were followed by a "great many peons . . . who hallowed at us," said P. F. Bowman, later a member of the Mier Expedition, "calling us robbers. Cameron fired at them and broke the leg of a peone, which was the first gun fired."
The Centralist horde, variously estimated up to 7,500, now moved forward from their entrenchment, and occupied three sides of the Texan position, the other side being protected by the mountains. In this manner, fortified by liquor and confident in their numbers, they slowly advanced under cover of their two nine-pound cannon and repeated volleys of musketry. Jordan ordered his men to withhold their fire until the enemy approached within easy range. Accordingly, "they lay snugly ensconced behind the old [stone] walls and an adobe fence, forming a half-moon" about a peach orchard, and, conserving their small quantity of ammunition, did not fire a shot until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. In the meantime, the Mexicans kept up an intense and prolonged cannonade until 4 o'clock, when General Montoya, supposing from the extent of his own fighting that most of the Texans had fallen, ordered a general assault upon the hacienda. When the assailants came within thirty yards of the walls, the Texans gave them a shout of defiance, followed by a fearful volley from their rifles. The Texans fought desperately, but the enemy also fought well, being "cheered from the hill in their rear by the thousands of men, women, and children, who had come out to see los Tejanos taken. At that distance, the [Texan] rifle-bullets went on no foolish errand, but nearly all took effect. Column after column of the Centralists advanced, faltered, and fell under the murderous fire" of their opponents who fought like Tartars. Sometimes the little band of Texans succeeded in turning the enemy back only after he had gained within a few feet of their position. Outnumbered ten to one, Jordan's little band, aided only by a Captain Lari and a Mexican bugler, beat off the repeated
126. Ibid., VI, 238; Brown, History of Texas, II, 174-175. P. F. Bowman was from Buffalo, New York.
127. This figure probably includes a good many sight-seers from Saltillo. In his November 2, 1840, report of the battle, Jordan says the Centralist force numbered eight hundred cheered on by five hundred "pelados." S. W. Jordan to Gen. Lic. Canales, Laredo, Nov. 2, 1840, in Telegraph and Texas Register, Dec. 16, 1840; typed copy in John S. Ford, "Memoirs," II, 238-241, typed ms.
128. Yoakum, History of Texas, II, 295-296. D. W. Smith to John Forsyth, Matamoros, Nov. 12, 1840, (no. 173) in Consular Dispatches (Matamoros), ms., microfilm.