Saturday, December 12, 2015

Texas Army's Route from Gonzales to San Felipe, March 11 - March 27, 1836

On March 6, 1836 the Alamo fell, and General Santa Anna turned his attention toward the remaining Texas Army currently encamped at Gonzales. Outnumbered nearly two to one, Sam Houston and the Texas Army burned the city of Gonzales and began their retreat on March 11th.


Map of Day Trip:

March 11-12, 1836

Camp at Gonzales

Upon Sam Houstons' arrival in Gonzales on March 11th, he took command of the Texas Army from General Edward Burleson. The Texas Army had approximately 374 men plus command staff, and the Mexican troops advancing toward Gonzales under the command of General Ramirez y Sesma had 1,000 infantry and 500 cavalry.

Two men were found and escorted to Gonzales by Texas scouts, arriving shortly after 4:00 p.m. on March 11. The men were Anselmo Bergara and Andrew Barcena which reported that the Alamo had been overrun. Within a short time the arrival of other Texas scouts confirmed their story and the fall of the Alamo. As a result, Houston issued orders from Gonzales to Colonel James Fannin at Goliad to fall back to Victoria, and to send one-third of his men to reinforce his army in Gonzales.

Historical Monument Text: Stricken with news of the fall of the Alamo and threatened by a massive Mexican army, Sam Houston gathered the nucleus of a Texan army here, issued orders to burn this town (to hinder the Mexicans) and marched east, March 13, 1836. He won Victory at San Jacinto, April 21.

On the morning of March 13th three scouts were sent to gather intelligence on San Antonio. They were Erastus "Deaf" Smith, Henry Karnes, and Robert Eden Handy. Within a short distance of Gonzales they came upon four of the Alamo survivors. Among them were Susannah and Angelina Dickinson, as well as Joe, the slave of William B. Travis. Mrs. Dickinson carried dispatches from Colonel Almonte which warned Houston that his army will suffer the same fate as the defenders of the Alamo. Before midnight on this date, the Texas Army broke camp in Gonzales and began their retreat to the east. Houston decided that Gonzales should not fall into the hands of the Mexican army, and order several scouts to stay behind and burn the city.

March 13, 1836

McClure's Plantation on Peach Creek

Sam Houston Oak
Following the midnight flight from Gonzales, the Texas Army of 374 men marched all night into the early morning hours of March 14. The army paused at Bartholomew D. McClure's plantation on Peach Creek. They had managed to march ten miles overnight. The army was joined by Captain Bird's ninety-man company.

Historical Monument Text: 1/8 mile north is Sam Houston Oak where General Sam Houston established his headquarters camp March 13, 1836, after burning the town of Gonzales. Under this oak his small army was joined by many volunteers from the eastern settlements, who went with him to San Jacinto.

March 14, 1836

Williamson Daniel's Place on the Lavaca River

On March 14th, after a short bivouac on the McClure Plantation, the army continued marching east, and by sunset they made camp at Williamson Daniels' place on the Lavaca River. This spot is marked by a historical marker in the present town of Moulton in Lavaca County.

Historical Monument Text: March 15, 1836 under the command of General Sam Houston while retreating from Gonzales to the Brazos River.

On this same date, General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma reached Gonzales with a force of seven hundred men. As he entered the city he found some of the buildings in the city still smoldering. The Mexican army did not linger long in Gonzales but instead pushed on for the Colorado River in search of rebel forces.

March 15, 1836

Rocky Creek Crossing

After breaking camp early on March 15th, they marched east from Daniels' league toward the Navidad River and on toward the Colorado River. On the way, the army passed over Rocky Creek, a tributary of the Navidad River.

Historical Marker Text: In Texas Revolution, Gen. Sam Houston and his Texas Army crossed Rocky Creek near this spot, March 15, 1836, retreating eastward from town of Gonzales. Their victory 5 weeks later over Santa Anna's Mexican Army, in Battle of San Jacinto, brought freedom to Texas, April 21. The Historical Marker could not be located. It is reported to be located in a small roadside park located 9 miles north of Hallettsville on Highway 77.

Camp at William Thompson's Land

The Texas Army reached the Navidad River around 1:00 p.m. on March 15, 1836. Here the army made camp after marching roughly twenty-six miles for the past thirty-eight hours. Captain Peyton R. Splane squad of approximately twenty-four men joined up with the army as they made their way to Thompsons' land. These troops brought the army up to a strength of nearly 488 men.

The location of this campsite is not known, but the original Gonzales-San Felipe Road passed through present-day Oakland, TX, and Texas survey maps indicate that a William W.W. Thompson owned land in this area.

March 16-17, 1836

Camp near Burnhams' Ferry

On the morning of March 16 General Houston began marching the troops north instead of following the Gonzales-San Felipe road. Houston was apparently wary of the movements of the Mexican Army and hoped that he could dodge the pursuing army. The army marched approximately 16 miles, and made camp at Burnham's Ferry on the Colorado River. As seen in the map above, Jesse Burnhams' property is located nine miles southeast of La Grange on the west bank of the Colorado River.

The following morning of March 17 came a cold drizzly rain which turned the bivouac area into a muddy waller. General Houston decided to let his men rest while the women and children in the "Runaway Scrape" caught up with the army.

The Historical Monument for "Burnham's Ferry" has temporarily been removed until the proper location can be established. The Monument was previously located approximately two miles south of the probable location at the intersection of CR201 and CR204. Historical Monument Text: First ferry in present-day Fayette County. Established about 1824 at the crossing of the La Bahia Road by Jesse Burnam. After the Army of the Republic of Texas crossed on March 19, 1836, the ferry was destroyed by order of General Sam Houston to prevent its use by the advancing Mexican Army.

March 18-19, 1836

Camp at John Criers'

During the day of March 18th the army assisted the civilians with crossing over the Colorado River. The army also crossed, completing the ferrying around 3:00 p.m. Once the army had crossed, Houston marched his army a few miles down the river and encamped on John Crier's property.

On March 19 the rain returned, and General Houston marched his army a few miles further down the river. They spent the night in a thicket of post oaks while they awaited word form their scouts.

March 20-25, 1836

Camp at Benjamin Beason's Crossing

On the morning of March 20 the Texas Army broke camp and marched several miles down the east bank of the river to Beason's Ford or Beason's Crossing. As they approached the site, they were met by Captain Wyly Martin and his company of men which numbered roughly thirty men. The Texas Army was joined by several other companies during this period of time which brought the army up to 810 men.

Historical Marker Text: Benjamin Beason, one of Stephen F. Austin's original 300 colonists, settled by a widely used Colorado River crossing near here in 1822. He and his wife Elizabeth proceeded to build a large home (also used as an inn) and established a gristmill, sawmill, gin, and ferry operation at the crossing. His residence and business operations and a scattering of homesteads in the area formed a settlement known as Beason's Crossing. In the early spring of 1836 Beason found his home, family, and complex of commercial buildings in the perilous position in between Sam Houston's Army, camped on the east bank of the Colorado River opposite Beason's crossing, and a Mexican Army led by General Juaquin Ramirez Y Sesma fast approaching from the west. Houston had chosen this site to camp because of its strategic location at the edge of the most populous part of Texas. With his 1500 troops in position, Houston is said to have declared, "on Colorado I make my stand." Notwithstanding this bold declaration, Houston unexpectedly removed his Army to the Brazos River on March 26th. Beason's crossing was subsequently burned to the ground by a detachment of Houston's Army scarcely hours before the arrival of Sesma's Army. Sam Houston Bicentennial 1793 - 1993

Historical Monument Text: Benjamin Beason's Crossing of the Colorado River - Site of the camp, March 19-26, 1836 of the Texas Army under General Sam Houston, who directed the retreat from Gonzales to the San Jacinto.

On March 20, General Sesma's division reached the opposite side of the Colorado River and camped just outside of Columbus. He positioned his troops midway between the two nearest key Colorado fords, Beason's and DeWee's.

Historical Monument Text: Site of the Camp - March 20-26, 1836, of one division of General Santa Anna's Army under the command of General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma. It crossed the Colorado at Atascosita Ford, eight miles below Columbus.

March 26, 1836

Camp East of Colorado River

At this time, General Houston was apparently aware that Fannin's Army had been captured at Goliad. Even though the Texas Army had swollen to approximately 1,400 troops General Houston felt it necessary to retreat from the Colorado River swiftly. The army marched about seven miles on the afternoon of March 26 before making camp for the night.

March 27, 1836

Camp near San Felipe

General Houston's army continued its retreat the next day and joined forces with Captain Sidney Sherman's division at the San Bernard River. They continued their long day's march of about twenty miles and reached the home of Samuel Mays Williams around 9:00 p.m. His home is located on Spring Creek less than two miles west of San Felipe.
Next Page Texas Army's Route from San Felipe to Cypress, TX, March 27 - April 16, 1836

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