Notes and Documents
Americans, were massacred by the Mexicans, and, round about it, at
some distance, were a number of missions designed for the Christian-
ization of the Indians, all ruined and decayed except that of San
Jose, which was occupied by Mexicans, but moribund. ...
In 1851, San Antonio was a mere villages of adobe huts and
American buildings of very cheap grade; with two plazas--one mili-
tary, and the other civil, with a Mexican cathedral on the latter;
a beautiful stream (of the same name as the village) which, like
Venus from the sea, sprung full-blown from the earth a few miles
above the city, through which it meandered before hastening to the
Nueces River,14 and thence to the Gulf.
The Commanding General of the Department,l preferring Corpus
Christi, on the sea for headquarters,'? we, after residing in San
Antonio for eighteen months, again took ambulance, and travelled
through a wilderness more complete than that from Indianola to
San Antonio, seeing fewer signs of life except an occasional deer,
a wild turkey or a covey of partridges.
In time, Corpus Christi was reached, but, except for its hunting
and fishing, it had nothing to recommend it except its extreme
beauty of position: and, although sixty years have passed since I
crossed, in a sloop, the seething and raging waters of its bay, on my
return to Virginia, I yet see its whole surroundings as vividly as
if it were yesterday. The situation was a moderate bluff, on which
were the few residences, while the business portion was on the bay.
To the South, the bluff, at a distance, closed in upon the bay in a
sweeping curve, finally hugging the bay close, and covered with
dense chaparral or jungle, while, to the North, the bluff receded
IsIn 1850, San Antonio had a population of 5,488. United States Census Office,
The Seventh Census of the United States: x85o.
14Blair is mistaken, of course, about the San Antonio River emptying into the
Nueces River. It joins instead the Guadalupe River shortly before that stream
empties into San Antonio Bay.
15At that time, the commanding general of the Eighth Military Department was
Major General Persifor Smith. A native of Pennsylvania, Smith had been
commissioned a colonel of Louisiana Volunteers in 1836. During the Mexican
War he was breveted brigadier general for gallantry at Monterrey, and major
general for display of the same courage at Contreras and Churubusco. He died
on May 17, 1858. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States
Army, I, gos.
16Headquarters of the Eighth Department of the United States Army were moved
from San Antonio to Corpus Christi in 1852, where they remained until 1855,
when they were returned to San Antonio. Charles P. Roland and Richard C.
Robbins (eds.), "The Diary of Eliza (Mrs. Albert Sidney) Johnston," Southwestern
Historical Quarterly, LX, 494n. Apparently the only reason for the move was the
belief of Major General Persifor F. Smith, departmental commander, that his
ailing health would be benefitted by the sea air. M. L. Crimmins (ed.), "W. G.
Freeman's Report on the Eighth Military Department," Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, LI, 167.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed April 25, 2014.