Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986 Page: 20
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Washington, which today is known as Morgan's
Point. When Morgan came to Texas
about 1830, the place still belonged to Mexico
and slavery was prohibited. Morgan was a
sneaky guy. He simply freed his 16 slaves and
bound them over as indentured servants for 99
years, setting the tradition of end runs around
the law that we adhere to 'til this day.
When Santa Anna came through New Washington
a few days before, he was feeling lonesome.
On every previous war outing, he had
always left his frumpy wife back in Mexico
City, and had lived off the land, so to speak.
During the siege of the Alamo, the Napoleon
of the West had discovered a 17 year old San
Antonio beauty named Melchora Iniega Barrera,
and he tried to seduce her.
But her mother had different ideas. She
wouldn't put up with that, even from El Presidente.
So Santa Anna discovered a sergeant
in his army who was a former actor who spoke
Latin. The sergeant became a temporary
priest, performed the marriage (which made
Mamma happy), and the two lived happily
ever after, or until the Guadalupe River in
The river was so high that the Generals carriage
couldn't get across, forcing it and his new
wife back to Mexico City to await his triumphant
return. Thus, when Santa Anna hit
Morgan's plantation some time later it was love
at first sight-on his part. Just to keep peace on
the old plantation, the General stole Emily,
looted the place and then burned it to the
About 3:30 on the afternoon of April 21,
Sam Houston mustered his forces and began
walking up the slope from where the U.S.S.
Texas is today, up to where the monument is.
The general said later that when the Texans
hit camp, he had been asleep "from fatigue
and long vigils," and that the "din and fire of
battle awoke me. I immediately became aware
of the attack and great disorder prevailed."
Others disagreed with Santa Anna's version,
noting that not all the action was outside the
tent. An English ethologist named William
Bollaert later interviewed both William Morgan
and Emily and wrote: "The battle of San
Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans
owing to the influence of a Mulatto (Emily)
belonging to Colonel Morgan, who was closeted
in the tent with General Santana (sic) at
the time the cry was made, 'The enemy! They
come! They come!', and detained Santana for
so long that order could not be restored readily
again." In any event, Santa Anna was slightly
out of uniform for the battle, wearing only his
drawers and red slippers.
The late Martha Ann Turner, who has written
extensively on Texas, wrote, "Whether or not
the Mulatto girl wittingly detained Santa
Anna she had little choice she deserves to
be elevated tp her rightful place as a heroine
of Texas history."
And, in a way, she has, because a song began
to spring up about "Emily, The Maid of Morgan's
Point." There are several versions, one of
which is in a yellowed mysterious letter to one
"E.A. Jones" from "H.B.C." Not a letter, exactly,
it was a poem, which begins:
"There's a yellow rose in Texas
That I am going to see
No other darky knows her
No one only me. .."
Another one of my heroes is Dr. Ashbel
Ashbel Smith had never gotten his due in
Texas, but that is probably just as well. He was
quiet, a loner. Ashbel Smith was a graduate of
Yale University at 19 as a Phi Beta Kappa, and
a graduate of Yale Medical School. He was
Texas' Renaissance man. He had gone to Paris
on October 12, 1831 to continue his study of
medicine. During an outbreak of Asiatic cholera
there in spring of 1832, Smith worked at
Neckar Hospital. He was a life-long bachelor,
a cultivated man, spending his free time in
Paris with all the big names of that time:
Samuel F. B. Morse, who was in Paris to study
art; the Marquis de Lafayette, and James
Smith came to Texas in 1837 and, being one
of the few doctors here at the time, was soon
named surgeon-general of the Texas Army. He
got his first taste of diplomacy engineering a
treaty with the Comanche, and later negotiated
a treaty with Mexico that so impressed
the public that he was twice hanged in effigy.
In the Civil War, Smith became a colonel in
the 2nd Texas Infantry even though he was
from Connecticut, and wound up a brevet
brigadier general defending Galveston.
He was a legislator, President of the Board of
Trustees of Texas Medical College (which
later became the University of Texas Medical
School in Galveston) and, more than anyone
else, created the University of Texas, which he
ran as chairman of the board of regents.
Smith diligently tried to create the University
of Texas and searched for the top professors.
He did all of these things; he did everything.
He was a general, a scholar, a diplomat, an
educator, but his chief claim to fame and
power was that, above all, he was Sam Houston's
drinking buddy. After one all-night binge
here in Houston, not but a block or two from
where we are right now, the President passed
out in a chair while the surgeon general of the
army sprawled on the Cabinet's conference
table. Houston awoke in the middle of the
night with a monumental hangover, but he
was unable to rouse the doctor for any aid.
There are so many things to remember about
Smith that I don't know what to zero in on,
but the thing I always liked was that he was
our man in Europe. Texas was so poor we
could only afford one person to go to Europe
to represent Texas in all capitals, and we
rarely paid him. He was recalled to service by
Sam Houston to represent the new Republic
of Texas in Europe. Houston had chosen well
since Smith knew Paris well. And Smith
spoke fluent French. (In 1881, Smith gave the
commencement address at the Texas Medical
College and Hospital in Galveston and, for
the hell of it, spoke completely in Latin. Nobody
had the foggiest idea what he was talking
He had a plantation here in Harris County. He
was out walking one night and was bitten on
the foot by a rattlesnake, for which he refused
treatment. He simply sat there in his home
and kept a minute by minute diary of the bite
and its effects. He nearly died. Smith never
married but seemed to have a great number of
affairs, and did have what he called "a child
of passion" while teaching school in North
He also knew London from his student days so
when he was dispatched by President Houston
to represent Texas, he immediately fit in with
his working community of London and Paris.
He needed all the advantages he could get to
do this job. He shortly got into the social and
political whirl in these cities, attended a review
of the troops at Buckingham Palace and
noted that the Duke of Wellington reminded
him of Sam Houston.
He also learned some bad news. He wrote:
"Texas has numerous active enemies here.
Everything American is here regarded with
He got an appointment with the British Foreign
Secretary, Lord Aberdeen, and brought
up the fact that Britain was building two war
ships in its naval yards for Mexico, obviously
to be used against his fellow Texans. Aberdeen
replied that Texas was free to order warships,
too. Eventually, the two ships went to
Mexico, there to be commanded by British
officers who had resigned their commissions in
the Royal Navy to fight in Mexico. In May of
1843 both ships took on the Texas Navy, both
were badly mauled and taken out of service.
Smith had a hard time getting any respect for
the new Republic, and kept getting put off by
the foreign secretary. On June 23 he wrote,
"No reply from Lord Aberdeen. The conduct
of England towards Texas is very ungracious.
To be remembered."
SPRING 86 * HERITAGE
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986, periodical, March 1, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45441/m1/20/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.