The Capture of the Hannah Elizabeth
On November 13, the American schooner Hannah Elizabeth left New Orleans for Matagorda, Texas. On November 18, the ship ran aground on a sandbar at the entrance to Matagorda Bay.
It was then attacked by the Mexican schooner General Bravo. The Mexicans suspected (rightly), that the ship was carrying men, supplies, and ammunition for the Texas Revolution.
Four men were taken prisoner and transported in chains to Matamoros. On December 2, the American consul secured their release.
In this letter, Samuel Rhoads Fisher, who would later became Texas Secretary of the Navy under Sam Houston, tells how the Hannah Elizabeth was recaptured by the citizens of Matagorda.
Extract from a document on file in this office
of the Captain of the American Schooner
Hannah Elizabeth by the Mexican armed
vessel “Bravo” and the recapture of the same
by the Citizens of Matagorda.
Sometime early in november last we understood
that our coast was blockaded by one or two Mexican
armed vessels; and the committee of Safety of this Jurisdiction
considered it important that a vessel should be im-
mediately armed and equipped to attack and drive
them off. The Schooner William Robbins was at that
time in this Bay, and by a resolution of the committee
JE Lewis Esqr. and my self were appointed to
negotiate the purchase or hire with her captain
and owner Wm Watlington who how ever positively
declined making any other disposition than that
of a sale. This then we were compeled to do, and the
price was $3500. She was then placed under the
command of Capt Hurd and considered to be
a government vessel. From a former conversation
with TF McKenney Esqr. I was induced to believe that
a draft on his House wont be accepted on behalf of
the Public and in accordance with that belief I
gave my Exchange as chairman of the committee
in virtue of a resolution of the Body to Captain
Watlington for the amount.
On Thursday 19th ulto at night information
was received by this Town that a vessel supposed to
be an American had been driven off on shore at
“Paso Cavallo” & pursued by a Mexican armed vessel
and early the next morning a number of our
fellow citizens embarked on board the William
Robbins[,] a small schooner commanded by
Capt W.A. Hurd, armed and equipped to repel
the enemy or afford such assistance as the case
might require. On the evening of the 21st we came
Samuel Rhoads Fisher to the Provisional Government, December, 1835. Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers #278, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.