This is another installment of our Ft. Defiance/Goliad Campaign letter series. These letters were written by men on the ground 185 years ago and reflect their feelings and opinions on the situation at the time. We are using “The Papers of the Texas Revolution 1835-1836 edited by John H. Jenkins Vol. 4.” These letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of Presidio La Bahia, but are meant to offer the reader a first-hand account of the events going on in or around Presidio La Bahia in the late winter-early spring of 1836.
Burr H. Duval in Goliad to Wm. P. Duval in Tallahassee, Florida
March 9, 1836
It has been some time since I have had an opty. Of writing to you, A gentleman leaves here to day for the U. States but have my doubts if he gets fifty miles from this post as we are surrounded by Mexican troops —By last express, yesterday from San Antonio we learned that our little band of 200 still maintained their situation in the Alamo, the fort outside of the town— They have been fighting desperately there for 10 or 15 days against four of five thousand Mexicans Santa Anna is there himself and has there and in his vicinity at least six thousand troops—Contrary to the expectation of every one he has invaded the Country when least expected—Not a Texian was in the field, nor has even one yet made his appearance at this post —The greater portion of the Mexican troops are mounted, and of course have greatly the advantage over us— We now muster at this post 400 strong, and from the preparations we have made shall be enabled to give any number a desperate fight —San Antonio I fear has fallen before this; — from its situation and construction, I cannot believe it possible so small a band could maintain it against such fearful odds — D. Crockett is one of the number in the fort — We ar expecting an attack hourly.
An express yesterday was chased in by 200 cavalry eighteen miles from this—Sixty miles south of this is another party of 650 who have been quartered at San Patricio for some days, waiting reinforcements. Several of our parties of 20 and 30 have been cut off by them —As I anticipated, much dissention prevails among the Volunteers, Col. Fannin, now in command (Genl. Houston being absent), is unpopular— and nothing but the certainty of hard fighting, and that shortly, could have kept us together so long.
I am popular with the army, and strange as you may think it could lead them or the majority of the where I choose —They have offered to give me every office from a Majority to Comdr. in Chief— I have seen enough to desire no office for the present in Texas higher than the one I hold —I have fifty men in my Company, who love me and who cannot be surpassed for boldness and chivalry— With such a band I will gain the laurels I may wear or die without any —I am situated at present with my company, in a strong stone house immediately across the street and opposite one of the bastions of the fort— from the bastion I have built a Bridge to the top of the house on which is placed a Brass Six Pounder —the best and most commanding situation we have— before I am driven from it hundreds must perish —I have seen something of the country since I last wrote you having been out for some days at a time on several expeditions— It is decidedly a richer country than I expected to find, and must be more healthy than any other southern country —at least this part of it— the country is high and dry tho generally level and the rivers, at least this, the San Antonio, descends with the velocity of a mountain stream.
In many parts water and timber is too scarce, and the Northern winds are frequent and last from one to three days blowing with great violence. The climate of Florida I think is greatly preferable, but it can not be compared to this in point of soil—We have just learned from Washington (the seat of Govt. that they have declared Independence— If such be the fact of which I have no doubt—we must whip the Mexicans —For young men who wish to acquire distinction and fortune now is the time— Tell all who are friendly to the cause of Texas to lend a helping hand and that quickly, The little band of Volunteers now in the field must breast the storm and keep a powerful army in check until relief is at hand or all is lost —We want provisions arms & men. I have never seen such men as this army is composed of— no man ever thinks of retreat, or surrender, they must be exterminated or whipped —Nothing can depress their ardour— we are frequently for days without anything but Bull beef to eat, and after working hard all day could you at night hear the boys crowing, gobling, barking, bellowing, laughing and singing you would think them the happiest and best fed men in the world.
Do all you can for Texas—
Yr. affectionate son
B. H. Duval
If there sh[torn] in
My letter that could benefit Texas make
To His Excely,
Wm. P. Duval.
Wm. P. Duval
This is another installment in a series of letters on the Goliad campaign posted by Presidio La Bahia and provided by Presidio Director Scott McMahon for usage in the Goliad Advance-Guard and Refugio County Press publications. For more information on the Presidio, call 361-645-3752.