Texas Almanac, 1859 Page: 44
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ficiently near to give us a hand-to-hand fight. But here we were again disappointed,
for the enemy were prudent enough not to approach within a quarter of a mile,
when they turned and retreated. Having thus failed in our purpose, we recrossed
the river about dark, and having recovered our horses with some difficulty, and
having lost most of our provisions, we mounted and returned towards the camp,
and reaching it, lo I we found it entirely deserted.
THE RETREAT FROM THE COLORADO.
We at once perceived that Houston had commenced his retreat. Before leaving
that morning, it was hinted to me that a retreat was contemplated, notwithstand-
ing the preparations apparently for a permanent encampment. I then, for the first
time, addressed Gen. Houston on the subject, who knew me as well as I did him.
He declared to me that the grass being all eaten up, and the horses starving, it was
important to get a new and better range, and that, as there was a fine spring and
plenty of grass six miles distant, he would only move to that place, and then camp.
-But Maj. Ben. F. Smitik who knew every thing that was transpiring, afterwards
took me one side, and laid with a wink: "We are going to San Felipe, just as
straight as the road will lead us-keep this to yourself."
Finding the army had left, we had nothing to do but to follow, and we did so as
well as we could in the night; but after marching till two o'clock, we found we had
missed the trail, and had gone out of our way some eight miles. Many of us de-
clared it was necessary to have a better leader, and that, if we could do no better,
we would elect some one better fitted to command. At near day-break we came
up with the army at the spring Gen. Houston had named to me. We begged our
breakfast of our messmates, but were not in the humor to boast of our exploits.
Ascertaining Hopston was determined on continuing the retreat, Co Burleson left
the army for the purpose of removing his family to a place of safety. Col. Sherman
was therefore ordered to put the army in marching order. The retreat was con-
tinued through this day, and at night we reached the place of Mr. S. M. Williams,
about two miles from San Felipe. Here we again camped, using up the fences of
Mr. Williams for fuel, as the timber was too far distant. As Houston had decided
oh marching up the river some twenty miles opposite CoL Groce's plantation, on
giving orders to that effect, Sherman found two companies refused to come into
line, and he sent a message to that effect to Houston, who had gone in advance
with his staff, when he immediately sent back Col. Hoekly with an order to Sher-
man to put the army in motion, saying, if subordinate commanders were going to
disobey orders, the sooner it was ascertained the better. One of the companies was
commanded by Capt. Moseley Baker, the other either by Willey Martin or Bird. The
army had not marched far, when Gen. Houston sent an order to Baker to defend
the crossing at San Felipe, and to Martin to defend that at Fort Bend. Sub-
sequently Baker set fire to San Felipe, and then took his position on the opposite
bank of the river, where he defended the crossing till he found the main army was
retreating, and then abandoned it. Baker afterwards asserted, that he burnt San
Felipe by order of Gen. Houston, but the latter denied it. The enemy afterwards
finding the crossing at San Felipe defended by Baker, diverged and went down to
Fort Bend, the crossing at which place Martin was unable to defend, and there
they crossed over.
CAMP AT GROCE'S FERRY-SAN FELIPE BURNT, ETC.
Our camp was pitched near a deep ravine, which had the appearance of having
once been the bed of the river, and which miserable hole was our hiding-place for
about two weeks. San Felipe, having thus been left to its fate by our army, its
merchants and other inhabitants finally abandoned it, after the buildings were set
on fire, and burnt to the ground. In relation to the burning of San Felipe, I may
here remark that on one occasion, in company with J. N. Moreland, I visited Gen.
Houston, whom we found lying in his tent. Turning towards us, he said: "More-
land, did you ever hear me give orders to burn the town of San Felipe ?" His re-
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Texas Almanac, 1859, book, 1859~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth123765/m1/45/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.