The Córdova Rebellion
Archival Correspondence | Córdova Rebellion--John Henry Brown | Encounter at Seguin--James Nichols | Flores Fight by Wilbarger | Sowell Account at Seguin | Texian Participants at Seguin | Wilbarger's Account
From the New Handbook of Texas. Vicente Córdova, Nacogdoches official during the Mexican period and leader of the Córdova Rebellion, was born in 1798. He was evidently well educated and was among the largest landholders in Nacogdoches in the late Mexican period. He served at various times as alcalde, primary judge, and regidor. He was for several years captain of a militia company and during the battle of Nacogdoches in 1832 fought on the side of the local citizens. He supported the Texas Revolution as long as it espoused a return to the Constitution of 1824 but opposed the call for Texas independence. Córdova married María Antonia Córdova on July 29, 1824; the couple evidently had several children. In the fall of 1835 Córdova secretly began to organize local resistance to the Texan revolutionaries, though as late as 1836 he was elected primary judge for the department. During this period he kept the Mexican government informed of his attempts to "foster the favorable feelings which the faithful Mexicans here have always entertained" toward Mexico. He negotiated with Chief Bowl of the Cherokee Indians and their allies, promising the Indians possession of hunting grounds and other rewards. In August 1838 he assembled a large group of Mexican loyalists and Indians on an island in the Angelina River, but the Córdova Rebellion, as it was called, was quickly suppressed. Afterward, Córdova, accompanied by a small group of Mexicans, Indians, and blacks, attempted to flee to Matamoros, Tamaulipas. The group was discovered encamped near Waterloo (now Austin) and several days later fought a battle with the Colorado volunteers led by Edward Burleson on Mill Creek near the Guadalupe River. Córdova was apparently severely wounded but managed eventually to make his way to Mexico. He returned to Texas with Gen. Adrián Woll and assisted in the occupation of San Antonio in September 1842. He was killed shortly thereafter in the battle of Salado Creek, September 18, 1842.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Robert Bruce Blake Research Collection, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin; Houston Public Library, Houston. Nacogdoches Archives, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin. Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Robert Bruce Blake
From Now You Hear My Horn, Diary of James Wilson Nichols. [Spelling unedited, bracketed additions from C.W. McDowell--Now You Hear My Horn and current Editor, Wallace L. McKeehan (WLM)] In the spring of 1839 Capt. Callah[an] [o]rdered the writer, me, to take three men and go up the San Jeronemo and over to Yorks Creek and back down Mill Creek on a scouting mission. I taken Andrew Sowell, John Sowell and James Roberts and went up the San Jeronemo and over to Yorks Creek and camped at a watter hole until we kiled two fat deer a peace and fleaced of the flesh, packed up and started accross to the head of Mill Creek. In order to fill out our time we aimed to strike the river and kill some turkey and go in next day. Ed Burleson, then liveing on the Colorado River, somhow or other had got wind of Córdovas outfit and hastily geathered togeather about 80 men, and he fell in behind Córdova and was in full chace after him. I had with my scout crossed their course ahead of them, and we assended a ridg and I looked back and to my right and saw a purfect swarm of buzzards all going south.
I says, "Boys, what does that mean," pointing to the large gang of buzzards. We all stoped and watched them a few seconds. Som said one thing and som a[nother]. Andrew Sowell says, "I will tell you what I th[ink it] means. Thare has been a larg boddy of Indians [on the w]ay down and them buzzards is [following them, and if that] is the case, as we have cros[sed ahead of them we] should go see." I says, "Boys, if it is Indians thare may be a larg crowd of them and they are makeing directly for Seg[uin] and we are heavily sacked and are nearer to Seguin than we are to whare them guns fired. I think would be more prudent for us to hasen to town and not the people, git she of our heavy packs, git the Captain and som more of the boys, and then go and see what it means."
They all agreede and we started for home. We rode as fast as we could with our heavy packs and when we arived we learned that two of Burlesons men had come in and reported that Burleson had attacted Córdova that evening and had a runing fight and had killed and wounded over half his nomber. The citizens was in conciderable excitement. This was the 14th of March 1839 and Captain Callahan was makeing preparations to guard the town, but the alarm was so sudent and it was so late thare was no horses brought in, but we had our horses though tired, and we was put on picket guard. About midnight I went to one of the boys and said, "Córdova has changed his coarse and they are not comeing here. Lets quit our posts and go in and make preparations to start at daylight and see whare they have gone." We went in and reported our belief and intention to Callahan. He says, "All right, Jim, git ready and I will go too."
We made ready for an early start but one hour before day Brother John Nichols cam [i]n without a for his gun and reported [killing an Ind]ian [that tri]ed twice to make his escape and that [he did] not [think that] war all kilt for as he started of [he saw ano]ther was shot. I went to John B a good one to bring in the w[ounded and] he said he could help me. By this time day was breaking and while we was harnessing up the horses Dave Runnels came in and repor none kilt but that Milford was badly wounded that Tom Nichols was with him. Dave had been hit with a larg ball just below the collarbone, and the ball was burred and was still sticking in his breast with a peace of his shirt under it. We then started after Milford and found him suffering very mutch. It seems that they was all sleeping soundly and dreaming perhaps of the fat turkies they was going to git in the morning, and after Córdova had been defeated by Burleson, he changed his coarse to a ford on the river near six miles above Seguin whare Milford and his men were camped. Córdova was not aware that any one was near the ford, but som of them being afoot, haveing lost their horses in the fight, and seeing the boys horses staked out mad for them. The horses commenced snorting and awoke Milford just as one of them was untying his horse. Milford supposed that the Indians had followed them in to steal their horses, snatched up his gun and fired at the one that was untying his horse and he fell. That raised the other three boys and the firing became general on both sides and lasted several minuts.
After Milford discharged his gun he was standing on his knees reloading when the ball struck him just back of the hip, go [through h]is back and down by his left kidney [and out] his right hip. Brother Thomas fired about then [at the] same man that shot Milford. [Th]are was twenty or thirty of th[em In]dians and Mex[icans] and Milford was afraid they wo[uld find] him and he asked Tom to drag him down the bank into the watter, which he did, and held him thare in the river under the bluff until their enemys left. As they themselves ware on the ran they did not tarry long, as the rangers could hear them when they was crossing the river. They listened to the receding clatter of their horses feete until they ware convinced the enemy had left, and Tom taken his charge and swam down to the ford a distance of two hundred yards, and draged him out on the bank whare we found them. We taken them home but Milford had a lingering hard and painful time before he recovered, and after he was thought to be well his hip rose and several peaces of bone worked out. Then for many years he had to undergo the same pain and suffering from his hip riseing and peaces of slivered bones working out. He finely recovered after years of pain and suffering, but it mad a cripple of him for life, but he is still liveing at this writing and limping around on one short leg and has seen as many ups and downs since that time as any man of his age.'
The next morning after the battle Burlesons men, 8 in nomber, brought in three negro prisnrs for the purpose of selling them at auction to the highest bidder. One of the prisnrs was an old gray haired man somthing near sixty years old, another one was a stou[t] likely negro man seemeingly thirty five years of age, the other a stout likely boy of sixteen summers and wounded in several places. They ware crossing the high prairie north east of Seguin when the old negro accosted one of the guards, "What you going to do with us." One of the guards spoke and said, "We [ought] to drown you as we could," in a jokeing way. The old negro would not take this for an answer but look [ed] at John Box, who was sargeant of the guarde, as though [he] had put the question to him. Box said, "I am not aware of what disposition will finely be made of the prisnrs, but I have been informed that it is likely that you will all be sold and the money divided amongst the men that captured you to pay them for their trouble."
The old negro then said, "You had better kill us now, for we will fight till we die before we will be slaves again. Do you see them hills," pointing to the Chapote Hills which stood out in bold relief on the south side of the river twelve miles below Seguin and can be seen from a great distance from almost any direction. Box says, "Yes." The negro continued, "When I was a young man I worked in a silver mine with the Mexicans in them hills, and I have been free ever sence, but before I was free I kilt women and children enough to swim in their blood if collected to one place. I kilt my master and his whole family, nine in nomber, to git my freedom, and I wont be a slave long at a time any more." Col. Burleson had preceded the prisnrs to Seguin and was w[ai]ting their comeing. When Box arived with the prisnrs he informed Burleson of the conversation by the negro. Burleson called Captain Callahan, George W. Nichols, John G. Gray, Paris Smith, French, and Abraham Roberts to sit as a court martial, the prisnrs were brought before this court martial and they interogated the old negro first. He stated the same thing to the court that he had stated to Box with the ad[dit]ion that he would fight til he died before [he would be a slave again to any] master. The court passed sentence [that he] suffer the penelty of death by being shot until dead.
The middle aged negro was then braught forward and intgated. He said he had never kilt any boddy but would if nessasary to gain his freedom if he was put back in slavery. "Now," said he, "If you will turn us loose we will go to Mexico and promace to never bother white folks again, but wont be a slave again, we have been free too long." The court gave him the same sentance and to be executed with the old one. The boy was next braught before the court and interogated. He said he was willing to be sold into slavery again, that he had not been free very long and the first time he ran away he was caught and had to take five hundred lashes on his bareback, and now the second time I ran away I have been shot in four places and captured again, and I am tired of such a life as them colord men, pointeing to the two negroes that had been sentanced, calls freedom. The court sentanced him to be sold as a slave to the highest bidder. Thare came a runner from Burlesons home stateing to Burleson that a member of his family was dangerously ill. Burleson turned the whole business over to Captain Callahan to obey the mandates of the courtmartial and left for home with a few of his men to accompany him. That night Callahan placed a double guard around the prisnrs and the next day he marched them accross the branch and up the slope west of town about a half mile and halted them under a clump of liveoaks. The two negroes was furnished with tools and mad to dig their graves. The old one worked away [as cal]mly as if he workeing for wages, but after gitting the [graves] part [dug] the young one relented and commenced to beg for his life, but Callahan said sentance had been passed on him by higher authority and he would do his duty. The negro resumed his labors with teares in his eyes but all to no purpose.
When the graves was finished Callahan ordered 8 of his men to take 8 of Burlesons mens guns and step of behind som brush and load four of them with powder and ball, the other four with powder and paper wads. They did so and braught them back and leaned them against one of the trees and Callahan then ordered 8 of Burlesons men to march passed the tree and each one to take a gun. The negroes was then mad to kneel on the brink of the grave and Callahan then blindfolded them himself, placed the men and gave orders to fire, and both negroes rolled of into the grave. After the grave was filled up they proceded to sell the boy who had been marched thare for the double purpose of witnessing the execution of his comrads and being sold. John B. Gray cried the sale, the bidding was lively for a while but soon thare was but two bidders. Finely he was knocked of to Henry Peck for 451 dollars. One writer I have noticed writeing on this subject says the boy sold for 800 dollars but my journal says 451 [See the Sowell account below] This place is within thirty steps of General Jeffersons yard gate whare his residence now stands.
This man Peck who purchest the negro boy was a yankey from Ioway. He had purchased a peace of land at and about the mouth of Mill Creek and cut a race accross the bend of the river and built a griss mill and said he needed [a young] boy to he[lp hi]m. He gave the boy good attention and Peck said he was a good study hand and seemingly well satisfide. The next summer after Peck had owned him near a year thare was a croud of boys and men in bathing in a long deepe pool just below the mill. The pool was near two hundred yards long and, about forty yards below whare they ware bathing, the river mad a sharpe turn round a point of brush. The negro boy finding a few minuts laisure from his labors, came down allso to bathe and after divesting himself of his apperial he took a runing start and plunged in head first and went under out of sight. He was a good swimmer and a good diver but he was never seen after that leap into the watter. Thare was som conjectures that he swam under watter until he arived round the bend then rose and mad his escape. My belief is that an alagaitor caught him for thare was a great many alagaitors in the river at that point and som very large ones, and, now, had it not been for the wounding of Day and the graves of the two negroes, all traces of Burlesons, fight with Córdova might long sence been obliterated and forgotten, but thare is always somthing to keepe such heroic deeds green in memory.
From Rangers and Pioneers of Texas by A.J. Sowell 1884. As the Indians and Mexican horse thieves were bad, the Sowell boys joined Captain Callahan's company of minute men in 1839. Andrew was almost constantly on the scout. On one occasion, in company with another man, he left Seguin to take a scout up the San Geronimo, a creek two miles east of town which ran in a southeast direction through the prairie towards the Guadalupe river. They struck the creek about six miles north of town, at some large springs, and after remaining a few minutes there to refresh themselves with cold draughts of water, crossed the creek and rode out beyond, so they could overlook the prairie to the York's creek divide. The country at that time was clear of brush, and the view unobstructed frorn the creek to the York's creek hills. It is now covered with a dense growth of mesquite. While standing on an elevation taking a view of the surrounding country, they discovered a lot of carrion crows sailing round in a circle to the east of them, and Soon saw that they were slowly moving towards the south. "What does those buzzards mean, Andy?" said his companion. "I will tell you what I think they mean," said Andrew, after looking at them a short time, "they are following a large body of Indians or men of some kind, to pickup what is left about the camps. Iremember when we were following the Indians the time they killed Greser, and his Mexicans, a raven kept ahead of us all the time, following in the wake of the Indians, and would fly up from their camps at our approach. The Indians kill game along the route of their march, which draws the carrion crows; and they will some times follow the trail for days and weeks." "Well, then," said his companion, "if that is the case, let's go back to town and give the alarm; likely they are on their way to attack the place." "No; I am not satisfied yet, I want to see further," said Andrew, "you go back and tell them to be on their guard, and I will see if I can make any further discoveries."
And accordingly they separated, Andrew going across to the head of Mill creek, and then turning south towards the Guadalupe river, calculating that in this round to cross the trail of the Indians, if seeing the buzzards had any thing to do with their presence in the country, but saw no signs of Indians for several miles, but when near the place where the Rev. F. Butler's farm is now situated, five mile east of Seguin, he discovered that the prairie was on fire ahead of him, and rode on very cautiously, keeping a sharp lookout, for this some times denoted the presence of Indians. Presently he heard shots fired in the direction of the burning prairie, and riding down into a deep gully, tied his horse and proceeded on foot to reconnoitre. He could hear the cracking of the tall prairie grass as it was being rapidly consumed, mingled with the occasional discharge of firearms. This greatly puzzled him and he kept undercover, with his trusty rifle grasped in his right hand, until he gained the edge of the prairie, but could still see nothing of a human being although he had just heard the report of fire-arms a few minutes before near the spot where he stood. More perplexed than ever, he was just about to turn back to where he had left his horse, when he heard a call on the prairie, and some one answered, and presently two men came together a short distance from where he was concealed in a clump of live oaks. Seeing they were white men, Andrew advanced to where they were, and learned from them that a battle had just been fought there between Burleson's rangers and a motley crowd of Mexicans, runaway negroes and Bilouxie Indians, under General Cordova. The firing which Andrew heard was from loaded guns that had been dropped by Cordova's men in their flight, and were being discharged as the fire burnt over them, The grass was set on fire by paperwads from the shot-guns of Burleson's men.
Cordova was on his way to Mexico from Nacogdoches, and had gathered followers as he went, stealing horses on the way, and committing other depredations. Mostof the negroes were runaways from the plantations in Eastern Texas. When they arrived at the Colorado, a runner was sent to Austin to notify Colonel Edward Burleson, (who commanded the rangers), of their presence. On receipt of this intelligence, Burleson lost no time in repairing to the spot where Cordova had crossed the Colorado, and there took the trail with about eighty men. The force of the enemy was said to be about 300. Burleson overtook and fought them near Mill creek, five miles east of Seguin, in the Guadalupe valley. They only stood their ground for a short time, and then fled towards the heavy timbered bottoms of the river, closely pursued by the rangers, who overtook and killed a great many of them, without losing a man and only having three wounded. During the pursuit, a stout young negro man was shot, down by some one of the foremost pursuers, but arose to his feet and was shot down a second time by another man who came galloping by; thinking he had killed him, he went on, but the negro, raised up in a sitting posture and received another shot from a ranger who was behind, but seeing that his shot did not kill him, the ranger dismounted, and drawing his bowie knife, gave him some ugly cuts as a finis he thought, and then remounting, dashed on in the chase, but when they returned after the pursuit was over, the negro was still alive, and they concluded not to kill him. A doctor who had accompanied the rangers, dressed his wounds, sewing up the knife cuts. He recovered and was afterwards sold for $800, and the money divided among the men that fought the battle. One old grey-headed negro, was captured and taken to Seguin. On the way up there, he said he used to work in a silver mine in the Capota hills with the Mexicans. These hills lie on the south side of the river, about twelve miles southeast from Seguin. The negro, was a vicious old rascal, and said he had killed women and children enough to swim in their blood. If such was the case, it would have been better for him to have kept it to himself, for when they arrived at Seguin he was taken out and shot.
Early the next morning, several of the citizens of Seguin visited the battle-ground, that is, the portion of it where the fight first commenced, which was about a mile west of Mill creek, on the high ground between where Mr. Woods and Mr. Handly now reside. It was then an open prairie, but now covered with mesquite. In the deep hollow which runs up and heads near Mr. Handley's fence, they found two dead Mexicans, and further out in the open ground, south of where the Seguin road now runs, were two dead negroes, lying close together; their clothing had been burnt off by the fire which passed over them, and they could see the bullet holes in their bodies. They presented a horrible looking sight. Further up on the rising ground, near some lone mesquite trees, lay the body of a Bilouxie Indian with the head cut off. He had been decapitated by the aforesaid doctor that was with the rangers, and this man of science put the bloody trophy in his saddle-bags and carried it home with him. It was afterwards learned that Cordova intended to take and burn Seguin as he went through, but the timely arrival of the gallant Burleson somewhat changed the programme, otherwise Captain Callahan would have had the honor of defending Seguin with his twenty-two men, but might have shared the fate of Fannin and Travis, and made a Thermopylae out of Seguin.
Just before daylight, on the morning after the battle, the fugitives came upon James M. Day, Thomas Nichols and David Runnels, three of Caldwell's rangers who had been out on a scout up the country, and were camping out on the river, five miles from town, intending to kill some turkeys next morning and bring in. At the first onset, the scouts sprang to their feet with their rifles, and Day seeing an Indian untying his horse, raised his rifle to shoot him, but received a ball in the hip before he could do so, and fell. His companions, although sorely pressed, seized their wounded companion and bore him off to the river bottom, where they succeeded in keeping their enemies at bay, who, being on the run themselves, did not tarry long, and taking the ranger's horses, contintied their flight. Tom Nichols swam the river and carried the news to Seguin. A party was then sent out with a cart and brought in Day, who is still living, but a cripple for life. A force was then raised to pursue Cordova's band towards Mexico, and if possible, to overtake and fight him again, but in this they were disappointed, and they turned back from the pursuit at what is called the Prickly Pear Prairie, near the Nueces river. This prairie has no growth upon it scarcely, except the prickley pear, which is very thick, and is a perfect den for rattlesnakes. Andrew Sowell, who accompanied this expedition, says that from the time they commenced traversing this place until they were clear of it, they were not out of the sound of rattlesnakes, and the men bad to pick their way carefully to avoid being bitten, as many of the horses had given out and the men were leading them. The reason why they gave up the pursuit here was on account of the jaded condition of the horses. Some Mexicans, who were captured in a fight some time afterwards, and were with Cordova on this trip, say that if the Texans had followed them a short distance further, they would have overtaken them, for at the time they turned back, Cordova's band had stopped on the Nueces, and were burying those of their party who had died from rattlesnake bites received in their passage through the pears. Cordova, who led this party, was afterwards killed at the battle of Salado, when San Antonio was captured by General Wall.
At the close of 1837, and in the first eight or nine months of 1838, Gen. Vicente Filisola was in command of Northern Mexico, with headquarters in Matamoros. He undertook, by various well-planned artifices, to win to Mexico the friendship of all the Indians in Texas, including, the Cherokees and their associate bands, and unite them in a persistent war on Texas. Through emissaries passing above the settlements he communicated with the Cherokees and others, and with a number of Mexican citizens, in and around Nacogdoches, and succeeded in enlisting many of them in his schemes, The most conspicuous of these Mexicans, as developed in the progress of events, was Vicente Córdova, an old resident of Nacogdoches, from which the affair has generally been called "Córdova's rebellion," but there were others actively engaged with him, some bearing American names, as Nat Norris and Joshua Robertson, and Mexicans named Juan José Rodriguez, Carlos Morales, Juan Santos Coy, José Vicenti Micheli, José Ariola, and Antonio Corda.
The first outbreak occurred on the 4th of August, 1838, when a party of Americans who had pursued and recovered some stolen horses from a Mexican settlement in Nacogdoches County, were fired upon on their return trip and one of their number killed. The trail of the assailants was followed and found to be large and made by Mexicans. On the 7th Gen. Rusk was informed that over a hundred Mexicans, headed by Córdova and Norris, were encamped on the Angelina. He immediately recruited a company of sixty volunteers and posted them at the lower ford of that stream. The enemy were then on the west side. On the 10th it was reported that about 300 Indians had joined Córdova. On the same day President Houston, then in Nacogdoches, who had issued a proclamation to the immigrants, received a letter signed by the persons whose names have been given, disavowing allegiance to Texas and claiming to be citizens of Mexico.
Córdova, on the 10th, moved up towards the Cherokee Nation. Maj. H. W. Augustin was detailed to follow his trail, while Gen. Rusk moved directly towards the village of Bowles, the head chief of the Cherokees, believing Córdova had gone there but, on reaching the Saline, it was found that he had moved rapidly in the direction of the Upper Trinity, while the great body of his followers had dispersed. To the Upper Trinity and Brazos, he went and remained till March, 1839, in constant communication with the wild Indians, urging them to a relentless war on Texas, burning and destroying the homes and property of the settlers, of course with the deadly horrors of their mode of warfare, and promising them, under the instructions of Gen. Filisola first, and his successor, Gen. Valentino Canalizo, secondly, protection under the Mexican government and fee simple rights, to the respective territories occupied by them. He sent communications to the generals named, and also to Manuel Flores, in Matamoros, charged with diplomatic duties, towards the Indians of Texas, urging Flores to meet with him for conference and a more definite understanding.
In the meantime a combination of these lawless Mexicans and Indians committed depredations on the settlements to such a degree that Gen. Rusk raised two hundred volunteers and moved against them. On the 14th of October, 1838, he arrived at Fort Houston, and learning that the enemy were in force at the Kickapoo village (now in Anderson County), he moved in that direction. At daylight on the 16th he attacked them and after a short, but hot engagement, charged them, upon which they fled with precipitation and were pursued for some distance. Eleven warriors were left dead, and, of course, a much larger number were wounded. Rusk had eleven men wounded, but none killed. The winter passed without further report from Córdova, who was, however, exerting all his powers to unite all the Indian tribes in a destructive warfare on Texas. On the 27th of February, 1839, Gen. Canalizo, who had succeeded Filisola in command at Matamoros, sent instructions to Córdova, the same in substance as had already been given to Flores, detailing, the manner of procedure and directing the pledges and promises to be made to the Indians. Both instructions embraced messages from Canalizo to the chiefs of the Caddos, Seminoles, Biloxies, Cherokees, Kickapoos, Brazos, Tehuacanos and other tribes, in which he enjoined them to keep at a goodly distance from the frontier of the United States, a policy dictated by fear of retribution from that country. Of all the tribes named the Caddos were the only ones who dwelt along that border and, in consequence of acts attributed to them, in November, 1838, Gen. Rusk captured and disarmed a portion of the tribe and delivered them to their American agent in Shreveport, where they made a treaty, promising pacific behavior until peace should be made between Texas and the remainder of their people.
Córdova goes to Matamoros. In his zeal to confer directly with Flores and Canalizo,Córdova resolved to go in person to Matamoros. From his temporary hiding place on the Upper Trinity, with an escort of about seventy-five Mexicans, Indians and negroes, he set forth in March, 1839. On the 27th of that month, his camp was discovered at the foot of the mountains, north of and not far from where the city of Austin now stands. The news was speedily conveyed to Col. Burleson at Bastrop, and in a little while that ever-ready, noble and lion-hearted defender of his country found himself at the head of eighty of his Colorado neighbors, as reliable and gallant citizen soldiers as ever existed in Texas. Surmising the probable route of Córdova, Col. Burleson bore west till he struck his trail and, finding it but a few hours old, followed it as rapidly as his horses could travel till late in the afternoon of the 29th, when his scouts reported Córdova near by, unaware of the danger in his rear. Burleson increased his pace and came up with the enemy in an open body of post oaks about six miles east, or probably nearer southeast, from Seguin, on the Guadalupe. Yoakum says the enemy fled at the first fire. He was misinformed. Córdova promptly formed his men, and, shielded by the large trees of the forest, made a stubborn resistance. Burleson dismounted a portion of his men, who also fought from the trees for some time. Finally seeing some of the enemy wavering, Burleson charged them, when they broke and were hotly pursued about two miles into the Guadalupe bottom, which they entered as twilight approached. Further pursuit was impossible at night and Burleson bore up the valley six miles to Seguin, to protect the few families resident there against a possible attack by the discomfited foe. The conduct of Gen. Burleson in this whole affair, but especially during the engagement in the post oaks, was marked by unusual zeal and gallantry. The lamented John D. Anderson, Owen B. Hardeman, Wm. H. Magill and other participants often narrated to me, the writer, then a youth, how gloriously their loved chief bore himself on the occasion. All the Bastrop people loved Burleson as a father. Córdova lost over twenty-five in killed, fully one-third of his followers, Burleson lost none by death, but had several wounded.
Caldwells Pursuit. At the time of this occurrence Capt. Matthew Caldwell, of Gonzales, one of the best known and most useful frontier leaders Texas ever had, was in command of a company of six months' rangers, under a law of the previous winter. A portion of the company, under First Lieut. James Campbell, were stationed in the embryo hamlet of Seguin. The other portion, under Caldwell, was located on the Guadalupe, fourteen miles above Gonzales and eighteen miles below Seguin, but when the news reached them of this affair, during, the night succeeding Córdova's defeat, Capt. Caldwell was in Gonzales and Second Lieut. Carroll C. Colley was in command of the camp. He instantly dispatched a messenger, who reached Caldwell before daylight. The latter soon sent word among the yet sleeping villagers, calling for volunteers to join him by sunrise. Quite a number were promptly on hand among whom were Ben McCulloch and others of approved gallantry. Traveling rapidly, the camp was soon reached and, everything being in readiness, Capt. Caldwell lost no time in uniting with Campbell at Seguin, so that in about thirty-six hours after Burleson had driven Córdova into the Guadalupe bottom, Caldwell, with his own united company (omitting the necessary camp guards), and the volunteer citizens referred to, sought, found and followed the trail of Córdova.
But when Córdova, succeeding his defeat, reached the river, he found it impracticable to ford it and, during the night, returned to the uplands, made a detour to the east of Seguin, and struck the river five miles above, where, at daylight, March 30th, and at the edge of the bottom, he accidentally surprised and attacked five of Lieut. Campbell's men returning from a scout, and encamped for the night. These men were James M. Day, Thomas R. Nichols, John W. Nichols, D. M. Poor and David Reynolds. Always on the alert though surprised at such an hour by men using fire-arms only, indicating a foe other than wild Indians, they fought so fiercely as to hold their assailants in check sufficiently to enable them to reach a dense thicket and escape death, though each one was severely wounded. They lost their horses and everything excepting their arms. Seeing Córdova move on up the river, they continued down about five miles to Seguin, and when Caldwell arrived early next morning, gave him this information. Besides those from Gonzales, Caldwell was joined at Seguin by Ezekiel Smith, Sr., Peter D. Anderson and French Smith, George W. Nichols, Sr., William Clinton, H. G. Henderson, Doctor Henry, Frederick Happell, George H. Gray and possibly two or three others. [According to his memoirs, Nathan Boone Burket was also in this troop-WLM]
Caldwell pursued Córdova, crossing the Guadalupe where New Braunfels stands, through highlands north of and around San Antonio and thence westerly or northwesterly to the Old Presidio de Rio Grande road, where it crosses the Rio Frio and along that road to the Nueces. It was evident from the "signs" that he had gained nothing in distance on the retreating, chief who would easily cross the Rio Grande thirty or forty miles ahead. Hence farther pursuit was futile and Caldwell returned, followed the road to San Antonio. He had started without provisions, relying upon wild game but Córdova's party had, for the moment, frightened wild animals from the line of march and after a serpentine route of a hundred and sixty miles through hills, the men were in need of food and became much more so before traveling a hundred and ten additional miles to San Antonio. Arriving, there, however, the whole town welcomed then, with open arms. In a note to the author written August 24, 1887, more than forty-eight years later, Gen. Henry E. McCulloch, who was a private in Caldwell's Company, says: "The hospitable people of that blood-stained old town, gave us a warm reception and the best dinner possible in their then condition, over which the heroic and ever lamented Col. Henry W. Karnes presided. They also furnished supplies to meet our wants until we reached our respective encampments."
On the way out Caldwell passed at different points wounded horses abandoned by Córdova. One such, in the mountains, severely wounded, attracted the experienced eye of Ben McCulloch as a valuable horse, if he could be restored to soundness. On leaving San Antonio for home by permission of Capt. Caldwell, with a single companion, he went in search of the horse. He found him, and by slow marches took him home, where, under good treatment, he entirely recovered, to become famous as "Old Pike," McCulloch's pet and favorite as long as he lived---a fast racer of rich chestnut color, sixteen hands high, faultless in disposition and one of the most sagacious horses ever known in the country. The tips of his ears had been split for about an inch, proving his former ownership by one of the Indian tribes. Another coincidence may be stated, viz., that returning from a brief campaign in June, 1841, when at a farm house (that of Mrs. Sophia Jones), eight miles from Gonzales, the rifle of an old man named Triplett, lying across his lap on horseback, with the rod in the barrel, accidentally fired, driving the ramrod into Old Pike's shoulder blade, not over four feet distant. McCulloch was on him at the time and the writer of this, just dismounted, stood within ten feet. The venerable Mrs. Jones (mother of the four brothers, William E., Augustus H., Russell and Isham G. Jones), wept over the scene as she gazed upon the noble animal in his agonizing pain, and strong men wept at what they supposed to be the death scene of Old Pike. But it was not so. He was taken in charge by Mrs. Jones the fragments of the shattered ramrod, one by one, extracted, healthy suppuration brought about and, after about three months' careful nursing, everyone in that section rejoiced to know that Old Pike was himself again. In a chase after two Mexican scouts, between the Nueces and Laredo, in the Somervell expedition, in December, 1842, in a field of perhaps twenty-five horses, Flacco, the Lipan chief, slightly led, closely followed by Hays on the horse presented him by Leonard W. Grace, and Ben McCulloch, on Old Pike. Both Mexicans were captured.
Pursuit and death of Manuel Flores. Bearing in mind what has been said of Córdova's .correspondence with Manuel Flores, the Mexican Indian agent in Matamoros, and his desire to have a conference with that personage, it remains, in the regular order of events, to say that Flores, ignorant of the calamitous defeat of Córdova (on the 29th of March, 1839), set forth from Matamoros probably in the last days of April, to meet Córdova and the Indian tribes wherever they might be found, on the upper Brazos, Trinity or east of the latter. He had an escort of about thirty Indians and Mexicans, supplies of ammunition for his allies and all his official papers from Filisola and Canalizo, to which reference has been made, empowering him to treat with the Indians so as to secure their united friendship for Mexico and combined hostility to Texas. His march was necessarily slow. On the 14th of May, he crossed the road between Seguin and San Antonio, having committed several depredations on and near the route, and on the 15th crossed the Guadalupe at the old Nacogdoches ford. He was discovered near the Colorado not far above where Austin was laid out later in the same year.
Lieut. James O. Rice, a gallant young ranger, in command of seventeen men, fell upon his trail, pursued, overhauled and assailed him on Brushy creek (not the San Gabriel as stated by Yoakum), in the edge of Williamson County. Flores endeavored to make a stand, but Rice rushed forward with such impetuosity as to throw the enemy into confusion and flight. Flores and two others were left dead upon the ground, and fully half of those who escaped were wounded. Rice captured and carried in one hundred horses and males, three hundred pounds of powder, a large amount of shot, balls, lead, etc., and all the correspondence in possession of Flores, which revealed the whole plot for the destruction of the frontier people of Texas, to be followed up by the devastation of the whole country. The destruction of the whole demoniacal scheme, it will be seen, was accomplished by a train of what must be esteemed providential occurrences.
The fate of Vicente Córdova. Córdova after these admonitions, never returned to East or North Texas, but remained on the Rio Grande. In September, 1842, in command of a small band of his renegade Mexicans and Indians, he accompanied the Mexican General, Adrian Woll, in his expedition against San Antonio, and was in the battle of Salado, on Sunday the 18th of that month. While Woll fought in front, Córdova led his band below the Texian position on the creek and reached a dry ravine where it entered the timbered bottom, at right angles with the corner of the creek. At intervals were small thickets on the ravine, with open spaces between. Córdova, in the nearest open space to the bottom and about ninety yards to the right of my company, when in the act of firing, was shot dead by John Lowe, who belonged to the adjoining company on our right and stood about thirty feet from me, while I was loading my gun. I watched the affair closely, fearing that one of our men might fall from Córdova's fire. There could, at the instant, be no mistake about it. Others saw the same but no one knew it was Córdova till his men were driven from the position by Lieut. John R. Baker of Cameron's Company, when old Vasquez, a New Madrid Spaniard in our command, recognized him, as did others later. And thus perished Córdova, Flores, and largely, but by no means entirely, their schemes for uniting the Indians against the people of Texas. The great invasion of 1840, and other inroads were a part of the fruit springing from the intrigues of Filisola and Canalizo.
These entire facts, in their connection and relation to each other, have never before been published and while some minor details have been omitted, it is believed every material fact has been correctly stated. In subsequent years contradictory statements were made as to the manner of Córdova's death, or rather, as to who killed him. I simply state the absolute truth as I distinctly saw the fact. The ball ran nearly the whole length of the arm, horizontally supporting his gun, and then entered his breast, causing instant death. I stated the fact openly and repeatedly on the ground after the battle and no one then asserted differently. Caldwell's Company of six months' men, while failing to have any engagement, rendered valuable service in protecting the settlers, including Gonzales and Seguin, on the Guadalupe, the San Marcos and La Vaca. In the summer of 1839, Capt. Caldwell also furnished and commanded an escort to Ben McCulloch in surveying and opening a wagon road from Gonzales to the proposed new capital of Texas, then being laid out at Austin, the course, from the court house at Gonzales, being N. 17 W., and the distance by actual measurement, fifty-five and one-fourth miles. Referring, back to numerous trips made on that route from soon after its opening in 1839 to the last one in 1869, the writer has ever been of the impression that (outside of mountains and swamps), it was the longest road for its measured length, he ever traveled.