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James (Santiago) McGloin

Irish Empresario & Co-founder

For more biographical information, Search Handbook of Texas Online

McGloin's letter to Ayers points to the fact that he feels that by taking the oath, he might have to support "independence" if the governor and the council should come to support it. He is definitely in favor of the federal Constitution of 1824. Christmas of 1835 had been celebrated in the same way as that of 1834, but there was now a feeling of great apprehension. The war cloud could be felt as it cast its shadow over San Patricio de Hibernia. Ira Westover, originally a San Patricio settler, rode into town on the 7th of January after having resigned his seat in the General Council. He felt now a desire for action. He came to the conclusion that his military talent was needed more at this point than his presence in the General Council so that Captain Westover came home to search for a company to join him. As we have seen in the previous chapter, quite a few were recruited by him from San Patricio on January 7, 1836.


For almost four months the idea of an expedition to Matamoros had been the subject of letters, messages, and conversations among the leaders and most prominent men in Texas. Therefore, the inclusion of a detailed account of the varied and conflicting opinions of the idea of an expedition to Matamoros in the sketch on James McGloin is apropos because his is the only eyewitness account by a Texan of its tragic end in San Patricio. It is seemingly impossible to discover who first conceived the idea of an expedition to Matamoros, for it sprang from an age-old military strategy, namely, Shall we let the enemy come to us, or shall we go to the enemy and bring the destruction of war to his own territory? Each strategy has merit. Those who were in favor of the Matamoros Expedition thought it a good way to keep the war out of unprepared Texas. They also hoped to be joined by Federalists south of the Rio Grande who were wholeheartedly against the Centralism of Santa Anna; by it there was hope of their troops being supplied with provisions and ammunition which were scarce in Texas. Stephen F. Austin was aware of both the gains and the dangers of such a venture.

After the victory of the Texians in the Siege of Bexar (Dec. 5 -10), the planter colonists made their way back to their farms thinking the war was over. Austin doubted that they could act in unison to fight. But there was a stream of volunteers from the United States flowing into Texas. They had come to fight and wanted action; they could not bear the thought of languishing in some fort waiting for the Mexicans to attack them. If the war was allowed to come to the colonies, the colonists would suffer destruction and death; all their labor in the fields would be lost, their cattle driven off and butchered, and their homes looted and burned. Although the colonists, busy on their farms, did not envision this, Stephen F. Austin, as early as November 5th, 1835, sent a message to the president of the Consultation, even though he realized the risks which might prove disastrous.

Headquarters near Bexar, Nov. 5th. Nothing will aid Texas as much as an expedition to Matamoros under General Mexia---it is all important---I recommend that every possible effort be made to fit out such an expedition if it has not already been done, as I hope it has been. [Austin to President and Consultation, Nov. 5, 183 5, Jenkin's AIP 11, p. 321]

It is to be noted that he wanted Mexia, a native Mexican, to lead the expedition. This way the war would not assume a national character; i.e. Texas vs. Mexico, but only aid to the Mexican Federalists against the Centralists. If Matamoros were taken, Bexar would fall, for all supplies of funds and troops would be cut off. It is to be remembered that Bexar at this time was under siege and had been for over a month. The strategy of the Texians was to keep provisions, ammunition, and troops from coming to General Cos at San Antonio de Bexar.

[NOTE: Josť Antonio Mexia had been a staunch friend of Santa Anna until the latter became a Centralist. Mexia, a sincere Republican, became involved in several of the revolts which broke out against Santa Anna in Mexico. These uprisings were crushed, and Mexia escaped to New Orleans in 1835 where he began recruiting an expedition to Mexico]

On the 14th of November, Captain Phillip Dimitt, commandant at Goliad, wrote to Austin saying, "In a former communication I hinted at the policy of a dash to Matamoros, hoping from what I had then heard, that the movement would be approved and sustained by a majority of the people in that section of the country. But now I hear it would not be." [Dimitt to Austin, November 14, 1835, Ibid., p. 409]

Dimitt goes on to say that if it could be accomplished, there would be much to gain. One day later in a communication to Wily Martin he said that he had now come to the definite conclusion that Mexico, both Federalists and Centralists, in the final analysis, would go against Texas. The statement was prophetic. He goes on to say,

I entertain serious apprehension that all Mexico will unite in war against Texas. If I have not greatly misjudged, Texas is to stand alone; and if the result does not verify the opinion, I have no correct information concerning the political condition of the interior. [Dimitt to Martin, November 15, 1835, Jenkin's Papers, p. 420]

While the above messages were going back and forth concerning General Josť Antonio Mexia's leading an expedition to Matamoros, he was in New Orleans organizing a group of volunteers from the United States, and a few from Canada, England, and Ireland, to make up an expedition to Tampico. On the 15th of November Mexia of the Army of the Federal Republic made his proclamation to the Mexican people at the bar of Tampico, denouncing Santa Anna's Centralist Government, which had usurped the laws, made the constitution and congress null and void, dissolved the legislatures, and substituted military government to all the states except Coahuila and Texas. He had come to avenge their offended rights. Mexia further stated, "A small number of Texians have come with me. Unite with them. Their motto is, 'The Federal Constitution and the disavowal of all acts of the usurping administration.’ [Mexia's Proclamation, November 15, 1835, Ibid., p. 426] Mexia's plan was to attack Tampico, and succeeding there, he would move on to Matamoros. But this plan went awry. His attack on Tampico was a complete disaster, ending in shipwreck, withdrawal, and death; death to a few in battle and twenty-six prisoners shot. The expedition to Matamoros had not been started much less achieved, but the idea persisted. McMullen and McGloin in San Patricio realized the peril of their position on the frontier especially since a sizable force of Mexicans had reoccupied Fort Lipantitlan. On November 16th Dimitt at Goliad became aware of the problem and proclaimed to the public,

You are again called upon by the return and reinforcement of the enemy on your frontier, to rally, embody, and chastize him. An express just arrived at this fort, and direct from San Patricio, announcing a return of the enemy in considerable force to the garrison of Le Panticlan. This movement places the friendly and well-disposed of the population of that town in peril of life and liberty---It is our duty to protect these people. [Dimitt to Public, November 16, 1835, Ibid., p. 436]

Col. James W. FanninIs it any wonder that the San Patricians had not settled down to hold an election of delegates to the Consultation? However, on the 19th of November the election was held and Lewis Ayers became the representative of the municipality of San Patricio. Fannin expressed his view to Governor Smith in a message November 31st stating that

a great saving can be attained by offensive operations, and thus cripple the enemy by carrying the war into his own country, and make them pay the cost and save our own firesides from the scourge---I do not pretend to the gift of prophecy, but little doubt the fulfillment of the last suggestion, if suitable and timely preparation be made to repel the first onset. [Fannin to Smith, November 31, 1835, Jenkin's Papers, III, p. 63]  

This last clause together with the other recommendations he made to strengthen the army before a move could be made give an insight into Fannin's character. Fannin was ready to take the offensive when everything was right; but unless it were so, he could not make a decision. This characteristic, in part, accounts for his indecisiveness at crucial times to come, and one such bout with indecision cost him his life and the lives of his men. The idea of an expedition to Matamoros was still being bandied about. Dimitt at Goliad had changed his mind. He no longer harbored the apprehension which he expressed before, but urged an expedition to Matamoros with Lorenzo de Zavala as the nominal head and suggested that a counter-revolutionary flag be adopted so that "the liberals (Federalists) of all classes would join us." [Dimitt to - December 2, 1835, Ibid., p. 77]

But Lorenzo de Zavala wrote to Dimitt on Dec. 9th, not knowing that Mexia's expedition to Tampico had failed, that if Mexia's expedition succeeded in Tampico, Dimitt should send an expedition to Matamoros. [Zavala to Dimitt, December 9, 1835, Ibid., p. 131] Travis stationed at Mill Creek, recruiting men and bursting with desire for action, sent an express to Lt. Gov. Robinson on Dec. 17th saying that he hoped the council would take measures to fit out an expedition to Matamoros immediately to take the port and the city of Matamoros. [Travis to Robinson, December 17, 1835, Ibid., p. 241] F.W. Johnson, chief of the volunteers, wrote to Governor Smith on December 18th from San Antonio de Bexar saying,

I am obliged to keep a party in advance on the Nueces to watch the movements of the enemy and to act as check in case of necessity---It will also be necessary to forward to this place all the cannon balls and powder which can be procured now in this country. [Johnson to Governor, December 18, 1835, Ibid., p. 244-245]

This statement gives reason to believe that Col. Johnson, veteran of the Siege of Bexar, was ready for more action. The Nueces would be the point of departure for the expedition to Matamoros, although he had not yet been granted permission to lead it. Houston had been made commander-in-chief of the army of Texas. On the 16th of December Governor Smith wrote to him to establish his headquarters at the town of Washington until further ordered. In the meantime he was to do everything to promote the proper organization of the army and inform him of his success or any impediments in his way. [Smith to Houston, December 17, 1835, Ibid, p. 239] There was, indeed, an impediment which was to cause the disorganization of the army.

[NOTE: The Consultation's Provisions for an Army and Military Defense---Article 11: The regular army shall consist of a commander- in-chief of all the forces (both regulars and volunteers) called into service during the war. (It must be borne in mind that the forces then in the field were volunteer citizens, acting in the entire absence of government who would and who did come and go at the individual pleasure of each man.) Article VI: The regular army of Texas shall consist of men enlisted for two years and of volunteers for and during the continuance of the war. (The volunteers wanted to be free to choose their own leader and wanted no restrictions regarding the length of service. So, Sam Houston was only their nominal leader.

Francis (Frank) JohnsonHouston wrote to Smith acknowledging his letter and informing him of the difficulty of organizing an army. He said, "More than a month has elapsed since the adjournment of the Consultation, and the regular army is not yet organized, and although I have ordered officers on the recruiting service, it has been on my own responsibility." [Houston to Smith Dec. 17, 1835, Jenkin's Papers, p. 224] Before leaving San Felipe, Houston ordered James Bowie to undertake an expedition to Matamoros. Fortunately, he did not receive the order. At this time F. W. Johnson was organizing his volunteers and was asking the provisional government to commission officers at his suggestion. On Christmas Eve of 1835 at headquarters at Bexar F.W. Johnson wrote to the Committee of Military Affairs (Wyatt, Hanks, Clements):

I will make immediate arrangements for the expedition against Matamoros as we are fortunate enough to receive your recommendations to take such a step. It will, however, be necessary to await the arrival of reinforcements on the road to enable me to leave a sufficient garrison at this important point (Bexar). The difficulty which presents itself does not consist in a lack of volunteers, but on the contrary, persuading a sufficient number of garrison duty to remain behind-All, all wish to achieve new victories and to raise the glory of the army of Texas as well as to assist the friends of liberty in the interior in throwing off the yoke of tyranny. [Johnson to Hanks & Clements, December 24, 1835, Jenkins Papers, Vol. 111, p. 307]

On Christmas Day of 1835 he (Johnson) wrote to Lt. Governor Robinson from San Antonio de Bexar in answer to Robinson's suggestion that an expedition to Matamoros be made. Johnson was in San Antonio de Bexar with a group of volunteers from the United States. In his message to Robinson he said,

"The Expedition which you propose against Matamoros can be undertaken speedily with every rational prospect of success and every man in this garrison would willingly volunteer to proceed to the interior, but as the position which we occupy is all important (Bexar) to maintain, it will be desirable to await the arrival of considerable reinforcements now on the road to have sufficient number for other purposes and in the meantime every necessary preparation of suitable artillery, arms and stores be made, all the animals required to convey the same procured. An expedition of this nature you point out has occupied our attention for some time and a small division of observation leaves this place today for the Nueces to occupy the attention of the enemy at Rio Grande and Laredo, to open and keep up communication with the liberals (Federalists) of the frontier-and above all to procure positive information of the forces at each point, their condition and every other particular that can serve to guide us in our future operations-." [Johnson to Robinson, December 25, 1835, Ibid, p. 325]

Johnson believed that an expedition to Matamoros would not only cripple the enemy in his resources but it would scare the Mexican Federalists into action and give employment to Santa Anna in other parts of the country besides Texas. It can be seen by the two letters from Dimitt written on the 28th and 29th of December that Dimitt's mind is flexible, his attitude adaptable, and his awareness keen to changing conditions. He has now given priority to the protection of the southwestern frontier by the volunteers from the United States rather than pushing for the Matamoros Expedition. He wrote,

"The volunteers are restless and did not expect such a long service in Goliad. It was difficult to persuade them to hold on during the month of November until the Siege of Bexar was over. Seeing their companions in arms returning to their families an anxiety prevailed to visit their own families at the same time declaring their readiness to service." [Dimitt to Robinson, December 28, 1835, Ibid., p. 344; p. 345-346]

In the same letter he (Dimitt) wrote to Robinson,

"It is now some time since I have heard a word from, or indeed of, the actual state of things in San Patriclo. A rumor is in circulation here that Rodriguez, the (former) Commandant of Lipantitlan, is in daily habits of personal intercourse with the population of that place, coming to and returning from the town at pleasure. It is certainly of great importance to occupy that post (San Patricio). We owe it to the people to protect them, from insult and liability to insult by the enemy, and we ought, if possible, to screen them from even the suspicion of a willingness to give countenance to the military in any way whatever. And we owe it to ourselves, so to cover the border settlements, as to challenge the predatory visitations of the foe. By doing this, we shall multiply our friends and make a salutary impression on our enemy.

The force sent to occupy that post (San Patricio) ought to be provided with a good supply of provisions, suitable tools to be able to mount a cannon and to repair guns. This will give active employment to the volunteers-will place them in view of the enemy-and show that we seek rather than avoid them. This will give protection to our frontier-a hundred men well equipped, mounted and armed-could greatly retard the enemy before it would be brought to bear on Texas in a general engagement-with a three gun battery at El Copano and another at Corpus Christi both garrisoned by small force, the whole southwestern frontier of Texas would be placed, even without an expedition to Matamoros, in as good a condition, perhaps, to hold the enemy in check till a regular force can be brought into the field."

Meanwhile Houston wrote to Governor Smith from Washington on Dec. 30 before leaving Washington to make a treaty with the Cherokees so that there would be no enemy at their rear. In his post script he says,

"From news received today from the mouth of the Brazos (unofficial) I will be ready on my return from the Treaty to set out with a staff of the army in three days for Copano or Matamoros." [Houston to Smith, December 30, 1835, Ibid., P. 374]

On January 3rd Johnson wrote to the Council, in regard to the expedition to Matamoros,

"I have no hesitancy to say that it is practicable and that not one moment should be lost as the enemy are concentrating their forces at many ports in the interior with a view to suppress the Federalists of the interior and also for the purpose of attacking us in Texas; therefore, I submit the foregoing to your consideration and ask your authority for making the expedition to Matamoros. F.W. Johnson. Please issue commissions to those mentioned above and to Dr. Grant and N.R. Broster." [Johnson to Council, January 3, 1835, Ibid., p. 412-413]

Col. Johnson went to San Felipe and reported that the troops were leaving Bexar for the new front (San Patricio). However he discovered that the council was about to give command of the volunteers to Fannin. Johnson on the 5th of January declined to have any further part in the matter. The next day he changed his mind and offered to proceed. [Huson, Refugio I, p. 261] The council had appointed Fannin to raise, collect, and concentrate all troops at El Copano and make a descent to Matamoros. R.R. Royall had written Houston from Matagorda asking him why he hadn't used the volunteers in Texas: 160 in Velasco, 75 at Washington, 75 at Goliad, 3 to 400 at Bexar, and in all 6 to 700. He said,

"if you do not give them speedy service, they may disband and return to the United States. Such a large number cannot be idle. Battles will be fought by volunteers and regulars will be raised only in time to sustain and secure conquests." [Royall to Houston, December 28, 1835, Jenkins Papers, Vol. 111]

Houston realized that the volunteers did not recognize his authority. They wanted to choose their own leaders, but in this case he asserted his authority and ordered them all to El Copano. And from there they would gather at Refugio. At this point Houston was not decidedly against the expedition to Matamoros, neither was Governor Smith; however, the governor was not for accepting any help from the Federalists of the interior. He was for independence. There was a great weakness in the Texian Army caused from not having volunteers and regulars under one command. They were legally, but not actually, under one command. After the arrival of the volunteers in Refugio, Houston met with them. He saw the disorganization of the army with two leaders for an expedition to Matamoros: Fannin and Johnson-Grant. He realized the impossibility of a successful expedition to Matamoros. Houston talked to the volunteers and persuaded most of the men (about 300) not to attempt the expedition. But Johnson and Grant were adamant. Houston could see that the disorganization of the army was such that an attempt to hold them together would be chaos. Furthermore, the Mexicans in the interior were gathering at Matamoros ready to move into Texas. Time was of the essence.

At one time Houston had considered Dimitt's idea of fighting the war on the Texas frontier. But he also gave this up for the same reason. He had a regular army of not more than 200 men and no control over the volunteers. It was too late for a war on the frontier and too late for an expedition to Matamoros. So Houston left Refugio and went back to finish his talks with the Cherokees. After Governor Smith received a letter from Col. Neill and shortly after another from Sam Houston telling him of conditions at the Alamo after Johnson and Grant had taken both soldiers and supplies for the expedition to Matamoros, the governor, enraged, vetoed the expedition after the council had ordered it. The council overrode the veto, whereas the governor retaliated with a scorching letter to the council which has been discussed in the previous chapter on McMullen. The governor was impeached by the council, and the council refused a reconciliation. Texas was left practically without a government; furthermore, the army was in a state of complete disorganization at a time when the Mexicans of the interior were stationed at various points, including Matamoros, ready to move into Texas.  Johnson and Grant, without the aid of Fannin and his men, went on with their preparations for the Matamoros Expedition, hoping that Fannin with his 160 men would join their 60 troops at San Patricio. But after Fannin's arrival at Refugio February 4, by way of El Copano, he heard Houston's opinion of the Matamoros Expedition and had second thoughts. He agreed with Houston and did not act. The story of the Matamoros Expedition, according to the eyewitness account accredited to James McGloin, and sometimes titled "McGloin's War," to be found in the Lamar Papers, goes as follows:

In January 1836 after the surrender of Bejar by General Cos, an expedition was got up to go to Matamoros, which marched from above place (Bejar) by way of Gollad . . . On their coming there Captain P. Dimitt, then commanding, had the flag of Independence hoisted on the walls of Goliad which was ordered to be taken down by Cols. Johnson and Grant stating that they were Federalists and would stand on the Constitution of 1824; they then marched to the Mission (Refugio) where they expected to meet with Fannin who had started from Valesco with 160 volunteers and provisions, and was to land at Copano to join Cols. Johnson and Grant. There was at this time say, 500 men at the Mission, all willing to go to Matamoros and only awaiting the arrival of Col. Fannin whose forces had not come. [NOTE: The flag of Independence was raised at Goliad Dec. 20, 1835. More accurately about 300, with Fannin's 160 and Dimitt's 75 and some others that had returned from leave to rejoin. Historians vary in the number of men at San Patricio, from 100-60]

In the interim General Houston got to the Mission and advised them not to go on the said expedition as it would be ruinous to the cause of Texas . . . Johnson and Grant with a company of sixty men with three pieces of brass cannon marched to San Patricio with a view, as they then stated, to stop until Col. Fanning could arrive and then proceed to Matamoros. During their stay in said place (San Patricio) information was brought that commandant Rodriguez who formerly commanded at Lipantitlan, was encamped some twenty miles from there with about twenty men . . . Col. Grant started with about 25 men to surprise him taking with him the person that gave the information which was one of Rodriguez's own men, they got to the place at night which was very late and found all fast asleep. On calling on them to surrender or their lives would be taken if they resisted, they all answered . . . they collected all their horses and marched them to San Patricio where they treated all well and took the commandant to their own quarters. In the course of three days they made their escape, no guard being placed over them. Col. Grant and Col. Johnson prepared then to go to Matamoros . . . they then proposed to going out to some ranchos on the Rio Grande to obtain horses for the army. On the day previous to their doing this, Captain Cook with a company came after the cavalry by orders of Col. Fannin to take them to Goliad which was done. Cols. Johnson and Grant proceded and on crossing the Rio Nueces, there came another spy of the enemy's to them stating as heretofore that they could with safety take Matamoros. They proceeded until they got to a ranch called Santa Rosa where they got about 100 good horses, where the company divided. Col. Johnson with one half returned with the horses to San Patricio, and Grant with the other part went up the country where he understood there was more horses. [McGloin, James, ''Historical Notes," Lamar Papers, V, pp. 380-381]

[NOTE: Santa Rosa Ranch above is still in operation near present Raymondville. At one time the ranch belonged to Charles F. Stillman , founder of Brownsville]

Word had come to San Patricio through its spies that General Josť Urrea had left Matamoros on his way to San Patricio to abort the expedition that was planned to leave there for Matamoros. It was the 22nd of February and James McGloin, realizing the weakened condition of the colony, took the opportunity to send a message to Fannin at Goliad. John Turner, who had written Fannin of the condition of San Patricio on November 30th, was now at Washington-on-the-Brazos after being elected to represent the municipality of San Patricio at the convention of March 1st. John White Bower had also been elected, but had been delayed and was now ready to leave San Patricio for Washington via Goliad. James McGloin wrote the following letter to Bower:

San Patricio, Febr. 22d 1836. Mr. JW. Bowers Dear Sir: You will do me the favor of representing the situation of this place to Col. Fannin as you pass through Goliad and state to him that there is now in the field one hundred of the Colonists belonging to this colony both regulars and volunteers and that there is sixteen left in the place to protect the families and only six days ago the Indians killed three persons on the other side of the river and had taken all the horses from here. At the same time you will state to Col. Fannin that this is one of the most important points in all Texas for the defence of the same as being the Grand Pass into it, by so doing you truly oblige your humble servant. James McGloin [McGloin James to John W. Bower, February 22, 1836, Powers Alpers I, note in Oberste's Texas Empresarios, p. 199]

Col. Johnson on his return sent the horses out to a ranch some few miles from town under the care of some volunteers and Mexicans, and the rest were stationed at three different houses, Captain Pearson with eight men lodged on the public square ... When on the morning of the third day at 4 A.M. all lay asleep little thinking it would be the last for some . . . the place was surrounded by 450 cavalry. Col. Johnson on being asked to surrender by the enemy which was at the front of his place was answered from within by Daniel Toler ... that he would surrender but at the same time opened the back of his tent (cabin) and got to Mission Refugio the next day at 12 A.M. without hat, shoe or coat. (Col. Johnson, John H. Love and James M. Miller also escaped.) The Texians seeing from within that they were going to set fire to the place called to Captain (Pearson). When asked to give himself up he answered "No" and commenced to fire encouraging his men to do ... (the same). They killed the Mexican Col. and two men wounded; four men died after. The men called out "Surrender"; and in going out to give themselves up they were shot or lanced, among them Captain T.K. Pearson, Dr. J. Hart, Benjamin Dale, Lt. Coony (?) all of which were interred the next day by the Rev. T.J. Molloy in the churchyard of the same place, the other part surrendered and was saved, made prisoners of General Urrea who commanded, (Urrea) sent out his spies after Col. Grant, who was between them and the Rio Grande when on the third day intelligence was brought that Grant was to be in the next day, orders was immediately to march and meet him in the plains. There were also two spies sent them to tell him that Col. Johnson and his party was well and expecting him (Grant) momentarily, which was done, then did 400 horsemen go to the 25 of Col. Grant ... he commenced his journey in the morning to join the others, but what must be his surprise when he got himself enclosed in by such superior forces, there was no way to escape, He (Grant) told the men to hold out their ground and fight until killed; the enemy not giving them time to look but rushing on to them, separated them ... they all took to run, but the enemy in coming up to them speared or lanced them off their horses, showing no quarter stripping them naked before they were dead. Col. Grant ran his horse seven miles before he was overtaken by the Lt. He (Grant) fired one of his pistols and pared the leaf off his hat, the second he fired without effect, the other came up and lanced him through the back. [McGloin, "Historical Notes," Lamar Papers, V, p. 281-282

It is interesting to note how the news of General Josť Urrea's victory in the Battle of San Patricio was received in Mexico. In the newspaper "Mercurio de Matamoros" dated March 2, 1836, an article appeared after word had been received of how General Urrea had aborted the much-talked-of expedition to Matamoros.. [Mercurio de Matamoros, March 2, 1836, Matamoros Archiv Catholic Chancery, Austin, Texas]

TRIUMPH OF OUR COUNTRY San Patricio, February 27, 1836

We congratulate the Supreme Government of the Republic and all the Mexicans in general for a triumph that although small is an omen of other major triumphs that our brave army will report over the delirious invaders of the walls of the City of Mexico, and we congratulate also very enthusiastically General Josť Urrea and all the divisions of his worthy command.

Another article in the same paper dated March 3rd, 1836, consists of a letter from Urrea to Santa Anna after the defeat of Grant and his men at Agua Dulce. It reads as follows:

On the first of March I had word from one of my spies that one of the leaders of the rebellious colonies, Don Diego Grant, was on his way to the Nueces River with a very select company of crack riflemen, well-armed and confident. I went with 80 dragoons, marched all night suffering from the cold north wind which the horses could hardly bear. Assured of the direction of the enemy, I put in six spots the 80 dragoons, and waited to attack the enemy as they marched. I found them between eleven and twelve o'clock yesterday morning at the point of Los Cuates de Aqua Dulce (The forks of the Agua Dulce Creek) ten leagues from San Patricio. I left 42 dead among whom was Doctor Grant and Major Morris and another leader, and a Mexican Placido Benavides who escaped. Six prisoners were captured and only five escaped to the villa where they were received by an advance of infantry that followed them through the woods where they went after they were fired upon. They left their horses saddled and two were wounded. There was no bad luck on our part except a wounded horse; in spite of the shelling, the enemy did the best they could. The excessive cold has affected my infantry and has delayed the ammunition and hardtack that are to come to me from Matamoros. For these reasons I may stay in San Patricio 4 or 5 days more, then march to Refugio and Goliad even though my hardtack has not arrived. God and Liberty To President Santa Anna Colony of San Patricio. General Josť Urrea. [Urrea to Santa Anna, March 3, 1836]

In McGloin's ''Historical Notes" previously quoted, he tells of Johnson's taking the horses he had gathered to the ranch of Julian de la Garza on the river below San Patricio and of his leaving several men to guard them. What became of the horses and the men? General Urrea says in his Diary February 27, 1836,

"I arrived at San Patricio at three in the morning and Immediately ordered a party of thirty men headed by Captain Rafael Pretalia to proceed to the ranch of Julian de la Garza (a league distant) to attack twelve or fifteen men who were guarding 150 horses there. Captain Pretalia reported at 6 o'clock that he had captured all of these, killed four men and had taken eight prisoners. In our operation one dragoon, a sergeant and three soldiers were wounded. [General Urrea's Diary, Castaneda, C.E., The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution, p. 223 (Austin: Graphic Arts, Inc., 1970)]

Many years later in an accounting for the men taken at the rancho of Julian de la Garza below San Patricio, A.P. Mahan, an eyewitness and one of the guards stationed there said,

"We were surrounded by a large body of cavalry. William Williams and Dr. Bunson were immediately killed and Spease (John Spiess of Aargau, Switzerland), Hufty and your petitioner wounded . . . Spease was afterwards released and went to the City of Mexico with Captain Alavez, a Mexican officer. [Memorial 247 File Box 68, Archives of Texas, Dept. of State]

Thus ended the belated effort for an expedition to Matamoros, the far-reaching effects of which shook Texas like an earthquake. It precipitated the split between the governor and the council, and at a crucial time left Texas almost without a government. It made Houston realize that a united army of regulars and volunteers under his command, at this time, was impossible; it stripped the Alamo of 200 men and supplies, thus contributing to its certain defeat. The Matamoros Expedition was on the minds of the Texas leaders from the time Dimitt suggested it on October 5, 1835, until February 27 when Johnson's and Grant's men were defeated. The same idea was to be conceived after San Jacinto and Filisola's retreat with the Mexican Army.

General Josť UrreaGeneral Josť Urrea remained in San Patricio with his army after the Battle of San Patricio and the defeat of Grant and his men at Agua Dulce. For ten more days after the ambush of Grant, he waited, drilled his troops, and shouted instructions at them. The exact spot where he was encamped is not known, but the colonists for those ten days were acutely aware that the right wing of the Mexican Army was in their midst. Each day they waited and watched, and listened wondering what the next move would be. No doubt they asked McGloin, "Why does he stay? What is he waiting for?" while the tension mounted each day. If they had known the truth, he was waiting for the 200 troops he had left in Matamoros who were to bring him supplies, ammunition, and hardtack. Knowing about the Texian plan to take Matamoros, he had left in haste for San Patricio. Six of his unacclimated men from Yucatan had perished on their way because they could not endure the cold, penetrating wind of a Texas "wet norther" which caught them on their forced marches from Matamoros to San Patricio. They died and were buried at present Kingsville, Texas. [Interview with J.E. Conner April 4, 1977, Kingsville, Texas] Fortunately, there were no Yucatan soldiers among those he was waiting for now.

Finally, on the 12th of March General Urrea and his troops marched and rode out of San Patricio much to the relief of the colonists. Santa Anna had ordered Urrea to "take cattle, supplies and the colonist's belongings. " Cattle Urrea took for food (his army was on meager rations), and he came upon quite a lot of arms and ammunition in the defeat ofJohnson's men at San Patriclo. But Urrea states in his Diary that "the town and the rest of the inhabitants did not suffer the least damage." [Castaneda, Mexican Side, p. 225] The colonists relaxed when General Urrea and his troops rode out of San Patricio toward Refugio and Goliad. But soon a great fear came over those who had husbands, sons, and brothers with Fannin in Goliad. The question, if not uttered, was thought, "What will become of them?" Mary O'Boyle had a lingering, but secret, hope that Col. Francisco Garay, to whom she had dispensed hospitality, would somehow save her brother. He had asked her how he could repay her for her kindness. She had asked him that if or when he had the opportunity, would he be kind to her brother, Andrew Michael O'Boyle, who was with Fannin. He had said that he would; she could not help but believe him.

General Urrea had swept the troops from San Patricio and Agua Dulce. Now his goal was to vanquish them at Refugio and Goliad, thus leaving the southwestern frontier clear of the rebellious enemy. In a period of one month (February 27 to March 31) the southwestern frontier was left defenseless. Meanwhile, Generals Santa Anna and Ramirez y Sesma had taken the Alamo at Bexar. Travis and his men were no more. Mexican victory over Texas seemed inevitable. The aforementioned period of one month was a period of stunned disbelief for the San Patricians. They had heard of the fall of the Alamo and the massacre of King's men at Refugio, but no word had reached them about the massacre at Goliad. They were suspended between fear and hope and had nothing to resort to but their prayers. It was up to McGloin to comfort the colonists who feared for their loved ones. Empresario McMullen was making preparations to go to the East to make a loan in order to buy foodstuffs and other necessities for the remaining half-starved colonists.

The Texian victory at San Jacinto did not end the fear and tension until a month had elapsed. James McGloin realized that there were not enough men to defend the town against the bands of marauders, bandits, and Indians who would plunder, loot, and burn the vacant cabins. Would they do the same to some that were not vacant? McMullen's letter to Vice President Lamar says, "Some colonists were found murdered in their houses." But who they were is not known. Rumors of Mexican military invasion persisted. San Patricio had become such a dangerous place to live that it is safe to say that eventually it was completely deserted by the colonists. A few families hung on until May 1836: James McGloin, Michael Haley, Patrick Fadden, Patrick O'Boyle, Mary and Roderick O'Boyle, and Thomas Pugh. Rebecca Ayers and her children were also in San Patricio in May but left soon after to join Lewis Ayers, who was in Matamoros. [THA2 Vol. 9, p. 281] The above settlers served as sponsors at the baptism of the Ayers children in San Patricio in May 1836. The exact date is not known, but some time after the Battle of San Jacinto there was an exodus of colonists that sought safer grounds. Thomas Pugh claimed that he was the last colonist to leave San Patricio. The Mexican rancheros, with few exceptions, left for south of the Rio Grande and later put up their land for sale.

James McGloin decided to take his family to Bexar; the above named went to Victoria. By 1838 Victoria had an Irish colony of refugees from San Patricio. The daughters of Mark Killelea, Mary and Rose, were in Victoria in 1838 and were now married to Michael Haley and Peter Mahony, respectively. In this year they were having their father's will probated, who was said to have died in New Orleans. Margaret and Patrick McGloin, whose son John was killed with Fannin at Goliad, moved to Victoria and did not return to San Patricio, but stayed on in Victoria the rest of their lives and are buried there.  The exposed location of San Patricio on the Camino Real and the Santa Margarita Crossing made it a sitting duck for all the lawlessness that was bred by Indians, bandits, and marauders of that unsettled area south of the Nueces to the Rio Grande. The Republic of Texas claimed the land between these two rivers. Mexico claimed the Nueces as the boundary between Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. This was another reason, besides the recapture of Texas, for the constant threats of re-invasion. San Patricio was the logical point for the entrance of an invading army. The Comanches also claimed the land between the Nueces and the Rio Grande; therefore, they were another threat to San Patricio. Walter Prescott Webb said of this semi-desert region claimed by the Comanches,

"War was the rule, the commonplace of daily life, and death was the price of defeat, for the savage enemies knew no mercy."

The Republic of Texas was never at peace with both Indians and Mexicans at the same time. The Nueces was called "the deadline for sheriffs".  The Mexican Congress of May 20th, 1836, decided to continue the war against Texas. General Urrea was given command on June 5th of troops destined for a new campaign in Texas, and he advised the troops at Matamoros that he would head them into Texas as soon as the government ordered it. [Nance, After San Jacinto (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963)] General Thomas Rusk, commander of the Texian Army, with only 350 troops at Victoria called for United States volunteers. Lt. Col. Juan N. Seguin with his company was ordered to move from Bexar toward Victoria. He said to the people of Bexar,

Fellow citizens, your conduct on this day is going to decide your fate before the general government of Texas. If you maintain your post as mere on-lookers, if you do not abandon the city and retire within the interior of Texas, that its army may protect you, you will without fall, be treated as real enemies and will suffer accordingly.

An invasion by land was not the only threat, for there were equally alarming rumors of an invasion by sea. Houston said, "We will need aid and that speedily."  And that aid was coming from the United States; over eighteen hundred men had volunteered since the Battle of San Jacinto. These with 672 Texians made up the army. After Rusk asked to be relieved of his command, Felix Huston, a soldier of fortune, was chosen by the army to be its commander. Huston was in favor of an expedition to Matamoros. Sam Houston heard of this intention after Huston had advanced 500 troops to San Patricio. Again the soil of San Patricio reverberated with the sound of horses hooves as these troops rode down Main Street. But Sam Houston's opposition to an expedition to Matamoros stopped it in its tracks. He wrote to Rusk,

"The great object to our military operations ought to be to guard our frontier against invasion, and to resist it if attempted .... our policy is to hazard nothing .... let us act on the defensive." [Writings of Sam Houston, Houston to Rusk, Nacogdoches, August 8, 1836, p. 439]

In early September the reports from Matamoros were that the Mexican Army was being daily diminshed by desertion. By mid September in Texas the idea of an expedition to Matamoros had floundered. Later, however, once again there was strong talk of the renewal of invasion of Texas. General Nicolas Bravo had replaced General Urrea as commander-in-chief of the Army of the North. Houston ordered reorganization of the militias, and that each man should provide himself with a horse, a rifle, and 100 rounds of ammunition. The war was postponed, but the fiery threat of an invasion of Texas and an expedition to Matamoros smoldered and were not forgotten.  Is it any wonder that James McGloin had decided he must take his family to a safer place than San Patricio? While he was packing his belongings in the ox-drawn cart in the fall of 1836, he thought how life would become more unbearable in San Patricio. He saw that it would continue to be the stamping ground for invading soldiers from both sides; he saw it as a spot where rangers would gather to quell disturbances, the spot where cattle would be herded to be driven off by both Texians and Mexicans. The exact time of the departure of McGloin is not known. Juan N. Seguin did not consider Bexar a safer place to live, and before he left advised its people to evacuate; but McGloin, thinking it far less vulnerable to attack than San Patricio, set out for San Antonio de Bexar.

When McGloin and his family arrived in Bexar after a five-day journey, it was a two-pronged town of low-flung adobe houses, each with a courtyard in the back where herbs, vegetables, and flowers grew. East of the San Antonio River was La Villita de Bexar consisting mostly of the soldiers of the garrison and their families. North of it on the same side of the river stood the Mission of San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo. It stood, battle-scarred but intact. Stones loosened from the walls and the chapel by the cannon balls of Santa Anna's army lay in piles around the entire enclosure and the chapel, visible but silent evidence of the thirteen-day siege of the Alamo. On the west side of the river where the Canary Islanders settled in 1732 was the Villa of San Fernando de Bexar. It contained the ancient Governor's Palace of the Spanish regime, the San Fernando Church which took the citizens of Bexar many years to build, the Veramendi house where Ben Milain fell in the Siege of Bexar. Add to this the Main Plaza and the Market and you will have the Villa where John McMullen chose to live among the Canary Islanders and other recent arrivals.

The fact that McMullen had decided to live here must have had something to do with McGloin's decision as well as the fact that Eliza would be near her mother, Esther McMullen. However, the McGloins did not live with the McMullens; they lived in their own adobe house, the location of which is not known. In describing his house in a deed, McGloin said it was "in a day's water from San Juan Mission''. [Deed Records, Book T1, p. 556, Office of the County Clerk, Medina County] It is established that James McGloin was well known enough in San Antonio to have served on a jury in 1838. [Records of the District Court, Book A, 1838, Bexar County Courthouse] In 1839 he received a letter from John Dunn of Refugio who wrote him from Houston regarding the Patrick Neven League for which McGloin had been given the power of attorney after Neven's death with Fannin at Goliad. [John Dunn to James McGloin, Jan. 26, 1839, Houston, Texas; Bexar Archives, Special Collection, Bexar County Courthouse, Office of the County Clerk] In October Eliza gave birth to an infant daughter. She was baptized Theresa Jane fifteen days later at San Fernando Church by Father Calvo on October 19, 1841. [Baptismal Records, entry #627 San Fernando Church, San Antonio de Bexar, 1626-1858] The following year was to be a year of turmoil in San Antonio de Bexar.

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