The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

In Act IV there is dual preparation for Texas defense and coun-
ter offensive. President Houston walked a tightrope encouraging
western counties enough to prevent outright rebellion and to
keep Mexico alert, while at the same time failing to commit Texas
to total war. Alexander Somervell commanded the volunteers and
militiamen who took a month to assemble at San Antonio before
intrigue, disorder, and boredom caused many of the sturdier and
more reliable to return home. Reduced to rags and almost to
starvation, the Southwestern Army of Operations suffered further
desertions before it had to cope with flooded streams and the Atas-
cosa bogs on its way to Laredo. The description of that march has
excellent continuity and vivid writing. The most disgraceful epi-
sode depicted is the plunder of Laredo. Then came the necessity for
Somervell's choice between the odium of returning home before
ever engaging the Mexicans or the potential disaster of advance
without subsistence or mounts. He had the men decide; a third
of them turned home; two thirds crossed the Rio Grande and
captured Guerrero before Somervell, on December 19, ordered
the end of the expedition. Three hundred and five officers and
men chose to enter Mexico on a private war of their own. The
offensive operation had failed; fatigue, bitter cold, and hunger
beset the Somervell march home. Those who marched south were
to know worse. Old movie serials were wont to stop at the peak
moment of peril and suspense. The third book of this serial will
pick up the drama on the outskirts of Mier.
The Nance study is a bibliographic contribution in its use of
seldom explored Mexican materials and relatively untapped man-
uscript sources such as the papers of John Henry Brown and the
Somervell Record Book of General and Special Orders. The index
will always be indispensable to anyone seeking biographical ma-
terial on the men of the Republic of Texas.
LLERENA FRIEND
University of Texas
The San Sabd Mission: Spanish Pivot in Texas. By Robert S.
Weddle. Austin (University of Texas Press), 1964. Pp. xiii+
238. Maps, bibliography, index. $5.00.
A group of Spaniards, led by a determined priest and an appre-
hensive soldier, arrived on the banks of the San Saba River near

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/. Accessed December 26, 2014.