Texas Primer: The Runaway Scrape

When Santa Anna’s army neared, what did stalwart Texas colonists do? Run like rabbits.

Remember the Alamo!” right?“ Remember Goliad!” With battle cries of vengeance and honor, revolutionaries at the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836 created a myth of Texas character that persists even today: blood for blood and to hell with the odds. Texans were the bravest and most indomitable fighters of all. But in history and mythmaking, all’s well only when it ends well. When the Texans first heard stories of Mexican troops swarming through the land, they reacted in standard and utterly human fashion—with panic and hysteria. When the chips were down, our forefathers hauled ass for the Sabine River.

Participants called the exodus the Runaway Scrape. It first took hold in January of that year in San Patricio, Refugio, and San Antonio, as news spread that Santa Anna was approaching the Rio Grande. He crossed in mid-February with his best generals, about 4,000 men, and artillery. The tiny Texan garrison at the Alamo was annihilated, and the rebellious colonists began to run for their lives. When Texas army commander Sam Houston received word of the tragedy on March 11, he was in Gonzales, a town that had sent 32 of its own men to join William Barret Travis at the Alamo. “There was not a soul left among the citizens of Gonzales who had not lost a father, husband, brother or son in that terrible massacre,” wrote colonist John M. Swisher. “I shall never forget the scene which followed the confirmation of the dreadful news. The mad

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