Secret War for Texas
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book began with a not uncommon family mystery: the search for my three-times-great-grandfather, James Grant, a doctor from Scotland’s Black Isle who once worked for the East India Company but then seemingly vanished from the records in the early 1820s. At first that search was no more than a casual distraction from more serious...
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On April 2, 1836, Richard Pakenham, the British minister to Mexico, formally advised the foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, of the latest news from Texas. As expected, San Antonio de B
1. Gone to Texas
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In the beginning of course, Texas was Spanish territory, but in 1808 the French Emperor Napoleon invaded Spain, deposing and imprisoning its royal family and so beginning the terrible six-year-long Peninsular War. To the Spaniards it was their War of Independence, and that was exactly what it also became in their American...
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Sheer hard work was what earned James Grant his reputation as a man of progress. According to John Linn, Grant became the “resident agent of an English mining company,” perhaps pointing to a connection with the iron ore mine at Encarnación, which Wavell and Milam leased to an English company at about this time. More likely, it refers...
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Among all the other preparations recorded in Austin’s order book for November 21 is a short note directing that “the battery ordered to be erected within 300 yds of the walls of the fortifications [the Alamo] will be commenced this night, under the command of Capt. Cheshire assisted by Dr. James Grant as engineer.” This is...
4. Contending Chieftains
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Texan historians have not been kind either to James Grant or to the expedition that he now led, and most have taken their cue from Sam Houston, who some time later charged in a vitriolic letter to Henry Smith: “Is he not a Scotchman who has resided in Mexico for the last ten years? Does he not own large possessions in the interior? . . . Is he not...
5. High Noon at Goliad
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The garrison lay where the Atascosita Road crossed the San Antonio River at a point about ninety miles downstream from Bexar and forty miles inland from Copano Bay, and like many places in Mexico it had two names. To some it was known simply as La Bahía (or, as the Americans frequently wrote it, “Labadee”), but others knew it as...
6. Rio Grande
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William Cooke may have thought that Houston had “completely defeated the object of Col. Grant” at Refugio, but James Grant himself may not have seen it quite that way. On the contrary, despite all the setbacks and troubles of the past three months, the plan to “revolutionize” Mexico at last seemed to be at the point of coming to fruition. Amid the chaos...
7. “Go in and Die with the Boys”
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And so, unaware that it was already too late, Grant decided to go out again immediately, without waiting for a reply from Fannin to Johnson’s plea, in case it might bring more positive orders for Cooke and the others to fall back to Goliad. Although this foray was seemingly represented as such both at the time and later, the...
8. From Sea to Shining Sea
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On the same day Grant was killed, the reconvened Texian Convention issued the long-expected formal Declaration of Independence from Mexico. Few of the signatories, who included Sam Houston, seem to have been in any doubt at all that this declaration was merely a temporary arrangement pending an annexation of Texas by the United States. Just...
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For the United States the annexation of Texas paved the way for the final stages of the march to the Pacific Ocean. As William Kennedy noted: “In a letter written by General Andrew Jackson, and published some months before his death, he observed—(on behalf of the American people)—‘We want Texas because we want California.’—The...
Appendix: Grant’s Men
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This is a listing of all the men so far identified as belonging to the two companies that went forward with James Grant to San Patricio at the end of January 1836, and afterward followed him to the Rio Grande. One company was commanded by Captain Thomas Lewellen and the other by Captain Thomas Pearson. Fortunately the transcript of a final roster for...
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Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 4 line art. 4 maps.
Publication Year: 2007