From the Diary of Samuel Maverick 1835
Account of the Siege and Battle of Bexar From Within Bexar
Samuel Maverick kept a journal (a portion of which is below) covering the period March 16, 1835 to January 1, 1836. It is part of the public archive in the Maverick Family Papers, Eugene C. Barker Texas History Collection, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
He arrived in San Antonio September 8, 1835, shortly before the Siege of Béxar began and was soon put under house arrest with John W. Smith and A.C. Holmes on the orders of Mexican general Martín Perfecto de Cos. Forbidden to leave the city, his diary provides a record of the siege. They were released the first of December.
See the entry for Samuel Augustus Maverick.
SEPT. 5TH. Leave Gonzales for Bexar, 6 miles to judge Williams. [blank] m. to [blank], 49 m. to Cibolo, 22 m. to Salado Cr.; 5 (m) to Bejar (76 miles from Gonzales to Bejar). Arrived on 8th Sept.
(On or about the 8th of September he and two others, John W. Smith and A.C. Holmes, were placed under house arrest and detained in the city of San Antonio.)
SEPT. 16TH. Grand Independence Celebration. (Paid Smith to 23rd, owe from 24th). Mr. Anderson’s account of the Comanches.
OCT. 8TH – Messrs Smith & Anderson return from Gonzales with the final resolution of the people & Ayuntamiento that they will not give up the cannon. Col. Ugartechea had first sent 4 or 5 soldiers and wagons; 2nd, 100 men under Lieut. Castinada; and 3d, set out himself at head of all his effectives, at the moment of Anderson’s going, but returned. People collecting in at Gonzales. This day (8th) arrived Genl Perfecto de Cos and also Ugartechea’s family from Monterey. [Genl Coml. Bexar – Perfecto de Cos. Domingo de Ugartechea, Col. Com. Cav’y]
OCT. 11TH. Sunday. Attend grand mass with the soldiers with military music, &c, and hear that La Bahia was surprised and taken yesterday (10th) at break of day by about 60 Americans. One killed and one or two wounded of the Mexicans.
OCT. 12TH. Great flurry and excitement by arrival of Mex. spies reporting that great crowds of Americans were on the road coming. This moment commence to mount cannon, pressing into the service Smith and other citizens (3 cannons already mounted; 2 now being mounted.)
OCT. 15TH – Appointed for the meeting of the Convention. Americans on the march from Gonzales.
OCT. 17TH. Arrival of courier with dispatches from [blank]. (12th. Timbers &c. taken to El Alamo to fortify the quartel, & begin, on 13th, to blockade the streets, which is finished by the 17th.) 16th. Smith’s doors guarded, and Col. Ugartechea’s.
OCT. 17TH. Arrival of Pedro Flores, as courier, with news that S. F. Austin is General of American forces. Dispatches from Gen’l Austin to Gen’l de Cos. Reports that 800 Americans are stationed at Cibolo and 500 more expected instanter. Reports that Sandoval, Comd’t at La Bahia and company carried prisoners to San Felipe. (Ugartechea had this day gone out with 100 men to the Cibolo, and confronted the advance body, who having alighted & cooked, U. turned back.)
13th was the day on which the military broke the figure of San Antonio, and on the 14th the comet was seen in the west 45° above the horizon, its train reaching 1/4 over the visable firmament.
(Halley’s comet appears on a 76 year cycle and was visible from late September through early November of 1835. The first known record of its sighting was in 240 BC. It was last seen in 1986 is expected to reappear in 2062.)
OCT. 18TH. Courier with communications from Cos to Austin, and my note to Austin. On 17th, finished mounting one cannon (had before only 3). All the powder &c. taken to the Church 3 or 4 days ago. Forces are divided here; part in the quartel (of the infantry) in Presidio on W. side of the rio, and the whole troop on E. side in their quartel in Alamo 300 cavalry and 2  Infantry. (The actual number, officers, soldiers, guards etc. of Effectives is 647)
OCT. 19TH. Cos had written to Austin that if he would send his men all home & then send or come with 2 or 3, be would be disposed to hear him. This day Austin sent a mere verbal message by Pedro that he had not come to treat but to fight; and if he (Cos) would not meet him outside he would attack him inside of the town. De Cos’s observation to the servant was “I want no more communications. Let the damn rascals come.” His letter to Austin had on 18th been read aloud at the beat of the drum at the four corners of the public square.
OCT. 20TH. Great flurry this morning on account of a report that the Americans are at the Salado (5 miles). House tops covered with sentinels &c., but soon over. Suppose the report is a false one. The Mexican spies report that some 20 of them attacked 3 on Salado; got a rifle and blanket but did not kill the Americans.
[OCT.] 21ST – Bowie sent his compliments to the town.
OCT. 22ND. Reports that Rodriguez and 50 soldiers are absent and suppose [they are] gone over. Padillo is with Austin. This afternoon is the first rencontre. 12 or 15 shots discharged. 3 come in shot – one through the head, one wounded and one his gun broken. This night arrival from Rio Grande of a cavallardo and about 48 soldiers.
[OCT. 23] RD. Eleven soldiers came in from Rio Grande. Soldiers all in motion, and go out but nothing done. At night there was some shooting.
OCT. 24TH. 41 more soldiers arrived. There appears to have been a small engagement today at about 9 o’clock on the Salado. At 10 Infantry come in with one man wounded (shot through the head). We heard at least 100 reports. Another report has it that there were some soldiers wounded in an engagement at the 2nd Mission (San Jose), which took place this morning. 24th, Saturday. No fighting, word sent.
[OCT.] 25TH – Letter rec’d from [Austin] saying that the reason Bejar was not at once taken is because the colonists would disperse before all now on the march to this Place would be able to reach it. 4 or 5 hundred are coming besides those already come. Genl Houston had arrived with part of the Nacog[doches] troops. Mexer [Mexia] & Zavalla are on the move in Texas. The great object is, when all the fighting men are brought together, to concert measures for giving general, united & effective support to the Constitution of 1824, and to put down Centralism.
It is expected that a resolution will be taken by all or most to march on to Matamoras, and from thence to any quarter thought to be best. It is expected (says Gen’l A.) that Mexir [Mexia] will raise troops to march into the interior. [He adds that] Cos might put an end to all this by pronouncing, or leaving the people of Bejar free to do so (in favor of the Constitution). Word also comes to confirm the report of Friday’s skirmishing, and it appears that some 3 or 4 were left dead for the Americans to inter.
[OCT.] 26TH. Nothing. An 18 pounder just mounted Was carried by to the Alamo, and raised to the top of the church; besides this, they have 10 (smaller) cannons mounted – 5 in Presidio, of which 4 are in the Plaza and 1 in front of the church, and 7 [in] the Alamo, of which one, the 18 pounder, is on the top of the old church of San Antonio [de Valero]. It appears that Bowie and the American party lately at the Mission of San Juan (3rd one) have gone back to the Headquarters at the Salado.
[OCT.] 27TH. Tuesday. Mexican infantry go out this morning. At 7 1/2 o’clock firing commenced, which continued nearly 2 hours (at the first Mission – Concepcion). 2 or 3 messengers then came in on a strain & they carry out 2 mules loaded with ammunition. Soon after 9 rounds of artillery are heard and brisk firing for 20 or 30 minutes.
[OCT.] 28TH. It appears from what is come out that the Mexicans had every one of their artillery men shot down & most of them killed, and both of the cannons they carried out taken from them. They left 23 dead on the ground. Out of 12 officers only one came off without a wound. They brought 42 wounded men off. 4 died on the way coming; on this morning (28th) it appears certain that 15 of these have died.
[OCT.] 28TH. Fifteen Mexican infantry out of the 42 wounded brought in are, this morning, dead; besides this havoc of the infantry, artillery-men etc. there were some of the cavalry killed. It is probable that more than 42 were brought off wounded for they [Mexicans] reported 8 (only) left dead [on the field], whereas the Padre, (who went with 10 men at the request of Austin to Gen’l Cos) reports 23 dead [on the field] and some dying in the American Camp. There must be at least 80 put past duty. The old Padre reports but one man as being touched, and he only wounded in a tender part
In the afternoon of yesterday some cavalry went towards the Mission and being hemmed in where the river was not fordable they quit their horses and swam the stream and thus saved their lives. The party of Americans were at first only 50 men, who were looking out a good camping place. As the action went on, they were increased until they were about 200 strong. The main body still remained with Austin on the Salado. They considered this as a mere scouting frolic, whereas it was an almost breaking up business for the Central party. The Mexican force was much more numerous than the American, and their infantry the best soldiers in the Republic (of the Mexican breed).
[OCT.] 29TH. Several deaths. In the afternoon a large reinforcement; 2 or 3 hundred, coming to the American army came almost into the town (suppose by mistake) and then turned off.
OCT. 30TH. A party of 3 or 4 hundred, with Bowie, came up on this side of the river near to town. The banter not being accepted, after staying till evening, they went down again.
[OCT.] 31ST. No mass. Two soldiers missing; either killed in the course of the firing today up the river, or possibly deserted. Some more cannons mounted here and great activity to secure the place.
NOV. 1ST. (Sunday) All Saints’ Day; a great occasion with the Catholics. 8 o’clock this morning a division of the Fedl. force is seen 1 or 1 1/2 miles from the Alamo (north). They fired three times at Ugartechea’s fort which salute is returned by two shots. Nothing more done-too far off.
NOV. 2ND. This is the people’s day -for common people’s souls to go to Heaven. Yesterday the Padre was sent by Gen’l Cos to say to Austin that they had better disperse and make their representations peaceably to the Government, and he would pledge himself they would be attended to. Austin returned the Padre with the word that he did not come to make representations; he would have a fight and if Cos would not come out he would go into the town. He sent word that the alternatives he [Cos] had were either to abandon the place or stay and fight.
He sent Cos word that he had extensive resources of men and money and that Mexir [Mexia] was gone to take Matamoras. When the Padre told Cos this he said it was a lie; they had not the resources spoken of &c. and that they might come on for they were not able to move him and he would stay in town.
Austin and his chief division are 11/2 miles above town, at the upper mill place. The rest below town on both sides of the river. Nothing done today – 2nd – but a little firing at long distances (and without effect) at the picket guards of the Mexicans at the edge of La Villita about the ditch.
[NOV.] 3RD – The division of the Americans below town are said to be gone off this morning; where gone is not known. The army above are still there. The Mexicans have gone on with their work of defense briskly. – Cannons now mounted. The place could much easier have been taken with 200 men after the affair of Gonzales than it can now with 1500 men.
The quartel in the Alamo is very strongly fortified, and the streets to the plaza here well guarded; and all trees, grass, fences and other lurking places and barricades removed and being removed in order to see the Americans when they come up. This night (of 3d November) some hundred or more guns fired in the Alamo, among which is heard a number of rifles. This turns out to be a party of Americans examining the premises and meeting the picket guard. A firing is carried on from behind a couple of houses. One Mexican is killed. While this is going on 1/2 doz. rounds are given and received by the Col. & the Americans N. of the fort.
[NOV.] 4TH. Redoubled exertions today in fortifying and clearing away hereabouts and mounting cannons. Ugartechea fires two guns off this morning, without getting an answer. A note had come yesterday from S. Jr. [thought to refer to Juan Seguin], saying that tonight (of 4th) a general attack is contemplated. A report is abroad among the citizens that the Americans are quarreling, and particularly Austin and Bowie. This evening at 7 o’clock the Mex. guards, whilst passing in the vicinity of the grave yard received a couple of shots and came in. No mass.
[NOV.] 5TH. From the effect of a number of little reports, stories and conjectures, our house is in great dejection this morning; have been drooping some days. I still have confidence. Ugartechea fires some cannon.
[NOV.] 6TH. Ugartechea fires his cannon, and there is another taken by Candalia (Ar’t’y Col.), a little out of town on this side above and fired several times, but not very near the Amens., though towards them. Very cheering accounts come this afternoon of an addition of 4 or 5 hundred more men with some cannons and plenty of provisions and other supplies. A great fog this morning, arising by evaporation from the river (spring water). Thermometer at 7 A.M. in shade out of doors is at 49°. Yesterday at about same hour a norther blew up, bringing the thermometer down 20° , from 75° to 55°. About a week past we experienced the first norther this fall.
[NOV.] 7TH. Note from Austin in general terms. All the Americans are at the upper Molina [Later the site of the Drought home at 9th Street, San Antonio] General Mexir [Mexia] has sailed from New Orleans to Matamoras or Tampico with a great force etc.
[NOV.] 8TH. (Sunday) Afternoon. A spying party of Americans said to be seen west of town a mile out. Capt. Barragan and some cavalry give them chase. They forced the Americans to seek safety in a gully. They took 6 horses, two frock coats and two hats, on which account the church bell was rung in joy. This evening the Gen’l fired off some signal rockets which threw things into a little helter skelter and turned out a false alarm.
[NOV.] 9TH. Reported that a considerable number of men more have joined the American force. Also reported that 4 or 5 hundred soldiers are coming on to Cos from Laredo (having some reluctant Mexicans as prisoners). The Americans are keeping a good lookout for this reinforcement of the Federal Army.
[NOV.] 10TH. The Federal Army (of Austin & Co.) have from time to time been receiving cannon. just heard they received yesterday one requiring six yoke (of oxen) to haul. Suppose an 18 pounder. Col. T. J. Rusk sent me his name by Peter.
[NOV.] 11TH. Wrote a few lines to Rusk this moming and sent by P., evening. Holmes received a few lines from Wm. Austin and I a sibylline leaf. He writes that they are 900 strong. Some who were obliged have gone home. New forces immediately expected. Some from New Orleans certainly on the way; have seven cannon. Two hours after dark an alarm, and in about twenty minutes four or five hundred muskets discharged and three cannon. Two guns being fired close to Smith’s, Cap’t Solis with (Mendoza) four soldiers and some at the door entered the house where we were sitting. In his lingo he demanded who shot off the guns and why?, and in a very menacing, hurried manner ordered his men, who at the word formed in a good position, cocking their muskets, and held them at a present (with bayonets). Smith (J.W.) and the women denied that we did it. He asserted and the women again earnestly protested. He then Pushed into the yard, still furious and in calling out it so happened that he was heard by Vedall [Alejandro Vidal] who owned that he had shot his guns, saying he shot at some of the Americans on the point, on the opposite side of the river. This was a lie, but being a faithful damned dog no more was said. The Capt. tried to excuse himself and the affair ended. (He had said he was shot at as he heard the balls whiz by him; this a lie.) Vedall answered at the second call. If he had declined answering at all, they would have been fully convinced it was we, and certainly if a soldier would have said this or these men fire[d] (or with arms) they would have shot us instantly. It was certainly a fine specimen of Centralism. I did not at the time think they would fire. It occurred to me that he demanded to know if any from the American Camp had got into our premises. I knew none had and felt that his was an idle bravado and that we were safe. On a full explanation, however, I saw we were very near being shot through a mistake. Dm such a government.
[NOV.] 12TH. Col. Ugartechea, who is a well-meaning gentleman, being told what occurred last night, was much concerned. We demanded again leave to go out of town. He went to the General [Cos] and two hours [after] returned. He reports that the General can’t suffer us to go out of his custody; but they promise ample protection and Ugartechea closed by requesting us to shoot such fellows if they should do such a thing again. This is kind assurance of & Gen’l and Colonel, but is impracticable and useless. It seems that Ugartechea had the Captain brought up; that Candalia, the Lt. Col. of Infantry, defended his capitan. He undertook to quarrel with the Col. (Ugartechea) when the Gen’l told them to stop: “The times don’t allow brother officers to quarrel,” and added to Ugartechea “Assure those gentlemen at Smiths that they shall be protected. If the like insult is offered again, tell them to shoot down the rascals but they cannot be permitted to leave town.”
[NOV.] 13TH. Report of a cannon heard early this morning, and at about 10 o’clock twenty guns fired in answer to five or ten from the Mill, commenced by the Americans.
[NOV.] 14TH. Quiet. Five or six shots fired by the Americans on the Alamo. Two of them hit the fort.
[NOV.] 15TH. Sunday. I am engaged in making a plan. At 10 O’clock brisk and heavy firing going on by the Americans, not answered by Ugartechea, as was the fact yesterday. Shot as if by an experienced gunner. The fourth shot entering the fort took a soldier’s leg off. One shot supposed to be aimed at the Church near this [house] in the middle of town, bit in a tree top on the bank of the river and fell into the water, one hundred yards from us or less. They whistled as if they were coming into Smith’s. One hit the corner of Don Fernando Rodrigues’ stone house. Today a flag flying for the first time, in the fort, and a man in it with his shin bone broke etc. Videll [Vidal] cut off his leg, borrowing Mr. Smith’s saw. His operation was singular and savage; he (the man) died at sunset, killed by Videll.
[NOV.] 16TH. Sent my project to [Milam] at 9 o’clock. Firing commenced a few minutes after at the fort again and after a while at the church near us (where there is a constant lookout kept and where there is a battery etc.) The balls fired at the town fell short a hundred yards or so, one falling at the picket’s cannon (No. 2) in the second street, and one knocking down a woman’s hen house -dreadful! The Col. did not fire in reply. Soon on the receipt of [blank] the firing ceased altogether and nothing more today.
[NOV.] 17TH. Not a sound. The wind hardly blows. All gayety again in town. Officers riding about on their pampered and mettlesome steeds. A report circulated that a great force from Santa Anna has landed and that a considerable reinforcement will be here in three or four days.
NOV. 18TH. A man from the American Camp came in last night and tells some of his friends (report perhaps general) that the Americans know that Col. Ugartechea left here four or five days ago in the night with sixty men in order to bring on those four hundred or more troops that a few days ago were on the march and returned back to Laredo; that the Americans had sent a messenger and escort to hurry on Padilla and some troops under him, who are coming from Goliad in order to [make] an attack, which the Americans were determined to make before Col. Ugartechea could get here with his reinforcement. This the deponent asserts positively, viz: That the Americans are going to make an attack some night. And from the very uncommon caution observed last night for the first time (and in the afternoon) in challenging citizens as they passed Musquis’ corner, and (what they never did before) making them tell what business they were upon etc., it is my opinion that some news came in during yesterday afternoon about the Americans’ design of making an attack. This is the first time I heard that Col. Ugartechea had gone out of the fort.
[NOV.] 19TH. The Americans said to be erecting a battery one half [mile] this side of the mill, a little above La Garza’s sugar mill. One lone gun fired (cannon); fired at the American camp at 11 or 12 o’clock at night. Nothing. No firing all day. Govr. Viesca said to have come yesterday to American Camp. He reports that Genl Mexia had taken Matamoras. There is a report that Montezuma had gained a naval victory over the Centralists.
[NOV.] 20TH. One American cannon at 11 o’clock. This day the worst norther we have had. Thermometer 42° with rain and wind. One cannon also early this morning. After dark an American came into edge of town, enquiring for Gen’l Austin’s camp. He was seized by the picket guard and carried to the jail of the Plazas. Another American was seen lying drunk below town, but before the soldiers could reach him a Mexican (friend) had sent and the American on his horse made off. It is said that the dispatches just arrived bring word that the little fort on the Nueces, on the road from Goliad to Matamoras, was just taken by Americans; six cannon and a parcel of small arms and prisoners.
[NOV.] 21ST. The soldiers who came back from hunting up the drunk men were sent again. They found an American by the road-side sleeping (or drunk). He woke up and said be was their friend (in bad Spanish). However, one of the soldiers shot a ball through him, but still speaking, another shot and killed him. They then stripped him and brought his clothes & pistol and horse to town which they are offering for sale about town. He had no gun. Señor Paplo further says that it came from Yturri’s house (friend to Cos) that they speak of shooting the prisoner. This a very cold, bleak, rainy day. The Americans are raising a battery or something not far from La Garza’s sugar mill, one half mile this side of the Molina where Austin is. Thermometer this morning 36 1/2º.
[NOV.] 22ND. Sunday. Very cold. One hundred guns at least fired through the day; say seventy from the Alamo and a cannon placed on W. side of the river, and thirty by the Americans.
NOV. 23RD. Five cannon fired this morning from the battery of the Americans at or near the sugar mill of La Garza. The weather very cold – very unusually so as S. [Smith] says. Thermometer down to 28º after sunrise. Water in the house froze over as thick as a dinner plate. No frost out of doors by reason of the wind.
[NOV.] 24TH. Thermometer at 31º, but a little weak sunshine, now and then. The Americans were very quiet yesterday and so today. It is supposed that something is going on betwixt them and Ugartechea (at the head of the soldiers he is trying to bring in from Laredo). This whole afternoon is occupied in a far-off attack on the American dirt fort, three quarters of a mile above. Some two or three hundred discharges of muskets, now and then the crack of a rifle is heard. The Americans have two cannons there. In the midst of the firing the Americans fired two cannon at the fort (over it) and one at the church here in town. None of the officials went out. Towards night the soldiers returned – Two killed and one wounded (Mexican). The Americans in all likelihood came off untouched as the soldiers did not go within musket shot but near enough to be reached by a good rifle.
[NOV.] 25TH. Thermometer 30º. Sun shining and a fair day.
[NOV.] 26TH. Weather improving. Foraging party of Mexican soldiers etc. on the west of town (in hearing) attacked by the Americans – three killed and several wounded. Some wounded men brought in next morning report that every kindness was offered and done to them by the Americans. By their request they were left by the Americans covered up with their blankets and grass. They say that none of the Americans were hurt. The Americans took off all their pack mules (the Mexicans), say twenty or thirty.
[NOV.] 27TH. Fair day, cool. One of the soldiers of yesterday’s foraging party, in running off, came by an American’s horse and mounted him; be was shot through the hat. (A soldier who had taken hold of the horse a moment before had his arm broken by a rifle ball.) The same brought the horse in and to-day sold him to Smith for $46.00, horse, saddle and three pistols.
[NOV.] 28TH. Americans after the foragers this morning on the Salado, but were dodged. At 10 o’clock thermometer is at 54º – a fine day. Five or six cannon shot at the Alamo fort. Nothing done. Last night (after midnight) a great deal of musket firing from the picket guard, who reported (falsely) that they saw the Americans coming in with a great many ladders to scale the walls. Poh! No need of ladders.
[NOV.] 29TH. Mr. Cocke thinks he was shot at whilst on the ridge-pole of our (Nixon’s) house [current Commerce Street, about 200 feet east of Soledad Street]. Some cannon firing.
[NOV.] 30TH. Monday. Cannonading.
(Maverick, Smith and Holmes were released from custody on the first and returned to the Texan camp.)
DEC. 1ST. Left town, Smith having promised for us that we would go soon to the United States. After leaving town cannons fired from both parties.
[DEC.] 2ND. We all go into the American camp from ranch of José Angel Navarro (Gefe Politico), ten miles below town. Great cannonading this day. Col. Mendoza has the calf of his leg shot off. Council of officers held instanter and Smith and myself urge an assault. After a great many objections being urged and answered by our offering to head the divisions etc., it is finally agreed to make the attack by taking: 1st Veramendi’s; 2nd La Garza’s; and 3d Cardena’s houses. The command to be given to Maj. Morris; 2nd Col. Somerville; and 3d Col. Jack.
[DEC.] 4TH. This failed, on Col. Somerville and Col. Jack saying they were not ready, so when morning (the 4th) came, there was a general breaking up. Another faux pas is made: the volunteers curse the officers and 250 or 300 set off for home. All day we get more and more dejected. The Gen’l (Burleson) mustered the remaining men and begged them not all to go; but some stay and retreat with the cannon to La Bahia. A retreat seems our only recourse. The spectacle becomes appalling; but it was the deep darkness that prognosticated day. Near sunset Al Feris [Alveris?], Cornet of horse, deserts, coming in on a fine horse and with a white flag. His story is heard and corroborated. (Another deserter had just come in with dispatches from Cos to Ugartechea). Near dark and by the animating manner and untiring zeal of Col. Milam, these trivial matters are turned to account. An impulse is given and received; the men fall into ranks to see if we are strong enough. The mere fragment of the seven hundred, say two hundred & fifty, volunteer to make the attack next morning; (two thousand had from time to time been in camp.)
DEC. 5TH. Attack made, myself [as guide] going with Col. Milam at the head of the right division. Johnson commanded the left.
DEC. 10TH. White flag of surrender sent us.
DEC. 31ST, 1835 & JAN. 1ST, 1836 Men set out for La Bahia to rendezvous for an attack on Matamoras.
(Permission granted to reprint this article in email of Nov. 14, 2014 from Dr. Wallace L. McKeehan.)
Shared from Sons of Dewitt Colony Texas:
Account of the Siege and Battle of Bexar From Within Bexar From the Diary of Samuel Maverick 1835
© 1997-2001, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved