Aeruica Powder's Part in Winilg
M. L. CRIMMINS
N searching for the secret of the success of the untrained army
of Texas in the Texan War for Independence, the writer
found a clue in the superiority in the fire powder of the
Americans recorded in a rare book, A Visit to Texas.1
In the Battle of Conception on October 28, 1835, there were
ninety-one Texans against four hundred Mexican cavalrymen.
The Texan force at Conception consisted of American volunteers
that had been successful at the Battle of Gonzales on October 2,
1835, and, in addition, Texas settlers that joined the volunteers
while en route to San Antonio de Bexar. The best evidence that
the members of the Texan volunteer force were not equipped as
soldiers was their eagerness to obtain soldier equipment.
When the Battle of Conception was over, the Texans reported
sixty of the enemy killed and forty wounded with a loss of but
one on the American-Texan side. That meant the Mexican loss
was about 25 per cent balanced against an American loss of 1
per cent.2 The Texas traveler reports:
We looked upon their cartridges as the greatest prize, and eagerly
seized their cartridge-boxes. But on examining the powder, we found
it little better than pounded charcoal, and, after a trial, rejected it as
altogether useless. It was by far the poorest powder I ever saw, and
burnt so badly that we could clearly account for the inefficacy of the
enemy's fire. Compared with the double Dupont, with which we had
been furnished, it was evident that we had vastly the advantage over
our enemy in this particular. We therefore emptied all the cartridges,
and saved only the bullets.3
They held our rifles in such dread, that they would fly when out-
numbering us seven or eight to one. We often knew of their suffering
1A Visit to Texas: Being the Journal of a Traveller through Those Parts Most
Interesting to American Settlers (2nd ed.; New York, Van Nostrand and Dwight,
sJames Bowie and J. W. Fannin's report to General Stephen F. Austin in Frank
W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (Eugene C. Barker and Ernest William
Winkler, eds.; 5 vols.; Chicago, 1914-1916), I, 280.
sA Visit to Texas, 250.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/. Accessed April 21, 2015.