Southwestern Historical Quarterly
March 5, 1842, and demanded the surrender of the town. A vote
was taken among the few defenders26 who decided to abandon the
town as soon as possible. The so-called "runaway of 1842" was
consummated that evening and General Visquez moved into San
Antonio. Mexican forces had simultaneously taken Refugio and
Goliad. The Mexican forces showed no intention of occupying
the territory. They stayed for only two days, retreating across
the Rio Grande before any organized action could be brought
The Texan reaction to this invasion was immediate and in
many cases frantic. President Houston was at Galveston when
the news of the invasion reached him. He issued a general call to
arms on March o. A series of orders to the army placed Gen-
eral Alexander Somervell in command and ordered him immedi-
ately to San Antonio where an irregular force of 250 men under
General Edward Burleson, the vice president, had arrived on
March 15.27 In his orders to Somervell, it is obvious that Houston
believed that a real invasion of the type of 1835-1836 had begun.
The admonition "unless you can be assured that you can beat
the enemy-fall back" is reminiscent of pre-San Jacinto days.28
While the disposition and true size of the enemy force were still
unknown, Houston continued to be perturbed. By March 14, how-
ever, he had concluded that the Texas forces outnumbered the
Vasquez force by three to one. The real danger was not in that
small force, but in the one which Mexico might send to follow up
the initial success. As if to confirm these fears, Houston received
word on March 16, from George Van Ness, one of the erstwhile
Santa F6 prisoners, that Mexico was making strenuous prepara-
tions for invasion.29
President Houston's position seemed to be clear. His task was
to organize the army and put it in a position where it could meet
any expected invading force. On the other hand, he had to re-
26The number of combatants is always hard to arrive at, but in this case numer-
ous secondary works more or less agree that their numbers were less than one
27Yoakum, History of Texas, II, 351.
28Houston to Somervell, March lo, 1842, in Williams and Barker (eds.), Writings
of Houston, II, 492.
29Houston to Somervell, March 16, 1842, ibid., 505.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed July 2, 2015.