Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

Manuel Flores Historical Marker
Liberty Hill, Texas
 

 

 

Manuel Flores - Historical Marker
erected by the state of Texas in 1936
on CR 260 2 miles east of Liberty Hill on SH 29 - 100 feet off SH 29


Marker Text:
In this vicinity, Manuel Flores, an emissary of the Mexican government, with a small group of men conveying ammunition to the Indians on the Lampasas River, was surprised by Rangers under Lieutenant J. O. Rice in May, 1839, and killed.




 
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Latitude: 30.649663, Latitude: -97.859865


 
 

View Manuel Flores, trader and Mexican agent by The Handbook of Texas Online

 

 

 

THE FLORES FIGHT

A large Texas granite monument stands on Highway 29 about four miles east of Liberty Hill. It is a Texas Historical Marker erected by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936. The script on the marker reads:

 

IN THIS VICINITY

MANUEL FLORES

AN EMMISARY OF THE MEXICAN

GOVERNMENT, WITH A SMALL GROUP

OF MEN CONVEYING AMMUNITION

TO THE INDIANS ON THE LAMPASAS

RIVER, WAS SURPRISED BY RANGERS

UNDER LIEUTENANT JAMES O. RICE IN

MAY,1839, AND KILLED.

ERECTED BY THE STATE OF TEXAS

1936

 

Historical Narrative by Myreta Matthews

 

Many markers were placed at historic places all over Texas celebrating the One Hundredth Anniversary of Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico on March 2,1836. The Battle of San Jacinto on April 21,1836 resulted in victory for the young Republic of Texas.

 

The Mexican Government, not being reconciled to the loss of Texas made
many plans to regain the state from the Anglo-Americans. One of these schemes, worked out by Filisola and Ganalizo in 1838 and 1839, was to incite the frontier Indians to make war on the Texans. The attacks were to be made according to a definite plan which would bring a permanent effect.

 

Cordova and Flores were to be used as agents to perpetuate this conspiracy with the Indians to make incessant war on the Texans. Their instructions were to have the Indians harass the settlers in any way possible. They were to burn their homes; lay waste their fields; steal their horses; and kill all but the defenseless men, ,women and children.

 

Austin at that time had not arisen to the dignity of a town and was just beginning to build up. The largest settlement in the vicinity of Austin was down the Colorado River ten miles or more, and was known as "Hornsby Settlement".  This section of the country was much exposed to the ravages of the Indians and marauding Mexicans of that day.

 

In order to protect themselves and their families, a ranging company was organized, consisting of about twenty men, with Mike Andrews as captain, and James O. Rice, lieutenant, and it was while this company was out scouting on Onion Creek, south of Austin, on or about the fifteenth of May,1839, and about where the San Antonio road crosses the creek, that Flores and his party were discovered, as they were returning from Mexico, making their way back to eastern Texas, to carry out the enterprise inaugurated by Cordova, Flores and others, as previously stated.

 

The rangers took their trail and followed it a few miles, but dark over­taking them soon, they halted for the night, leaving their horses all saddled, and themselves sleeping upon their arms. At daylight they renewed the pursuit, determined to overtake the unknown enemy at all hazards, though the Texans were becoming more and more confident all the time that it was a return of the Flores party from Mexico with munitions of war; consequently the rangers felt the importance of overhauling them.

 

The trail was followed all that day without overtaking the Mexicans, and night coming on the Texans camped on a spur of the mountains on the north-side of the Colorado river. During the night a heavy rain fell rendering it very difficult to follow the trail the following morning. At this point Captain Andrew's horse being quite lame and he being a large man, weighing at that time more than two hundred pounds, it became necessary for him to return home, and accordingly two men whose horses were the lamest, were detailed to go back with him. This left a force of only seventeen men, with Lieutenant Rice in command, and notwithstanding many of the horses were quite lame, some of which were scarcely able to travel with their bruised and bleeding feet, caused from climb­ing the rough and rugged mountains the previous day, this little band of Texans pushed on in pursuit of the enemy. By traveling slowly and examining closely every sign, they succeeded in following the trail through the mountains out into the prairie on the waters of the South San Gabriel where the Mexicans had camped the night previous. Here the sign was fresh and plain, and could easily be followed in a gallop, and the horses of the rangers, which, up to that time had shown signs of being much fatigued, now seemed to take on new life and vigor, and spurted off at a lively gait without being urged on much by their riders. After following the trail until about two o'clock in the afternoon the south fork of the San Gabriel was reached at a point where is situated a celebrated spring, not far from where the residence of "Uncle Billy Johnson now stands. At this point Flores and his party had nooned and cut down a bee tree, and when the Texans arrived the bees had not yet settled, and the camp fires, four in number, left by Flores, were still burning. There being only four camp fires, was another point of circumstantial evidence going to show that the force of the enemy could not be large. The Texans, knowing from these signs that they were on a hot trail, did not halt, but pushed on with renewed zeal and enthusiasm.

 

After going about a mile further the group was signaled by their spies, McClusky and Castleberry, who were about a quarter of a mile in advance ,to hold up and then to proceed to them cautiously. Which was done and they were informed that the enemy had just passed over the hill. The Texans then started off at a steady gallop, and within another quarter of a mile were within sight of the enemy which they had been following for two days and nights. Flores would make a stand occasionally as if he intended to make battle, but the Texans never checked their speed for a moment, but on the contrary, would push forward more rapidly, raise the Texan yell, whereupon the Mexicans would turn and retreat. Flores kept up this character of maneuvering for some little time, and in these temporary halts made by him, he could be seen riding up and down in front of his men with sword in hand apparently counting our force. The Texans kept up the charge, however, until they had driven the enemy on to a steep bluff on the banks of the North San Gabriel, which was so steep that it was impossible for the enemy to descend. At this crisis, Flores, evidently for the purpose of giving

his men an opportunity of finding a crossing, rallied a few of his companions and made a charge upon the Texans, who discovered him just in time to take advantage of a live oak grove nearby. Flores with some eight or ten men, charged up within fifteen or twenty paces of the Texans, and fired a volley at them, but without effect. The Texans, who had just dismounted, did not have their horses hitched, and were, therefore, not prepared to properly receive the enemy; but William Wallace ( he had previously participated in the Brushy Creek fight),who happened to be a little quicker than the balance, had gotten in position ready for action, and just as Flores was in the act of wheeling his horse to retreat, Wallace took good aim, fired, and at the crack of his gun, Flores rolled off of his horse upon the ground, shot through the heart. Upon the death of their commander, the little party who had accompanied him in the charge immediately fled and joined their comrades who in the meantime had succeeded in finding a crossing, but leaving behind them all their horses, mules, baggage, munitions of war and other belongings. The last seen of the enemy, they were making their way as rapidly as possible to the mountains beyond the Gabriel. The Texans then gathered up the horses and mules, numbering one hundred and fifty -six or seven, several hundred pounds of powder and lead, seventeen dollars in Mexican silver dollars, besides a good deal of Mexican luggage, all of which had been abandoned by the enemy in their flight. Everything having been collected together, and the Texans being in high glee over their victory,, they struck out for home, arriving at the spring on South San Gabriel, just in time to camp at the same spot where the Mexicans had camped the night previous. The Flores fight occurred on the seventeenth day of May, 1839.

 

Rice's party proceeded on down to Hornsby's Bend, and after reaching there the horses captured from the enemy were all put in a corral and divided off into seventeen bunches by disinterested parties, and each ranger drew lots for choice. This division having been made among the men, they proceeded to open a lot of leather sacks which they had captured from the enemy. One of these sacks contained the correspondence between Cordova and the Mexican officials, and several official communications from the latter addressed to quite a number of Indian Chiefs, perhaps a dozen in all. One of the communications was addressed to Bowles, chief of the Cherokees, and one to Big Mush, another chief. There happened to be a Mexican on the place      Francisco, who was possessed of some education, and by means of his translation the Texans were advised of the importance of the documents they had captured.

 

Even now, at this late date, when we contemplate the ruin and destruction to property and the loss of life to the Texans, which might have resulted had Flores not been killed and this valuable correspondence captured, we cannot but think that the fight on the San Gabriel was second only in importance to Texas to the Battle of San Jacinto.

 

 

Source, INDIAN DEPREDATIONS IN TEXAS by J.W. Wilbarger, Austin,Texas 1889

Hutchings Publishing House

 

by Myreta Matthews

 

 




THE FLORES FIGHT by WALTON HINDS

 

The Mexican Government had never become reconciled to the loss of Texas, and many plans were made whereby she might get the State back from the Anglo-Americans. One of the schemes was worked out by Filisola and Ganalizo in 1838 and 1839. They intended to incite the frontier Indians to make war on the Texans. The attacks were not to be made haphazardly, but according to definite plans which would bring a permanent effect.

 

They were using Cordova and Flores as their agents to perpetuate their plot on the Texans. They sent instructions to have the Indians harass the settlers in any manner possible. They were to burn their homes; lay waste their fields; steal their horses; and kill all but the defenseless men, women and children.

 

 During March of 1839, Cordova with about sixty or eighty Indians, Negros, and Mexicans started to Mexico to get supplies for the Indians to use against the white settlers. His mission became known, and about seventy-five men under Colonel Burleson overtook them just above Seguin. After a running fight during which a large number were killed and wounded, the Mexican forces managed to get away. Among the wounded was Cordova, but he managed to escape. Flores was with the party, but he got away without being caught. This fight, which took place during the latter part of March, caused the settlers along the Colorado to organize for their mutual protection. At this time Austin was just R small village with no large settlements farther north. They organized a ranging company of about twenty men with Mike Andrews as Captain and James 0. Rice Lieutenant.

 

While this company was scouting around on Onion Creek south of Austin in May of 1839, they sighted a large bunch of horses in the distance, but were unable to discern the number of men. The company, consisting of the members and six civilians, rode to intercept the party whom they suspected of being Cordova and Flores on their return trip from Mexico. Not being able to catch them before dark, they camped and took up the trail the next morning.

The assumption of the Rangers was correct, for the cavalcade was Flores returning north to the Indian camps. That night they had become lost in a cane brake, and had to back track to get out. In doing this they lost time and came face to face with the pursuing Texans when they reached the edge of the cane brake. The Mexicans had the advantage, because they were partially hid by the timber, and the Rangers could not tell how many there were and hesitated to attack. One of the civilians told Captain Andrews he would just get all of his men slaughtered if he went into the cane brake to fight the Mexicans. The Rangers began to retreat when Adkisson asked. Captain Andrews to let those that wished to return and follow Flores. After thinking the proposition over, Andrews decided to give permission and went with them.

The party now numbered twenty men. They cut across the country to  intercept Flores when he came out of the cane brake. The Mexicans were traveling at a rapid rate and were gone when the Rangers arrived. Captain Andrews weighed nearly two hundred pounds, and as his horse was giving out, he had to turn around and go back. The others followed the trail across the south fork of the San Gabriel River, and they finally drove the enemy to a steep bluff on the bank of the north San Gabriel. Flores, with a small number of men charged the Texans before they were expecting it, but William Wallace was quick enough to take good aim and shoot him as he was turning to go back. The death of Flores caused his followers to flee in the direction of the river where the others had discovered a crossing. They left their extra horses, mules, baggage, munitions of war and camping material. The fight took place on the 17th day of May 1839.

 

Among the materials captured were some bags containing the correspondence between Cordova and the Mexican officials, and several official communications from the latter addressed to suite a number of Indian chiefs. One communication was addressed to Bowles, Chief of the Cherokees, and one to Rig Mush, another chief. The valuable information was at once taken to the Texas Government in Houston. President Lamar, acting upon it, tried to secure a peaceful removal of the Indians from Texas, but failing in this he sent out troops against them under Rusk, Burleson and Douglas. It is difficult to say just what the results would have been had not Rice and his men succeeded in killing Flores before he got through to the Indians. There is not a doubt, however, that they rendered the people of Texas a signal service by their heroic act.

 


 

from the "Indian Depredations In Texas" book
by J. W. Wilbarger 1889

 

Indian wars (depredations) in Central Texas

 

The Cordova fight. (leading up to the Flores Fight)

 

The historian is familiar with the character and history of Vicente Cordova, a Mexican who lived at the Mexi­can settlement at Nacogdoches, Texas, and of his insur­rectionary movements prior to the date of the happening of events which we are about to relate; but in order to
prepare the reader for a full understanding of the importance and significance attached to the battles fought 1839 by the Texans with Cordova and Flores, we deem it best to introduce the subject by quoting from Yoakum, who wrote with all the necessary data from the war depart­ment before him. Commencing on page 257, volume 2, he says:

 

"Prior to the attack of the French on Vera Cruz and the civil war in Mexico, that government had begun a system, which if it had been carried out as intended, would have resulted very disastrously to Texas. The object was to turn loose all the Indians on her borders from the Rio Grande to the Red River, on the citizens of Texas. Of this fact the Texas government received undoubted evidence. Before the revolt of the Mexicans at Nacogdoches, Vicente Cor­dova had been in correspondence with the enemy at Mata­moras. In July, 1838, he addressed a letter to Manuel Flores, the Indo-Mexican agent, at Matamoras, stating that he held a commission from Filisola to raise Indian troops as auxiliaries to the Mexican army, and that he had already entered on his duties. He desired to co-operate with Flores, and wished to have an understanding in the matter; and for that purpose he desired to have a meeting an personal consultation. Cordova also wrote to Filisola on the twenty-ninth of August and the sixteenth of September, 1838, from the head waters of the Trinity, giving him an account of his progress. The departure of Flores from Matamoras, was from some cause, delayed until the opening of the following year.

 

"In the mean time, on the twenty-seventh of February, 1839, Brigadier General Canalizo, who had succeeded Fili­sola at Matamoras, sent instructions to Cordova—the same that had been given to Flores—to excite the frontier Indians to make war on Texas. He said it was in the power of the Indians, and also for their interest, to prevent the Texans from taking advantage of the troubles in Mexico; that they must not trust to flying invasions, but to operations having a more permanent effect; causing, if not daily injury, at least perpetual alarm and inquietude to the enemy, and depriv­ing them of their commerce, the spoils of which were to go to the Indians. While the savages were to be cautioned not to go near the boundary of the United States, they were to occupy the line of Bexar about the Gaudalupe, and from the Leon to the mouth of the San Marcos. This position, continues Canalizo, is the most favorable for the friendly Indians (as well as for the friendly Mexicans), in order that they shall have the enemy in front only, keeping a friendly and generous nation, as Mexico, in the rear. They were to harrass the Texans in every conceivable manner; they were instructed to burn their habitations, lay waste their fields; and if they assembled in bodies, the Indians were to hang around about them in small parties, and, if possible, steal their horses. The instructions to Cordova were to be sent to him, and he and Flores were to have an interview as soon as possible. They were to spare the defenseless of all ages and sexes; and to pursue and punish all Indians friendly to the whites, and all Mexicans who traded with the whites.

 

"Canalizo, in his letter to Cordova, informed him that as soon as hostilities with France had terminated, the Mexican army greatly increased, would proceed to recover Texas. Flores had messages from Canalizo to the chiefs of the Cad-dos, Seminoles, Biloxas, Comanches, Kickapoos, Brazos, Tehuacanas, and perhaps others, promising them the lands on which they had settled; and assured them that they need `expect nothing from those greedy adventurers for land who wish to even deprive the Indians of the sun that warms and vivifies them, and would not cease to injure them while the grass grows and water runs.' Such were the instruc­tions under which Commissioner Flores set out on his mis­sion. Cordova had been hanging about the Indian camp high up on the Trinity and Brazos rivers, his followers greatly reduced."

 

From the above we readily see the object of the visit of Flores and Cordova to Mexico, and the reader is now pre­pared to follow the movements of these two men, who had entered into a conspiracy with the officials of Mexico upon one hand and the Indians of Texas on the other, to urge an exterminating war upon the Texans. With this object in view Cordova, in the early part of the spring of 1839, started on his way westward with a party of Mexicans, Indians and negroes, numbering about sixty or eighty, all told, with the intention of crossing a few miles above the city of Austin and thus avoid the Hornsby settle­ment, some ten or twelve miles below, (which, at that time was the largest in that section of country, but it seems he missed his bearings and struck the vicinity of the settle­ment before he was aware of his whereabouts. He then changed his course up the Colorado river, in the direction of the mountains. This was about the twenty-fifth of March, 1839. It so happened that George Davis and Reuben Hornsby, who were riding out on the prairie that day, came across this trail, and supposing that it had been made by the Indians, at once spread the news among the settlers, who collected immediately and set out in pursuit of their unknown enemy. The Texans rendezvoused at Austin and organized in the afternoon of the twenty-fifth, with Colonel Burleson as commander, Captains Billingsley and Andrews each being in charge of a company under Burleson. The entire force now consisted of about one hundred men, and the spies who had been sent out to reconnoiter for the enemy having returned late in the afternoon, reported that the trail crossed the Colorado river between the falls and Austin and leading in the direction of Seguin. Colonel Burleson at once took up the line of march and camped that night on Bears creek, about ten miles southwest of Austin. Early the next morning, before leaving camp, a runner came from the Hornsby settlement, saying a large Indian trail had been discovered in the neighborhood and that the men were wanted to protect the families. This information caused the party to abandon the trail and the whole force pro­ceeded with as much dispatch as possible on the back track to protect their families, whom they had left the day before. Arriving at the settlement it was soon discovered that a false alarm had been given, and that the trail which had been found, was the identical trail Burleson and his men had been following. This caused a good deal of dissatisfaction among some of the men and several declined to return and take up the trail again, so that when Burleson reached the spot where he had camped the night previous, he found him­self with a force not exceeding seventy or seventy-five men. Night having come on by this time, Burleson pitched his camp at the same place where he had bivouacked the night before.

 

About ten o'clock that night Tom Moore, known generally as "Black Tom," and Roberson arrived at Burleson's camp, and made known to them for the first time what char­acter of enemy they were pursuing.

 

It seems that Roberson, who had started out with Cordova on his journey to Mexico, had for some reason fallen under the displeasure of his superior, whereupon Roberson was court martialed, sentenced to death, and was to have been shot the next day, being the same day on which he arrived at Burleson's camp; but while Cordova's party was crossing Onion creek Roberson made his escape, made his way down the creek bottom, succeeded in reaching the house of Moore, whereupon they both immediately set out to notify Burleson •of Cordova's mission to Mexico. This man Roberson was an American, and had evidently enlisted under Cordova, expecting to receive a good share of the spoils should Cor­dova be successful in his undertaking, but becoming some­what conscience stricken on account of his treachery to­ward his own race, and having shown some weakening on the way, became a fit subject for suspicion among his allies, and no doubt the fear of being betrayed by Roberson more than any other cause, was the real secret of Cordova's dis­pleasure to him and the cause of the court martial. Be this as it may, it was certainly a most fortunate incident for Texas, as the reader will soon learn. Roberson freely stated to 'General Burleson that Cordova was on his way to Mexico to obtain munitions of war with which to equip the Indians for the purpose of making a well directed warfare upon the 'Texans, and that he would return to Texas so soon as he

had accomplished the object of his mission. It will be re­membered that Burleson and his command had lost one day by reason of the false alarm which had been given, and it was afterward learned that Cordova's party had likewise lost a day in hunting for Roberson, so that in fact the Tex­ans had neither lost nor gained any on the enemy since starting in pursuit.

 

Early the next morning Burleson started out with his command in the pursuit of the enemy, but failed to over­take them that day. In the following afternoon, however, about one hour and a half by sun, the spies who had been sent on in advance came in sight of Cordova's party, who had halted for a rest, and the men were lying around care­lessly on the grass while their horses were grazing around them with their saddles on. The enemy, it seems, had halted for another purpose than rest, as it was ascertained afterward from prisoners taken by the Texans that Cordova had sent spies on ahead for the purpose of spying out the situation of Seguin with the view of sacking the town that night. As soon as Burleson's spies had returned and made their report, he pushed forward rapidly with his forces and was soon within sight of the enemy, who, unaware of the Texans, were ensconced within a few miles of Seguin in the open post oaks, through which ran a little ravine. Colonel Burleson, before making an attack, divided his command into two divisions, Captain Andrews commanding the right wing and Captain Billingsly the left, and when these two divisions had taken their respective positions, their line of battle assumed the form of an inverted V, and with one more company to have closed up the rear a com­plete triangle would have been formed, thus rendering es­cape impossible for the enemy without cutting their way through; but only two companies being present to par­ticipate in the battle, and their positions having been taken as above stated, left one side open as a means Of escape for the enemy. Burleson gave the command to charge and open fire, and at the first volley fired by the Texans the enemy took to flight in the direction from which Burleson approached them, when a running fight of five or six miles took place. The exact number of Mexicans, Indians and .negroes killed in this battle is not known, but the number killed, as near as could be ascertained by actual count, was about eighteen; a considerable number were wounded, among whom was their leader, Vicenti Cordova, and some three or four were taken prisoners. The Texans sustained no losses in this fight.

 

There were one or two rather amusing incidents which occurred, one during and the other after the fight, and may not be out of place to mention them here. During the chase one of the Indians became unhorsed, whereupon he immediately ran back to a little mesquite tree with his gun presented, and came up face to face with about a half dozen of the Texans, who were following in close pursuit. Doctor Ventress, who happened to be one of the party, dismounted, raised his gun, but gave the Indian the first fire, which, fortunately, missed him, whereupon the doctor immedi­ately fired, and at the crack of his gun the Indian fell dead. Doctor Ventress, in after years, when alluding to this incident, always spoke of it as his duel with the Indian. In the fight some three or four prisoners were taken, among them there was a big French negro, weighing about two hundred pounds. Colonel Burleson turned him over for safe keeping to Tom McKennon, an Irishman who was along with the Texans.

 

When Burleson returned to the place he had left them, he found that Tom had crossed and tied the negro's hands be­hind his back and had tied the end of his horse's stake rope to the Indian's hands, thus using the captive as a stake for his horse rope; and as Burleson rode up, Tom cried out: "Faith and bejasus, Colonel, I've got him fast." This negro claimed to have always been free, but would not ac­knowledge any allegiance to the Texan government; on the contrary, claimed to have always maintained a hostile atti­tude toward the Texans, and as he still manifested a dispo­sition, which was very distasteful to them, he was accord­ingly court marshaled and sentenced to be shot the next day. There were six men detailed to execute the sentence, and they were to shoot by threes. James 0. Rice, who was along with Burleson on this expedition, seemed exceedingly anxious to shoot the negro, and offered five dollars to any one of the men who had been detailed, for his place, and one of the three men who were to fire first, not having any special fondness for such sport, accepted the proposition, where­upon Rice, elated at his good luck, as he considered it, took his position in the first file, and at the command "fire!" only two guns fired. Rice's gun, it seems, from some cause had failed to fire, and feeling disgusted and crestfallen, he said: "There, by G—d, my gun has snapped, for the first time in my life." From the fact that Rice had manifested so much anxiety to shoot the negro, the failure of his gun to fire amused some of the boys very much. Thus ended the Cor­dova fight which occurred about the twenty-eighth of March, 1839.

 

Cordova, though pretty severely wounded, finally made his way to Mexico with the balance of his followers. Flores, it seems, was with Cordova at the time, but made good his escape.

 

The Rev. A. J. Adkisson and General William P. Hanleman, both citizens of Austin, Texas, are among the few surviving Texans who participated in the Cordova fight. But few there are of the present day who stop to think for a moment when these two silvery haired old veterans are seen passing along the streets of Austin, of the valuable services they have rendered Texas on numerous occasions, both as a Republic and as a State.





from the "Indian Depredations In Texas" book
by J. W. Wilbarger 1889
 
Indian wars in Central Texas
The Flores Fight
 
 
We have never seen in print a full and complete account of the  Cordova fight, which we have just given, nor of the Flores fight, which we are about to narrate. Mr. Yoakum, in his History of Texas, briefly refers to both, but he reverses the order in which they should come; and while he attaches considerable importance to them, as has been seen in our extract from
his work, which appears in our account of the Cordova 1839 fight, he has not entered into a detailed account of either. In view of the inestimable value to Texas of the information obtained from the Mexicans when these two battles were fought, insignificant as they may seem to some, we have concluded to give a minute or detailed ac­count of each while there yet survive a few—a more handful—of those worthy pioneers who participated in both engagements, and who can vouch for the accuracy of our statements; for it was from them that we obtained the in­formation that enables us to write intelligently upon the subject.
 
After the return of Colonel Burleson's forces from the Cordova fight, in the latter part of March, 1839, it was deemed prudent by the citizens settled along the Colorado river to organize for the protection of their families. The Indians were not only extremely troublesome to the whites, but it became evident now, from the information obtained from the man Roberson, who escaped from Cordova, an account of which has been given in our sketch of the Cor­dova fight, that the Mexican government had entered into a conspiracy with the Indians to make an incessant warfare upon the whites, lay bare their homes and their fields, and drive them from the country. Austin at that time had not arisen to the dignity of a town—much less a city—and was just beginning to build up. The largest settlement in the vicinity of Austin then was down the river some ten miles, and was known as the "Hornsby settlement." The reader can judge from the above how much exposed this section of country was to the ravages of the Indians and marauding Mexicans at that day. Consequently, in order to protect themselves and their families, a ranging com­pany was organized, consisting of about twenty men, with Mike Andrews as captain, and James O. Rice, lieuten­ant, and it was while this company were out scouting on Onion creek, south of Austin, on or about the fifteenth of May, 1839, and about where the San Antonio road crosses the creek, that Flores and his party were discovered, as they were returning from Mexico, making theft: way back to eastern Texas, to carry out the enterprise inaugurated by Cordova, Flores and others, as previously related. Captain Andrews's company, as stated, only consisted of about twenty men; but on this occasion six civilians, as they were called, had joined him. While out on Onion creek, and reconnoitering, Lieutenant Rice and Castleberry, on the evening mentioned, had ridden over the hill south of the creek to kill a deer for supper. They had only been gone a short time when they came galloping back, apparently somewhat excited, and reported that they had seen in the distance a large caballada of horses, but owing to the dis­tance they were from them, and it being very late in the afternoon, about dusk, they could not tell definitely whether the horses were mounted or not, but they were satisfied some of them were, from the fact that some of the animals were white, and there appeared to be dark looking spots on their backs.
 
On the south side of Onion creek there was a range of hills lying up and down the creek for some distance, and when Rice and Castleberry discovered Flores and his party (who, at that time, were unknown to the rangers, but the latter strongly suspected from the first that it was Cordova and Flores returning from Mexico) they were traveling almost due north while the rangers were traveling almost due east. Owing to the range of hills just mentioned the Mexicans could not be seen by the rangers, but the latter pushed on, expecting to intercept the enemy at the crossing on the creek, but when they arrived at the foot of this range of hills the Mexicans had crossed the creek and had entered a thick post oak and cedar country on the north side. The rangers took their trail and followed it a few miles, but dark overtaking them pretty soon they halted for the night, leav­ing their horses all saddled, and they themselves sleeping upon their arms. At daylight they renewed the pursuit, determined to overtake the unknown enemy at all hazards, though the Texans were becoming more and more confident all the time that it was a return of the Flores party from Mexico with munitions of war, etc., to place in the hands of the Indians; consequently the rangers felt the importance of overhauling them. After following the trail about two. miles, and just as they were beginning to enter the cedar brake they met the enemy face to face, and were within forty or fifty yards of each other when both parties halted. The cedar brake was a very large one, and evidently Flores and his party had been rambling around in it all night, until tired and worn out, they concluded to take the back track and disentangle themselves from the meshes of the forest. Before reaching the cedar brake and coming up with Flores's party, however, there had been considerable dispute among the Texans as to the number of the enemy, some contending that it was a large party, while others maintained that there were not over twenty-five or thirty, and in support of their theory gave a very plausible reason, as will soon be seen, which illustrates the perspicacity and keen perception of an experienced frontiersman. While following the trail they came to a stooping tree, which was rather too low for a man on horseback to ride under, and upon a close inspection of the trail made by the horses of the enemy it was discovered that all of them, with the exception of some twenty-five or thirty, passed under the stooping tree while the others went around it. This method of reasoning proved afterwards to be reliable, but it was not convincing to those of the party who were disposed to be a little weak kneed. So when the enemy were run upon suddenly, the Texans were divided in their opinions as to whether or not an attack should be made. The Mexicans were so concealed by the brush and timber, that their number could not be ascertained definitely. Perceiving that the Texans were hesitating and parleying over the matter, the Mexicans put on a bold front and cursed and dared the rangers to charge them. Some of the Texans who could speak Spanish 'retorted in similar language. Wayne Barton, one of the civilians who had gone along with the rangers, was decidedly opposed to giving battle, and thus addressed Captain Andrews:
 
"Captain Andrews, if you take your men into that thicket it will be equivalent to leading them into a slaughtering pen, for they will everyone be killed."
 
This little speech had a telling effect upon those who had been wavering, and the captain seemed also to be considerably impressed with the force of the remark, and ordered a retreat. While this parleying was going on, the enemy moved off into the heart of the cedar brake The Texans now turned their course homeward; but there was great dissatisfaction among most of the men at the conduct of the captain, and they did not hesitate to express their disapprobation in unmistakable language—some of which will not do to repeat here.
 
After riding about three miles in the direction of home, and discussing the matter pro and con, a portion of the company grew very indignant and considerable feeling was being engendered, when one of the party. A. J. Adkisson—known then as "Ad.," but now as the Rev. A. J. Adkisson-- told the boys to hold up a little and he would ride ahead and ask permission of Captain Andrews—who at that time was some little distance in advance of the company—to give those who desired it, permission to return and follow the enemy, for it was now known beyond a doubt who they were. To this proposition the boys consented; whereupon Adkisson rode up to the captain, informed him of the sentiment of the men, and asked him if he would give those who desired to do so, permission to return and continue pursuit of the enemy; that they did not wish him to assume any of the responsibility, and all they asked was simply per-mission to return. The captain hesitated a moment and then, with an oath, replied: "Yes; and I'll go back, too." 'This was joyful news to all of the party except six of the men, who continued their course homeward, and who, no doubt, about that time felt like the poor private soldier during the late civil war, when he was found by his colonel in the rear of his command, crying like his heart would break, and was asked "what he was doing there crying like a baby, that he ought to be ashamed of himself;" where-upon the poor fellow said, as he wiped away the tears which were trickling down his cheeks: "I wish I was a baby, and gal baby at that."
 
It is but fair to say, however, that those who turned back were not all civilians, for it was one of this class who did the most effective fighting that was done when finally the .enemy were overhauled.
 
The little band of Texans now only numbered twenty, and instead of returning to the place where they had left the Mexicans, they cut across the country in a westerly direction with the intention of intercepting them as they came out of the cedar brake, but when they arrived at the point where they expected to intercept them, the enemy had passed out some little time in advance of them. It was about nine o'clock in the morning, and the Texans put out in a brisk gallop, but they had not gone far before learning that the enemy were also traveling at a rapid gait. The trail was followed all that day without overtaking the Mex­icans, and night coming on the Texans camped on a spur of the mountains on the north side of the Colorado river, and within about a mile of the same until the next morning. During the night a heavy rain fell rendering it very difficult to follow the trail the following morning. At this point Captain Andrews's horse being quite lame, and he being a large man, weighing at that time about two hundred pounds, it became necessary for him to return home, and accord­ingly two men whose horses were the lamest, were detailed to go back with him. This left us a force of only seventeen men, with Lieutenant Rice in command, and notwithstand­ing many of the horses were quite lame, some of which were scarcely able to travel with their bruised and bleeding feet, caused from climbing the rough and rugged mountains the previous day, this gallant little band of Texans pushed on in pursuit of the enemy. By traveling slowly and ex­amining closely every sign, they succeeded in following the trail through the mountains out into the prairie on the waters of the San Gabriel where the Mexicans had camped the night previous. Here the sign was fresh and plain, and could easily be followed in a gallop, and the horses of the rangers, which, up to that time had shown signs of being much fatigued, now seemed to take on new life and vigor, and spurted off at a lively gait without being urged on much by their riders. After following the trail until about two o'clock in the afternoon the south fork of the San Ga­briel was reached at a point where is situated a celebrated spring, not far from where the residence of "Uncle" Billy Johnson now stands. At this point Flores and his party had nooned and cut down a bee tree, and when the Texans arrived the bees had not yet settled, and the camp fires, four in number, left by Flores, were still burning. There being only four camp: fires, was another point of circum­stantial evidence going to show that the force of the enemy could not be large. The Texans, knowing from these signs that they were on a hot trail, did not halt, but pushed on with renewed zeal and enthusiasm.
 
After going about a mile further, the Texans were signaled by their spies, Felix McClusky and Castleberry, who were about a quarter of a mile in advance of the party, to hold up, dismount and cut switches. To the average reader it may seem strange that the latter signal was understood; but it was, and just as clearly as the other, and both signals were obeyed. It becomes necessary for frontiersman to go by signals a great deal of the time, and they become very expert in interpreting them. The party having provided themselves with switches, were then sig­naled by the spies to advance, which was done, and on coming up with them, they were informed that the enemy had just it passed over the hill. The Texans then started off in a steady gallop, and within another quarter of a mile were within sight of the enemy which they had been following for two days and nights. Flores would make a stand occasionally as if he intended to make battle, but the Texans never checked their speed for a moment, but on the contrary, would push forward more rapidly, raise the Texan yell, whereupon the Mexicans would turn and retreat. Flores kept up this character of maneuvering for some little time, and in these temporary halts made by him, he could be seen riding up and down in front of his men with sword in hand apparently counting our force. The Texans kept up the charge, however, until they had driven the enemy on to a steep bluff on the banks of the North San Gabriel, which was so steep that it was impossible for the enemy to descend. At this crisis, Flores, evidently for the purpose of giving his men an opportunity of finding a cross­ing, rallied a few of his companions and made a charge upon the Texans, who discovered him just in time to take advantage of a live oak grove nearby. Flores with some eight or ten men, charged up within fifteen or twenty paces of the Texans, and fired a volley at them, but without effect. The Texans, who had just dismounted, did not have their horses hitched, and were, therefore, not prepared to properly receive the enemy; but William Wallace (hereto­fore mentioned as having participated in the Brushy creek fight), who happened to be a little quicker than the balance, had gotten in position ready for action, and just as Flores was in the act of wheeling his horse to retreat, Wallace took good aim, fired, and at the crack of his gun, Flores rolled off of his horse upon the ground, shot through the heart. Upon the death of their commander, the little party who had accompanied him in the charge immediately fled and joined their comrades who in the meantime had suc­ceeded in finding a crossing, but leaving behind them all their horses, mules, baggage, munitions of war, etc. The last seen of the enemy, they were making their way as rapidly as possible to the mountains beyond the Gabriel. The Texans then gathered up the horses and mules, num­bering one hundred and fifty-six or seven, several hundred pounds of powder and lead, seventeen dollars in Mexican silver dollars, besides a good deal of Mexican luggage, all of which had been abandoned by the enemy in their fight. Everything having been collected together, and the Texans being in high glee over their victory, they struck out for home, arriving at the spring on South San Gabriel, jefii4n time to camp at the same spot where the Mexicans had camped the night previous. The Flores fight occurred talk the seventeenth day of May, 1839.
 
While on their way, however, between the battle ground and South Gabriel, the Texans were met by Captain Owen in command of about thirty six-months rangers, well pro­vided with a bountiful supply of provisions, and going out to the relief of the heroic band of seventeen. It may be well to state here that upon the return to the settlement of those who had originally started out in pursuit of the enemy, but from causes previously stated abandoned the pursuit, had circulated the report up and down the river that Rice with only sixteen men was in hot pursuit of a large body of Mexicans, and that if he should overtake them it was highly probable that the entire party of Texans would be slain. This report is what caused Owen as well as Burleson and others to start out to the relief of Rice's party. When Captain Owen first discovered the Texans returning with a large caballada of horses, and observing that some of the men were wearing Mexican sombreros, the Texans having cap­tured a few from the enemy and were wearing them when the two parties met, he mistook them for. Mexicans, and ordered his men to dismount and fire, but was finally prevailed upon by one of his men, who strongly suspected that they were Texans, to countermand the order. Rice's party hav­ing come up within a short time, and, the usual salutations having been exchanged, some of Owen's company began talking about a division of the spoils, one fellow laying claim to one horse, another to that one, and so on, until finally the gallant little band of seventeen, began to think that they were in earnest about the matter, which up to this time had been looked upon as a mere joke. Perceiving that Owen's men were serious in their claims, Rice's party told them that they had fought the Mexicans for the property, and before dividing it out they would fight again for it. This very much offended the Owen party, and perceiving that they were not to share in the division of the spoils, refused to divide even a crust of bread with Rice's party, notwithstanding they had been without anything to eat for three days and nights. That was not all. The little band of seventeen, who had been on the go ever since they had struck the trail of the enemy, tired and worn out as they were with fatigue, were denied the privilege of camping with those who came out to their real, and they were thus forced, tired and hungry as they were, to stand guard all night long to protect their horses. The next morning early Rice's party pulled out for Austin, and after traveling some distance, and just as they were ascending Pilot Knob, on Brushy, they met up with Colonel Ed Burleson, in command of a party going out to their relief, who generously furnished them with the provisions they needed. After eating dinner, Burleson and Rice's forces came on back to Austin, and after reaching their Colonel Burleson, Sam Highsmith and one other gentleman whose name we have forgotten were selected as arbitrators to determine upon the division of the spoils, over which there had arisen a controversy with Owen's company. They were out but a little while before they decided that "to the victors belong the spoils." Rice's party then proceeded on down to Hornsby's Bend, and after reaching there the horses captured from the enemy were all put in a corral and divided off into seventeen different bunches by disinterested parties, and each drew lots for choice. This division having been made among the men, they then proceeded to open a lot of leather sacks which they had captured from the enemy. One of these sacks contained the correspondence between Cordova and the Mexican officials, and several official communications from the latter addressed to quite a number of Indian chiefs, perhaps a dozen in all. One of the communications was addressed to Bowles, chief of the Cherokees, and one to Big Mush, another Indian chief. There happened to be a Mexi­can on the place—Francisco, who was possessed of some education, and by means of his translation the Texans were advised of the importance of the documents they had cap­tured.
 
This is the correspondence referred to by Mr. Yoakum, and to which we have made frequent mention heretofore in our account of the Cordova fight. The summer previous to this, Cordova headed an insurrectionary movement in the Nacogdoches settlement against the whites, and, being sub­dued, he sought refuge, it was supposed, among the Indians, and while there no doubt sent emissaries to Mexico, offering his services-to co-operate in hostile movements against the whites.
 
This correspondence revealed beyond the cavil of a doubt the Cordova-Flores plot, and verified the statement of the man Roberson who escaped from Cordova on Onion creek and came to Burleson's camp with Tom Moore. This val­uable information was at once transmitted to the Texan government, then located at Houston, Texas. President Lamar sent out commissioners to effect, if possible, a peace­able removal of the Indians, but nothing satisfactory being accomplished, he ordered out troops against them under the command of Rusk, Burleson and Douglas.
 
The only survivors today of Rice's party are Jonathan Davis, who resides in Milam county, Texas, the Rev. A. J. Adkisson, a resident of Austin, and -- Harness, who is a resident of Burnet county. While Texas has remembered her veterans and confederate soldiers by granting pensions and land donations, this handful of hardy pioneers who accomplished so much for the republic have not only been neglected, but, with the exception of their gallant lieuten­ant, their names have never even been mentioned by the historian. At this late day, when we contemplate the ruin and destruction to property and the loss of life to the Texans, which might have resulted had Flores not been killed and this valuable correspondence captured, we cannot but think that the fight on the San Gabriel was second only in importance to Texas to the battle of San Jacinto. Can it be that Texas has grown so populous, wealthy and so ar­rogant as to be unmindful of the heroic acts of her humble private citizens while she boasts of her gallant leaders of the past in both war and peace? Surely the statesman of '39, who guided the ship of State and shaped the destiny of the infant republic, were he present to-day shaping and con­trolling the legislation of our empire State would not with­hold from the few survivors of this little Spartan band that just recognition which their heroic conduct merits. Then let the sons of Texas today, especially those who delight in perpetuating the memory and heroic valor of those worthy Texans who risked their lives and their property in the de­fense of their country, when next they assemble within those spacious granite walls to legislate upon the different questions of the hour, remember that had it not been for Rice and his brave followers they might not today be en­joying the blessings of American government upon Texas soil, much less the honor of a seat in our magnificent capital structure. Let them not, ere it is too late, delay in hon­oring these surviving veterans, whose heads are fast whitening for the grave.





 
 
 
 

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