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Invasion Excitement

Colonel Jordan, fresh from his campaign in northern Mexico, appeared in Austin on December 5, and what he reported caused the Austin Sentinel to run out "another Extra, flaming, for the one thousandth time, with Mexican invasion, fire and thunder." The Mexicans were made out to be six thousand strong "carrying or to carry horrors in their train," laughed the editor of the Houston Telegraph, "when the truth is that all the troops under Arista, could be enclosed in a wolf-pen -- but perhaps this fact will not quiet the fears of the major," George W. Bonnell, publisher of the Texas Sentinel.[14]  The Houston Morning Star commented: "Another Mexican invasion is frightening the editors, women, and children of Austin."[15]

The renewal of the invasion threats by the Mexican consul at New Orleans[16]  and by Arista on the Río Grande stirred Texans to action. Congress was in session; a bitter debate over the Cherokee land bill was in progress, and the people of Austin were pictured as "quite full of fight."[17]  Amid the excitement, tempers were short. Colonel Jordan and General Houston had bitter words the night of December 8, "which ended in Jordan striking Houston with a stick."[18]  The next day the two patched up their differences, but the excitement over a possible invasion continued to increase.

A dispatch from Major George T. Howard,[19]  commander of the Texan forces at San Antonio de Béxar, reached the War Department in Austin on December 10, stating that he expected an immediate attack to be made on San Antonio by a Mexican army from the Río Grande,[20]  numbering some seventeen hundred men.[21]  According to

14. Telegraph and Texas Register, Dec. 16, 1840.

15. Quoted in ibid., Dec. 30, 1840.

16. Ibid., Dec. 30, 1840.

17. K _______ to the Editor of the Colorado Gazette, Austin, Dec. 9, 1840, in Colorado Gazette and Advertiser, Dec. 19, 1840.

18. Ibid. Jordan reached Austin on December 5. Adolphus Sterne recorded in his diary under date of December 10 that Jordan would have attacked Houston with an ax if it had not been for his (Sterne's) interference. Harriet Smither (ed.), "Diary of Adolphus Sterne," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXXI, (1927-1928), 80.

19. George T. Howard was commissioned sheriff of Béxar County in April or May 1840. Joseph Waples to John S. Simpson, Chief Justice [of] Béxar County, Department of State, Austin, May 4, 1840, State Department Letterbook, no. 1, ms., p. 174, enclosing commission for Howard as sheriff of Béxar County.

20. George H. Flood to John Forsyth, Legation of the U. S. A., City of Austin, Dec. 11, 1840 (vol. 1, no. 10), in "Correspondence and Reports of American Agents and Others in Texas 1836-1845," Justin H. Smith, "Transcripts," V, ms.

21. Telegraph and Texas Register, Jan. 27, 1841.

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AFTER SAN JACINTO: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
Joseph Milton Nance, 1963