The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

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Southwestern Historical Quarterly

described at La Bahia. [Perhaps I was sleeping.] I never saw but the
one general battle within the town and that was about the middle of
February; and the enemy abandoned their quarters and retreated for
San Antonio the night following. The Americans remained there
about one month afterwards, awaiting the return of their scouts ex-
presses, etc. There was a succession of skirmishes for two months; in
some of which the enemy's cavalry approached into the suburbs of the
town. And the battle of the "white cow," was nothing more than one
of them."
There were two long nine or twelve pound cannon inside the fort,
said to have been left on the coast by the French in their voyages of
discovery, and which had been exposed to the earth and the elements
for more than a hundred years; and, were half eaten up with rust.
The fates seemed to preclude any augmentation of the American
force. The reports taken back from La Bahia by Capts. Scott and
Davenport and the deserters, turned back, all adventurers on the
road during the months of December and January. And Bernardo's
express from San Antonio about the first of April and Ross's deser-
tion in June, turned back most of those on the way out.
The few stragglers that ventured on, did not fill up the vacancies
Davenport told Shaler that the republicans had four field pieces, three or four
pounders. Villars also says that Young handled the artillery in the Battle of Alazan.
Information derived from John Villars, in Gulick and others, Lamar Papers, VI,
146-147, 152; Davenport to Shaler, included with Shaler to Monroe, December 25,
1812, Shaler Papers. In August, 1812, Dr. Sibley reported that the expedition had
three small cannon and in July, 1813, he reports that he heard from Dr. Forsythe
that the expedition had sixteen cannon. Sibley to Eustis, August 5, 1812, Garrett,
"Sibley Letters," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLIX, 413, 430.
170This seems to resolve itself down to a matter of definition. What is a battle
and what is a skirmish? Speaking of the Battle of the White Cow, Villars says that
four or five Americans went out to kill a stray cow and got close enough to the
mission to come under heavy fire. One hundred and fifty Americans (nearly half
the total force), sallied out to their rescue. Salcedo ordered out his entire force
and advanced into town. The fighting lasted from 2:oo P.M. to 7:00oo or 8:oo P.M.,
when both sides retired. As a result of this battle, Gutierrez ordered the razing
of the jacals around the fort, leaving only one stone house which was fortified and
equipped with a cannon. Hall states that the Americans were commanded by Captain
Joseph Taylor, that the action took place on the opposite side of the river, that it
lasted until dark, that one American, a slave belonging to Captain Taylor, was
killed, and three were wounded. Information derived from John Villars, in Gulick
and others, Lamar Papers, VI, 149; Hall. The Mexican War of Independence in
Texas, 1812-13, ibid., IV, Pt. 1, 279.
It is certain that garrison life, prior to the death of Magee was not as peaceful
as one might gather from McLane, for there are many reports of skirmishes and
battles during this time. The essential difference seems to have been that, during
Magee's illness, the initiative lay with the Spaniards and American operations
were haphazard. When Kemper took over, the Americans started a definite pro-
gram of wearing down the enemy. Though none of the writers mention it, this
program also provided training and taught the sine qua non of military operations
-cooperation.

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 May 28, 2015.