LAND TROOPS CAPTURE 3
GUN BOATS BY WITS DURING REVOLUTION
I was sitting at a lunch counter
of a café one night refreshing myself with some--ah, iced tea, when an
old-timer came in and sat down on the stool next to mine.
"Yo're the feller who'se
gittin' out this hyar special edition, aitcha?" It was more a
statement than a question. I pleaded guilty.
"Didja ever hear of the
'Horse Marines"?" was the next query as the waitress brought
him some of the "iced tea."
"Sure," I said,
"and I've heard of the 'Mounted Balloon Corps,' too." I had,
too, but I thought it was a gag. I found out differently.
"No foolin' son. There was
some 'Horse Marines' and they got their name right in these parts."
I smelled a story and decided to hang around. And this is what he told
During the War of Independence,
in 1836, a Mexican army was operating around here and General Houston,
expecting the Mexicans to send supplies for it by way of Matagorda by
boat detailed Captain Isaac W. Burton to watch for them and, it was
typical that the orders were to prevent them landing, not to
"try" to prevent them.
A company of 25 men set out to
patrol the coast. It was easy, only about 400 miles of coast line, not
counting all the bays, points, inlets, and peninsulas. Of course a lot
they did not have to watch, but it was still a mighty big order. The men
did not like it, they thought they were in danger of missing out on some
excitement and that if they were with
However, one day a few miles
The men were captured and
"hog-tied" in short order. Leaving 10 men ashore, the boat
would hold only 16, Captain Burton and the other fifteen men put off for
the ship. The Mexicans saw them coming and realizing that it was a trick
opened fire with what cannon the ship carried. Poor marksmanship on the
part of the cannoneers permitted the Texans to gain the ship and with a
rush they went aboard and soon had control of the ship. The ship was not
much more than headed towards Matagorda when two Mexican gunboats were
Captain Burton at the point of a
pistol, forced the ship's commander to signal the captains of the other
gunboats aboard for a conference. They came and were promptly captured
by the Texans who were disguised as Mexicans. Once the crews and
remaining officers of the two gunboats realized their captains were held
as hostages they surrendered and the Texans sailed them into port.
When the news of their capture
of the three ships became known somebody with a sense of humor dubbed
them the "Horse Marines" and the name stuck. I had heard the
expression and had heard the story but did not realize that it happened
in this section of the coast and had never connected the two. I
suggested some more refreshments but he declined.
"No, thanks, son. Gotta be
headin' fer home. It's getting' late 'n' I'm not as young as I used to
be. So long. I'll see yu some more." But he didn't and I always
regretted it. He looked as if he could have given me some more stories
and dope that would have been good. But I never did see him any more and
I never found out who he was.
"Jest one o' them things, I
Daily Tribune and
Compiled by Ural Lee Donohoe
After the Battle of San Jacinto
in April 1836, the Texans were ready to accept
The Mexican Army gathered at
On June 2, a suspicious vessel
was sighted in
Because of their escapade on the
high seas, Major Burton and his mounted rangers became known as
"the horse marines." The Mexican Army realized the Texans
could not be surprised so they chose not to advance. Several of Major
Burton's men were from the
Pennybacker, Mrs. Anna J.
Hardwicke, A History of
Yoakum, H., History
General Land Office Muster
Rolls: Thanks to Jean Carefoot, Archivist at the Texas State Library for
her assistance in obtaining this information.
Copyright 2005 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Feb. 7, 2005
March 28, 2007