Saturday, December 12, 2015

Texas Army's Route from San Felipe to Cypress, TX, March 27 - April 16, 1836

Previous Page Texas Army's Route from Gonzales to San Felipe, March 11 - March 27, 1836
On February 16, 1836 the Mexican Army crossed into Texas with a force of about 3,000-5,000 Mexican troops. Half of the troops proceeded to San Antonio with President-General Santa Anna, and the remainder, commanded by General Jose Urrea, marched up the Texas coast in the Goliad campaign. On February 23rd President-General Santa Anna arrived in San Antonio, and began a siege of the Alamo which fell on March 6, 1836. General Sam Houston had been in the Gonzales area since January 14th with the majority of the Texas Army and began their retreat on March 11th. At the beginning of the retreat, Sam Houston had an Army of approximately 1,200 troops. By the time the Texas Army reached San Jacinto, Houston had a force of 910 able troops, and Santa Anna had an army of approximately 1,200.


Map of Day Trip:

March 27, 1836

San Felipe de Austin, TX

Stephen F. Austin
The first stop on this Day Trip is San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site. This was the capital of Stephen F. Austin's Anglo-American Colony, 1824-1836. San Felipe de Austin is 92 miles from Gonzales and 153 miles from San Antonio. The Texas Army had been retreating for 16 days and arrived in San Felipe de Austin on March 27, 1836. The city was burned by the Texas Army to keep it out of the hands of the advancing Mexican troops. On this date, at Fort Defiance in Goliad, Santa Anna ordered James Fannin and 342 Texians to be marched out and was massacred by the Mexican Army.

The old townsite contains two replicas of buildings that existed during 1836. One is a replica of Stephen F. Austin's log cabin, and the other is a new replica of the original Town Hall. Prior to the war, William Barrett Travis operated a law office in San Felipe before his heroic fate at the Alamo, and Gail Borden, of Borden Milk, was a land agent for Stephen F. Austin. Borden also worked as a newspaper publisher at San Felipe de Austin and became the manager of printing operations for the provisional government after Texas declared its independence from Mexico.

Historical Marker Text: First Anglo-American capital of Texas. Came into being on July 26, 1828, as the capital of the Austin Colony, by decree of the Mexican government. Father of Texas Stephen F. Austin had begun under the 1821 grant from Mexico the settlement of more than 1,000 families. The original colony ran from the coast on the south to the old San Antonio Road on the north, and from the Lavaca River on the west to the San Jacinto River on the east. In this first American town in Texas lived Austin, William Barret Travis, Sam Houston, David G. Burnet and Jane Long. All settlers crossed its threshold for land grants. After the organization of other colonies, this continued to be the recognized center of Texas. It was the capital of the Mexican Department of Brazos, site of the Conventions of 1832 and 1833, and the Consultation of 1835 where Texans aired grievances and tried to reach understanding with Mexico. The provisional government created with Henry Smith as governor in 1835 functioned here until it gave way to the convention declaring Texas independent of Mexico on March 2, 1836. (1964)

Replica of Stephen F. Austin's Cabin

The Texas Army began moving north from San Felipe de Austin, but the progress was slow due to heavy rains that had muddied the roads and swollen the local creeks. As a result, it took two days for the Army to cross Mill Creek located two miles north of town. Prior to leaving the area, Houston ordered Moseley Baker and his ninety men to defend the San Felipe Ferry on the east bank of the Brazos. He also deployed Wiley Martin and several troops to guard the crossings further south.

March 28 - March 29, 1836

Mill Creek
The Army marched a few miles north of San Felipe de Austin, but were slowed by the muddy roads and the swollen Mill Creek. The Texas Army camped and crossed somewhere along the creek between this point and the Brazos River located 2 miles away. This photo was taken at the Mill Creek bridge on FM 331.

March 30, 1836

After crossing Mill Creek, the Army was only able to march three miles north. There are no Historical Markers to indicate this spot, however, the campsite should be just south of FM 529 on the west bank of the Brazos River.

March 31 - April 13, 1836

Sam Houston's Camp, West of the Brazos

The Texas Army marched 8.5 miles along the west bank of the Brazos River to a site just south of the SH 159 Brazos River bridge. They arrived here on March 31st, and remained at this location until the Army finished crossing the river on April 13, 1836. The river was swollen due to heavy rains which had already resulted in delays at Mill Creek. About 20 miles upriver, the steamboat Yellow Stone was apprehended and pressed into service to assist the Army crossing the river.

The Historical Marker is 1.4 miles east of the intersection of Remmert and School Road on private property. Proceed due east on Remmert to the tree line located next to the Brazos River cutoff. Most of Remmert Road is dirt, and would not be accessible during rainy weather.

Historical Marker Text: (March 31-April 13, 1836) At the end of March 1836, following the defeat of Texan forces at the Alamo and at Goliad, the retreating Texas army led by Gen. Sam Houston encamped at this site. While in camp here Houston's forces were reorganized and received much needed reinforcements and supplies, including the "Twin Sisters," a pair of cannon. After training his soldiers here for two weeks, Houston led them across the river in pursuit of the Mexican army, which they engaged and defeated on April 21 in the Battle of San Jacinto, the final battle of the Texas Revolution. (1990)

The Historical Marker is located in a small fenced pasture at the end of
Remmert Road between several large pecan trees.

Brazos River cutoff adjacent to Historical Marker.

On April 7th the President-General Santa Anna arrived at the charred ruins of San Felipe de Austin. Finding the crossings defended at San Felipe and Fort Bend, they made their way 24 miles downriver to Thompson's Ferry on April 12th, and crossed the Brazos. Now that Santa Anna was across the river, he took 700 infantry, 50 cavalry, and a cannon, and raced toward Harrisburg in an effort to capture the rebel government and end the revolution. Fortunately for the Texans, the dictator had left 1,500 Mexican infantry and four cannons behind at the crossing.

Camp at Groce's Plantation

The Texas Army finished crossing the river on April 13th and camped on Groce's Plantation. The Mexican Army was also busy crossing the Brazos River 36 miles southeast at Thompson's Ferry (near Richmond).

The plantation owner Leonard W. Groce supplied the Texas Army for two weeks while they encamped on his property and were busy crossing the river.

Monument Text: Site of Groce's Ferry established across the Brazos in 1822 (The river has since changed course) by Jared E. Groce (1782-1836). Near here the Texas Army camped from March 30 to April 12, 1836. Erected by the State of Texas 1936

This site is located 1.8 miles south of the intersection of FM 1887 and FM 3346 on the west side.

April 14, 1836

Camp at Donoho's Plantation

The Army camped at the Donoho's Plantation on the night of April 14, 1836. The Donoho's were not happy about hosting the Texas Army. They were especially upset when the Army began cutting trees on the property for firewood. General Houston ordered the men to stop cutting the trees and to use the picket fence instead.

The Donoho's land is located southeast of Hempstead, TX, and the property is split by Clear Creek. The Historical Marker could not be located, and the information about this location is not presently listed in the Texas Historical Commission's "Atlas" index of historical sites.

Wiley Martin and Mosely Baker rejoined the army with their 350 men and their news that Santa Anna had crossed the Brazos River. Scouts brought into camp on a mule the black ferryman captured at Thompson's Ferry by Santa Anna. He carried a note written in English from the President General: "Mr. Houston: I know you're up there hiding in the bushes. As soon as I catch the other land thieves. I'm coming up there to smoke you out." Most military strategists believe that releasing your plans to the enemy is not recommended.

Wiley Martin and his troops were redeployed to escort refugees out of harm's way.

April 15, 1836

Camp at Samuel McCarley's Homesite

This site is located 14 miles east of Donoho's Plantation at the intersection of FM 2920 and A. J. Foyt Rd. about 9 mi. west of Tomball, TX.

Historical Marker Text: Texas Army Camp - April 15, 1836 Samuel McCarley (1775-1838), his wife Celia (1794-1873), and their ten children settled near here on Spring Creek in 1831. By 1836 the McCarley home was located on a well-traveled road linking Washington-on-the-Brazos (30 mi. NW) with Harrisburg (40 mi. SE). Their neighbor, Abraham Roberts, lived about three miles east at a fork in the road. One fork led east to the Trinity River and the other southeast to Harrisburg. On April 15, 1836, the Texas army led by General Sam Houston left camp near the Brazos River and marched east, arriving here at dusk. Overnight, Houston's 1,100 hungry soldiers consumed cattle, corn, and bacon belonging to the McCarleys and burned about 4,000 of their fence rails for fuel. According to post-war accounts, many in the Texas army strongly suspected that Houston was unwilling to engage the Mexican army, known to be advancing toward Harrisburg. On April 16, however, Houston and the Texas soldiers took the Harrisburg Road at the fork, and on April 21 defeated the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto to win Texas independence. Samuel McCarley died in 1838 and in 1858 the state of Texas awarded his widow, Celia, $460 as compensation for damages caused by the Texas army. Sam Houston Bicentennial 1793-1993.

At noon Santa Anna's Army reached the plantation of William Stafford (Stafford, TX). After eating and resting for several hours, Santa Anna ordered the houses and cotton gin burned. The Mexican Army began marching again at 3:00pm, and reached the vicinity of Harrisburg at night.

April 16, 1836

Fork in the Road near Abraham Roberts Homesite

Three miles east of the McCarley's is the former townsite of New Kentucky, which is currently a very small city park surrounded on two sides by homes. On this date, the Texas Army passed by Robert's Homesite on their way to Harrisburg.

Monument Text: Established before 1831 - A thriving town until its trade was captured by the present city of Houston, established 30 miles away in 1836 abandoned about 1840. Erected by the State of Texas 1936

At this location was the "Which Way Tree", which marked the spot where the road forked. One fork led toward Nacogdoches and retreat further into the Redlands, perhaps even to the United State. The other fork led to Harrisburg (Houston) and battle. At this point, Sam Houston was under great pressure from Gov. David G. Burnet and others to stop retreating and engage the Mexican Army.

Historical Marker Text: Texas Army Route - April 16, 1836. Abraham (Abram) Roberts (1773-1850), a native of Georgia, came to Texas as a widower n 1827 and settled at this site on spring Creek about 1829. His home was located at a prominent crossroads in the sparsely populated community of New Kentucky about three miles east of his neighbor Samuel McCarley. On March 21, 1836, the interim government of the Republic of Texas stayed at Roberts' home overnight while en route to Harrisburg to establish the Republic's new capital. On April 16, 1836, the Texas army under Sam Houston left McCarley's home and arrived here about midday. Houston's soldiers, aware that the Mexican army was advancing on Harrisburg, were concerned that Houston would continue to retreat east to the Trinity River. Still uncertain about Houston's chosen route, the Texas army paused upon reaching the crossroads. Soldiers in the army asked Roberts, who was standing on his gate, to show the way to Harrisburg. A great shout arose as Roberts pointed southeast. Houston took the Harrisburg Road and on April 21 his army defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto. The decision to take the Harrisburg Road became famous as a turning point in the campaign for Texas independence. Sam Houston Bicentennial 1793-1993 Incise on base: Project of Jeffrey D. Dunn and Edward W. Turley, Jr.

New Kentucky Park: The large oak in the center of this
picture is rumored to be the "Which-Way Tree"

Camp at Matthew Burnett Homesite

Today this site is known as Telge Park, which is located 13 miles (as the crow flies) from the last campsite, and 37 miles from San Jacinto.

Historical Marker Text: Texas army camp - April 16, 1836. Matthew Burnett (1795-1842) and his wife, Sarah (Simmons) (1797-1852), came to Texas from Arkansas in 1831 and settled south of here on Cypress Creek. Their home was near the "Harrisburg Road" which stretched 15 miles northwest to a crossroads at the home of their closest neighbor, Abram Roberts, and, in the other direction, 25 miles southeast to Harrisburg. The interim government of the Republic of Texas stayed here briefly on March 22, 1836, while en route to establish the Republic's new capital at Harrisburg. The Texas army, 1100 men under the command of Sam Houston, stopped here about dusk on April 16, 1836, after turning southeast at Robert's crossroads earlier in the day. During their overnight stay they consumed most of Burnett's livestock and grains, and burned fence rails for fuel. The next morning the Texas army departed for Harrisburg. Four days later, on April 21, they routed the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, winning Texas independence from Mexico. Having fled the area in the episode known as the "Runaway Scrape" the Burnetts returned after learning of the victory at San Jacinto. In the late 1830s and 1840s their home became a prominent landmark and well-known tavern on the road to the city of Houston.

The Historical Marker is located in Telge Park, just east of Telge Rd. on Pleasant Grove St. in Cypress, TX. The park can be seen in the photo below.

Telge Park: Historical Marker seen in left center of photo.
Next Page Texas Army's Route from Cypress to San Jacinto, April 17 - April 21, 1836


  1. Great page, with useful text and pictures. Thanks for putting this together. I've read about the Texas Army route many times, am currently reading a Sam Houston bio, and have seen most of those markers and sites, but it was probably about 15 years ago. I'm currently tracking down in better details exactly where those those sites were. Keep up the good work!

  2. I am the 4th great granddaughter of Samuel and Celia McCarley. We just learned of this particular piece of our family's place in history a few years ago and have taken a few trips to see the historical marker where the original ranch was. I feel like I have to mention that the marker has one small incorrect fact, Celia McCarley only recieved $420 in compensation. We have a copy of the original Public Debt note. When Celia originally sent a letter to the Texas government asking for compensation, she recieved a letter back stating that the damages most likely were worth near $1000 dollars, but Texas was in its infancy and would repay her what it could. The letter was signed, Very Truly Your Friend, Sam Houston.