HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 23
done there, so they moved on and finally reached Matagorda Bay.
Here they halted to rest for awhile and it was here that they
had the time of their lives.
Their camp was about four miles from the gulf in a liveoak
grove and they rode out every day over the prairie and down
to the water front. A favorite excursion was far out on a peninsula
that extended obliquely into the gulf. Occasionally a Federal
gunboat would pass, always too far out to notice them, but
it made them feel better to know that there were enemies about
even if they were so far away.
One day the company concluded to have a big oyster roast out
on the peninsula. So early in the morning they rode out to
its end, where the grass was most plentiful, hobbled their horses,
returned to the oyster bed and began operations. The oysters
were on the bayside, so their backs were to the gulf and the
view in that direction was further obstructed by high grass and
shell banks. Some of them waded in the water and threw out
the oysters, while others built fires or dug trenches in which
to roast them. It was a hot and sultry day, and as they took
their time, it was fully 10 o'clock before the feast was ready.
A few black clouds had piled up in the west and thunder was
to be expected, but the clap that came fairly drove every thought
of oysters from their minds and nearly paralyzed them. It
struck about half way between them and the main land, and
pieces of it bounded off and went kicking up the water of the
bay every three or four hundred yards for over a mile. They
sprang up the bank as one man, and saw to their horror a
Federal gunboat about a mile off shore and realized that they
were about to receive their baptism of fire. Their first thought
was to make for their horses, but a glance in that direction told
them that the attempt was useless, for there before their eyes
was a boatful of bluecoats nearing shore rapidly. Their plight
was pitiful, for as every old soldier knows, bombshells frighten
an infantryman, the rattle of minie balls among the spokes of
his guns scares an artilleryman, while if you get a cavalryman
away from his horse any and everything scares him.
To say that they hesitated would be a gross exaggeration.
There was no hesitation. They faced the main land and fled,
their valorous captain fulfilling the promise he had made at their
organization by working far in the lead. The Federals behind
them had now landed, and being within long range, opened fire
with their muskets, while the gunboat sent a six or twelve-pound
shell over their heads every few minutes. Their pace was
fearful from the first, but it was sloth itself compared to the
move they got on themselves when they discovered another boat
loaded with marines trying to head them off. The peninsula
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed January 25, 2015.