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Frontier Raids, Threats, and Counter-Threats of Invasion

Appearing before the Mission of Refugio just before daybreak, the marauders launched their attack, and after a short skirmish the inhabitants of the place surrendered, with the exception of Henry Ryals, justice of the peace of Refugio County,[8]  who was at his store at the eastern end of the settlement. He fought desperately and kept the whole Mexican party at bay until some of the local citizens came to him and persuaded him to surrender, which he did on condition he be treated as a prisoner of war. One Mexican was reported killed and three wounded by Ryals in the attack.[9]

Captain Benjamin F. Neal, John W. B. McFarlane, and John R. Talley made their escape in safety to Victoria, while the rest of the citizens of Refugio, except the women, were made prisoners, and the town plundered of its valuables. Most of the residents of Refugio were absent at the time of the attack, having gone down to the bay a day or two previous. Those who could speak Spanish, it was reported, were released, while the others were stripped of their clothing and carried away by Agatón, who commenced his retreat at 8 a.m. of the same day as the attack. Ryals was treated with great rudeness, and the Mexicans declared "they should kill him at a short distance from the town." Among those carried off were Henry Ryals, John Fox, James Fox, Michael Fox,[10]  Israel Canfield, Bartlett Annibal, James St. John, William St. John, one Mexican [Rafael Gonzales?], and one Negro boy.[11]  The outlaws bound the prisoners' hands before them and tied them to the tail of their horses and started off at a brisk trot.

Shortly after the Mexican withdrawal, five persons were found murdered on the Aransas.[12]  Whether or not these were of the party carried off from Refugio, or some other deed perpetrated by Agatón's men, it has been impossible to determine.[13]  But as for Ryals, there is no doubt. For his resistance, this brave frontiersman was left "sus-

8. Hobart Huson, "Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to the End of World War II," Vol. II, chap. 20, p. 11.

9. Telegraph and Texas Register, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, and Dec. 8, 1841; Heirs of Henry Ryals, Refugio County, to the Legislature of the State of Texas, Nov. 21, 1849, Memorials and Petitions (Texas), ms.; Huson, "Refugio," vol. II, chap. 24, p. 13, reports that Ryals killed one soldier and wounded another. I have not found proof of this.

10. Huson, "Refugio," vol. II, chap. 23, p. 14.

11. Telegraph and Texas Register, Sept. 29, 1841.

12. Ibid., Oct. 6, 1841.

13. It is highly probable that Agatón's men had nothing to do with these murders.

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