Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 75 of 894
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INDIAN IVWAS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
But it was soon suspected that Mexicans were
among them, and when it became known that the
whole population west of the Trinity must flee to
the east of that stream, if not to and across the
Sabine, perhaps two or three thousand men
fathers and sons
were deterred from joining
Gen. Houston's little band of three hundred at
Gonzales, in its retreat, from March 13th to April
20th, to the plains of San Jacinto. It was a fearful
moment. Being appealed to, on the ground
that these were United States Indians, Gen.
Edmund P. Gaines, the commander at Fort Jessup,
near Natchitoches, Louisiana, encamped a regiment
of dragoons on the east bank of the Sabine, which
was readily understood by the Indians to mean that
if they murdered a single Texian family, these
dragoons would cross that river and be hurled upon
them. This had the desired effect.
Again, in the early summer of 1836, when a
second and much more formidable invasion of
Texas seemed imminent, it became known that
Mexican emissaries were again among these Indians,
and great apprehensions were felt of their
rising in arms as the Mexicans advanced. Presi(lent
David G. Burnet, on the 28th of June, at the
suggestion of Stephen F. Austin, who had arrived
at Velasco on the 26th from the United States,
addressed a letter to Gen. Gaines, asking him for
the time being, to station a force at Nacogdoches,
to overawe the Indians. Austin also wrote him of
the emergency. That noble and humane old soldier
and patriot assumed the responsibility and dispatched
Col. Whistler with a regiment of dragoons
to take post at Nacogdoches. This had the desired
effect on the Indians. The Mexican invasion did
not occur, and the crisis passed.
But the seeds of suspicion and discord between
the whites and Indians still existed. Isolated murders
and lesser outrages began to show themselves
soon afterwards. The Pearce family, the numerous
family of the Killoughs and numerous others
were ruthlessly murdered.
Gen. Houston, who had great influence with the
Cherokees, interposed his potential voice to allay
the excitement and preserve the peace. In -,
1838, Vicente Cordova headed an insurrection
of the Mexicans of Nacogdoches and took
position in the Cherokee country,
more or less by that tribe, and joined by a few of
them, greatly incensed the whites against them.
In November, 1838, Gen. Rusk fought and
defeated a strong force of Kickapoo and other
Indians. Gen. Houston retired from his first
presidential term in December, and was succeeded
by Gen. Mirabeau B. Lamar, who was in deep
sympathy with the people, and liad probably
brought with him from Georgia a measure of
prejudice against those who had fought and slain
his kindred and fellow-citizens in that State.
President Lamar resolved on the removal of
these people from the heart of East Texas, and
their return to their kindred west of Arkansas
force if necessary. He desired to pay them for
their improvements and other losses. He appointed
Vice-president David G. Burnet, Gen.
Albert Sidney Johnston, Secretary of War, Hugh
McLeod, Adjutant-general, and Gen. Thomas J.
Rusk to meet and treat with them for their peaceful
removal; but if that failed then they were to be
expelled by force. To be prepared for the latter
contingency, he ordered Col. Edward Burleson,
then in command of the regular army, to march
from Austin to the appointed rendezvous in the
Cherokee country, with two companies of regulars
and the volunteer companies of Capts. James
Ownsby and Mark B. Lewis, about two hundred
strong, an(l commanded by Maj. William J.
Jones, still living at Virginia Point, opposite Galveston.
On the ground they found the commissioners
and about the same time Gen. Kelsey
H. Douglas arrived with several hundred East
Texas militia and took chief command. Burleson
took with him also Capt. Placido, with forty
After three days' negotiation terms were verbally
agreed upon. The Indians were to leave the
country for a consideration. The second (lay following
was fixed for signing the treaty. But the
Indians did not appear. The rendezvous was
ten miles from their settlements. Scouts sent out
returned reporting the Indians in force moving off.
It turned out that Bowles, the principal chief, had
been finessing for time to assemble all his warriors
and surprise the whites by a superior force. His
reinforcements not arriving in time, he had begun
falling back to meet them. Col. Burleson was
ordered to lead the pursuit. He pressed forward
rapidly and late in the afternoon (it being July
16th, 1839), came up with them and had a severe
engagement, partly in a small prairie and partly in
heavy timber, into which Burleson drove them,
when night came on and our troops encamped. I
now quote from the narrative of Maj. Wm. J.
Jones, who was under Burleson in the first as well
as the last engagement on the 17th of July. He
"It soon became apparent that the reinforcements
looked for by Bowles had not reached him
and that he was falling back to meet them. This
he succeeded in accomplishing next morning (the
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/75/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .