SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2000, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
The Fredonian Rebellion-Index
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Personal observations from Frank W. Johnson, History of Texas and Texans. In the latter part of this year , the colonists were startled by the news of a movement by Colonel Edwards, of Nacogdoches, who had obtained permission from Coahuila and Texas to introduce and settle a certain number of families in Eastern Texas, but his contract being declared void, he was ordered to leave the country, by proclamation of the governor; feeling himself ill used by the authorities, he raised the standard of revolt, and allied himself with certain of the Cherokee chiefs who had settled or "squatted" in Texas. This news was communicated to the Mexican authorities at San Antonio de Bexar, who called on Colonel Austin to raise such colonial force as he could to assist in putting down the rebellion and in maintaining the dignity and supremacy of the Mexican Government. Austin, foreseeing the consequence of this ill advised movement of Edwards, dispatched commissioners to confer with him and dissuade him from his rash undertaking. The mission was unsuccessful. Captain William S. Hall, one of Austin's commissioners, reported that Edwards had but a small force and would not be able to increase it to any considerable number.
During this time I visited San Felipe de Austin frequently. In early spring, some three hundred Mexican troops arrived on their march to the seat of war. The colonists, to nearly an equal number, assembled and joined the Mexicans, who showed no disposition to march further without them. The Mexican troops were well provided, drilled regularly, and seemed to be under good discipline. When not on duty, both officers and men indulged in their favorite game at cards---Monte. Notwithstanding the martial appearance of the Mexican troops, I could not but feel that half their number of Americans would put them to flight; not that the Mexicans are deficient in courage, but, it may be safely said, that they are badly commanded, though many of the officers are not only brave but gallant men. All things necessary for a forward movement being provided, the troops took up the line of march, in all the pride and circumstance of war, for Nacogdoches, with the beat of drum and sound bugle. The march was long and fatiguing, on account of the bad state of the roads. Nothing happened on the line of march worthy of note, except, perhaps, the blowing off of a part of the muzzle of a four-pounder gun belonging to the colonists, which happened in this wise: The Mexicans on the second morning of the march fired a morning gun, the colonists, not to be outdone, fired the four-pounder, with the result mentioned; fortunately no injury was done except that to the gun. The people of the Trinity hearing of the movement against Nacogdoches, joined the combined force on the march. In the meantime, Edwards being disappointed in receiving such forces, American and Indian, as he anticipated and hoped, disbanded his small force, abandoned the plan, and retired to the United States. The Federal forces were met near Nacogdoches by a courier, who informed them that the enemy had fled and that all was peace. The troops entered the place with flying colors and martial music as victors. Though bloodless, it was blazoned in the Mexican journals as a feat highly honorable to the troops engaged. Through the advice and influence of Colonel Austin, who accompanied the Mexican troops, and commanded the colonists, perfect immunity was granted to all; the civil authorities reinstated; and the people requested to resume their peaceful occupations. In this connection, I must mention John A. Williams, who tacitly favored the rising, but remained neutral until Edwards abandoned the place. He then at once became not only loyal to the Mexican government, but also quite patriotic, and recommended measures of severity against all who had favored and participated in the cause of Edwards. Williams was a man of some acquirements, and was held in esteem by a few of his neighbors. He was thoroughly Mexican in feeling and principle. He subsequently left Eastern Texas and settled on the lower Trinity, but, as I shall have occasion to speak of him at a later period, I forbear saying anything more at present.
This ended what is known as the Fredonian War. Edwards's declared object was to establish a new republic, to be styled the "Republic of Fredonia." Yoakum, in his history of Texas, while giving the facts correctly which led to the abrogation of Edwards's contract, and the order expelling him from the country, does not only misstate facts in regard to Colonel Austin and his colonists, but does them gross injustice. Colonel Austin did not favor or countenance the project but did what he could to prevent an open rupture, as is evidenced by the correspondence between him and B. Edwards, the brother of the Empresario. Indeed no one then, or now, who knew the high standing Colonel Austin occupied, and the influence he exercised with the state and Federal Authorities, will doubt for a moment that, had Edwards been governed by his advice, all would have ended well. Unimportant, insignificant if you will, as was the Fredonian movement, its was the germ seed of that distrust, jealousy, fear, and injustice of the Mexican Government towards the Anglo-American colonists which culminated in separation and independence. Of those who joined Edwards's standard we will mention Colonel Martin Parmer, Major John S. Roberts, and Captain Francis Adams. The first followed the fortunes of his leader, and did not return to the country for several years. The two latter abandoned the cause as soon as they became satisfied of its object and probable result. All, subsequently, took an active part in the early and final struggle of Texas to maintain her rights, and ultimately her independence.
Reports from an Ohio Newspaper
PIQUA GAZZETTE. VOL. VI. PIQUA, MIAMI COUNTY, OHIO. - WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1827. NO. 29. TEXAS EXTRACT OF A LETTER DATED. Nagadoches [sic], (Texas;) Dec. 12. "I find the affairs of this Government in the most desperate condition imaginable. An open rupture is about to take place between the settlers from the United States and the Government of Mexico. I understand that hostilities have already commenced between the people and the Alcades [sic], (magistrates) on account of some of their late orders. The Legislature has passed a law emancipating the slaves, or rather prohibiting the bringing of any more into the country---The law recognizes those already in the country as slaves for life, but limits the servitude of those born in the country to 21 years, and prohibits all further importation. The determination of the citizens is to resist this law, and maintain their right at the point of the bayonet---Dewitt and his men have been seized in Mexico and imprisoned, and his grant has been annulled. Edwards and family are ordered across the Sabine. The people here are all up in arms. Dr. Hunter, an Indian agent, is to collect the Indian forces in favour of the settlers; Colonel Palmer has crossed the Sabine for troops. On the part of the Government, troops are supposed to be already on their march from St. Antonia [sic] to quelt [sic] the insurrection here and elsewhere throughout the country. Emigration is completely stopped. There is not a whiteman [sic] in Leftwich's grant at this time." - Ky. Reporter.
PIQUA GAZETTE. VOL. VI. PIQUA, MIAMI COUNTY, OHIO. - WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 1827. NO. 33. TEXAS. NATCHITOCHES, Jan. 23.---By a gentleman just arrived from Col. Austin's settlement, Texas, we are informed that Gov. Saucedo has arrived there from St. Antonia [sic], with one hundred and fifty Mexican troops on his way to Nagadoches [sic], to suppress the insurrection which exists there. On the arrival of the Governor at Col. Austin's settlement, he called on the Colonel to know what part he intended to act, when Col. Austin informed him that he should act on the part of the Mexican government, and at the request of Gov. Saucedo, immediately called a meeting of the Alcades [sic] in the settlement, who unanimously resolved to support the Mexican government in opposition to the "Fredonians!"
Immediately after the conference with Col. Austin, the Empressario of the District, and the Alcadas [sic] of the same district, Gov. Saucedo, sent commissioners to Nacogdoches, to treat with the insurgents, or Fredonians as they term themselves, for a reconciliation. On the arrival of the commissioners at Nacogcoches, the insurgents refused to hold a treaty upon any consideration, unless the Mexican government would acknowledge them "Free and Independent!" when the commissioners thought it time to bamos, e. i. be OPH. [sic] We have not been able to ascertain what measures the Governor would adopt, as our informants left the District previous to the return of the commissioners.
These new republicans, from all accounts, appear to be sanguine in their novel undertaking; and from all appearances, bid fair to become rivals in fame, at least, to Gullivar's [sic] Lilliputians. Notwithstanding the absurdity of this attempt at freedom, in the opinion of many, it will cost the Mexicans great trouble and a very heavy expense to suppress the insurgents; and if the numerous nations of Indians who inhabit the Province are as determined on keeping the country independent as represented, it will be a long and savage war, but, in our opinion, they will be eventually exterminated, or drove to the Rocky Mountains, where they will be as free as the air.
The number of Indians in the Province is very large, it is said by some who have been among the Commanchas [sic] that they have between five and six thousand warriors, others estimate their numbers to be between ten and fifteen thousand; these Indians have been at war with the Spaniards ever since they have been in the country, but their warfare has been of late carried on by small parties, whose principal object is plunder. There is [sic] 15 or 20 other tribes, but their numbers are small. - Courier.
PIQUA GAZETTE. VOL VI. PIQUA, MIAMI COUNTY, OHIO - WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 1827. NO. 35. Natchitoches, Feb 6. We learn from a gentleman who arrived in town yesterday from Texas, that the Fredonians have evacuated Nacogdochos [sic], and that Norris and Gaines have, with their new recruits, taken possession of the large stone house that the Fredonians had fortified and made use of for quarters. The Fredonians have not received that ready and energetic support from the Cherokees they anticipated, which, combined with something of a fright which they were seized with on hearing a report (which has since been ascertained to be false,) that the Cherokees had been induced to join the Mexicans, was the occasion of their leaving their head-quarters; they at present are mostly dispersed, but are trying to reorganize their forces, most of which have come to this side of the Sabine. The Mexican troops, so says report, who arrived at Austin's colony some time ago, but not receiving the support from the generality of the settlers they had expected, having only fifty men from the settlement with them, took fright, thinking some trick would be played on them, and returned to the settlement. It is said that Norris and Gaines, who have raised a considerable force, favorable to the Mexicans bave [have?] twelve or fifteen of the revolutionists in irons at the Ayab Bayou, and intend to send them to St. Antonia [sic] for trial. The above we have made out as the most probable of the various reports in circulation, it being impossible to give a correct statement, there being so many different reports; every one coming from the scene of tumult and commotion having a story of his own to circulate.
[Provided by Bob Durham who is doing a study of the Texas Revolution as seen through eastern newspaper reports. Piqua, MiamiCo, OH, was and is a small farm community north of Dayton. The weekly paper reported on developments in contemporary Texas and Mexico as well as other world affairs of the period.]
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2000, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
The Fredonian Rebellion-Index