put away our horses. We was about to mount and we running, when we looked over toword the Mexicans & seen the boys running down towards us and the Mexicans after them. We were cut off from the ferry and we had to run about a quarter up the river to a ford. The water was about knee deep, so we all crossed over safe.
The Mexicans came down to the house & went back. The next morning some of the boys went over to git some bacon and the house was burnt down and smoking. Don’t know whether the Mexicans got the bacon or not, or whether General Houston had it burnt; I never learnt.
About 8 or 9 o’clock we left for the Brassos and leave San Felipe, and went up the river opposite Mr. Jared Groce’s, and camped 5 or 6 days on a big lake about 2 miles from the river. The first 3 or 4 days we burnt up all the wood and a man went out throught the lines to git some wood. The guard would not let him pass. He said that he would go, and did go, and the guard reported him to headquarters. He was court-martialed and condemned to be shot.
The whole army was marched out to the ground, the grave was dug, and a coffin was there, and the army was formed in a half-circle around the grave. The man was blindfolded and there were 12 men to shoot him.
The officer gave the command; he said, “Present arms, take aim--” Just at that moment Colonel Hockley was coming in a lope from camp, hallooing, “Halt, halt, halt,” and the officer said, “Order arms.”
Colonel Hockley rode up and siad, “Lieutenant, here is a repreave.” I have forgotten the man’s name.
Deaf Smith came into camp about that time and reported that General Santa Anna was at San Felipe. General Houston ordered Capt. Bird & Capt. Moseley Banker to reconnoiter Santa Anna about San Felipe. They went down on the east side of the river. There was some of us boys on the sick list & did not go with the company.
Capt. Bird got down as far as San Felipe and found a barrel of whiskey. He staid with it to take care of it. Lieutenant McCalister took charge of the company & went on down with Moseley Baker as far as Richmond. Baker stayed 2 or 3 days and came back and joined us at Donoho’s, and McCalister and men never got to us until the next day after the battle of San Jacinto.
When Baker and Bird left for San Felipe the Yellowstone steamboat was loading cotton at Mr. Groce’s landing. General Houston pressed the steamer into service to cross the army over the river. The Brassos was very high—level with its banks. The capt. of the steamboat unloaded the cotton on the bank and the capt. took us, the Army over theriver. We were all day a-crossing the river with our waggons, horses & oxen. Then we moved on out to Donaho’s.
Mrs. (Pamelia) Mann was at Mr. Groce’s with her two waggons & teams. General Houston got a yoke of oxen from Mrs. Mann to help the cannon along. There had been a great deal of rain and the roads was very bad. Mrs. Mann said General Houston, “General, if you are going on the Nacogdoches road you can have my oxen, but if you go the other road to Harrisburg you can’t have them. I want them myself.”
Houston said, “Well, I am going the Nacogdoches road,” but he did not say how far he would go on it.
Anyhow the oxen come and we started. About 6 miles out on the road, they forked and the Harrisburg road turned to the right, almost right angle down east, and we got about 10 or 12 miles down the road and Mrs. Mann overtook us out on the big prairie hogwallow and full of water and a very hot day.
She rode up to the general & said, “General you told me a d—m lie. You said that you was going on the Nacogdoches road. Sir, I want my oxen.”
“Well, Mrs. Mann, we can’t spare them; we cant git our cannon along without them.”
“I don’t care a d—m for your cannon; I want my oxen.” She had a pair of holster pistols on her saddle pummel and a very large knife on her saddle. She turned around to the oxen and jumpt down with the knife and cut the raw hide tug that the chain was tied with (the log chain was broke and it was tied with rawhide.) Nobody said a word. She jumpt on her horse with whip in hand, and ‘way she went in a lope with her oxen.
Capt. Rover rode up to General Houston and said, “Genraal, we cant get along without them oxen; the cannon is done bogged down.”
“Well, we will have to git along the best we can.”
The capt. said, “Well, general, I will go and bring them back.”
He said, “Well.”
The Capt. and another man started back for the oxen; the Capt. got a hundred yards or so. The general raised up in his saddle and hollowed, “Capt. Rover, that woman will bite.”
The Capt. said, “D—m her biteing.”
Houston jumpt down off his horse & said, “Come, boys, les git this cannon out of the mud.” The mud was clear over his boot top. He put his shoulder to the sheel and 8 or 10 men more laid holt, and out she come and on we went. We got down about 6 miles and camped at a big mot of timber.
About 9 or 10 o’clock Capt. Rover came in to camp, he did not bring any oxen. The boys hollowed out, “Hi, Capt., where is your oxen?”
“She would not let me have them.”
“How come your shirt tore so?” and some of the boys would say, “Mrs. Mann tore it off him.”
“What was that for?”
“She wanted it for baby rags.” Captain Rover was our waggon master.
Well, next morning we put out & got down in about 6 miles of Harrisburg and campt at a little mot of timber, and mext morning we got to the river opposite Harrisburg & campt.
About an hour or so after camping Deaf Smith come into camp and brought word of Santa Anna.. He was going down for New Washington on the San Jacinto Bay. Houston gave orders to move at daylight in the morning, at the brake of day.
All up, breakfast over, the general told Major McNutt to guard the baggage wagons. The word was “Fall in,” the cannon was hitched up and the lines formed and we started. Major McNutt hailed the general, “You ordered me to guard the baggage; what will I guard with?”
“Where is your men?”
“Ten or 12.”
“Well, call a ------(?)” and there was 10 men from each company. Meridith Tunget, two other boys and myself was together with a Capt. and we was called out and had to stay with the waggons.
The Army went on down to San Jacinto. That evening Ben Lenleher (?) and James wells come into camp with a prisoner, a courier with dispatches to Santa Anna. Major McNutt sent them on down to General Houston.
The major was afraid to guard the prisoner and chained him to a tree. He was the liveliest sort of fellow. All next day we had a heap of fun with him. Every one that could talk Sapnish was around him, deviling him. We had him in camp 2 nights and the next day, which was April 21, General Coss passed on down through Harrisburg, and Major McNutt gave orders not to fire a gun but be quiet. One of the boys below camp a piece fired across at them and Coss’s men fired at us and wounded one of our men in the ankle and they set fire to the town and burned down the steam mill.
Coss went down to cross the bridge 2 or 3 hours before it was burnt. Santa Anna had come up from New Washington and cmaped on the ridge. When Coss git in to Santa Ann’s camp about 3 o’clock in the evening we heard a cannon fire, and another and another. Three fired in succession and stopped. In about two minutes another fired, and the little twin sisters commenced. They popped like popcorn in a oven, and we could hear the small arms very plain.
Our prisoner was the liveliest fellow you ever saw while the cannon was fireing. As soon as the big gun stopped he become sulkey and would not talk. We wanted to know what was the matter. It was a long time before he would talk, and he said that Santa Anna was whipped.
“How do you know?”
“I don’t hear his guns.”
Between sundown and dark, a courier come up and brought the word, and by times in the morning we were under way for the battleground, about 8 miles distant. We got there about 11 o’clock. We went out to the battle ground and looked at the dead Mexicans. Where their cannon stood for about 12 or 15 feet the Mexicans lay 3 or 4 deck. They did not get to fire their cannon but 3 times; our men shot them down as fast as they could git to the gun. Our men took their gun loaded, turned it on them and shot them with their own gun, and they give u.
General Houston gave orders not to kill any more, but to take prisoners. Capt. Eastland said, “Boys, take prisoners; you know how to take prisoners—take them with the butt of your guns, club guns,” and said, “Remember the Alamo, remember Laberde,” and clubbed guns right and left and nocked their brains out. The Mexicans would fall down on their knees and say, “Me no Alamo, me no Laberde” (La Bahia).
There was amuddy lagune about 4 or 5 hundred yards south of the battlefield, about 15 or 20 yards wide, and the Mexicans broke, they run for that laggune, and man and horse went in head and years to the bottom, about 18 feet of boggy mud. It was said that Santa Anna’s money chest was throwed in there and a parsel of us boys went and cut some poles 6 or 7 feet long, probed down to find the money, and we could not find bottom. We got some poles 10 or 12 feet long. We could feel the dead horses and I expect men, but no bottom, and we gave it up. That lagune was full of men and horses for about 20 or 30 feet up & down it, and none of them ever got out. I think their bones are laying there yet.
The land that the battle was fought on was the property of a widow woman, Mrs. McCormac, an Irish woman. She came to camp to see General Houston. She wanted to know if he was a-going to “take them dead Mexicans off my land. They hant the longest day I live.”
Houston told her not, he wanted Santa Anna to bury them and he would not. Santa Anna said that it was not a battle, that he called it a massacre. Plague gone him, what did he call the Alamo and Laberde?
I seen Joel W. Robison and Bostic bringing Santa Anna in. They came by the Mexicans that was under guard, and you could not have heard it thunder for the shouts from the prisoners, exclaiming, “Vive, vive, vive Santa Anna.” That meant that Santa Anna lived, was alive.
The men took Santa Anna down to General Houston and Santa Anna asked in Spanish if there was anyone present that could speak Spanish, and Moses Austin Bryant and a little man by the name of Baker responded, and Santa Anna asked for Almonte. Baker went up to the guard and called Almonte, and he got up and answered to his name. When Almonte got there it looked like the whole army had gathered there.
General Houston ordered Santa Anna’s tent to be put up. It was put in about 10 or 12 feet of the Houston tent. There was a large tree that had blown up by the roots; Houston’s tent was on one side of the log and Santa Anna’s tent was on the other side of the log. I and Merdith Tunget stood by that log and guarded SantaAnna. It come to our lot to guard him several times.
General Woll from the Mexican army at Richmond came under a flag of truce to Houston and to see Santa Anna. Houston told Woll that he had made a treaty with Santa Anna. Woll said, “You can’t make a treaty with a prisoner. Santa Anna is a prisoner.”
Houston said, “I have, and it shall stand.”
General Woll stayed that night and next morning he left for Richmond, Fort Bend county, and the next day about 3 o’clock in the evening the Mexicans’ baggage took fire.
The baggage was all gathered up and piled all in one big pile, saddles, blankets, and all kinds of clothing, guns, powder, aparahors (?) or pack saddles. There was a small boy looking at the pistols and snapping them. The guard told him that he might do damage and to leave. The boy said that they were not loaded, and one went off amongst the guns. The powder was sacttered all over the gound. He was snapping the pistols in amongst a pile of guns and set the whole pile afire, and it was for a few minutes like a little battle.
Tunget and myself was on guard that day, and we were guarding Santa Anna. We were by the log before Santa Anna’s door when the fireing commenced on the hill and Santa Anna broke for the doors. We jurked up our guns and presented them at his breast, told him to halt. He got within 2 feet of the door and stopped. He looked up straight in our eyes, we had our guns cocked on him.
In a minute we seen what it was; everybody jumped for his gun. We thought that Col. Ugartechea and General Filisola, General Woll had come from Richmond and had attacked us. We did not know what Woll and Santa Anna had talked about. From the time that Woll left the morning before at 9 or 10 o’clock and 3 in the evening when the fire took place, would make it about 28 or 30 hours, which would give them plenty of time to come from Richmond – about 30 miles. There is one thing about it, I know we were pretty badley scared.
We stayed at the battle ground 5 or 6 days and the dead Mexicans began to small so that we moved camp. We moved up the river to Dr. Patrick’s place, about 6 miles. General Sam Houston gave us a big talk or a speech and a farewell, and left for Galveston on his way to New Orleans for medical treatment of his leg or ankle, where he was shot in the battle of San Jacinto on the 21st day of April, 1836.
Lieut. McAlister and Capt. company never got in to camp until the next day after the battle was fought. They had to cross over the burnt bridge on Vince’s Bayou. They put in 2 big fine logs, swam their horses over and then walked over on the logs. My brother John had the measels and he was on the log and it turned over andhe had his gun and wallet with him and he fell into the bayou, 12 feet of water. He dropped his gun. They got his wallet of clothes out, and he went back and dove down to the bottom and got his gun. He took sick all of a sudden and the boys took him to Mr. Vince’s house and made a fire. Two men stayed with him and they came to came and the lieutenant, McAlister, told me. I got my horse and put out for him. When I got there they had left for camp another road and I missed them. When I got to camp I found him very sick. I got Dr. Youin (?) to him.
The steam boat had just come up from Galveston. The Dr. told me to and see if I could get some whiskey and make him a stew or a hot toddy, and I went down to the boat. I could not git it and got my lieutenant. He went back, but of no use, we could not get it. I got a bottle of cider for which I paid $2.00. Brother John was very, very sick. I sleptwith him all the time and I never had the meassels, but I never took them.
The day before we left Camp for the west, Ben Lenleher, James Wells, come in from the Brassos, fort Bend. They were sent to Richmond to see if the Mexican army had moved off west or not. Theyhad left. Lenleher and Wells come by our place; they told me that Father had not got back yet and he had some fine corn and the cattle was distroying it. I went to Lieut. McAlister and got a furlow to go by and see to the place.
Brother John and myself went there and found Capt. Moseley Baker there with his whole company and his horses all in the yard and one end of the corn crib torn down, and all of his horses knee deep in corn and 30 or 40 head of hogs in the corn. I got to snorting and cussing, and Baker wanted to know what authority I had to order him off the place. I told him that was my father’s place and that I had the right to take care of it. Just at that time Capt. James Perry came up behind me and slapped me on the shoulders and said, “Go it, Bob.” I looked behind me and there was my old captan. I never was so glad in my life.
Capt. Perry said, “Captain Baker, this is Dr. Hunter’s son and he has a right to defend his property. And further, Capt. Baker, all of the families in this country is depending on this corn for their bread.”
Capt. Baker said, “Is this Dr. Hunter’s place?”
I said, “Yes.”
“Well, I know the Dr.”
They left that evening and Capt. Perry, Johnie and myself set in and put the corn up and patched up the crib as well as we could and fixed the fence, drove out the cattle. My horse took sick and I could not ride him. I had to join the army at Richmond next day.
Capt. Perry said, “Bob, go up to Mr. Curright’s and git one of his horses, I know Mr. Curtright won’t care.”
I went and got one, but it was wild and out-picthing the world. Next morning Brother John and myself saddled up and left for the army over at Richmond. In the evening I staked my mare out. We camped above Richmond on the bluff up the river and I staked my mare in a few feet of the bank, and in the morning I went to git the mare and she was gone. I went to the bank and looked down, and she was setting down in the mud and water half way up to her hips, hanging by the rope. The rope was long enough to reach from the stake to the water. She looked to me like she was dead. I got some of the boys close by to help me, and we went down to her and she was alive. We shoved her out in the water and made her swim down the river 4 or 5 hundred yards before we could find a place to git her up. It gentled her. I saddled her up and she never jumped a bit.
I was taken very sick with bowel complaint, and Lieut McAlister told me that I had better go home, that I would not be needed, that we were just going on to see the Mexicans out of the country. He said, “I would advise you to go home. I will give a discharge to you and have it countersigned by General Rusk and Houston and it will be all right.”
I did so; got my discharge and left Brother John with the army and went home. I crossed the river and calcultaed to go to Mr. Curtright’s, as I had heard that he had got home. I would stay there untill father got home. But on my way I met Brother Thomas going to Richmond to Thomas Borden’s to git some salt. There was 3 or 4 hundred bushels of salt and the Mexicans had burnt the gin down and there the salt was in a great pile. Thomas told me that father and sister Harriet and black Harriet had come home.
I was proud to git home. I was very sick for several days. We all eat supper & breakfast on the batle with clabbord for sidhes and drink coffee in our camp cups.
When father left in what is called the runaway scoope (scrape), he took all of his kitchen and table ware over in the bottom in a cane brake and hid it. We went over next morning and got all the pots & dishes and some tools and one thing and another that he had hid in the cane brake. When the people got home, some of them found something that they had left, and some found nothing, and a good many no bread. They heard that father had corn and Father let everyone have what they wanted, at 50 cents a bushel, and some of the families had lost everything. Father gave them corn and did not charge them anything. Down the Brassos, corn sold for one dollar a bushel, up at Foster’s and on up to San Felipe, a dollar a bushel.
Well, the army left for the west; at Texana they were disbanded and Brother John came home and in September Brother Thomas and mself went to the Sabine for mother and the children. They were at Claiborne West’s on the bank of the Sabine river. I got up the teams. We had 4 yoak of oxen and a big waggon and 2 horses and a buggey. I drove the ox waggon and Thomas the buggie. We got to Naches and camped, and Mrs. Floyd drove up and asked if she could camp with us. We told her yes. She was from San Antonio; her husband was kild in the Alamo and she was now trying to git back.
We started next morning, took the Naches bottom, and got about a half a mile and run over a stump. The water was from a foot to 18 inches deep and new cut road, and the brush was piled on each side of the road. My waggon tipped over on a brush pile and did not spill anything out. I took lead steers and took my chains and rope and tied one end to a fore wheel and the other to the hinde wheel and my chains I hitched to my rope and pulled my waggon all over right. Then we went on about 4 miles, water all the way, and come to a hickory ridge. Just got out of the water and Mrs. Floyd’s cart broke down, one wheel mashed all to pieces; the wheel was rotten. I looked at it, we all stopped; Mrs. Floyd was crying and did not know what to do. I went to mother and told her that I could fix it.
“Well, Robert, if you think you can, go at it. We must try to git her along if we can.”
She had two very old negroes, a man and a woman, and she had a young man by the name of Uria Anderson to drive her cart, by her hauling his trunk along. I said, “Mr. Anderson, you cut 2 or 3 of them little hickorys down.”
I took the measure of the tire and told the old negro to heat it. I had my chest of tools in the waggon and I had plenty of tools. I commenced and chiseled the old rotten spokes out. I cut some little round hickory poles, cut them the right length for spokes, trimmed them, and drove them in of a mile.
Next day we got to Pineilands and there Mrs. Floyd’s other wheel gave way. Old man Yoakum lived at Pineilands; He had a wooden cart and tied to swap our cart for it, and he wanted 15 dollars to boot. I told Mrs. Floyd that I would not give it.
“Well, what will we do?”
“Well,” said I, “hold on a little.” I said, “Mr. Anderson, git your ax and we can cut one of those pines.”
Mr. Yoakum said, “I don’t want any of them cut down.”
Said I, “All right.” It was six miles back to a point of timber on the Natches bottom. “Mr. Anderson, take a yoak of oxen and a chain and go to that point and cut me a big log, as much as the oxen can pull.”
He got back a little before night. I split the spokes and fellows out of it, and by 12 o’clock next day we were on our way. Just as we left, Mr. Yoakum come down and said, “Well, I see you are in a rather bad fix; if you want to swap I will take 10 dollars to boot.” I said, “No, I have the wheel so I think she will go all right.”
He looked at it. “Ah, no, that wont go 5 miles, and will leave you in the big prairie. You had better take me up.”
I said, “No, that wheel will go all right,” and it did take her home to Gonzales.
Well, we got on to what is called Willow Mares; there are 2 of them, one about half a mile, the other about 200 yards. When we got there it took us all day to cross. We had to double teams and 50 yards at a time. You could not see the hub of the waggon wheels; and went on to the next. It was this way, well, we all got over safe and then on to Liberty on the Trinity, and then on down the river to about 7 miles of its mough. There we crossed at a ferry boat. We crossed the Trinity river and what is called Old River.
All over safe, we went on to Little Cedar Bayou. There we had to go around the mouth of that bayou on the west about one mile and a half. It was staked all the way around. The water was about one foot deep. With our oxen, we had to take one waggon at a time, and all hands at that. The oxen was afraid of water. All over it took us 2 days to git to San Jacinto ferry.
All over safe, we put out for the Brassos, Fort Bend Co., and in 2 days and a half the hub of Anderson’s cart split in pieces. I struck a circular on my spokes, sawed them off, bowed my fellows and put them and slapped on the tire and colled her off and strated, and we camped at the river that night. We traveled 7 miles that day and filled a cart wheel with green saplings. We here had to ferry down a barge 5 miles to the river Naches.
We had to drive our oxen through a cypress swamp five miles to swim them over. We got all over but my lead steers; they sulked in the river, and I got on the yoak and pushed their heads under water, and they made a plunge and struck me in the temple with his horns and I fell off in the water. The oxen went shore and I floated down a piece and struck a vine that was hanging from a tree that was hanging over the water. I grabbed to the vine and clum up to the top of the water. I had swallowed and when I got to myself I was hanging to the vine, as sick as I could live.
Mr. Anderson was back on the bank and he could not swim a lick and the river was between us. He hollowed across to me to look out for the alagator was 10 or 15 feet of me. I splashed water at him and he sunk. I drawed my feet up on the vine and gave a push and I went ashore, about 15 feet, and lay there about 2 hours, sick as a dog and throwing up.
I had hobbled my oxen; I had brung them over one at a time; the last one I did not hobble, and no boat in 5 miles of us, and that a ferry flat, and it 5 miles up the bayou. I hollowed across to Anderson to git the ropes and tie them together and come out in the water as far as he could, and I would try to swim to him. I called to throw the ropes to me and I started and got about one-fourth over and I gave out and commenced sinking. I thought of treading water and turned my feet down, and was in four feet of water. There was a ridge or bar in the middle of the river. Well I expect there was 20 alagators in the river.
We got back to the waggons after dark. It took us all day to bring the 3 waggons down and git over, and I had to pay the ferry man 7 dollars to cross us, and did not have a cent. Mrs. Floyd had some money, I got it from her and I paid it when we got home.
We camped on the prairie about a quarter; we made it home; we went through the battle ground and seen lots of Mexican bones. After we got home and rested up some, I took Mrs. Floyd’s cart and hewed off most of the surplus bark and wood and made it some tighter. It was an auffel looking cart.
Well, Father ground her 5 bushels of meal and we killed a beef and barbecued it, gave her as much as she wanted, and she left for home in Gonzales. She wrote back to us, or to Mother, and said the old cart took her safe home. She was thankful.
Well, our army went up to Texana and was all discharged and went home. Well, believe this closes my carrer of the Texas war. I wish this to be published for it is most all personel of myself.
R. H. Hunter.
(Mr. Hunter’s account of the Grass Fight was added as a postscript; in his narrative he merely mentioned that he was in the battle. The account has been inserted in its proper place in this copy.)
In later years Mr. Hunter added to his diary the following:
For all our troubles in our Mexican war the soldiers got well paid. We got a 320 acre certificate for services at San Antonio in 1835, and 320 acre land certificate for services rendered at San Jacinto in April, 1836; and we also got a 640 acre certificate for a gift and execution could run against it, to have to hold it for yourself, your children forever.
The next year after this was granted to the soldiers, the legislature changed the law, for this reason, that the government had no money to pay the soldiers and volunteers from the old states that came to help us. Was all discharged and they got those land certificates; they had to be located in Texas. The soldiers could not use them in the old states, therefore, they had to seel them for what they could get. They would let merchants have 320 acres certificates for a pair of pants and the 640 acre certificate, then we could all see our 640 acre certificate.
In 1874 the legislature granted the soldiers a coupon bond for $900; the coupons was numbered from 1 to 30 and cut out a coupon and send to Austin and the comptroller would send you $90; this was every year until the 30 years run out. But the legislature made no appropriation to pay off those coupons, and the merchants and speculators begin to buy those bonds at about 50 cents on the dollar, and got down to 25 cents on the dollar. The banker took them at about 25 or 30 cents on the dollar.
Old Uncle John Linn tried to keep me from selling mine but I was too big a fool to listen to him. He said that the legislature would make appropriation and pay them all off, but we would not believe it. I sold mine and got 50 cents on the dollar and next year the legislature made an appropriation to pay those bonds. There was premium given of 2 l/2 to 30 dollars on a coupon. Mine was gone, and in 1885 the legislature made an appropriation of 1280 acres of land, for each old soldier. I sold mine for 25 cents per acre. I got 320 dollars for it.
I located a 320 acre certificate up at Dripping Springs in Gillespie county. I sold it for one dollar per acre. It is now worth $30 per acre. I sold my 640 acres gift on Plum creek, sold it for one half for 50 cents an acre and the other half for one dollar per acre, and it is now worth $35 per acre. It lays in 4 miles of Lockhart. I sold one labor of land in the Brassos on Irons Creek, 4 miles of old San Felipe, a heavy peach and cane brake; I sold it for one dollar per acre. I bought 130 acres of land on the Sangeranamo in Guadelupe county, 2 miles below Seguin, for $1 per acre, and my father-in-law and myself put in a sawmill and grist mill on it. I made a doodeal of money on it and lost a goodeal of money on it, and we sold the mills for $30. High water had washed it allaway. The man that bought it rebuilt it and finely the whole concern all washed off, and in 3 or 4 years afterwards I sold my land for $6 per acre, to a Dutchman. He has been offered time and again $30 per acre and will not take it. I had one-third of a league of land up on Pecan Creek, in Brown Co., 1476 acres. I gave that to my children, so that lets me out of all my land business, except 164 acres over on the Yeguas (?) in Lee Co.
Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.
- Died in Battle: No
- Rank: Private
- Company: [Capt. John Bird] - detailed to guard baggage
- Battle Account: Narrative of Robert Hancock Hunter, original in Texas State Archives, transcribed in Kemp biography and published in Southwestern Historical Quarterly and separately Narrative of Robert Hancock Hunter, Mesquite, Tex. : Ide House, 1982; Austin, Tex. : Cook Printing Co., 1936 F389 H87 1982; F389 H87 1936
- Date of Birth: 1813 May 1
- Birthplace: Ohio
- Came to Texas: 1822
- Date of Death: 1902
- Other Battles: Bexar
- Bounty Certificate: 1573
- Donation Certificate: 846
- Wife: Samirah M. Beard
- Children: Mary M. Hunter Burke; Joryna Hunter Walker; John C. Hunter; Marcus W. Hunter; Messeia Hunter; G. Ann Hunter