Juan Nepomuceno Seguín (1806–1890), political and military figure of the Texas Revolution and Republic of Texas, was born in San Antonio on October 27, 1806. He was elected alderman in 1828 and served as political chief of the Department of Bexar in 1834. In 1835 he led a militia company to Monclova. After the battle of Gonzales in October 1835, Stephen F. Austin granted a captain’s commission to Seguín, who raised a company of thirty-seven. His company was involved in the fall of 1835 in scouting and supply operations for the revolutionary army, and on December 5 it participated in the assault on Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos’ army at San Antonio. Seguín entered the Alamo with the other Texan military when Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army arrived, but was sent out as a courier. At Gonzales he organized a company that functioned as the rear guard of Sam Houston’s army, was the only Tejano unit to fight at the battle of San Jacinto, and afterward observed the Mexican army’s retreat. Seguín accepted the Mexican surrender of San Antonio on June 4, 1836, and served as the city’s military commander through the fall of 1837, during which time he directed burial services for the remains of the Alamo dead. He resigned his commission upon election to the Republic of Texas senate at the end of the year. He was the only Mexican Texan in the senate, serving in its second, third, and fourth congress.
William Harrison Magill was born 1813 in Kentucky. He and his father Samuel P. Magill fought in the battle of Plum Creek on August 12, 1840. William’s younger brother, James P. Magill, later came to Texas and served in the Texas Rangers and became a state legislator.
Magill signed up with a company of rangers in the summer of 1835, serving first under Robert Coleman and then under Robert McAlpine Williamson. Edward Burleson, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a colonel of militia since 1832, led the volunteers from Mina, and Magill grew to admire him greatly and responded frequently over the years when Burleson requested volunteers for militia or ranger duties. Magill’s service in the summer of 1835 saw both victory and tragedy. In June the rangers had captured a group of Caddo Indians suspected of stealing horses, and the men voted in favor of executing them on the spot, a decision that Coleman, among others, rushed to carry out. It was a divided vote, however, for Burleson and his followers had wanted to bring the Indians back to Mina for trial. Then, Coleman’s company, in which Magill served, attacked a Tawakoni village, and in fierce fighting, a handful of rangers were killed. The rest fell back to Fort Parker and awaited reinforcements arriving under Stephen Moore. In the subsequent regrouping, Magill joined a company under Robert M. Williamson that ranged during the summer as far north as present-day Dallas. When the company of rangers were returning to Mina in September 1835, several of the men chased two Indians. In the ensuring confusion, Magill accidentally shot fellow ranger Moses Smith Hornsby. The shot shattered Hornsby’s arm. Hornsby, who had already been wounded in the shoulder, refused to have his arm amputated and died several days later.
The company returned to Mina, and in October, Magill served in the militia that fought and defeated Mexican troops at Mission Conception, near San Antonio. He also volunteered to follow Ben Milam into the Siege of Béxar (San Antonio). In February 1836 he joined the Mina Volunteers when the militia was called up. He was elected second sergeant, under Capt. Jesse Billinglsley. The company hurriedly assembled first at Burleson’s house and went on to Gonzales, where they joined the troops under Gen. Sam Houston and began the long march eastward. Magill fought in the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
During the Civil War, Magill performed his final military duty as a captain in the Home Guard from Burnett County in 1864. He died on December 17, 1878 and is buried in the Magill Cemetery.
Benjamin Rush Milam was born 1788 in Kentucky. He enlisted in the Kentucky militia and fought for several months in the War of 1812. In New Orleans in 1819 Milam met José Félix Trespalacios and James Long, who were planning an expedition to help the revolutionaries in Mexico and Texas gain independence from Spain. Milam joined Trespalacios and was commissioned a colonel. While they sailed to Veracruz, Long marched to La Bahía, which he easily captured, only to discover that the people and soldiers there were revolutionaries, not Royalists. They gave him a hostile reception, and he moved on to San Antonio. In Veracruz and Mexico City, Trespalacios and Milam met with the same reception that Long had received and were imprisoned. Ultimately, with General Long, they were able to legitimatize their purposes and intentions to the new revolutionary government which, in turn, accepted and treated them with respect and generosity. Long was shot and killed by a guard under circumstances that convinced Milam that the killing was plotted by Trespalacios. Milam and several friends then planned to kill Trespalacios. The plot was discovered, however, and Milam and his friends were imprisoned in Mexico City. Through the influence of Joel R. Poinsett, United States minister, all were released.
By the spring of 1824 Milam returned to Mexico, which now had adopted the Constitution of 1824 and had a republican form of government. In Mexico City he met Arthur G. Wavell, an Englishman who had become a general in the Mexican army. Trespalacios, now prominent in the new government also, made overtures to Milam to renew their friendship, and Milam accepted. He was granted Mexican citizenship and commissioned a colonel in the Mexican army in 1824.
In April 1830 the Mexican Congress passed a law prohibiting further immigration of United States citizens into Texas. This was one reason why Milam, as Wavell’s agent for his Red River colony, and Robert M. Williamson, as agent for Milam’s colony, were not able to introduce the required number of settlers specified in their empresario contracts, which were due to expire in 1832.
In 1835 Milam went to Monclova, the capital of Coahuila and Texas, to urge the new governor, Agustín Viesca, to send a land commissioner to Texas to provide the settlers with land titles. Viesca agreed to do this. However, before Milam could leave the city, word came that Antonio López de Santa Anna had overthrown the representative government of Mexico, had established a dictatorship, and was en route to Texas with an army. Viesca fled with Milam, but both were captured and imprisoned at Monterrey. Milam eventually escaped and headed for the Texas border, which he reached in October 1835. By accident he encountered a company of soldiers commanded by George Collinsworth, from whom he heard of the movement in Texas for independence. Milam joined them, helped capture Goliad, and then marched with them to join the main army to capture San Antonio. While returning from a scouting mission in the southwest on December 4, 1835, Milam learned that a majority of the army had decided not to attack San Antonio as planned but to go into winter quarters. Convinced that this decision would be a disaster for the cause of independence, Milam then made his famous, impassioned plea: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?” Three hundred volunteered, and the attack, which began at dawn on December 5, ended on December 9 with the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and the Mexican army (the Siege of Béxar). Milam did not survive to witness the victory, however. On December 7 he was shot in the head by a sniper and died instantly. In 1897 the Daughters of the Republic of Texas erected a monument at Milam’s gravesite in Milam Park, San Antonio. The marker was moved in 1976, and the location of the grave was forgotten until 1993, when a burial was unearthed that archeologists think is probably Milam’s.
Ben Fort Smith was born 1796 in Kentucky. He and his father and older brother served in the Natchez expedition and in the Creek campaign. As a member of Andrew Jackson’s staff he fought at the battle of New Orleans and was promoted to major before he was nineteen. He took part in making treaties with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in 1818 and 1820. On July 25, 1823, he was appointed United States agent to the Chickasaw Indians; he resigned on December 16, 1829, because of friction with the Colberts, chiefs of the Chickasaw nation. In the spring of 1832 he fought in the Black Hawk War.
During the Texas revolution Smith commanded a company of volunteers in the early activities fought at Gonzales and relieved J. M. Collinsworthqv at Goliad; he was with Austin in the Siege of Béxar. In November 1835 he set out for Mississippi to recruit troops for the Revolutionary Army. His recruiting work and the settlement of his father’s estate delayed his return to Texas until February. He re-entered the army as a private on March 13, 1836, but the company he had recruited did not arrive until late in March. During the retreat from Gonzales he served as quartermaster and as acting adjutant to Sam Houston. Although enlisted in the company of William H. Patton, Smith was transferred before the battle of San Jacinto to the cavalry company of Henry W. Karnes. He served after May 6 as adjutant general under Thomas J. Rusk and remained in the army until August 5. After the signing of the treaty of May 14, 1836, Smith and Henry Teal served as commissioners to overtake Vicente Filisola’s retreating army and secured Filisola’s ratification of the treaties of Velasco at the Mexican camp west of Goliad on May 26.
In the fall of 1839 he served on a six-week expedition up the Brazos River against the Indians. He died at the home of a brother, Shelby Smith, at White Sulphur Springs on July 10, 1841.
John S. Roberts signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born 1796 in Virginia. At age sixteen he enlisted in the Tennessee Militia for service in the War of 1812. He participated in the Battle of New Orleans as a member of Col. John Coffee’s regiment. In 1822, he joined the Ayish Bayou forces that took part in the Fredonian Rebellion, led by Haden and Benjamin W. Edwards against the Mexican government of Texas. Roberts was a major in the Fredonian forces and served as a judge at the impeachment trial of Samuel Norris, alcalde of the Nacogdoches District, and José Antonio Sepúlveda, captain of the Nacogdoches Militia. Roberts enlisted in the Nacogdoches Independent Volunteers on October 4, 1835, as a first lieutenant and was later promoted to captain under Capt. Thomas J. Rusk and saw distinguished service in the Siege of Béxar. He died August 9, 1871. His body was interred in the old Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches.