The Kemp Sketch
HOCKLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON -- Born in Philadelphia in about 1803. He moved to Washington, D. C. in about 1823 and for a time was employed as a clerk in the War Department. It was at this time that he became acquainted with Sam Houston then a member of the House of Representatives from Tennessee, in the United States Congress. While Houston was Governor of Tennessee Hockley moved to that state. In the fall of 1835 he came to Texas for the purpose of joining the Texas army. He entered the services December 29, 1835. He was with General Houston February 1, 1836 when a treaty of peace was signed by Houston and John Forbes for Texas and Colonel Bowl and other chiefs of the Cherokee Indians. Hockley signed the agreement as one of the witnesses.
When General Houston left Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 6, 1836 for Gonzales, he was accompanied as stated in a speech made by him in the United States Senate February 28, 1859, by "Two aides-de-camp, one captain and a youth." Alexander Horton, an aide-de-camp at San Jacinto, in his autobiography, gave the names of General Houston's companions on the occasion as "Horton, Richardson Scurry, George W. Hockley and one other man." On March 23, while retreating, General Houston wrote to Thomas J. Rusk, Secretary of War: "For 48 hours I have not eaten an ounce, nor have I slept. I have had no assistance but from my friend Hockley, who now fills your former station." Prior to the battle of San Jacinto, Hockley had been made Inspector General of the Army. Due to the injury sustained by Colonel James C. Neill in the skirmish on April 29th, he was placed in command of the artillery on the 21st, and was in direct charge of the "Twin Sisters" cannon in the engagement. It was he who lifted General Houston off his horse after he returned to camp wounded, from the victorious field.
Colonel Hockley, Colonel Barnard E. Bee and Major William H. Patton were selected by President Houston to accompany President Santa Anna and Colonel Juan N. Almonte to Washington, D. C. for a conference with President Andrew Jackson. The army left the home of Dr. A. E. Phelps in Brazoria County, where the Mexicans were at that time confined, by horse back, November 26, 1836 and travelling alternately on horses and by boat, reached Washington January 18, 1837.
On December 22, 1836, President Houston appointed Colonel Hockley Colonel of Ordnance. On November 13, 1838 he was appointed Secretary of War, succeeding Barnard E. Bee and was succeeded December 13, 1838 by Albert Sidney Johnston, an appointee of President Lamar. Hockley succeeded Johnston to the office December 24, 1841 at the reelection of Houston as President.
In 1843 President Houston appointed Samuel May Williams and Colonel Hockley as commissioners for Texas to meet the commissioners of Mexico to arrange for an Armistice between the two nations.
Colonel Hockley was issued Bounty Certificate No. 3895 for 1280 acres of land, June 14, 1838, for his services in the army from December 28, 1835 to May 22, 1838. He was issued Donation Certificate No. 27, May 15, 1838 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle of San Jacinto.
Colonel Hockley's home was in Galveston. He died, however, in Corpus Christi while on a visit there. The following item regarding his death appeared in the Weekly Journal, Galveston, June 24, 1851:
"DIED -- At the residence of Col. Kinney (Corpus Christi) at 11 o'clock P. M. on the 9th inst., Col. G. W. Hockley. His remains were conveyed to be burial ground laid off by General Taylor and interred in the presence of a large assemblage of the citizens of Corpus Christi. Colonel Hockley served in the Texas army and held important offices under the old Republic. For some years past he resided in this city and was esteemed and respected by all ranks."
The state of Texas named a county in Honor of Colonel Hockley and in 1932 erected a monument at his grave in Corpus Christi.
When Hockley County was created August 21, 1876 it was named "in honor of G. W. Hockley, who was adjutant and Inspector-General at the battle of San Jacinto."
The following news items about the battle of San Jacinto were published in The Virginia Herald, Fredericksburg, Virginia, May 25, 1836:
From the National Intelligencer, May 23
THE GREAT NEWS FROM TEXAS CONFIRMED.
The last Southern mail brought New Orleans papers as far as due, (having, of course, come through the Creek country.) The papers of the 9th (the latest date) bring the following accounts confirming the previous information of the success of the Texians against the Mexican troops, and the capture of SANTA ANA, the President of the United States of Mexico, with many of his officers:
From the Louisiana Advertiser, May 9
IMPORTANT FROM TEXAS
By the arrival of the Steamer Swiss Boy, yesterday, we received the annexed, for which we are indebted to the kindness of Capt. Walker, who came passenger by the above boat. It was written by Col. Hockley, of the Texian army, to a friend in Natchitoches:
SIR: I have but a moment to give you an account of our victory. Our spies having taken a courier and officer on the 19th, who informed us that Gen. Santa Ana and his army were across the San Jacinto, at this point, we immediately took up our line of march, and reached that place on the morning of the 20th. The day was passed in reconnoitering the enemy; some few shots during the time have been exchanged between the artillery without much effect on either side. On the morning of the 21st, the enemy commenced manoeuvering, and we expected to be attacked in our camp, as they had received a reinforcement of 500 men, which made them 1200 strong; but they settled down, and continued throwing up a breastwork that they commenced at the first news of our approach. We commenced the attack upon them at half past 4 o'clock, P. M. by a hot fire from our artillery, consisting of two ordinary four-pounders. The enemy returned our fire with a long brass nine pounder. Our first fire having carried away their powder box, caused their loud shouting to cease. We marched up within 175 yards, limbered our pieces, and gave them the grape and canister, while our brave riflemen poured in their deadly fire. In fifteen minutes the enemy was flying in every direction, and were hotly pursued by us. They left 500 of their slain behind them. Never was there a victory more complete. Gen. Cos was taken, and killed by a pistol ball from one of our men, who instantly recognized him. General Santa Ana was taken the next day about ten miles from the place of action by some of our spies, who, on being brought forward, immediately requested to see Gen. Houston. I happened to be passing at the time he was conveyed to Gen. Houston, who was lying on a bed in his tent, having been wounded in the action, and heard them say "we surrender into your hands Gen. Santa Ana, Governor of the Republic of Mexico." He was then ordered to call in his aids, who were nearly all taken, among whom was Almonte. There were then propositions made, of which you will have the details by express.
"Houston was wounded in the ankle by a musket bail in the early part of the engagement; but remained on his horse until it terminated. There is a list of the names of the Mexican prisoners, which shall be transmitted to you by express; they amount to nearly 600, among whom are six women."
From the New Orleans Bulletin of May 9
Col. A. Houston, of the Texian army, has arrived in the steamboat Caspian, and confirms the news of the Glorious Victory of Gen. Houston, and has favored us with the following list of Mexican officers killed, wounded and prisoners.
Killed -- Gen. Castrillon, Col. Batnes, Col. Mora, Col. Trevino, Col. Don Jose Maria Romeo, Lieut. Col. Manuel Aquirre, Lieut. Col Castillo.
Gen. Cos and many others supposed to be killed but not yet found.
Prisoners -- Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Col. Almonti, aid de camp, Cols. Cespedes of the Currero battalion, Cingas, aid to Santa Anna, Portilla de la Pedreguire, aid to Santa Anna, Nuner, Valienti; Lieut. Cols. Filipe Remero, (wounded) Valienti, Don Pedro del Garda, Fernando Urrize (wounded) aid to Santa Anna, Arcos, Encise, Mugla Don Ramon Curo, private Secretary to Santa Anna; also 5 captains and 12 Lieutenants.
Gen. Santa Anna made the following proposition; That his army should lay down their arms, Texas Independence acknowledged, the expense of the war to be paid by Mexico, Santa Anna to remain as a hostage. Gen. Houston had issued orders that a further advance of the Mexican army should be the signal for the slaughter of Santa Anna, and all the prisoners. The report of the terms of peace were not official, but supported by a great number of letters from officers of the army.
From the True American
PARTICULARS OF THE CAPTURE OF SANTA ANNA
During the night of the 20th ult., after the skirmish between the Mexican and Texian forces, Gen. Houston made a movement with 600 men and his artillery, and at day-break met the Mexican force, 1100 or 1200 strong, also in movement, and gained a position within rifle distance of the enemy, before they were aware of his presence. Two discharges of small arms (and) cannon loaded with musket balls settled (the) affair; The Mexicans soldiers then th(rew) down their arms, most of them without (wait)ing, and begged for quarter 600 or (?) killed. The officers broke and endeavo(red) to escape; the mounted riflemen howe(ver) soon overtook all but one, who distan(ced) the rest -- him they ran fifteen miles, w( )his horse bogged down in the prairie, r( )the Brassos timber he then made for (the) timber on foot. His pursuers, in the (ea)gerness of the chase, dashed into the sa(me) bog hole, left their horses, and contin(ued) the pursuit on foot, following the trail of (the) fugitive, (which was very plain, owin(g) (to) the recent rains,) until they reached timber, where it was lost. The pursu(ers) then spread themselves, and searched (the) woods for a long time in vain, when it (oc)curred to an old hunter that the chase mi(ght) like a hard pressed bear, have "Tak(n a) tree." The tree tops were then examin(ed) when lo! the game was discovered snu(gly) ensconced in the forks of a large live (oak.)
The captors did not know who their prisoner was, until they reached the ca(mp) when the Mexican soldiers exclaimed, "( ) General! El Gefe! Santa Ana!"
HOCKLEY, GEORGE W.
Head Quarters of the Army
Camp near Beasons 23 Mar. 1836.
Hon T. J. Rusk
Sec of War
The Commander in Chief of the army directs me to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 19th inst and inform you that he still maintains the position at this place, commanding the crossing of the Colorado at Moseleys above Beasons and Terscasete below -- and of his intention of remaining stationary unless offensive operations shall be justified by circumstances or reinforcements -- Capt. Teal of the regulars with his command arrived yesterday, and a small detachment of Volunteers -- reinforcements and supplies are hourly expected. -- The party of spies, mentioned in the last communication to the Department of War have been constantly on the alert -- The Company stationed at Moselys have captured three of the enemy who are now on their way to camp. The Enemy are undoubtedly near the opposite bank -- and will probably attempt crossing the Colorado soon -- but from our present position we can effectually command any point at which he may attempt it. -- A detachment of 200 men under Lt. Col. Sherman are now at Moseleys crossing. The camp will be reformed in a thick wood on the bank of river and in a position highly favorable for observation and defense --the flanks and front bring well protected by felled trees brush and timber -- The General further directs me to state that good order and discipline which has been observed since the formation of the encampment -- the strict silence, at night -- obedience and discipline now maintained is unexampled (?) in the any troops of their description and highly creditable to the officers and men. We have now upwards of 700 men -- and not -- (the enter word -- cannot read) on the sick list but all in high spirits and anxious to meet the foe -- One Waggon with arms, ammunition, &c has just arrived, which has increased the anxiety and their confidence -- as they now find the promised supplies here are arriving -- The army are much in want of good horses -- and if Sabers and pistols could be forwarded we could furnish the material for an efficient corps of cavalry.
Since writing the above two of the prisoners have been examined separately. They agree very nearly in their statements -- an outline of which is as follows -- That Gen. Seisma is on the opposite side of the river about 3 miles from our encampment -- with 5 or 600 men -- 150 cavalry -- and two small pieces of artillery -- his troops are badly clad, and the state of the weather such as to render then almost ineffective from cold. They are building a boat and intend crossing near us. They were evidently checked by the skirmish with our spies mentioned in a previous letter, the prisoners state that Gen. S. halted the next day to rest -- by our reinforcements we shall be able to anticipate any the enemy may wish --
Genl Gregory of North Carolina, Col. Nibbs and some other gentlemen of Washington have this moment arrived in camp with Major Poe who reports about 200 men on their march who will join tomorrow. I have the honor to be with high respect--
Geo. W. Hockley
(A copy of this was in possession of Colonel A. J. Houston, son of Gen. Sam Houston, April 4, 1938).
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: Colonel
- Company: Inspector General, Commander-in-Chief's staff
- Battle Account: National Intelligencer, May 23, 1836; transcribed in Kemp bio. Niles’ Register, May 28, 1836 (v.50 p. 221)
- Date of Birth: 1803? 1802?
- Birthplace: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
- Origin: Tennessee
- Came to Texas: 1835 Fall
- Date of Death: 1851? Jun 9 1854?
- Burial Place: Old Bayview Cemetery, Corpus Christi, Texas
- Comments: In direct charge of the Twin Sisters cannon
- Bounty Certificate: 3895
- Donation Certificate: 27