"The Battle of the Brazos"
Sam Houston's First Battlefield Selection
In the Texas War for Independence
by Kameron K.
Sam Houston Quote Reported by J. H.
He then said, "My friends, I am told that
evil disposed persons have reported that I am going to march you to
the Redlands. This is false. I am going to
march you into the Brazos bottom near Groce's, to a position
where you can whip the enemy ten to one, and where we can
get an abundant supply of corn from Lake creek."
J. H. Kuykendall Quoting
General Sam Houston
From "The San Jacinto
Campaign" by Eugene C. Barker
Quarterly of the Texas
State Historical Association,
Volume IV, No. 4, p.
Mirabeau B. Lamar to His Brother
I leave in the morning for the army: a
dreadful Battle is to be fought in three or four days on the
Brazos, decisive of the fate of Texas; I
shall of course have to be in it...Houston's army has retreated
from the Colorado to the Brazos: the Mexican army is in San
Felipe, ours is 20 miles from them; they will come together
in a few days, I shall reach Houston day after tomorrow, a
distance from this place about 50 miles.
From Letter Written by
Mirabeau B. Lamar to his Brother
This web page has only
recently begun construction. Be sure to bookmark this page and
check back regularly. Last updated January 25, 2012. As
always, my research is being made available to other researchers
before final publication in order to make the information available
for historical research of this period in the Texas
Revolution. My goal is the most historically
accurate Texas history possible for the students of Texas
of the Brazos"
Most histories of the Texas Revolution
describe the time spent by the Texas army at Groce's plantation as
merely an opportunity for General Sam Houston
to try and whip his rag-tag accumulation of volunteers
(mostly farmers and frontiersmen) into something resembling
an army. Houston spent the longest part of the San
Jacinto Campaign (about two weeks) at Groce's
plantation. This and other important facts surrounding
Houston's presence at Groce's have been mostly overlooked for more
than 100 years. A review of primary sources and early
historical accounts would suggest something much more important
than training the Texas army almost occurred there.
This article is about a battle that
never took place - "The Battle of the Brazos." While
researching the history of the early Texas settlement known as the
Lake Creek Settlement, the
author ran across a statement made by Sam Houston which was later
reported by J. H. Kuykendall. This quote has caused the
author to re-think what he thought he knew about the Sam Houston's
military strategy during the Texas Revolution prior to the Battle
of San Jacinto. It appears the decisive battle of the Texas
Revolution almost happened along the Brazos River and not upon the
field of San Jacinto. This was Sam Houston's intention and
many Texans in late March and early April of 1836 believed the
decisive battle between the Texians and the Mexicans would occur on
1836 Recollections of J. H.
J. H. Kuykendall, a soldier in the army of the
Republic of Texas was with Sam Houston during his tactical
retreat from Gonzales in 1836. J. H. Kuykendall provided the
following quote from Sam Houston:
He then said, "My friends, I am told that evil disposed
persons have reported that I am going to march you to the
Redlands. This is false. I am going to march you into the
Brazos bottom near Groce's, to a position where you can whip the
enemy ten to one, and where we can get an abundant supply of
corn from Lake creek."
J. H. Kuykendall, "Recollections of the
Campaign," quoted in Eugene C. Barker's article "The San Jacinto
Campaign," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical
Association, Volume IV, p. 300.
Quote from an Express from Sam
Houston Dated March 31, 1836
Copy of an express from Samuel Houston,
commander-in-chief of the Texian army.
Headquarters, west of the Brasos, March
To the people east of
My encampment is preparing on the west
of the Brasos, where I shall wait for some supplies and
intention never has been to cross the Brasos, and
the false reports spread are by men who have basely deserted the
army of Texas.
...We will whip them
See the Niles Weekly
Register, Baltimore, May 7, 1836, Volume [complete this site]
Here Houston states emphatically that "My intention never
has been to cross the Brasos."
In The Papers of the Texas
Revolution 1835-1836, Volume 5, page 253, item # 2495, John H.
Jenkins general editor, Presidial Press, Austin 1973, we find the
entire text of Sam Houston's message to the People of Texas
To get some idea of the location of
the Texas army camp on the west bank of the Brazos River, see
this link prepared by Texas historian David
[HOUSTON to the PEOPLE]
Headquarters West of the Brazos 31st March,
To the people East of the
My encampment is preparing on the West of the
Brazos, where I shall wait for some supplies and
intention never has been to cross the Brazos; and the false
reports spread are by men who have basely deserted the army of
men from the East pass on to the army and cross over at
Groces. If men will unite with the present force we
can defeat and capture the enemy. The army of the enemy has
been represented at 10 to 30,000 men, when indeed it never has
exceeded 3 or 4,000 in Texas.
And the force that attacked Fannin was only
1,500, but he had only 320 men. They fought in the prairie
where they had no water, and where they surrendered to him.
The enemy cavalry are not numerous, as stated and their infantry
are men pressed into service, and convicts from prisons.
Their army is encumbered by women and children. Let the men
of the East come to our aid and bring all deserters with
them. Aid from the United States is landing on our
coast. Capt. Brown with one of our vessels has taken a
Mexican vessel with 420 barrels of flour, 300 kegs of powder, and
other supplies for the army.
My spies report this morning that the
observations made by them last night could discover nothing of the
enemy for ten miles beyond Bayou St. Bernard, twenty-five miles
beyond San Felipe.
The citizens of San Felipe, when they heard it
rumored that the enemy had crossed the Colorado, immediately set
fire to their own houses and reduced the place to ashes. Let
the people not be any longer in dread of danger, if the men will
turn out like men.
Houston Commander in
P.S. My spies have just returned and report
the enemy in a few miles of San Felipe, 800 or 1,000 men
only, and only 30 cavalry. We will whip them
The post script of the letter advises
us that the Mexicans are now "in a few miles of San
Felipe." Houston advises that it was never his intention
to cross the Brazos and he tells men coming to the army to pass
over at Groce's. The last line of the letter states Houston's
clear intention when he writes, "We will whip them
soon." He is drawing the reinforcements to him at
Groce's on the west side of the Brazos with intention of fighting
soon. Houston has stopped retreating and is waiting for Santa
Anna to come to him for battle.
The Mexican Army Arrives in San
By April 7, 1836, the advance of
Mexican army arrived in San Felipe de Austin. Sam Houston
provided this information to his troops in Army Orders dated
April 7, 1836.
[HOUSTON ARMY ORDERS]
Headquarters of the Army, Camp West of
Brazos, April 7, 1836
advance of the enemy is at San Felipe. The moment for which
we have waited with anxiety and interest, is fast
approaching. The victims of the Alamo, and the names of those
who were murdered at Goliad, call for cool, deliberate
vengeance. Strict discipline, order, and subordination, will
insure us the victory
The army will be in readiness at a moment's
warning. The field officers have the immediate
execution of this order in charge for their respective
See Papers of Texas Revolution,
Volume 5, page 360, item 2620.
April 10, 1836 - Mirabeau B.
Lamar to His Brother, Jefferson Lamar
Texas State Library and
Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers
Harrisburg 10th April 1836
I leave in the morning for the army:
a dreadful Battle is to be
fought in three or four days on the Brazos, decisive of the fate of
Texas; I shall of course have to be in it.
Houston's army has retreated from the Colorado to the
Brazos: the Mexican army is in San Felipe, ours is 20 miles
from them; they will come together in a few days, I shall reach
Houston day after tomorrow, a distance from this place about 50
Latest From Texas
LATEST FROM TEXAS
The Louisiana Advertiser of April 23rd brings
us the following:
We learn by a gentleman of the name of
Slaughter, who came passenger in the steamer Privateer, from
Natchitoches, (and only five days from Texas,) that
General Houston is at
present encamped on the west side of the Brazos, opposite the
plantation of Leonard Gross, in a well timbered bottom, and
in a position to conquer 10,000 of the enemy; besides,
he can be supplied with provisions and stores by
steamboats. At present the steamer Yellow Stone is
engaged in that way. Santa Anna is at San Antonio, and
our informant confidently asserts that the whole of his force
in Texas does not exceed 2500 men. The only reason
General Houston does not attack him is the want of arms and
ammunition, and his being wholly destitute of
artillery. Santa Anna's advance guard, consisting of
230 men were within 25 miles of Houston's encampment; and it
was the General's intention to cut them off, for which
purpose he is pressing all the horses within reach, and had
about 500 when Mr. Slaughter left.
See The Mercury, New
York, Thursday, May 12, 1836, Volume VIII, Number 19, Page 2. Here
Slaughter makes a report very similar to J. H. Kuykendall. J.
H. Kuykendall stated that Houston said, "I
am going to march you into the Brazos bottom near Groce's,
to a position where you can whip the enemy ten to
on." Slaughter reported that Houston
was "encamped on the west side of
the Brazos, opposite the plantation of Leonard Gross, in a well
timbered bottom, and in a position to conquer 10,000 of the
Many Joined Texas Army at
Many troops joined Houston's army at
Groce's. Not just Mirabeau B. Lamar. Many of the volunteers from
the Lake Creek Settlement joined Sam Houston's army at Groce's.
Waiting on the Twin
Upon his arrival at San Felipe,
Houston had no artillery. One of the things that Houston was
doing on the west bank of the Brazos was waiting for two artillery
Why "The Battle of the
Brazos" Did not Happen
of the Brazos did not occur for at least two important reasons:
The Weather [compounded outbreak of by
Santa Anna Did Not Follow Houston and the Texian
An 1837 Historical
At least one very early historical
account of the Texas Revolution records the activities of Houston
at Groce's in accord with the primary sources cited in this
The position now chosen by Gen. Houston,
was on the west bank of the
Brazos, about twenty miles above the town of San Felipe. He
threw up some slight fortifications about his camp, such as time
and means would permit, and
waited the advance and attack of the
See History of South America and
Mexico by Senator John Milton Niles and L. T. Pease, published
in 1837, page 344.
- March 6, 1836 - Not knowing the Alamo had
already fallen, Sam Houston leaves the Convention at Washington
to assist the defenders of the Alamo.
- Sam Houston arrives in Gonzalez
- Sam Houston receives the news that the Alamo has fallen.
- Sam Houston begins his tactical retreat towards the east.
- Sam Houston arrives in San Felipe.
Sam Houston and Texas army arrives in San Felipe.
Has town burned.
Destroys/burns ferry. This is not a step you take if you
intend to cross the river. This is key and very similar to
what he did at San Jacinto later with Vince's bridge. He cut
off his men's means of escape and forced Santa Anna to stay on the
same side of the river with Houston and the Texas army.
Heads north to Groce's Plantation.
We have read for years that he did this to train his army which
he did. But he was training them for a fight he thought would
come much earlier and happen on the west side of the Brazos near
All Santa Anna had to do to fight Sam Houston was go north along
Houston's army was trapped on the west side of the Brazos river
now that Houston had had the ferry destroyed.
Shepperd watches the town of San Felipe burn from east side of
the river with the soldiers Houston stationed on the east died of
What does Henderson Yoakum say about the period.
Houston's horse and army across only after Santa Anna heads
south and Yellowstone arrives.
Similarities between San Jacinto and Houston's battle plan on
Houston destroyed the bridge at
Similarities of Battle of horseshoe Bend, San Jacinto and Battle
plan for the Brazos.
Backed up against Talhosa
Backed up against the San Jacinto
Backed up against the Brazos.
[When did Santa anna turn south?]
Ten to one" Houston was going to fight the Mexicans in the
heavily treed river bottom ala Indian style.
From The Papers of the
Texas Revolution 1835-1836, Jenkins, Presidial Press, Austin,
Head Quarters, Camp on
Mr. J. Groce will take charge of
a Grey Stallion now on the opposite side of the river, and hold him
subject to the orders of the Commr in Chief of the Army - by
The Yellowstone did not begin ferrying the army across until
April 12, 1836.