© 1997-2002, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
DeWitt Colony Captains-Index



Fight for your Homes and Families and give the Hell---there was something very solom with great courage as well as Chivaraly mixed with a little of the comic in the appearance of the Col---above the common hight of men a little slim dark hair now mixed with white patches mor partulary in the Beard by which he got the Sobriquite of Old Paint....James Ramsay at the Battle of Salado.

Mathew (Old Paint) Caldwell was born in Kentucky about 1798 and is said to have acquired the nickname because of white spots in his hair, beard and on his breast like a paint horse. According to Kemp in The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, Caldwell is thought, like the Burkett, Zumwalts, Kents and DeWitts, to have come from Missouri. Baker in Texas Scrapbook says he came from Tennessee. Other records indicate that Caldwell and his family were part of the party who came to the colony as part of the Tennessee-Texas Land Company. Land records indicate that Caldwell arrived in the DeWitt Colony with a family of 5 on 20 Feb 1831. He received title to a sitio of land on 22 Jun 1831 southwest of current Hallettsville in Lavaca County near the Zumwalt Settlement.  In Gonzales Caldwell acquired the original James Hinds residence on Water St. across from the Guadalupe River south of the Dickinson and Kimble Hat Factory.  Dixon in The Men Who Made Texas states that Caldwell was born 8 Mar 1798, moved with his parents to Missouri in 1818, became a skilled Indian fighter in Missouri and was involved in trading with local Indians in the territory.  Dixon further states he came to Texas from Missouri via Natchitoches by horseback in 1833 and first settled in current Sabine County where he was elected along with Stephen Blount and Martin Parmer to represent the area at the Independence Convention of 1836.  Election returns in Gonzales County show Caldwell and John Fisher were elected delegates from that municipality for the convention.  On 2 Mar, Caldwell along with William C. Crawford and William D. Lacy were appointed by the President to procure couriers to send expresses to the army "Believing it of vital importance that this convention know correctly the true situation of our enemy on the frontier, and also the condition of our army, they would recommend the convention to accept the services of Major Caldwell, who purposes to start this day to the frontier."

In Nov 1835, he was appointed a subcontractor by William Pettus, main contractor appointed by the Provisional Government of Texas, to supply a Volunteer Army. On 1 Feb 1836, he and John Fisher were elected delegates from the Gonzales Municipality to the Texas Independence Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the Brazos and both were signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Caldwell was one on the committee of three appointed to assess the situation of the enemy on the frontier and the condition of the Texian army. Capt. Caldwell's reports and letters give insight into his activities:

Report to Provisional Governor Henry Smith
Gonzales 19th Dec. 1835 His Excellency Govr Smith San Felipe De Austin Sir I have now the honor to give you a report of my proceedings in the discharge of my public duty as Sub-Contractor to the Volunteer Army of Texas which I hope will receive your approbation. I am on the point of sending out a company in pursuit of the Indians, who committed last night depredations on this neighborhood, and they have also been seen between this and Cibolo Four wagons will leave this day for the Army at Bexar with supplies, consisting of Coffee, Sugar, Soap, Salt, Corn Meal and blankets, forty beeves will also leave at the same time, with about 5 Cwt of iron, and I intend contracting with Capt Bateman for 10,000 lbs Pork, all which I trust will be of seasonable relief Considering that two pieces of Artillery are requisite for the protection of this frontier, I shall request the Commander at Bexar to furnish me with them, say one 6 and one 4 pounder. The funds placed at my disposal, are nearly exhausted, as per account annexed and I have respectfully to suggest a further supply in order to meet immediate and pressing wants. Five Kegs powder and some lead remain on hand to be forwarded when required, Permit me to recommend to your Excellency my Assistant Mr Edward Gritton, whose services have been useful, and who lately performed an important one, in conveying supplies of powder and lead to the army before Bexar I have the honor to remain with great respect Yr Ob Svt. Mathew Caldwell Sub Contractor Since my last of the Ist Instant I have given the following order on the Provisional Government of Texas, viz: Decr 18th 1835. To Horace Eggleston for $212,50, No. 512---To Jno Lowell for $15---To Horace Eggleston for $46,50. Mathew Caldwell Sub Contractor

Attack by Joseph P. Lawler
Gonzales Dec 22 1835 To The provisional Council
Honoured Gentlemen On Saturday evening last I was rudely assailed by an assassin in this place and unfortunately receiv'd several wounds one of which has caused much apprehensions and fear for my safety. This is to request that public advertisement may be made and that a reward of one hundred dollars be offered (which I hereby authorize) for his apprehension. Cats. Clemons & Barrett are particularly requested to attend to the above as a peculiar favor and act of friendship, which will be greatfully acknowledged. The perpetrator of the act was Jos P Laller Doct Jos E Field happoned to be passing through this place on his way to San Philip but was, by me, and my friends prevailed upon to remain with me but I hope this delay will not prevent his obtaining the appointment of surgeon in the regular army which I am told he wishes to obtain Mathew Caldwell

9 Jan 1836 Appeal for funds
To the President and Perminent deputation of Texas in Convention Convened
I now must inform you something of the present situation of this country. I have endeavored to Give assistance to the army every way in iny power that is now in Bexar, Yesterday I have in Order to comply with the comdt of that place sent fifty Bushels of corn meal, and some beef cattle are now collecting for that place, therefore I must now inform you, that articles necessary to furnish that army are Scarce here as the Volunteers ever since the war has been Furnished with verry much from this place and there is now no more than is immediately needed for the families in this Munity and there is no funds here in my hands which has not been applied to public use, therefore I must say it is Out of my power to comply in contracting for the army any longer without funds being placed in my hands, to disbirs as the people here cannot longer render their services individually nor their property or teams without pay, as they are for the preservation of their families bound to use their Money to their own individual purpose. I have seen your Resolves regulating and providing for Rangers on tlie frontier, I only say to You, that in regard to the appointing thec officers to command the rangers in this division the people will not organize under that regulation but if your Honourable body will See fit to permit us to Elect our own officers to command the company, up to a Captain in that Event I think a company may be made, which we much need, I am at this time much recovering from my wounds & afflictions, that I informed you of in my last communication, having nothing more of importance to inform you of at present, but remain Your Humble Sevt. &c Gonzales Jany the 9th 1835 [1836] Mathew Caldwell

On January 14, the council voted that it could not take action on this request stating "Mr. Caldwell is not known to this house as a contractor, and if he has been appointed subcontractor, it is his duty to settle with the individual who appointed him."  On 4 Feb 1836, a letter signed by D.C. Barrett, J.D. Clements, Alexander Thompson and G.A. Patillo agreed with Capt. Caldwell's latter suggestion concluding the organization of the Ranger Corp was not working and proposed solutions to acting governor Robinson. Caldwell, Byrd Lockhart and William A. Mathews were appointed commissioners on the issue for Gonzales.

Authorization of funds. In a letter of 20 Jan 1836, acting provisional governor James W. Robinson in San Felipe authorized Caldwell to draw money from alcalde Andrew Ponton for supplies purchased by the government. A letter from Robinson to Ponton of 21 Jan stating that Gen. Burleson has been given $300 from government funds to deliver to Ponton.

Receipt for supplies
The Provisional Government of Texas To Mathew Caldwell.
1835 October 1st For 75 measured bushels of Corn, furnished to the Army when at Gonzales at 75.00
Decr. 1st For 5 do. do. furnished to Capt. Read's company from the Neches 5.00
Deer. 16. For 3 hogs and I beef steer, killed to supply soldiers coming from the Army with meat at $8 each 32.00
Gonzales 23d January 1836 Mathew Caldwell

Receipt to Simon Bateman
Provisional Government of Texas To Simeon Bateman
Jany 10 To 175 bushels Corn at 1$ 175.00
Hawling and sucking 5 loads to Gonzales at 10 cents 50.00
Jany 15 To Hawling 50 bushels Corn to San Antonio 2500 lbs at 2$ 50.00
Jany 19 To Hawling 2 Cannon from San Antonio to Gonzales 1000 lbs at 1.75 17.50
Jany 19 To Hire of Negroes Hearding Cattle 2 mo. 2lds, at 20$ per mo. 53.35
Gonzales Feb 7, 1836 At Sight please pay Mr. Simeon Bateman or order Three Hundred and forty five 85/100 dollars for value received. Mathew Caldwell Sub Contractor

On 2 Mar 1836, Capt. Caldwell signed the Texas Declaration of Independence at the General Independence Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. On 17 Mar, he signed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas at the same convention.

Robinson to Mirabeau Lamar 1839
Gonzales Feb 24. 1839 To His Excellency Mirabeau B. Lamar, President of the Republic of Texas
Dr Sir Capt. Mathew Caldwell of this place accepts the appointment you were pleased to extend to as Captain for the term of 3 months to range on the frontiers of Gonzales county, & will proceed to raise the company as soon as possible. He also wishes me to inform you that he accepts the appointment of Capt. in the Regular Regt. commanded by Col. Burlison, as you were pleased to request me to inform him, and the assignment of the post on the San Marks River- But he is informed through Col. Wells that all the officers of Burleson's Regt has been appointed, and no place left for him, nor has he been appointed. If so your Excellency must have forgotten the promise made to me for Capt. C. & also to Col. Burleson & to Switzer, & I hope he can yet be provided for, as I do think him the best Capt. of Spies in Texas, even superior in many respects to the old veteran Deaf Smith. He caught a mustang stallion the other day, & held him until his fellow hunter shot an other, & skinned a larriette to tie him, & they have him here now, an exploit not surpassed by Gen. Putman's wolf story. Your friend truly James W. Robinson [Addressed] [Endorsed] To His Excellency J. W. Robinson Mirabeau B. Lamar Gonzales-City of Houston Feb. 24, 1839. Texas

In 1839, he was appointed by President Mirabeau B. Lamar to raise a company of rangers to defend Goliad in response to increased attempts of the Mexican Army to take back Texas. On 23 March 23 1839, he became Captain of a company in the 1st Regiment of Infantry of the army of the Texas Republic. Capt. Caldwell was known as an exceptional and skillful Indian fighter. He was wounded at the Council House Fight in March 1840 and a key commander in the defeat of the Comanche force at Plum Creek on 12 Aug under Gen. Huston and Burleson. Caldwell was captured and spent time in prison in Mexico leading Company D of the scouting force in the Santa Fe Expedition in 1841 under Gen. McLeod. Soon after his release he participated in the Battle of the Salado in San Antonio 18 Sep 1842 when Gen. Adrian Woll’s forces. Caldwells personality and style was also described by the author's uncle Nathan Boone Burkett in his memoirs Early Days in Texas, who served under him at Salado:

"In getting ready for the battle on the Salado, Captain Caldwell prepared us by saying that the test had come. He rolled up his sleeves and stopped in front of the men with a red handkerchief tied around his head, and made us a speech something like this: Boys, I have longed to see the day when I would have a chance to fight these rascals, ever since I spent some time in a Mexican prison, Now boys, the time has come, and I do not want you to shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes. If every one of you will pick your men and make a sure shot, we will whip h--- out of them before they know it.'"

His spirit and personality is further exhibited in his official report of the engagement:

"September 17, 1842, 7 PM, at the Salado, two miles above the old crossing. We commenced fighting at eleven o'clock to-day. A hot fire was kept up until about one hour by the sun, when the enemy retreated, bearing off their dead on the ground, and very many dead and wounded were taken from the field by their friends. We have a glorious band of Texas patriots, among whom only ten were wounded, and not one killed. The enemy are around me on every side, but I fear them not. I will hold my position until I hear from reenforcements. Come and help me--it is the most favorable opportunity I have ever seen. There are eleven hundred of the enemy. I can whip them on any ground, without any help, but can not take any prisoners. Why don't you come? Huzza! huzza for Texas! MATTHEW CALDWELL, Colonel Commanding."

Robert Hall in his memoirs related his view of Capt. Caldwell:

"President Lamar concluded that he wanted to open up some sort of communication and trade with Santa Fe, and he sent Capt. Paint Caldwell with about one hundred men to that far away city. This was very a very strange piece of diplomacy. Caldwell was one of the most remarkable men that ever lived. He had a heart of gold, and the word fear conveyed no meaning to his soul. In open violation of every principle of international comity and courtesy, the whole force was made to surrender as prisoners of war in the city of Santa Fe. They were never treated as prisoners of war. Most of the men were loaded with chains and thrown into dungeons. After some time they were started on the long march to the City of Mexico on foot. In a few days the burning sun and the scorching sand began to crush the poor worn out prisoners. One who understood the Spanish language heard an officer say to the guards, "If the Americano diablos drop in the road, cut their throats as you would a dog, and bring me their ears that I may account for my prisoners." This act of butchery and inhumanity was performed several times. One day Capt. Caldwell himself fell in the road on the hot sand. A Mexican officer more humane than the others had become attached to the brave old veteran, and he bent over the prostrate and as he thought dying soldier and whispered: "If you desire I will cut your ears off and report you dead. Possibly you may hobble to some ranch and survive." The old captain could not bear the idea of losing his cars, and he struggled to his feet and rejoined his miserable comrades. I think he was gone about eighteen months. The Mexican government released these prisoners, but mad ethem swear that they would never again bear arms against Mexico. Capt. Caldwell got home just in time to participate in the battle of Salado. He regarded the oath that he had taken under duress as nothing, but always said that he never intended to surrender again to any Mexican soldiers."

George W. Kendall related the following story illustrating Capt. Caldwell's storytelling and character while they were on the forced march just out of San Miguel in New Mexico to Mexico after capture on the Sante Fé Expedition:

I cannot leave our encampment among the cottonwoods near the Casa Colorada without relating an amusing story told that evening by "Old Paint" Caldwell. The time appeared ill-assorted with merriment and laughter, yet laugh we did, and heartily too, at the recital of the old captain's anecdote.  Among the passengers in the cart with poor McAllister were the narrator and a man who went by the soubriquet of "Stump"; there may have been others, but if there were I have now forgotten their names. In the morning, before starting, Stump had declared that he could not walk a mile-to save his life, even-and so positive was he upon this point, that a place was provided for him in the cart. When this vehicle met with the accident, of course Stump was thrown upon his feet with the rest. While the few words were passing between McAllister and Salezar, and previous to the inhuman murder of the former [McAllister, who was unable to stay on his feet, was shot on the spot by Salezar after an invitation by McAllister to go ahead and kill him--WLM], Stump was hobbling about, apparently unable to walk at all: his feet were sore, his knees were stiff, and not a bone was there in his body that did not pain him at every movement-he was curled up, the picture of despair; but no sooner did he see his comrade fall, and feel the certainty that he, too, would meet with a similar fate unless he put his powers of locomotion in immediate action, than, to use the old captain's own words, Stump straightened up and started at a pace that would have staggered Captain Barclay, Ellworth, or the greatest pedestrian mentioned in the annals of "tall walking." Stump went by, first one, then another of his companions, and never abated his stride until he was in the lead of the whole party of prisoners: a position he pertinaciously kept through the remainder of the day, and, in fact, during the march.  In the morning he could not walk a mile; he afterward did walk something like eighteen hundred, and without flagging. This story of the old captain's through, we cast our weary limbs upon the earth, and as the grove of trees in which we were encamped materially deadened the force of the wind, we were enabled to pass a more comfortable night than any since we left San Miguel.

According to Miles S. Bennet relating Caldwell's expertise as an Indian fighter:

"His perceptions were so acute that while hunting with him his companions often declared they believed that "Old Paint" could smell Indians when in their vicinity; yet withal he was courteous and genial in his demeanor, and especially considerate to the young."

Capt. Caldwell died at his home in Gonzales on 28 Dec 1842 at the age of 43, just three months after his victory as commander at Salado.  The controversy and criticism surrounding the decision of the Texian force not to attack, pursue and capture the retreating Mexican force under Gen. Woll at the Hondo River is thought by most historians to have weighed heavily on the Captain in addition to the collective toll of illnesses suffered during and after his imprisonment as a consequence of the Santa Fe Expedition.  Although Caldwell accepted responsibility for breaking off the pursuit, it is clear that he was not in full command of the force which suffered from bickering among multiple officers for leadership. Collective factors including the lack of cohesive leadership, poor supplies, fatigue and the distance from home near Mexican territory are thought to influenced Capt. Caldwell's to consent to break off the action and eventually return north to home.

In his official report in which he apparently assumed fault for not pursuing and attacking Woll's army, Capt. Caldwell pointed out that he at no time was able to determine the Mexican troops front and

....owing to the boggy situation of the ground and tired horses, I failed to support him [Capt. John C. Hays in capture of a cannon, an action for which Caldwell had approved]. I then found General Woll with his command formed in the prairie, ready for action, and owing to the situation he had taken, I considered that I was not able to attack him, without suffering severe loss---nor was I able at any time, to force him to fight, only on his own ground, and owing to the situation of tired horses, tired men, and scarcity of ammunition, I deemed it prudent to fall back to San Antonio. I also had the best reasons to believe that General Woll had re-enforcements near at hand to cover his retreat.

John Holland Jenkins wrote in his reminiscences of Texas history: ".....There seemed to be a strange want of discipline or system or harmony among the officers....who could not agree as to the proper line of policy, and stood discussing and debating questions, while the soldiers were all the time growing more perplexed and impatient."  Others related that although Col. John H. Moore had consented earlier to Caldwell's leadership, he insisted the right to command at the moment.   Col. James S. Mayfield's men indicated they would fight behind no one but him.   Col. Caldwell indicated that he would follow Moore or any other leader into the battle.

Jenkins described Caldwell's response to an apparent unilateral action on the part of Capt. Billingsley's company:

Captain Billingsley understanding the situation, and knowing the value of prompt action, called out to the soldiers--"Boys do you want to fight?" A loud "Yes" was the instant reply.  Then "Follow Me!" he called, and marched on, leading a considerable force. We were already approaching very near the Mexican infantry drawn up in line of battle, and in two minutes the charge would have been made and the fight commenced. But at this juncture superior authority interfered.  Col. Caldwell galloping up, called out to Billingsley, asking, "Where are you going?"  "To Fight!" was the answer.  "Counter march those men back to ranks," Caldwell commanded, and we were forced to take our places back in the standing army, all worried and disgusted with what seemed to us then a cowardly hesitation and still seems a disgraceful confused proceeding without motive or design.

A Dawson prisoner in the Woll camp agreed that ".....four hundred men [Texians] would have fallen a sacrifice to rashness.....I then as now thought that the Texans acted very prudently.  Sacrifices made were already sufficient; and I must here bear testimony to the officer-like conduct of the brave Caldwell and his men.  We were near them on the Salado, but they were not strong enough to venture out to our aid.  They have my thanks for their good conduct." Although the latter statement refers to Dawson's troop at the Salado, the former comment is thought to refer to Caldwell's actions on the Hondo. 

Eyewitness reports of participants on the scene vary in their assessment of Capt. Caldwell's actual position in whether to continue the attack on Woll's forces or break off and return home.  Uncle Nate Burkett says:

Mayfield and Captain Caldwell made speeches that morning, but Caldwell told us he was not in favor of following this Mexican army any further. He stated his desire had been accomplished at the Salado, he said he knew we could whip them, but we could not do it without losing a good many of our men, and added: "I would not give ten of my men for the entire Mexican army." Mayfield attempted to make a speech in opposition to Caldwell, then they both stepped out in front and called for volunteers to decide the question. Captain Caldwell got at least two-thirds or three-fourths of the men, so we decided to return to our home.

The Rev. Z.N. Morrell, whose son survived the Dawson Massacre and was among the prisoners in Gen. Woll's army, and who had made great effort to encourage engagement in hope of release of the prisoners, placed full blame on Mayfield against whom he held a grudge throughout his life.  He mentions that Ben McCulloch influenced the decision to not attack late on the first day in support of Hay's spy company going after one of Woll's cannons.  Morrell relates:

The men were called up early in the morning, knowing that a council of war had been held, and that Caldwell was advised to lead his command in pursuit of the enemy. Feeling anxious to overtake the enemy early in the day, lest the coming night might interfere with the capture, as on the evening before, I did all I could to assist both Hays and Caldwell to get the men ready......In spite of all that Colonel Caldwell, Captain Hays, and others could do, the contest was abandoned. It required at this time the combined strength of our little army to compete with the enemy, and as Mayfield had succeeded in intimidating quite a number of the command, it became necessary to give up the pursuit.

Morrell was a close associate of Caldwell at home in Gonzales.  Morrell relates the following story concerning Capt. Caldwell's support of his early ministry in Gonzales in the fall of 1837 in Flowers and Fruits in the Wilderness:

These preachers [Robert Alexander, Dr. Smith, Roark and Andrew McGowan] were now present, intending to hold a protracted meeting [in Gonzales].  This was the first meeting of days ever held in the town, and it was rather more than the fiends and mockers could willingly submit to. The house in, which they proposed to hold the meeting was a vacated billiard-room on Main Street, with a long gallery in front. On the second night of the meeting there was a general attendance of the citizens, loafers and gambler's of the place. We soon discovered that the disturbers of our peace on former occasions were present, with the intention of interfering with the worship of the congregation, without  the fear of God or man before their eyes. A man was stationed on the side of the house, just behind where the preacher stood, with a hen in his arms. While the preacher was lining out his hymn he would hold the chicken by the neck. When the congregation would sing he would make it squall. A large copper-colored negro man was stationed on the gallery in front, with some twenty or more of these lewd fellows around him, partly intoxicated. When the congregation sang and the hen squalled, the negro, acting under orders, would put his head in at the window and shout at the top of his voice, "Glory to God."  The response from outside was given, "Amen and amen!"  I was sitting near by the window from whence the disturbance came; iny wife and daughter were near by me. I arose and stood by the window with the walking-cane in my hand that I bad brought from Tennessee, made of hickory, with a buck-horn head. My bosom heaved with holy indignation, and as the negro put his head into the window the second time, as the congregation sang and the hen squalled, I struck him just above the left eye, making a scar that he carried to his grave. This band had always treated me with courtesy, yet it was clear to my mind that they intended to drive these preachers from the town, and I felt confident my time would come next. After the stroke with my cane, they were peremptorily ordered away, with the statement that there were more dangerous weapons than the stick behind. It had been customary with us, since the Indians killed two of our men during religious service at Nashville the year before, to take our weapons with us to church, as well as to other places. Some usually stood guard while others worshipped. There was no farther disturbance of consequence until the services were over. The sermon was preached by Mr. Roark; Mr. Alexander closed. 

Before the congregation was dismissed, I claimed the right to make a short but plain speech. In this speech I stated that I had often tendered my thanks to the people of the town for their politeness and good behavior in the house of God, regretted that the thanks tendered on other occasions were not due on this. Before me are sons from the battlefield of San Jacinto, coming from the various parts of the United States. For what did you traverse the prairies of the west, under the command of the gallant Houston? And for what did you charge the enemy's cannon and burn the bridges behind him, unless it was for civil and religious liberty?  Santa Anna has been captured, and priestcraft driven from the land; and yet, in less than two years, you have commenced to pull down what you have built up by so much toil and sacrifice. We are determined, as ministers of the gospel, that we will not be run out of Texas, nor out of this town. For one I can say, let Texas rise or fall, live or die, her fate shall be mine; and I believe God will yet overrule all this to his glory. I have looked for something in the Scriptures to justify my hasty conduct on this occasion. The Saviour, driving the thieves from the temple, is the nearest I can find. In this case the house of God was made the house of mockery. After the congregation was dismissed, fears were entertained by my friends for my personal safety. The band of mockers hung round the door to the last. Col. Matthew Caldwell, who, at the head of his command, distinguished himself on so many hard-fought battle-grounds against both Mexicans and Indians, was present with his family on this occasion. He stopped at the door before passing out, and addressed the miserable crew. "Gentlemen, I have a wife and daughters here, as well as Mr. Morrell, and this state of things shall be broken up. If there is any fighting to be done, you can put me down on the side of civilization and religious liberty." No violence was attempted upon any of us; but, quite a crowd of these men followed close upon the heels of the preachers, as they retired, and barked at them like dogs.

A feeling of righteous indignation was felt in the bosom of every worthy citizen of the place, and the community was called together the next morning, at the instance of Col. Caldwell. At this meeting, and in the presence of these ministers, that had labored for us the previous evening, resolutions were offered and passed, condemning in severe terms the manifestations and interruptions of this wicked crew on former occasions, and strongly in favor of morality and social order. I have lived in Texas thirty-four years since then, and have witnessed no more such demonstrations.

Author Joseph Milton Nance in Attack and Counter-Attack referring to a report in the Telegraph and Texas Register, 1842 says "many were loud in their complaints of Caldwell and openly reproached him. Their reproaches so annoyed him that 'he went off by himself as a private soldier,' during their retreat to San Antonio, and on the bank of the Medina he was seen sitting alone by a little camp fire that he had built with his own hands, roasting a piece of meat on the end of a stick, the only food that he could obtain!"  Nance points out that the blame for the failure to continue the pursuit and engage the Mexicans in a general fight was cast principally upon Caldwell by those military leaders whose ambitions made them jealous of the "hero of the Salado." "'Old Paint' ought to have been left untrammeled as he had fought and won the battle of the Soldau [Salado]," recorded Harvey Adams in his diary, for he "would have captured Woll's entire army and rescued all the prisoners, if left to his own choice, but that would have added too many Laurels to the brow of the old hero." Although Houston had lauded Caldwell for the action at Salado approving of the pursuit of Woll and even crossing the border if necessary, when he learned that the enemy had been allowed to withdraw without a serious attempt being made to annihilate his army, Houston stated "A little Cast Steel or steel without the soap, well applied would have prevented the Mexicans ever leaving Texas---but so the world wags!!"  "What a pity they did not reconnoiter the force at San Antonio--ere they hallowed wolf. This won't make a Major General...."

Capt. Caldwell married Mrs. H. Morrison in Washington County on 17 May 1837 with Rev. W.P. Smith officiating. After her death he married Mrs. Lily Lawley. He was the father of three or more children, Martha (m. Isham D. Davis), Ann (m. Johnson Baker Ellison) and Curtis who died young. . Caldwell County, Texas is believed to have been named in honor of Mathew Caldwell. At his military funeral in 1842, D.C. Vanderlip delivered the following oration:

...when the events of the present day become matters of history--when the present generation are in their graves and other men occupy our placed, posterity will read, with wonder and admiration, that the gallant Caldwell with a handful of undiscipled volunteers, fearlessly took a position in immediate neighborhood of a disciplined army of the enemy of more than six times his own number, checked their progress and encountered their attacks, and compelled them to return from the field and the country, and then saved, the destruction of our capitol.

In 1930, the State of Texas erected a monument at his grave in Gonzales cemetery.

© 1997-2002, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved