reported that small detachments from the Army of the North would soon be sent to capture San Antonio and Goliad, then unoccupied, after which the Mexican government would make an effort to conclude a definitive peace treaty with Texas, acknowledging her independence.
The one effort made during Houston's first administration to extend the flag of Texas over the area claimed under the law of December 1836 met with a rebuff from the President himself. Ranging west of San Antonio with a force of twenty-one men, Erastus ("Deaf") Smith and John C. Hays set out from their camp on the Medina on March 6, 1837, without authorization from the government, to plant the Texan flag of independence on the spire of the church at Laredo and to learn something about the Mexican military buildings in the north. They arrived on the evening of March 16 at the old San Ygnacio Ranch on the Arroyo Chacón, about five miles northeast of Laredo, where they discovered five Mexicans, who fled instantly toward Laredo to give the alarm of the approach of the Texan force. Smith was unable to overtake the fleeing Mexicans. Early the next morning "Deaf" Smith, accompanied by one of his men, went out to view the road leading to Laredo, hoping to take a prisoner who could give him information about the town's defenses. While reconnoitering, he discovered the trail of a party of cavalry sent out from the town to intercept him. He forthwith returned to camp to prepare to defend himself. After waiting unsuccessfully until 1 o'clock for the enemy to put in his appearance, Smith determined to fall back a few miles to where his horses could get a little grass, as they had not had any during the night. Having proceeded about two miles, he again discovered the enemy, not more than one mile distant, "advancing in fine order." Smith quickly ordered a retreat to the camp he had just left, which had been located in a deep wash in the bed of a river, then dry. Before reaching the dry river bed, however, Smith discovered that a portion of his men were about to be cut off by the pursuing force of forty cavalrymen from the Laredo garrison. Consequently, he and his men found it necessary to take cover in a nearby mesquite thicket, to secure their horses, and to prepare for immediate action. The Texans had scarcely prepared themselves for battle when the enemy commenced firing on their right and left at a distance of about 150 yards, while a portion of the Mexican force advanced rapidly to the rear of the Texans. From their positions the Mexicans moved toward the thicket,
97. Ibid., Feb. 21, 1837.