Date: Thursday, November 26, 1835
Location: 5 Miles from San Antonio, Slightly Southwest
A recon team consisting of a Texian and a Tejano were out scouting for a Mexican mule team that was rumored to be travelling through the area. This recon team was a little excited since rumors surfaced that a mule team had left Mexico City destined for San Antonio de Béxar, and its cargo – Silver Bullion.
The silver was the payroll for the Mexican troops stationed at the Alamo.Then success. The recon team spotted the mule team early in the morning not too far from San Antonio. Looking through his telescope the Texian asked, “Is that what I think it is amigo?” “Podría ser. Lo parece. Qué hacemos ahora, Sordo?”, responded the Tejano. “We gotta go back and report this to Burleson.”
With that the team jumped on their horses and raced back to the Texian Army camp to report the good news. History remembers the members of this recon team as Deaf Smith and Agapito Cervantes.
The Texian Army had gone through several changes since the Battle of Concepción. The Commander of the Texian Army was no longer Stephen F. Austin, that role now belongs to Colonel Burleson. Austin resigned when he was overruled by the Texians when Austin chose to march on Béxar. The Texians thought that was suicide. Also, many Texian and Tejano fighters left with plans to spend the winter with their families. At the same time many Americans, who had just recently entered Texas, arrived to join in the revolution.
It was 10am when the recon team arrived. With their arrival the Texian Camp came alive with excitement. A large crowd gathered to greet the recon team. Several men in the crowd started shouting,
“Did you find it?”“Is it true?”“Were they carrying silver?”
Colonel Burleson then signaled for the Texians to stop their inquisitions. “What is your report Smith?” “Agapito and I have spotted the mule train, about 40 packed mules, not too far from San Antonio, heading to the Alamo.”
At that moment, as if participants in a game show, everybody in camp ran to their horses to run after this “money bag” of a mule train, to get their Texian and Tejano hands on some “payday” for themselves. This is great!
When all of a sudden Burleson yelled out, “Everybody stop where you are. I give the orders. Now, Colonel Bowie, choose 50 individuals that you trust to accompany you on this mission, and go get the prize!” Bowie could not believe that he was chosen but, he didn’t question the order. Immediately, Jim rounded up Tejanos and Texians and they took off after the bullion.
No sooner had Bowie and his team left when the remaining revolutionary fighters started bickering.“What if they find the silver and keep it for themselves? What about us here? Let us go after the silver…”Colonel Burleson saw that this was getting our out control quickly, so he agreed to send Colonel William Jack with 100 men to follow Bowie and his men, just to guarantee that the booty makes it back to the Texian camp for all to share.
History remembers that two groups of Texian and Tejano revolutionaries were racing, as fast as their feet and ponies could take them, to the last known location of this very treasured, Mexican mule train.
Now the stage is set for what history remembers as the Grass Fight of the Texas Revolution that occurred in the mid- morning, of November 26, 1835.
The Mexican Mule Train was spotted by Bowie and his men about a mile from San Antonio near a dry river bed, after which Bowie ordered the Texian and Tejanos to – Attack! That charge by Bowie’s men scared and scattered all the mules. Both armies quickly ran for cover in the thicket and brush at the edges of the dry Alazan Creek bed.
“Fire!” Bowie shouted. A fire fight ensued. Both sides firing volleys at the other could be heard all the way to the Alamo, and soon General Cos was seen on the ramparts of the west wall, looking through his very shiny brass telescope at the fight.“Envía cien soldados y un cañón para rescatar el tren de mulas!”, Cos ordered. Soon 100 Mexican troops and one cannon were seen leaving the Alamo.
In the meantime, during a lull in the fighting, the second Texian cavalry arrived, looking for the action. Since everyone was being stealth, the arriving Texians didn’t know that they accidently walked into the middle of the two opposing forces. When the fighting continued the surprise Texians cavalry jump off their horses hitting the dirt, hoping not to become casualties before they got paid.
Almost at the same time that William Jack’s group grouped with Bowie’s team, the Mexicans with the cannon arrived on the other side. The Mexican Officer in charge then gave the command to – “Charge!” The cannon fired and the Mexicans charged. Three times the Mexicans launched an assault on the Texian position and, three times the Mexicans were repelled. Later, it was noted by witnesses to this engagement, that during these Mexican offensives, the Mexican troops displayed unbelievable courage and military discipline that impressed and surprised the Texian rebels.
About noon, the fighting ended when the Mexican army chose to retreat and abandon the mules, and the cargo. Soon after the Mexicans left, the mules were rounded up by the Texians, and Bowie gave the now famous order, “Break open the boxes!”
How many Texians and Tejanos did it take to break open the boxes? Apparently, all of them. The scene was reminiscent of children fighting for fallen candy from a recently busted piñata.Box lids were flying everywhere, all eyes were on those individuals reaching inside the boxes for the loot. Two of the men reaching in these boxes were the men who originally spotted the mule train, Deaf and Agapito. And, history remembers that in complete unison, these two men pulled out a handful, then looked at each other. Then their facial expressions changed, and again in unison, started laughing, loudly and uncontrollably. They were laughing because they pulled out a handful of, – grass.
There was no silver. This mule train was not the payroll mule train. The boxes contained freshly cut grass for the purpose of feeding the horses and mules at the Alamo. The entire Texian group erupted in laughter for several minutes.
Their laughs could be heard all the way to the Alamo. General Cos, snickered a little as he was looking through his telescope and said, “Creo que los rebeldes acaban de descubrir que lucharon por la hierba.”
Texas History – Never Forget!
• Grass Fight By: Alwyn Barr, Handbook of Texas TSHA
• The Grass Fight – Texas History, December 2020. Cassidy
.• The Grass Fight of 1835: A Huge Disappointment in the Texas Revolution Athena Hessong | September 25, 2017
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