SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2007, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
Andrew Kent-Index

 

Previous page--Texas Revolution--Battle of Gonzales--Benjamin Highsmith--Battle of Concepcion--Battle of Bexar--Alamo Relief Force--David Boyd Kent

3 March 1836: Travis' Report and Appeal for Aid for the Alamo. On the night of 3 Mar, Travis sent out the last message from the besieged Alamo with courier John W. Smith. He penetrated enemy lines with the message from Travis to the Texas Independence Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos which describes the situation at the Alamo in detail:

In the present confusion of the political authorities of the country, and in the absence of the commander in chief, I beg leave to communicate to you the situation of this garrison. You have doubtless already seen my official report of the action of the twenty fifth ult. made on that day to Gen. Sam Houston, together with the various communications heretofore sent by express. I shall therefore confine myself to what has transpired since that date. From the twenty-fifth to the present date the enemy has kept up a bombardment from two howitzers—one a five and a half inch, and the other an eight inch--and a heavy cannonade from two long nine-pounders mounted on a battery on the opposite side of the river at a distance of four hundred yards from our wall. During this period the enemy have been busily employed in encircling us with entrenched encampments on all sides, at the following distance, to wit: In Bexar, four hundred yards west; in Lavileta, three hundred yards south; at the powder house, one thousand yards east of south; at the ditch, eight hundred yards northeast, and at the old mill, eight hundred yards north. Notwithstanding all this, a company of thirty-two men from Gonzales made their way in to us on the morning of the first inst. at three o'clock, and Colonel J. B. Bonham (a courier from Gonzales) got in this morning at eleven o'clock without molestation. I have fortified this place, so that the walls are generally proof against cannon balls and I will continue to entrench on the inside, and strengthen walls by throwing up the dirt. At least two hundred shells have fallen inside our works without having injured a single man; indeed we have been so fortunate as not to lose a man from any cause, and we have killed many of the enemy. The spirits of my men are still high although they have had much to depress them. We have contended for ten days against an enemy whose numbers are variously estimated at from fifteen hundred to six thousand men, with General Ramirez Sesma and Colonel Batres, the aides-de-camp of Santa Anna, at their head. A report was circulated that Santa Anna himself was with the enemy, but I think it was false. A reinforcement of about one thousand men is now entering Bexar, from the west, and I think it more than probable that Santa Anna is now in town, from the rejoicing we hear. Col. Fannin is said to be on the march to this place with reinforcements, but I fear it is not true, as I have repeatedly sent to him for aid without receiving any. Colonel Bonham, my special messenger, arrived at La Bahia fourteen days ago, with a request for aide and on the arrival of the enemy in Bexar, ten days ago, I sent an express to Colonel F. which arrived at Goliad on the next day, urging him to send us reinforcements; none have yet arrived. I look to the colonies alone for aid; unless it arrives soon, I shall have to fight the enemy on his own terms. I will, however, do the best I can under the circumstances; and I feel confident that the determined valor and desperate courage heretofore exhibited by my men will not fail them in the last struggle; and although they may be sacrificed to the vengeance of a Gothic enemy, the victory will cost the enemy so dear, that it will be worse to him than a defeat. I hope your honorable body will hasten on reinforcements ammunition, and provisions to our aid as soon as possible. We have provisions for twenty days for the men we have. Our supply of ammunition is limited. At least five hundred pounds of cannon powder, and two hundred rounds of six., nine, twelve and eighteen pound balls, ten kegs of rifle powder and a supply of lead, should be sent to the place without delay under a sufficient guard. If these things are promptly sent, and large reinforcements are hastened to this frontier, this neighborhood will be the great and decisive ground. The power of Santa Anna is to be met here, or in the colonies; we had better meet them here than to suffer a war of devastation to rage in our settlements. A blood red banner waves from the church of Bexar, and in the camp above us, in token that the war is one of vengeance against rebels; they have declared us as such; demanded, that we should surrender at discretion, or that this garrison should be put to the sword. Their threats have had no influence on me or my men, but to make all fight with desperation, and that high souled courage which characterizes the patriot, who is willing to die in defense of his country's liberty and his own honor. The citizens of this municipality are all our enemies, except those who have joined us heretofore. We have but three Mexicans now in the fort; those who have not joined us, in this extremity, should be declared public enemies, and their property should aid in paying the expenses of the war. The bearer of this will give your honorable body a statement more in detail, should he escape through the enemy's lines.  God and Texas---Victory or Death.  P.S. The enemy's troops are still arriving, and the reinforcements will probably amount to two or three thousand.

On 5 Mar, General Santa Anna issued the formal written order to his troops to storm the Alamo garrison (translated from the Spanish):

To the Generals, Chiefs of Sections and Commanding Officers:  The time has come to strike a decisive blow upon the enemy occupying the Fortress of the Alamo. Consequently, His Excellency, the General in Chief, has decided that tomorrow at 4 o'clock a.m., the columns of attack shall be stationed at musket-shot distance from the first entrenchments, ready for the charge, which shall commence, at a signal given with the bugle, from the Northern Battery. The first column will be commanded by General Don Martin Perfecto de Cos, and, in his absence, by myself. The Permanent Battalion of Aldama (except the company of Grenadiers) and the three right center companies of the Active Battalion of San Luis, will comprise the first column. The second column will be commanded by Colonel Don Francisco Duque, and, in his absence, by General Don Manuel Fernindez Castrillon; it will be composed of the Active Battalion (except the company of Grenadiers) and the three remaining center companies of the Active Battalion of San Luis. The third column will be commanded by Colonel Jose Maria Romero and in his absence Mariano Salas; it will be Composed of the permanent Battalion Of Matamoros and Jimenes. The fourth column will be commanded by Colonel Juan Morales, and in his absence, by Colonel Jose Minon; it will be composed of the light companies of the Battalions of Matamoros and Jimenes and of the Active Battalion of San Luis. His Excellency the General in Chief will, in due time designate the points of attack, and give his instructions to the Commanding Officers. The reserve will be composed of the Battalion of Engineers and the five companies of Grenadiers of the Permanent Battalions of Matamoros, Jimenes and Allama, and the Active Battalions of Toluca and San Luis. The reserve will be commanded by the General in Chief in person, during the attack; but General Augustin Amat will assemble this party which will report to him, this evening at 5 o’clock, to be marched to the designated station. The first column will carry ten ladders, two crowbars and two axes; the second, ten ladders; the third, six ladders; and the fourth, two ladders. The men carrying the ladders will sling their guns on their shoulders, to be enabled to place the ladders wherever they may be required. The companies of Grenadiers will be supplied with six packages of cartridges to every man, and the center companies with two packages and two spare flints. The men will wear neither overcoats nor blankets nor anything that may impede the rapidity of their motions. The Commanding Officers will see that the men have their chin straps of their caps down, and that they wear either shoes or sandals. The troops composing the columns of attack will turn in to sleep at dark; to be in readiness to move at 12 o'clock at light. Recruits deficient in instruction will remain in their quarters. The arms, principally the bayonets, should be in perfect order. As soon as the moon rises, the center companies of the Active Battalion of San Luis will abandon the points they are now occupying on the line, in order to have time to prepare. The cavalry, under Colonel Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma, will be stationed at the Alameda, saddling up at 3 o'clock a.m. It shall be its duty to scout the country, to prevent the possibility of an escape. The honor of the nation being interested in this engagement against the bold and lawless foreigners who are opposing us, His Excellency expects that every man will do his duty, and exert himself to give a day of glory to the country, and of gratification to the Supreme Government, who will know how to reward the distinguished deeds of the brave soldiers of the Army of Operations.

On 6 March 1836 about 3:00 AM, Andrew Kent's daughter Mary Ann Kent related that the sound of distant cannons woke the family. Lying on pallets spread on the floor of the Zumwalt residence, the children could hear and feel the boom of the cannons as they fired 70 miles away in San Antonio. By daybreak there was silence which continued past noon and then sundown and the next day and the next. Travis had sent word to Gonzales that he would fire three daily "all’s well" volleys from the walls of the garrison as long as it was in Texan hands. For over six days the people of Gonzales and riders that ventured close to San Antonio to try to hear the three times per day volleys heard nothing. Anxiety mounted and the worst was feared among the residents. There were few that did not have a relative or close friend in the garrison.

10 March 1836: Arrival of Houston and Muster at Gonzales. Gen. Sam Houston, who had been elected Commander in Chief of the Land Army of Texas at the Texas Independence Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos which began on 1 Mar, was issued formal orders on 6 Mar:

As commander in chief of the Texan army, you are ordered forthwith to repair to such place on the frontier as you may deem advisable. You will proceed to establish headquarters, and organize an army. You will require all officers of the army, of whatever grade, to report to you. And, as it is impossible, at this time, to determine any particular point of concentration, you will act according to the emergencies of the occasion and the best dictates of your own judgement, for the purpose of protecting our frontier, and advancing the best interests of our country. You will, as often as you deem advisable, inform this body, or such other authority as they may establish, of both your acts and the situation of the army.

The first headquarters that Houston established was in Gonzales. After a two day stop at Burnham's Crossing on the Colorado after departing Washington on 6 Mar, Houston and staff with the new Texas Declaration of Independence in hand arrived in Gonzales on 11 Mar where he met the diverse and largely untrained mixture of mostly volunteers and some regulars who had begun to assemble there as early as 1 Mar. Already on 6 Mar, the companies of Captains Jesse Billingsley from Bastrop, Moseley Baker from San Felipe, Robert McNutt and Thomas J. Rabb from Egypt in current Wharton County were already, or in the process of assembling in Gonzales. Among those in Gonzales were the 50 from Newport, Kentucky under Col. Sidney Sherman. Capt. Hill's company arrived on 7 Mar from Washington-on-the-Brazos.  According to Dr. Nicholas Labadie

Previous to General Houston's arrival, some 400 men assembled at Gonzales, and placed themselves under the command of Colonel Neill, where they remained for some days anxiously awaiting the attempt to cut their way into the Alamo. About the 11th or 12th of March, General Houston arrived and assumed command. On the following day the 1st Regiment was organized by electing the following officers: Burleson, Colonel; Sherman, Lieutenant-Colonel; Summerville, Major. A camp was formed on the east bank of the Guadalupe, just below the town.

On 11 March 1836, David Boyd Kent alerted Ben Highsmith about the arrival of General Houston and his staff the previous evening. In the afternoon, David brought Ben Highsmith to Gen. Houston and there Highsmith presented the letter from Fannin that he was unable to deliver to Travis at the Alamo. In the evening of 11 March, Anselmo Borgara and Andres Barcena who lived outside San Antonio arrived in Gonzales reporting what they had heard from friend Antonio Perez about the fall of the Alamo.

Col. James W. FanninOn the same day, Gen. Houston sent the letter below to Col. Fannin. He dispatched David Boyd Kent and Ben Highsmith to Goliad to make the delivery:

To Col. Fannin, Commanding at Goliad:  Sir:---On my arrival here this afternoon the following intelligence was received through a Mexican, supposed to be friendly, though his account has been contradicted in some parts by another, who arrived with him. It is therefore only given to you as a rumor though I fear a melancholy portion of it will be found true. Anselmo Borgara states that he left the Alamo on Sunday the 6th inst. and is six days from Arroche's ranch; that the Alamo was attacked on Sunday morning at the dawn of day, by about two thousand three hundred men, and carried a short time before sunrise by a loss of five hundred and twenty-one Mexicans killed and as many wounded. Col. Travis had only one hundred and fifty effective men, out of his entire force of one hundred and eighty-seven. After the fort was carried seven men surrendered, and called for Santa Anna, and for quarter. They were murdered by his order. Col. Bowie was sick in bed and was also murdered. The enemy expect a reinforcement of fifteen hundred men under Gen. Cordelle, and a reserve of fifteen hundred to follow them. He also informs us that Ugartechea had arrived with two millions of specie for the payment of the troops. The bodies of the Americans were burned after the massacre. Alternate layers of wood and bodies were laid together and set on fire. Lieut. Dickinson, who had a wife and child in the fort, after having fought with desperate courage tied his child to his back and leaped from the top of a two-story building. Both were killed by the fall. I have little doubt but that the Alamo has fallen whether the above particulars are all true may be questionable. You are therefore referred to the enclosed order.
P.S. In confirmation of the truth of the fall of the Alamo, I have ascertained that Col. Travis intended firing signal guns at three different periods each day until succor should arrive. No signal guns have been heard since Sunday, though a scouting party have just returned who approached within twelve miles of it, and remained there forty-eight hours.

Accompanying the above letter was the following order:

ARMY ORDER  Headquarters, Gonzales, March 11, 1836   To Col. J. W. Fannin, Commanding at Goliad  Sir: You will as soon as practicable on receipt of this order, fall back upon Guadalupe Victoria with your command and such artillery as can be brought with expedition. The remainder will be sunk in the river. You will take the necessary measures for the defense of Victoria, and forward one-third of your effective men to this point, and remain in command until further orders. Every facility is to be afforded to women and children who may be desirous of leaving that place. Previous to abandoning Goliad, you will take the necessary measures to blow up that fortress, and do so before leaving its vicinity. The immediated advance of the enemy may be constantly expected, as well as a rise of water. Prompt movements are therefore highly important. SAM HOUSTON Commander of the Army

David Boyd Kent and Ben Highsmith remained in Goliad impatiently waiting for Fannin’s reply when finally Ben Highsmith point blank asked Fannin if he was going to answer. Fannin said "No, tell him I will not give up Fort Defiance" and the two returned to Gonzales on 15 March.

On the 13th of March, scouts Deaf Smith, Capt. Karnes and Capt. Handy volunteered to ride to San Antonio to determine precisely the situation and the position of the Mexican Army. The next day the party returned by nightfall with surviving widow of Capt. Almeron Dickenson, Mrs. Susannah Dickinson, a resident of Gonzales, her daughter Angelina, Joe, the black servant of Col. Travis, and Ben, a cook in Col. Almonte's army. The party had encountered the survivors about 20 miles outside San Antonio. Mrs. Dickinson related the details from her vantage point of the fall of the Alamo and that a division of Santa Anna's forces under Gen. Rameriz y Sesma was moving toward Gonzales with intent to kill all who opposed them.

Not knowing the position of Gen. Santa Anna and the Mexican forces, Gen. Houston ordered the immediate retreat and evacuation of Gonzales on the same evening of Mar 13. The evacuation of Gonzales, the retreat and movement of the Federalist Texan Army toward San Jacinto and the flight of DeWitt colonists to safety in east Texas known as the Runaway Scrape or Flight to the Sabine began. Two brass 24 pound artillery cannon were tossed into the river and the fragile wooden structures of Gonzales town were torched on the evening of 14 Mar to destroy any shelter or resources for the advancing Mexican Army. On their return to Gonzales in the evening of 15 March, David Boyd Kent and Ben Highsmith joined their already retreating families and friends and then reported to Gen. Houston from Goliad. David Boyd Kent noted that neighbor and friend Mrs. Isaac Millsaps, who was blind, and her children were missing from the fleeing group of DeWitt Colony residents. Upon informing Gen. Houston, he dispatched a company of men to the Millsaps homestead on the Lavaca River near the Kent place. On Peach Creek east of Gonzales town, both the army and many of the fleeing families met and camped in the fields surrounding the D.B. McClure homeplace which is still standing and has been restored as the Braches house. At a meeting under a towering oak tree which is still standing in front of the house and known today as the Sam Houston or Runaway Scrape Oak, Houston related to the refugees and Alamo widows what had happened at the Alamo. At that time Elizabeth Zumwalt Kent and family learned that what they had suspected and feared had come true---husband and father Andrew Kent was among the dead. At least 26 other DeWitt Colony ladies learned officially at the time that they were also widows and that their children were orphans. All eagerly listened to and pressed Mrs. Dickinson as eyewitness to the battle for description of the final moments of their loved ones and with hope of some last comment or words to her before their fate.

Next page--Runaway Scrape--Return to the Republic


Andrew Kent-Index
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2006, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved7