In September of 1841, Texas again elected a new President, an old friend, Irishman Sam Houston. One of his first visitors after he took office was from the Reverend Michael Muldoon. They met several times and talked at length. What was said is not known, nor the purpose of Muldoon's visit. The only record of his visit is a letter to Father Muldoon from Anson Jones, Houston's new Secretary of State which stated:
I embrace the occasion of your departure from this city to do myself the pleasure of expressing
my very friendly regard for you personally and my individual appreciation for the many
manifestations you have evinced of your kindness toward Texas and her citizens on
different distinguished occasions. In these sentiments I am also happy to assure you His
Excellency, the President of the Republic, unites with me in sincere wishes for your
future welfare, prosperity, and happiness.
Father Michael Muldoon sold his land in 1836 to Stephen F. Austin. He is never heard from again, he thus leaves Texas and Texas history. Nothing is known of what happened to him after he left Texas. Texas remembers him in three places: in its history books; in Hostyn, Texas where there is an historical marker erected about him, not by the state but by interested citizens; and by a town named for him. Muldoon, Texas is a small community near La Grange.
Houston inherited a lot of problems started by Lamar. By far the worst was the Santa Fe Expedition and its aftermath. The Mexicans were united by the Texan action, and moved to teach Texas a lesson; and at the same time send a message to the United States and the international community. They wanted all to know they still claimed Texas as part of their sovereign state. The Mexicans also wanted to show the world the Texans were not in control of their claimed boundary. Mexico wanted the United States and other interested parties to question the stability of the Republic. By discouraging support of Texas, and by reminding the United States and other treaty nations of the Onis Treaty provisions of 1819 in which the United States agreed to abandon all claims to Texas forever, Mexico hoped to buy enough time to allow it to regroup and take back Texas.
In 1841-42, word of an imminent invasion from Mexico began to spread. Among those with information was Wilson I. Riddle, an Irish born merchant, who passed what information he knew onto Texas officials. Irishman, Henry L. Kinney, of Corpus Christi captured three Mexican spies and learned an invasion was to take place in March. He sent a special courier with this information to President Sam Houston. San Antonio appeared to be the target. John Coffee Hays, the Captain of Rangers in San Antonio, who was also appointed by Houston to be Chief Justice of Victoria County, was organizing the information. As more and more information came in about a Mexican Army on the march, Hays established martial law and began to plan the defense of San Antonio. James Dunn and another scout were sent to recon the Rio Grande. They were captured at the Nueces River by General Bravo. Word was sent to Gonzales for reinforcements. Andrew Neill of Sequin, hearing of the call, sent a company of men. Others from surrounding communities came into San Antonio. On March 4th a meeting and election of officers was held. Hays was elected commander and Neill quartermaster. Neill obtained supplies from Irish merchants Riddle, William Elliot, Bryan Callaghan, William Patton and others for the impending clash. There were four companies of men, two had Irish Commanders; Captain William Patton and James H. Callaghan. The four companies together comprised about 107 men. Other scouts had been sent out including Ben McCulloch, none had returned.
When a large body of scouts, that included Isaac Mitchell and Stewart Foley, was sent out, it was learned there were Mexican troops at the Medina, and that Goliad was in Mexican hands. The Mexican force was estimated to be 700. The next day the Mexicans sent word to the same group of scouts, under a flag of truce, that General Rafael Vasquez demanded the surrender of San Antonio. On the 5th, the Mexicans were two miles from San Antonio. Though it ran against the grain of Jack Hays and the Texans to leave the city, especially on the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, that is what they did. Men were coming in from all over Texas, and Hays wanted to organize them before taking any action. Two men were sent to the Mexican camp to inform the general of the Texan withdrawal from the town. Of the three men known to have stayed in San Antonio, two of them were Irish. John McRhea and John McDonald were last seen sitting upon the walls of the Alamo. Another Irishman, John Twohig, a merchant like the others, elected to leave but attached a slow burning, jury-rigged fuse to kegs of powder left in his warehouse. The Mexicans soon poured into the town and began to loot the various warehouses as well as homes and stores. Not long after, the Twohig kegs exploded killing more than a few looters.
It had been a smaller force under Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Valera that had taken Goliad. Still smaller units, patrols, took other objectives. One of these led by Captain Miguel Aznar with 42 men moved successfully on to Refugio. Captain José Manuel Gonzales led a unit from the west. A patrol under Sergeant Eulalio Palacios killed four men from San Patricio including Colonel Neill Carnes and captured six others. The Mexicans did not act on their advantage.
Vasquez, and his units, posted in the areas they controlled a proclamation by General Mariano Arista telling Texans how futile their attempt at independence was. On the 9th, Vasquez and his other units began to move back to Mexico.
Hays and his men were frustrated. After they pulled back from San Antonio to gather and marshal Texan forces, they started to plan strategy for an attack. Vasquez was gone before the Texans could mount an offensive. The Mexican action was more a raid or a probe than an invasion.
Meanwhile, rumor and alarm spread through and beyond Texas. Mixed with the fact that San Antonio, Refugio, and Goliad were taken, were exaggerations of the Mexicans plans, the size of the invading force, and stories of Mexican ships at sea ready to land additional forces at various Texas coastal locations.
Added to all this were increasing reports that the captured members of the Santa Fe Expedition were being badly treated in the prison. There were reports that many of the prisoners had died in Mexico. At the same time it was known Houston was attempting to negotiate their release, but the Mexicans kept stalling the process. So incensed were the Texans, that a bill was passed by the Texas Congress annexing the Mexican states of: New Mexico, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Durango, Sinola and the Californias. This would have made Texas larger than the United States was at the time. Houston vetoed the bill on the grounds it would only add to Texas' problems with the international community and further delay any possibility of annexation by the United States.
Units were organized for the defense of principle towns. Ships were fitted and loaded for war. A large group of volunteers from within and without Texas began to flow toward San Antonio to resist the invader. The people and volunteer army wanted to strike back. Houston ordered a blockade of Mexican ports to hinder transporting troops and supplies and appointed Brigadier General Alexander Somervell to take command of troops being assembled to repel the invader.
On March 12, after it was apparent that there was nothing coming behind the Vasquez raid, the Secretary of War, George Hockley, ordered all troops disbanded. He ordered them to return to their homes except a small force to be kept on the frontier to preserve order and to provide reconnaissance. Houston ordered Somervell to conform to the standdown order. The only exception would be if Somervell needed to defend Texas against an attacking force. Even then Houston went on to warn Somervell if such a defense was successful, he should not heed those who would want to push on to and across the Rio Grande. Let them remember the fate of Johnson and Grant he wrote.
As no action was forthcoming, many of the volunteers began to melt away. By the last part of April, only Captain Jack Hays with a small company of Rangers were on the south Rio Grande. There was another, smaller company called the Fannin County Guards on the northwest frontier. Houston on April 20th augmented the border military by appointing Captain Ephraim W. McLean to raise a company to observe the enemy while preparations were made for an impending campaign. Houston yielded to public pressure and considered a plan to attack Mexico. Two plans were being considered; to attack Matamoros, or to attack the Rio Grande towns of; Guerrero, Mier, Carmago, and Reynosa. Texans began to gather at different locations in anticipation of a campaign.
On July 6th, a Mexican force of 700 men made a surprise attack on the Texan forces grouped at Fort Lipantitlan. The Mexicans were led by Colonel Antonio Canales and a Colonel Montero. There were about 253 Texans at Lipantitlan, or more correctly 253 men ready to fight for Texas. The men were from New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis, Mississippi as well as Texas. The Mexicans had a field piece deployed to rake the Texans. A Texan by the name of Ferguson killed the commander of the artillery piece and rendered it useless. When the battle was over about 50 Mexicans were killed or wounded and one Texas slightly wounded. The Mexicans withdrew to Carmargo. James Davis and Captain Ewen Cameron provided the leadership in this battle, sometimes called the Battle of the Nueces. Canales would not forget their names.
On July 18, the Texas legislature passed a bill authorizing and requiring Houston to form an Army for an offensive war against Mexico. Houston vetoed the bill pointing out it had no proviso for length of service nor any financial support for equipping an Army. Andrew Jackson wrote Houston a letter supporting his action and advising Houston to continue a defensive posture with regard to Mexico.
In 1842 the Mexican Navy was being rebuilt. Mexico purchased two new schooners, the Libertad and the Aquila from an American shipyard, Brown and Bell of New York City. Two, side wheeler ironclad steamers, were also purchased from an English shipyard. These ships were called the Guadalupe and the Moctezuma.
The Texas Navy still operating under orders from the Lamar administration, proceeded to take several prizes off the Mexican coast. Moore was still coordinating with Admiral James D. Boylan of the Yucatánean Navy and thus still collecting $8,000 a month for Texas for this cooperation.
In August, 1842, three events changed Houston's position from defensive to offensive:
1. A recon by some Texans at the Aubry-Kinny trading post found nothing, but while they were there 25 Mexican scout troops appeared. The Texans killed two of them. The Mexicans were probing.
2. Towards the end of the month, Colonel Hugh McLeod and 182 prisoners of the Santa Fe Expedition arrived in Galveston aboard a Mexican brig. Texas, the United States, England and other countries had successfully pressured the Mexican government to release the captives. The stories these men told inflamed their listeners.
3. Thirdly, word was again filtering through Texas of a large Mexican force that was to attack Texas. Irishmen Bigfoot Wallace and Jack Hays were among the Texans to report information gathered from spies and captured Mexicans.
On September 10, 1842, Jack Hays and a scouting party of five men left San Antonio to verify reports of a Mexican army approaching the town. They found nothing, but when they returned they found the army of General Adrian Woll had surrounded the city.
Woll was a Frenchmen who had fought with Napoleon. He was the officer Filisola sent after San Jacinto, under a flag of truce, to visit and check on the Mexican prisoners. Woll's orders in 1842 were to take San Antonio, scout the Guadalupe River down to the Gonzales River and withdraw. Woll had about 850 soldiers in his command.
General Adrian Woll.................................>
All but eight of the Texans, that were not Tejanos, in the town (about 75) were captured. The District Court was in session when the Mexicans took the city, so they were able to capture more Texans than usually would have been in San Antonio. Judge Andrew Neill was trying the case. Irishmen Wilson I. Riddle and Francis McKay had the bad luck to arrive in San Antonio just as the Texans surrendered. They were released as were two Irish merchants, Bryan Callaghan and Joseph McClelland. Among the Celts held prisoners were James W. Robinson, the former Lieutenant Governor, Andrew Neill, W. H. O'Phelan, J. R. Cunningham, and Fitz Fitzgerald. The last two returned only recently from among the Santa Fe prisoners released in Galveston. In the quick takeover of the town on the dawn of the 11th, one Mexican was killed and 23 wounded. No Texans were killed, two were wounded. Among Woll's officers were disaffected Tejanos; José Mariá Carrasco of Victoria, Juan Sequin of San Antonio, Vincente Cordova of Nacogdoches, Antonio Perez and Leandro Arriola of San Antonio.
Hays estimated the Mexicans strength grew to 1400, while they were in San Antonio. Also scouting for Texas was Samuel McCulloch, the first Texan shot in the Texas Revolution. A free slave, McCulloch was exempted in an act in 1840 calling for all blacks to leave Texas. McCulloch also was at the Battle of Plum Creek in 1840.
Colonel Mathew Caldwell of Gonzales, who commanded the advanced party of the Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, was now a Colonel of Rangers at Gonzales. The Ranger Company at Gonzales was made up of many Celts. All the officers were Celts; with Caldwell as commander, James Campbell as First Lieutenant, and Canah Colley as Second Lieutenant. Men gathered at Gonzales and Victoria and Sequin. Caldwell was the leader of the group that moved from Gonzales to Sequin and became the leader of all Texans there. Captain A. C. Horton raised a company at Matagorda. Colonel Clark Owen was gathering men at Victoria.
On the 12th, Woll sent Colonel Juan Sequin at the head of 150 calvary to reconnoiter toward Gonzales at the Cibolo River. Sequin divided his force sending a smaller group down the creek. One of these parties came upon Texans; John McDonald, John McRhea and Doctor Lancelot Smithers while they were bathing at Sulphur Springs and killed them.
Caldwell moved toward San Antonio camping at the Cibolo. By the 14th his numbers had swelled to 125. Hays, meantime remained in sight of Woll's men and sent word to the Texans that it appeared the Mexicans were making plans to withdraw.. On the 17th, Caldwell had 210 men in camp. At midnight the 17th, the men camped on the east bank of Salado Creek. Caldwell deployed his men intending to make a stand. On the 18th, Hays, Henry McCulloch, Bigfoot Wallace and others were sent to draw Woll from San Antonio to their position.
Hays, Lieutenant Henry McCulloch, and six men advanced within one half mile of the Alamo. Woll dispatched troops to meet them. The Texans retreated and 150 cavalry men pursued. Hays moved back to where he had left most of his men, then they all made for Caldwells's trap. They crossed the river and entered a forest. The Mexican cavalry sent back for reinforcement before entering the forest. Woll accompanied the 200 infantrymen, 160 dragoons, and two artillery pieces he sent for the attack on the Texans. By now Caldwell's men had been sighted. Woll estimated the Texas force at 300. Actually there were 225. The Mexican calvary charged 2 times and were stopped by blistering Texas shot.
From early morning to 1:00PM sporadic fighting was ongoing. At 1:00PM, Woll was reinforced with 400 more infantry men and 40 Cherokees under Vincente Cordova.
Caldwell addressed his men. He reminded them why they were fighting; that he knew personally what it was like to be captured by the Mexicans. He stated no white flag would be raised. Caldwell then called for an attack. Woll was still organizing his forces when the Texans hit. The battle lasted continuously until 5:00PM. At that time the Texans had fallen back to reorganize. Woll ordered his own attack. The cannons fired grape and shot. The waves of attacking Mexicans were each peppered with unerring Texas aim. The Mexican infantry failed to reach the Texan position in an arroyo. The Mexican cannon proved ineffective, most of its force was felt by the trees of the forest. Cordova and his Cherokees tried to flank the Texans, but Cordova, himself, was killed in the skirmish with Captain Cameron's company which was on that side.
Woll was about to commit his reserve of 100-150 infantrymen when he learned of an approaching force of 52 Texas on his rear. He sent the calvary out to crush them. These were the men of Captain Nicholas Mosby Dawson from Fayette County. Dawson, a San Jacinto veteran, had collected men enroute to San Antonio. His scouts reported the battle was joined. He hastened to be a part of it. Thinking the battle winner was hanging in the balance, Dawson and his men hoped to weigh in a Texas victory, and attacked. They were met by the calvary 5 miles from Caldwell's position. Within minutes Dawson's group was surrounded in the open. The Mexicans came forward with a white flag and asked them to surrender, but Dawson refused. The Mexican calvary with about 400 men attacked, but withdrew from the accurate Texas rifles. Artillery was brought up and a crossfire effected. With only the horses for protection the Dawson men wilted under the crossfire of cannon and rifle. The Mexicans attacked with sabers. Dawson was killed saying "let victory be purchased with blood".
Overwhelmed, Dawson's men tried to surrender, even to the point of laying down their arms, but the Mexicans continued to fire and hack. In the end 36 Texans were killed, fifteen taken prisoner, and two escaped. 30 Mexicans were killed and between 60-70 wounded.
Two other groups of Texans were in the area; Captain Jesse Billingsley and John Caldwell with 70 men, and Colonel Joseph Washington E. Wallace with 30 men. They were busy sending out scouts to find out what was going on when the battles were decided.
That night Caldwell sent a dispatch to the people of Texas; "The enemy are all around me, on every side; but I fear them not. I will hold my position until I hear from re-enforcements. Come and help me - it is the most favorable opportunity I have ever seen." The next morning, Wallace and Billingsley, and other small groups came into Caldwell's camp. Woll noting the increasing size of the Texans began again to withdraw.
When dawn came, Caldwell held the ground at Salado. He learned he lost ten wounded and none killed. One man was killed however. He was not in Caldwell's command, but an escapee from San Antonio, who took advantage of the confusion to run. Woll lost 104 dead and 150 wounded. He left San Antonio on the 20th.
When Caldwell's men inspected the site of Dawson's stand, they found the Texan dead were stripped of all their clothes. It was also obvious the Texans were hacked after death.
Among the Celts at the Battle of Salado besides those already mentioned were: Ad Gillispie, Big Foot Wallace, Sam Walker, and Andrew Sowell.
Jack Hays and Henry McCulloch, wearing Mexican blankets and their hats pulled low over their faces, walked into the retreating Mexican's camp of the next night, at what is now Castroville. After surveying the camp, they were challenged by a sentry as they were about to leave. They took the sentry prisoner with them back to Caldwell's position. Caldwell's force was now about 600 men. They pursued the Mexican Army. Hays led a successful charge against the Mexican's as they crossed an arroyo. Other than that, indecision and politics so hamstrung the Texan leaders, no other serious action was taken against Woll while he was retreating. Hays and Cameron told others of their embarrassment and shame when Woll made good his retreat. Woll safely entered the Presidio del Rio Grande near San Juan Bautista Mission in what is now Piedras Negras, on October 1st. Four Dawson prisoners, and two Irishmen; William Patterson and John McCredae tried to escape as the army went across the Rio Grande. Only one of the Dawson men was successful, the others all drowned.
Reports of Woll's attack, like Vasquez' before it, triggered renewed American immigration into Texas. Accounts of the captured Santa Fe prisoners, who were released, were finding there way into newspaper stories. One of the prisoners released from the ill fated Santa Fe Expedition, George Kendall, wrote reports widely read in Texas.
In one article he wrote of a lovely lady in Mexico City who was kind to the Texans. She was known to pine for her Irish husband, whom she called "Colonel" and had not seen in many years. Among the Texans reading the story was Peter Ellis Bean, he knew the Mexican woman was his wife. Bean was separated from his Texas wife (Candace Midkiff was never legally his wife).
There had been an incident resulting in an estrangement between Bean and Midkiff. Bean was away on business when his neighbor, in Nacogdoches, Martin Parmer, heard news that Bean was dead. He told Candace, and after a short while courted her, and moved in. Less than forty eight hours later, the resurrected Bean returned to his home and a difficult situation. It was during his seperation from Candace that Bean read Kendall's story. Bean left his Texas holdings to his children, and went back to Mexico to join his Mexican wife.