The Kemp Sketch
HOUSTON, PAUL SAMUEL -- Miss Amelia Williams, University of Texas, has for more than a year been employed by Dr. E. C. Barker to copy all documents she could find that were signed by Sam Houston. Miss Williams in a personal letter to Houston Wade, Houston, July 15, 1836 stated that she had found a half dozen letters written by General Houston and signed by him "Paul Sam Houston." One, at least, was a court document. Miss Williams finally wrote to A. J. Houston, La Porte, son of General Houston, and asked for an explanation. Mr. Houston did not answer promptly but finally replied that the Catholic Church requires all of its converts, on the occasion of baptism, to take as a first name that of one of the Church Saints. Houston chose that of Paul, and was so baptized into the Catholic Church at Nacogdoches, Mrs. Adolphus Sterne acting as God-mother or sponsor for him. The Mexican Government required all court papers to be signed with the full baptized name, so Mr. A. J. Houston said. It seems that General Houston at times signed his name as Paul as late as the year 1835.
SAM HOUSTON, One of nine children
HOUSTON, SAM -- The following was printed in the "Central Texian," Anderson, Texas, September 22, 1855.
Gen. Houston's Letter
Independence, August 25th, 1855
To H. Stuart, Esq., Civilian and Gazette --
"The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me."
Sometime since, an onslaught was made upon me, by a trio of distinguished personages, of no less notoriety than Ex-President David G. Burnet ad interim; Ex-President Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar and Ex-Major-General Sydney Sherman, of whom it will be my duty to speak. I would sooner have noticed their assertions, had it not been that I wished them to have the full benefit of their fanciful productions, for which they had so largely taxed their fruitful imaginations. They have now had ample time for self-gratulation and joyous triumph. I feel assured their attack was not made with a hope to effect anything in Texas but with reference to objects, beyond the sphere of their personal acquaintance, in the hope that names and titles would weigh much in their favor, and obtain for the factitious advantages, which they never could have derived where they are known, and their acts are known, and their acts of service to Texas appreciated.
They evince but one military trait. Not relying on their own weight of character, they have invoked the name and character of Gen. Rusk; and had they confined themselves to the living there would have been some apparent fairness in their course, because the living can vindicate their names against error and misrepresentation;-- the dead can make no response! I must be excused for not attaching credit to any statement, made by the trio, as to what Gen. Rusk may have done or said, for the reasons which I will render. Mr. Burnet say Gen. Rusk drafted the Treaty made with Gen. Santa Anna. Gen. Rusk addressed me a letter, while confined with my wound, at San Jacinto, asking my opinion, relative to the conditions of a Treaty, if one should be made with Santa Anna. In reply, among other conditions, I proposed, that he should be retained, an hostage, until all the conditions of the Treaty should be performed. I understood the Gen. to concur in this opinion, and moreover Gen. Rusk was not at, or within many miles of Velasco, when the Treaty was signed nor was he a member of the cabinet, but in command of the army. So much for Mr. Burnet's invocation of Gen. Rusk's name!
Now, as to what Mr. Lamar states that Gen. Rusk stated, about what Mr. Collinsworth stated about an order to "Halt." I must be allowed to suppose Mr. Lamar's memory somewhat defective, for the following reasons: Gen. Rusk's position and that of Mr. Collinsworth, (if he was near enough to slap Gen. Rusk on the thigh,) was on the extreme left of the line, not less than three hundred yards from Gen. Houston, whose position was in front of the centre of Burleson's first battalion, and attacking the enemy's breastwork. In the noise of battle could an order have been heard at the distance of three hundred yards. No such order was ever given on the field of battle, or within six hundred yards of it. Strange that Mr. Lamar had not produced a certificate from Mr. Collinsworth and Col. Wharton, for he says the fact was related to me by Collinsworth and confirmed by Jno. A. Wharton. Oh no, he must get it second-hand years after, though he says, "it is also said that when Rusk gave orders to advance, Houston called to those around him to bear witness that the movement was against his orders, and he would not be responsible for the consequences." Strange Mr. Lamar can't find, out of all around Gen. Houston, one to certify for him, and has to go to those who were three hundred yards distant.
We will see what he has made by invoking Gen. Rusk's name! Gen. Rusk made a report of the battle to the Cabinet, and I am willing, under all the circumstances to rely upon that report. I will not insert the paragraph, because I have never felt it necessary to invoke a name or to get a certificate to sustain my soldiership; my actions may speak for me; and the Report if it is ever published will be satisfactory. I hope a truthful history may appear, if it should ever be written by Mr. Lamar!
Mr. Sherman states that Gen. Rusk wrote to him for a certificate relative to the causes which led to my ordering the march to Harrisburg, but in this I fancy Mr. Sherman must be mistaken. It would be strange that I, who was responsible and so considered to the last by the President, should have surrendered my right to any one. So soon as I was satisfied that the Mexican army had vacated San Felipe de Austin, I resolved to cross to the east side of the Brazos, feeling assured that Gen. Santa Anna must have effected a crossing at some point below, and would advance on Harrisburg, to which place the seat of Government had him removed. With a hope to meet him, I ordered the troops at Washington to join me at Donahoe's, as well as the troops opposite San Felipe and below there on the Brazos. At the same time, I sent orders to meet the troops expected from the east of the Trinity to form a junction with the army twenty-two miles in advance of Donahoe's, and on the direct route to Harrisburg. This disposition was made, and I apprised the Secretary of War, then Col. Rusk, of the facts, and crossed the Brazos where we met two small pieces of artillery, and the only artillery which was ever used in the army. So soon as the army passed the Brazos, which required nearly three days, the line of march was taken to Donahoe's in the evening and there encamped. As I was unacquainted with the route, I had procured a guide, (McDermot) and in furtherance of my design, I crossed the road to the Trinity, at right angles on my march to Harrisburg. Col. Rusk had been made acquainted with my plans, as. also Col. Hockley, who was my Inspector General.
About the time the march was commenced for Harrisburg, the companies of Capt. Martin and Capt. Baker arrived, and a temporary halt was ordered that they might take position in the line. Captain Baker was not disposed to march; for the reason that there would be no fighting, and Capt. Martin refused to march for various reasons. Gen. Houston perceiving a spirit of mutiny, made a virtue of necessity, and ordered Capt. Martin to Robbin's ferry on the Trinity, to assist and protect the women and children. Thus was the insubordination gotten over. Capt. Baker fell into line, and the march was continued, that day, eighteen miles to McKinley's through quicksand prairies! From Mr. Sherman's account this was the time that the spirit of mutiny was at its height, and Mr. Lamar corroborates his statement, for what it is worth. Strange Commander-in-chief not fighting, when there was no enemy in the vicinity of the army, and when the whole army was aware that Santa Anna had advanced upon Harrisburg, to which place the General was making forced marches. It was not that the Commander-in-chief did not intend to fight, but that some of these autogenous heroes, did not wish to fight, as was subsequently shown, by their votes in the Council of War, in which no one of truth ever said Mr. Lamar was present or called his name in connection with the Council. In this terrible state of affairs, and general discontent in the army, why was not a council of war requested by some one of the mutineers, when something tangible could have been fixed upon the Commander-in-chief. The discontent was at the greatest height and pitch, according to these heroes, while the army was advancing to meet the enemy. The army was not discounted, but a few weak and ambitious would-be leaders were. But why did not these heroic spirits urge on the General to call a council of war? It was because they well knew they would meet with a rebuff! The General had not called a council of war at Gonzales, at the Colorado, or at the Brazos. He kept his own counsel, and gave his own orders, nor did he ever receive any order from Col. Rusk, Secretary of War, during the campaign, or any one else. He received Col. Rusk on the Brazos and treated him as a guest and a friend, but felt that he alone was responsible for the conduct and success of the army. So much for Mr. Burnet's letter.
It would now be well to make disposition of Judge Burnet, and this I cannot do without giving some samples of his fine taste, as he prides himself on the elegance of his diction. In proof of his classic purity, as well as the Christian spirit, of which he boasts, I will submit to the erudite and literary world the following specimens of taste, in the selection of epithets; fearfully abhorrent, impotent spleen, falsehood, lurking malignity, unblushing audacity, as a wily rogue possesses over an honest man, common liar." The man who would indulge in such low Billingsgate does not merit the notice of any decent man, and I could not stoop to notice him, were the statements made by him confined to Texas only. What he intends to imply when he speaks of the advantages, of a "wily rogue over an honest man" I cannot imagine. Surely I have never charged him with being a wily rogue, nor have I ever treated the opinions of his neighbors with so little respect as even to suspect him of being an honest man! I will not notice many of the errors, which he has stated as truths, but one thing I will notice, in the letter, which he parades, with so much exultation and apparent joy. In the last paragraph of his letter written to the Hon. T. J. Rusk, Secretary of War, dated Galveston, 23rd April 1836, two days after the battle at San Jacinto, of which event he was not then apprised he says, "We have highly flattering accounts from the United States. Let us hold on a few weeks and succor, ample succor will be had. The Commander-in-Chief has a heavy responsibility on his hands, and I pray God he may so discharge it, so as not only to secure the Independence of our suffering country, but a halo of glory may ever surround his own name. With an unmingled feeling, I wish him all success." This letter shows first, that all he expected, from his knowledge of the situation of the army, was for it to hold on for a few weeks, when succor, ample succor, would arrive, and further he considered the Commander-in-chief had the whole responsibility upon his head, and not the Secretary of War, therefore, he most devoutly wished him success! That he devoutly wished the General success, no one will doubt, for he had fled to the last point of escape. Now this Judge Burnet, when he was Vice President of Texas, assailed me in private life. He wrote or published eleven numbers, over the signature of "Publius," and has written (I believe three pamphlets) since then, abusive of me. In his late assault he has reproduced "Publius," and all the ridiculous hearsays and reports, which never had any foundation in truth! I will instance one, in relation to the strength of the army at the Colorado, which is corroborated by certificates as well as by the statement of Gen. Sherman. This roorback I will nail to the counter.
I have a letter from Major R. M. Williamson of the battalion of Rangers, who was stationed at Bastrop, to defend that portion of the frontier, as well as to watch the upper Division of the Mexican army under Gen. Gonna, on its advance to the Trinity. After speaking of the receipt of an order from the Commander-in-chief, he says "I received an additional order from Col. Burleson, on the 18th of March (1836) the day following, dated at the same place, in which he estimates the troops thereat, to be five hundred." Col. Burleson's order I have seen. It was dated at "Burnham's and the only companies which we met on arriving at Besson's were Capt. Wesley Martin's and Capt. Henry Teal's company of Regulars, not a full company, and Capt. Weir's, on Montgomery, not exceeding twenty-seven men. Men were furloughed, less or more, every day to go and see their families. The halt at Colorado was to wait the Artillery, for which I had sent Major W. T. Austin, my Aid-de-camp, to the mouth of Brazos. I will not in vindication of the Commander-in-chief, state the reasons why the Artillery did not arrive, but I will say with pleasure that it was owing to no fault of Major Austin. Were I to render the reasons for the failure, it might be thought unkind to the dead. In the History to be written, that we hear is intended by Mr. Lamar, the facts may be explained. Six hundred and thirty-two men was the precise rank and file on the Colorado, and this I know to be true.
I will now remark, after I have shown that the force actually was on the Colorado, that if it was as my malingers charge, why not get the proof, name the companies, and the strength of each, and in that way show that my statement is wrong. They assert it, and "Publius" reproduces it. It is their duty to prove it. I object to all certificates in proof, as persons are liable to make mistakes which have been corrected, some ten or fifteen years after they were given. I do not mean Gen. Sherman, for if he had certified "the horse was seventeen feet high, he would not fall an inch." I wish to have no more to do with the author of "Publius," and if he has not exhausted his vocabulary of epithets upon me, and chooses to continue his habit, I will feel that I am not bound to respond to anything he may hereafter write, until he answers a question some years since propounded to him by a gentleman of Galveston on whom the Judge had made a very coarse attack in the newspapers.
I will now advert to matters connected with the Council of War. I recollect that Col. Wharton came to me and said, "Some of the officers were anxious that a Council of War should be called," to which I had no objection. At the same time, or about the time, a floating bridge across Buffalo Bayou was proposed to me. I ordered Cols. Hockley and Wharton to see if there were materials to build one. -- After some time they returned, and Col. Wharton reported that they thought sufficient materials could be got by pulling down Gov. Zavala's house. My reply was, that I could see no urgent necessity for it, and it was useless to commence it unless it was certain the material would be sufficient for its completion. At 12 o'clock M. the council of war met, composed of all the Field Officers, two Colonels, three Lieut. Colonels and one Major. The Secretary of War was also present, but of course not a field officer. The question propounded to the council was, "Shall we attack the enemy in their position, or shall we await his attack?" Major Lysander Wells and Col. Joseph L. Bennett promptly replied, "Let us attack the enemy." Col. Sherman says in his late letter, "I replied, and others did the same, that we ought to allow them to attack us, if they would not we should ourselves make the attack that day." He then proceeds to state that "Houston made a pretext for leaving us for a moment and did not return." Now out of his own mouth I will condemn him. He acknowledges that there was but one, Wells, in favor of attacking the enemy, and if the enemy did not attack us, we were to attack them, that day. Now, day would last until sunset; then between 12M and sunset, at what time were we to attack the enemy? He does not say. The truth is, that two to one of the council were opposed to attacking the enemy, and the moment that their opinion was expressed Gen. Houston said, "Gentlemen, you are adjourned," when the members walked off, and that was the last and only time that spoke to Col. Sherman that day. Now as to what Gen. Sherman and Mr. Lamar have asserted about their interviews and dialogues with Gen. Houston, I am constrained to regard them as very jocose, or that they have made these statements, or got Judge Burnet to do it for them, at a time when they were laboring under a fit of hallucination, for in them there is not a word of truth. In my life I never heard either from Mr. Sherman or Mr. Lamar one word in relation to the least dissatisfaction in the army. -- They have shown that they were privy to conspiracies and mutinies, if such things existed in the army. And how far they contributed to create discontent I never cared. As to Mr. Lamar's various statements, only one is correct! He states that I asked him to take command of the Artillery. This is true. Col. Neill was wounded, and Capt. Poe, next in command, was not in Camp; therefore I proposed the honor of command on Col. Lamar. -- What were his reasons for declining he did not state. That was the last incident which occurred between us that day! He positively refused my offer for him to command the Artillery. He may have thought as the command was small, only eighteen all told, that he would have to go on foot, and as he had a fine horse he possibly did not wish to dispense with him, for in the event of disaster, a fine horse might facilitate his escape from misfortune. At the moment it did not occur to me, but since I have been induced to regard him as a man of forecast, or he may have remembered the maxim of Hudibras, in which he says:
"He who fights and runs away,
Can live to fight another day;
But he who is in battle slain,
Can never live to fight again."
The fifth and sixth paragraphs of Mr. Lamar's letter form a most veritable contradiction not to be gotten over. He sets out to give a dialogue between Gen. Houston and himself, in which the Gen. asked him if he could whip the whole army by himself? Then he details other matters of the conversation; knew Houston's statements were contrary to facts; scarcely acquainted with Gen. Houston; he dropped the subject. Who can but admire the modesty of this Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, scarcely acquainted with Gen. Houston, and uses insolence of the grossest character to him. He went to Col. Wharton though, and when the Col. asked him if he thought Houston would fight, he replied, "He says he will." How laconic the reply, and in such harmony with his previous paragraph. Mr. Lamar again says, "At the very moment when we were all preparing for battle, and the lines were actually forming, Gen. Houston came to him, and said in a whining and despairing tone, "Col. Lamar do you really think we ought to fight?" The col.'s reply was of that sententious and terse character that always distinguishes great military men. He says my reply was "Gen. Houston your question comes too late. What did we come here for but to fight?" This great man must have been cruelly annoyed by Gen. Houston; when he offered his advice the General, he would not take it, and when the General asked his opinion he would not give it, but snubbed the poor General, and when the General spoke to him "in a whining tone?" What a vein of the Bonaparte runs through this Mr. Lamar. He had been in Texas, with the army less than ten days, and he all at once bursts into the sage and hero!
I will not clear up all this fuss, of heroism, hearsay, he said, so and so, and I replied and then "as I was scarcely acquainted with General Houston, I dropped the subject" and "the like of that, and sich!!!"
Early on the morning of the 21st of April, I sent for Col. Forbes, Commissary-General of the army, and directed him to procure two good axes, and place them at the root of a certain post oak tree, rather out of view of the camp, and at the same time I sent for Erastus (called Deaf) Smith, and ordered him not to pass the line of sentinels that day without my knowledge, as I did not know at what moment I might want him. My orders were obeyed. So when the suggestion of making a floating bridge, and calling a council of war, were proposed, neither experiment could in any way, as the sequel showed, interfere with my plans. Hence so soon as the council of war decided not to attack the enemy, but to let them attack us, I dismissed the council and immediately sent for Deaf Smith the select a companion, and meet me at the tree spoken of, both well mounted. In a few minutes he was at the place designated, with a young man named Rivers, with auburn hair. I gave them the axes, and directed them to hasten to Vince's bridge, cut it down and set it on fire. At the some time I said to Smith, unless you hasten, you will find the prairie changed from green to red, on your return! The order was executed, and Smith with his companion returned, when our lines were within seventy yards of the enemy, and announced to the Commander-in-chief that Vince's bridge was cut down, and set on fire. He then rushed upon the enemy and fought with unrivalled courage and gallantry throughout the battle. The General dashed in front of Burleson's regiment, and announced the fact to the army. Up to the time that Deaf Smith reported the fact to the General, there were not more than four persons on earth, who know what the General proposed, or I presume some gentlemen would have thought it a very rash, and unnecessary act. -- Those who thought a floating bridge necessary, would not have approved the measure had it been made known to them. In the face of these facts, will any sane man believe that Mr. Lamar and Gen. Sherman's statements about what they said, and what Gen. Houston said to them in a whining tone or in any tone, contain one word of truth! A letter written by the Commander-in-chief to Col. H. Raguet, of Nacogdoches, on the 19th April, 1836, "two days previous to the battle, evinces his purpose and foreshadows his subsequent course of conduct. Of the letter I will give an extract:
"This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna. It is the only chance of saving Texas. From time to time, I have looked for reinforcements in vain. The Convention adjourning to Harrisburg struck panic throughout the country, Texas could have started at least four thousand men. We will only be about seven hundred to march, besides the Camp Guard. But we go to conquest. It is wisdom growing out of necessity to meet and fight the enemy now. Every consideration enforces it. The troops are in fine spirits, and now is the time for action. We will use our best efforts to fight the enemy, to such advantage as will ensure victory, though the odds are greatly against us. I leave the result in the hands of an all-wise God, and I rely confidently on his Providence. My country will do justice to those who serve her. The right for which we fight, will be secured, and Texas shall be free."
SAM HOUSTON, Com-in-chief.
"P.S. -- Col. Rusk is in the field."
This letter was prophetical of the result of the battle. The General was satisfied from events on the 20th, that the enemy could be beaten, and hence his determination to attack them on the 21st, as dictated by his early preparation: destroy the bridge, which afforded the only chance of escape for either army. Nothing could change his convictions of the wisdom of fighting them immediately, yet he was willing to amuse busy heroes, with their floating bridges and councils of war, until he thought fit to order the attack; which occured at 3 o'clock, P. M.
Previous to giving my promised explanation of the order to "Halt," I must be permitted to inquire into the character of my bitter accusers. Gen. Sherman, in his apology for assailing me says, "but I have always felt that a different appeal would have been proper between us as soldiers." Now, I must, in justice to the General, relate one fact, which evinces much sound discretion on his part, and shows that he has considered "discretion on his part, and shows that he has considered "discretion the better part of valor." Col. Joseph L. Bennett, than whom no braver man ever walked the soil of Texas, who has served in various campaigns, as well as in the Congress of the Republic, addressed a letter to me in relation to the conduct of Col. Sherman during the battle of San Jacinto, in which he charges the Colonel with unmitigated cowardice; of which I know Gen. Sherman was appraised by Gen. Hugh McLeod; who called upon me in 1842, as he said at the instance of Gen. Sherman, and requested a copy of the letter, which was cheerfully furnished to him. This was the last "appeal" that I ever heard from Gen. Sherman, until his present claim to soldiership. -- Years elapsed, during the life time of Col. Bennett, and the General remained quiescent under the charge. Now who will certify for Gen. Sherman, either as to his veracity or soldiership?
Mr. Lamar I will dismiss as the next volunteer certifier. He says "my own opinion is, that he himself (Houston) was the only coward on the field. I can name no other, and him I know to be one." This I suppose will come under Mr. Lamar's general proviso for his mal-administration, while President of Texas: "An error of the head and not of the heart." He further states, that I thought he wished to supplant me. He is mistaken; I was fearful of no man supplanting me! When Mr. Lamar was appointed by the Cabinet (without law) a Major General in the army, over the heads of decent men, I was confined with my wound, not, as he says, in the United States, but in Nacogdoches. I certainly made no complaint that I recollect, for with the news of his appointment that of his rejection by the army as commander, also came. If the statement was incorrect, the history of the times will correct the error. Mr. Lamar was informed that the army would not receive him, as General. After some negotiations, it was agreed that a vote of the army should be taken upon his acceptance or rejection. The vote was taken, and out of eighteen hundred or two thousand men Mr. Lamar received not exceeding one hundred and sixteen votes. Thus was un-Generaled the veritable "hero of San Jacinto." General Houston had ample revenge for the modest presumption of Mr. Lamar, if he desired any. I will, to illustrate further the character of this witness, relate an incident which occurred at a barbecue on Cedar Creek, in Washington County, Texas, on the 4th of July, 1843. After an oration, delivered by Mr. Nimrod Chappell, Mr. Lamar, in the presence of the American Charge d'Affaires, arose, and in the course of his speech, after assuring the audience of the good intentions by which he had been actuated in his administration of the Government while he was President, he asserted that if "he had committed any errors, they were errors of the head and not of the heart." To this no one demurred, and he proceeded to say, "GOD MADE ME A HERO AND A PATRIOT, AND MAN CAN'T MADE ME LESS." No one dared to contradict the assertion of Mr. Lamar, and so it remains to this day. Now, who can doubt his right to judge of any man's valor? or to say he knows any man "to be such a coward?" Such men who sit in judgment upon others, although they may have borne upon their breasts honorable scars for upwards of forty years. I will now give a true and faithful statement of facts which no man of honor will ever attempt to deny, explaining the "order of Halt." When the right wing of the enemy had fled, the breastworks of the enemy taken, as well as the enemy's artillery, by our forces, the Commander-in-Chief cast his eyes to the right and perceived that the Infantry, 200 strong, under Col. Millard, was in some confusion; he galloped to the Colonel and asked the cause. He replied, "my horse was wounded," which was correct. The General faced to the left, and led the Infantry to meet a solid column of the enemy numbering about 500 men, and advancing on the Infantry in good order. When within about thirty yards the General ordered the Infantry or (Regulars) to halt and fire. This fire of the Infantry literally mowed down the enemy and if any survived they fled. This terminated all resistance on the field of battle. On looking to the right the General perceived the Cavalry occupying the same position to which they were ordered by him at the commencement of the action. He rode in hearing distance, and ordered the command, distinctly three times, to pursue the enemy, before it moved. The General then passed over the battle field and ordered the wounded and prisoners of the enemy to be spared. He then pursued the route of the fugitives, and at the distance of from five to six hundred yards, he arrived at a ravine, the bottom of which was quagmire, where a number of men were standing, because it was impossible to cross at that place. When I rode up they halloo'd, "General, you can't cross; look at the mules and horses stuck there in the bog." The General halted, and the instant his horse fell dead under him, after having been pierced with five balls. Then, for the first time, it was known that the General had been wounded, although it was nearly sunset. The General is disengaging himself from his fallen horse, was in the act of falling himself, when a comrade caught and sustained him on one leg, until Adjutant Lynch came, and with the assistance of others, placed the General upon his fine roan charger. In the mean time or before, a detachment of the enemy had been discovered in a point of woods on the opposite side of the ravine. It turned out to be about two hundred and forty men, under the command of Col. Almonte. So soon as they were discovered, the men who were stopped made a rush to pass around the head of the ravine, when the General ordered them to halt and form, and not to advance upon the enemy in disorder; and directed Deaf Smith to announce to the enemy that if they surrendered they should be treated as prisoners of war; at the same time requested Gen. Rusk to receive their surrender. Then it was that I ordered Capt. Turner to form his company, and march back to the field of battle, to prevent pillage. This order was obeyed, and Capt. Turner's company remained on the field during the night. Gen. Houston remained at the ravine until the return of Gen. Rusk, and the return together over the field of battle to the Texas Camp, where, after ordering "double sentinels and patrols," Gen Houston fell from his horse, exhausted from loss of blood.
I will now make a last extract from Gen. Sherman's letter, and show willful perversion of facts. When speaking of the order "halt," he says:
"A short time previous to this, he received a wound in the ancle, and after the troops were sent to continue the battle, against his orders, he called for a detail of two companies, under the pretence of a reserve. Capt. Turner's company of regulars was actually detailed, and very reluctantly left the still doubtful field, where every man was required, and marched to protect the wounded General in the rear."
I am truly happy that he mention Capt. Turner as the officer detailed to "protect the wounded General in the rear." As an evidence of the vindictiveness of Gen. Sherman's feelings, he italicises "a detail of two companies." Gen. Houston was not near the Regulars in the battle, only when he led them up to meet the last column of the enemy, and again fell in with Capt. Turner at the ravine, from whence he was ordered back to guard the spoils. Gen. Sherman has not said that he was a witness, nor does he say he was present at the point where Capt. Turner was detailed to return and guard the spoils. If he were there I certainly did not see him, but if I was not very much mistaken, I saw him cautiously advancing in that direction on our return; and the letter of Col. Bennett, of which the General had a copy, will explain the cause of his cautious delay, and also the reasons why he thought it "a still doubtful field," when all resistance had ceased, before Capt. Turner was ordered back to the battle field.
To sum up the matter in controversy, as the gentlemen will have it, I had retreated from Gonzales to Colorado, from Colorado to Brazos, and intended to retreat to Trinity. In no instance was a council of war held to prevent these acts! Was it because the enemy was not in sight, or was it because the mutineers were not desirous to divide the General's responsibility with him? And why was it, when in the face of the enemy, on the day of the battle, they desired a council of war called? Was it not because they thought, from indications, that the General intended to give battle to the enemy, that they were then willing to assume the responsibility of advising him not to make the attack (as Gen. Sherman says they did in Council) because it was safer to share the responsibility with the General in not fighting, than to encounter the hazards of a battle?
The General attacked the enemy as all his antecedents show! In an order the 3d of April, while he was at Washington, the commander-in-chief uses this expression in relation to the enemy: "We can whip them three to one if we will attack them."
The commander-in-chief was the only one of the officers who had ever witnessed an array of hostile armies, or been in a general battle; and it is not probable that he would surrender his opinions to those on whom no responsibility rested. If victorious, the victory would take the name of the place, if it were a defeat it would bear the name of the General, but not that of his subalterns!
The battle was fought at the right time, and the right place, and had he met and vanquished the enemy at any point, on his retreat, the victory would have been indecisive. As it was, by destroying the bridge over which both armies had marched to San Jacinto, and the only means by which either army would retreat, he prevented the escape of the Mexicans when vanquished, and terminated the campaign.
The Commander-in-Chief has always been anxious that every brave man, who was in the battle, should share its glory, and he now rejoices in the prosperity of the country which he has so long and so faithfully served!
When concluding my letter a newspaper was handed to me, containing another assault, by Ex-President Anson Jones. I ought to feel distinguished by the notice of so many illustrious personages -- three Ex-Presidents!!! It is perhaps the first time in the recorded annals of the world, where three Ex-Presidents have been known to descend from their high position to attack a quiet citizen. I will not notice them further, as I have resolved to waste no more time in galvanizing defunct politicians, whether they are Ex-Presidents or Ex-Generals.
Thine truly, SAM HOUSTON
September 15th 1938
Regarding the location of the grave of Major Samuel Houston father of Samuel Houston of Texas fame. There has never so far as the writer knows any doubt of the fact that he is buried in the Square of his cousin Mathew Houston in High Bridge Cemetery a few hundred yards from the Mathew Houston home. This cemetery was established in 1769. The Mathew Houston Square contains a number of unmarked graves and Samuel Houston's is undoubtedly one of them. The writer of this is seventy years old and he and his people have lived in the same house adjoining the Mathew Houston home for the last one hundred and fifty one years. My father and mother knew Texas Sam well and he often stopped on his trips going to and coming from Washington as this was the horse changing place for the stages. For a description of the burial of the older Samuel, see Marcus James' "Raven" on Page 11, he gives this cemetery as the place of his burial and I think there can be no question of locating within a few feet the spot. Any marker places in the center of square would be appropriate. Regretting that there was never a marker to definately establish the spot, I am
(s) John H. McClelland
Dear Mr. Kemp
The above letter is from my neighbor and is perfectly reliable. If you wish to take any action in regard to the matter we will be glad to assist in any way possible.
(s)G. M. SMITH
Box 23, Va.
Sept. 16, 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
- Wounded in Battle: Yes - left leg.
- Rank: Major General
- Company: Commander-in-Chief
- Battle Account: Official report of the battle 25 Apr 1836: Documents of Major Gen. Sam Houston, Commander in Chief of the Texian Army, to his Excellency David G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas : Containing a Detailed Account of the Battle of San Jacinto. New Orleans : John Cox, 1836. RB F390.T49 D63 1836; letter in Central Texian, 22 Sept 1855,transcribed in Kemp bio; Speech of General Sam Houston, of Texas, Refuting Calumnies Produced and Circulaged Against his Character as Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Texas: Delivered in the Senate of the United States, February 28, 1859. Washington, D.C. : Congressional Globe Office, 1859. RB F390.H6878 S644 1859 .
- Alternate Names: Paul Samuel; Samuel Pablo
- Date of Birth: 1793 Mar 2
- Birthplace: Virginia, Rockbridge County
- Origin: Oklahoma
- Came to Texas: 1832 Dec 2
- Date of Death: 1863 July 26
- Burial Place: Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville, Texas
- Comments: War of 1812
- Profession: Attorney; politician
- Wife: 1. Eliza Allen; 2. Diana (Tiana) Rogers Gentry; 3 Margaret Moffette Lea
- Children: Sam Houston; Nancy Elizabeth Houston Morrow; Margaret Lea Houston Williams; Mary William Houston Morrow; Antoinette Power Houston Bringhurst; Andrew Jackson Houston; William Rogers Houston; Temple Lea Houston