Alexander Somervell to Sam Houston, March 31, 1842

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General Rafael Vsquez invaded San Antonio in March 1842. Mayor Juan Seguín and most of the Hispanic population of the city evacuated the city during the invasion, leading Anglos to suspect Seguín of being in league with the invaders. In this letter to President Sam Houston, General Alexander Somervell proposes a scheme by which Seguín could redeem himself by acting as a go-between with Mexican General Mariano Arista. The plan fizzled and a few weeks later, on April 18, Seguín resigned as mayor and fled with his family in fear of his life. Six months later, he would return to Texas, this time as part of another force of Mexican invaders.

Somervell went on to lead a punitive expedition against Mexico for these raids in December 1842. The expedition proved a fiasco. Conceived more as a political gesture than as a well-planned military invasion, the campaign fell apart, and Somervell ordered his men to return home to Texas. Many of the men refused and continued on to Mexico to take part in what became the notorious Mier expedition. As for Somervell, he returned home to become a customs collector and one of the developers of the town of Saluria along the Texas coast. In 1854, he was found dead, his body lashed to the timbers of a capsized boat in which he had been traveling with a large sum of money.

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Somervell to Houston  - Page 1

San Antonio 31st March 1842

Much esteemed Sir

I confess it is with diffidence I
approach a subject on which so much may depend
and yet such is my firm conviction of the great
good that may result from it that I am emboldened
to speak and not however in a spirit of obtrusiveness
or advice but with due deference and respect and a
firm reliance in your well known and truly appre-
ciated better judgement.

This then is the subject on which
I would speak. There is a well-known jealousy now
existing between Santa Anna and General Arista.
Could you not in your own peculiar and felicitous
style, foment and excite that jealousy to open rival-
ry and hostility by tendering to Arista on your part
(as it is an executive act) the acknowledgment of the
independence of the Government he may establish
and also to offer him the services ofa thousand or
more Texian soldiers to be recruited, officered, and
fought under our own flag, subject to his orders while
in that service but under the rules and articles of war
that govern us, he to pay the expenses of the troops and
they to act offensively and defensively against our
common enemy Santa Anna and the Southern portion of the
Republic of Mexico; if the plan succeed it would have
the salutary effect of taking the war out of our own

Alexander Somervell to Sam Houston, March 31, 1842, A.J. Houston Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: April 14, 2016