COMMANDANCY OF THE ALAMO, BEJAR: 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 25th ult. made on that day to General 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 25th to the present date, the enemy have 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 walls. During this period the enemy has been busily employed in encircling us with entrenchments on all sides, at the following distance, to wit — in Bexar, four hundred yards west; in Lavilleta, three hundred yards south; at the powder-house, one thousand yards east by south; on the ditch, eight hundred yards north. Notwithstanding all this, a company of thirty-two men from Gonzales, made their way into us on the morning of the 1st inst, at three o’clock, and Col. J.B. Bonham (a courier from Gonzales) got in this morning at eleven o’clock without molestation. I have so fortified this place, that the walls are generally proof against cannon-balls; and I shall continue to entrench on the inside, and strengthen the walls by throwing up 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, with Gen. Ramirez Sesma and Col. Bartres, the aid-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 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. Col. Bonham, my special messenger, arrived at Labahia fourteen days ago, with a request for aid; and on the arrival of the enemy in Bexar ten days ago, I sent an express to Col. F. which arrived at Goliad on the next day, urging him to send us reinforcements — none have 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 valour and desperate courage, heretofore evinced by my men, will not fail them in the last struggle, and although they may be sacrifieced to the vengeance of a Gothic enemy, the victory will cost the enemy so dear, that it will be worse for 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 this 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 battle 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 desolation to rage 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, and demanded that we should surrender at discretion or 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 honour.
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 you 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.
Fort Anahuac is located in a Chambers County park on State Highway 564 one mile south of Anahuac. It was the site of the first armed confrontation between Anglo-Texans and Mexican troops, on June 10-12, 1832. In November 1830 Col. Juan Davis Bradburnqv chose the site for the fort and its town on a bluff, called Perry’s Point since 1816, overlooking the entrance to the Trinity River. The garrison was one of six new outposts located at strategic entrances to Texas and designed to enforce the Law of April 6, 1830.qv All the garrisons carried Mexican names. An�huac, the name of the ancient home of the Aztecs, was borrowed for the Chambers County fort. Bradburn brought plans and a cardboard fort with him.
The garrison lived temporarily in a fortified wooden barracks a half mile north of the bluff in the center of the site of modern Anahuac. The barracks was later used as the jail that held William B. Travisqv and others. Bricks for the walls and buildings of the permanent fort were made by convict soldiers on-site, beginning in March 1831. A Masonic and military ceremony marked completion of the foundation on May 14, 1831. The exterior walls were 100 by seventy feet and enclosed two redoubts diagonally opposite on the southwest and northeast corners. Inside the perimeter was a reinforced-brick building about fifty by thirty-five feet. The southwest redoubt, overlooking Trinity Bay, was named Fort Davis (for Bradburn); it was manned by a maximum of fifty men and defended by a six-pound cannon, while its twin on the northeast guarded the land approach. The cavalry tethered its horses between the two redoubts. An excavated passage connected the enclosure with the powder magazine on the east side, where two bulwarks named Hidalgo and Morelos (for martyrs of the Mexican independence movement) near the sites of the brick kilns, each with a sixteen-pound cannon, guarded the compound.
The garrison grew from forty men and four officers in November 1830 to a maximum of 285 men and ten officers in May 1832. After March 1832 about 100 of the men were stationed at Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos, under Col. Domingo de Ugartechea.qv The troops were from the Eleventh and Twelfth battalions; the boatmen came from the battalion of Pueblo Viejo de Tampico; La Bah�a supplied twenty-five cavalrymen and one officer.
Texan insurgents under Col. Francis White Johnsonqv attacked the fort on June 10-12, 1832, to rescue Travis. The troops dismantled the fort when they left in July 1832, and a fire in November gutted the wooden parts. The wooden calaboose was burned in December 1832, and practical residents removed bricks for fireplaces and foundations.
In January 1835 Capt. Antonio Tenorioqv arrived with about forty troops to reopen the fort, but it was in such disrepair that he asked his superiors for wood to make repairs. The wood arrived in May but was burned by irate Texans. Tenorio had no artillery when Travis and his volunteers attacked on June 29, so his troops fled into the woods. He capitulated the next day, and the small garrison sailed to Harrisburg and retreated to Bexar.
The fort was never used again; the land became private property. In 1938 the county surveyor made field notes of the existing foundations. Erosion caused by rechanneling the Trinity River sometime after the 1930s caused the remains of the southwestern redoubt to fall into the water. Chambers County acquired the site for a park in 1946, and officials ordered it cleared and the rubble buried for safety reasons and to prevent vandalism. An amateur excavation was made in 1968 before preservation laws went into effect, but no in-depth archeological study has been made of the site.
See also ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Margaret S. Henson, Anahuac in 1832: The Cradle of the Texas Revolution (Anahuac, Texas: Fort Anahuac Committee of the Chambers County Historical Commission, 1982). Margaret S. Henson, Juan Davis Bradburn: A Reappraisal of the Mexican Commander of Anahuac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). James Wright Steely, comp., A Catalog of Texas Properties in the National Register of Historic Places (Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1984).
Margaret Swett Henson
“FORT ANAHUAC.” The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Sun May 26 3:06:20 US/Central 2002 ].