The Texas Almanac, for 1860, with Statistics, Historical and Biographical Sketches, &c., Relating to Texas. Page: 52
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b2 TEXAS ALMANAC.
surface of champaign country, and their families exposed to destruction by small
marauding parties of the enemy. But notwithstanding all this, a number of
them collected spontaneously at Gonzales, with a view, if found practicable, to
relieve the Alamo. We will here insert a portion of a manuscript by Major
W. L E. Heard, and signed by himself and Eli' Mercer, his neighbor and fellow-
soldier, both living, and as respectable planters as any in Texas. They have
never mingled in the political strifes of the country, and have none of the be-
guiling influences which too often beset aspirants for office or fame, to swerve
them from truth. Major Heard says:
"I arrived at Gonzales on 6th .March, 1836. Some four or five days after I
got there, Gen. Houston arrived. On the 13th, Mrs. Dickinson and a negro boy
belonging to Col. Travis, arrived in camp, bringing the first reliable informa-
tion of the fall of the Alamo. On the night of the 13th, about the time the
men were preparing their night's repast, Gen. Houston came down and ordered
the horses to be got up, and the fires put out; after which, such a scramble and
confusion commenced as I had never witnessed. About ten o'clock at night we
were ordered to move, by whom I do not recollect; but I do remember that
Gen. Houston was in the front ranks. As to guards, we had none; there
was no order or regularity in the retreat from there to Peach Creek, 10 miles
east. The town of Gonzales was burnt ;' by whose order I do not know, but
believe it was by Gen. Houston's, for the reason that it was generally talked of
and believed so to be in camp. Captain Bird Lockhart, who arrived in Gon-
zales on the morning of the 14th, when it was on fire, told me that the men
who were setting fire to the houses said they were left there by Gen. Houston,
to burn the town and gather up the horses. Some of the women and children
had started before we did; some started with us, and we left others, crying and
screaming in the town. Some we passed on the road that night between Gon-
zales and Peach Creek.
(Signed) W. L. E. HEARD,
In a later communication, Major Heard says:
"I never heard one word about poisoned.liquor of any kind, (at Gonzales.) A
loud report was heard at Peach Creek about day-break. Some thought it was
Mexican cannon; some that it was an explosion of a whiskey-barrel, and some
persons from the town said it was a keg of powder."
The "poisoied" liquor is most likely a figment, devised for the purpose of
giving the retiring Senator an opportunity to express the horror his amiable
sensibilities would have felt had it been a fact.
The retreat from Gonzales was so hurried, that the picket-guard was left at
its post without notice or order to withdraw. Two small pieces of artillery
were thrown into the river Guadalupe.
We may have occasion to refer to this MS. again. Major Heard estimated the
forces at Gonzales over 400 men; and says they all had their rifles, with abun-
dant ammunition, and there was no want of provisions. After the arrival of Gen.
Houston, the brave Burleson was elected Colonel, and Sherman Lieutenant-
Colonel. The volunteers were not without such "organization " as had achieved
the most brilliant victories of Texas. Never did citizen soldiery take up arms
in defense of " wives, children, and friends," with a firmer resolve to perfect their
The retreat from Gonzales was inevitable, 'an absolute necessity. The
grand error had consisted in choosing two feeble, isolated positions, Goliad and
San Antonio, as the bases of defensive operations. It required but a superficial
acquaintance with the topography of Western Texas and an ordinary coup
d' ceil to discover the unfitness of these miserable forts in an open prairie region,
as barriers to the invader; and it was especially unwise to order the demolition
of the one, and retain the other; thus reducing the defenses to one feeble poiiit
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The Galveston News. The Texas Almanac, for 1860, with Statistics, Historical and Biographical Sketches, &c., Relating to Texas., book, 1860~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth123766/m1/54/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.