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Manuscript Signed by Juan Seguin & 20 Members of His Company of Tejanos

Documenting Karnes Campaign & Surveyor Skirmishes in 1839

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502.     SEGUÍN, Juan [Nepomuceno] (Commander). Manuscript power of attorney, in the hand of John James, signed by Seguín and other Tejanos. [Text begins] “State of Texas County of Bexar. Know all men by these presents, that we the undersigned having full confidence in John James of San Antonio do hereby appoint him our true and lawful agent and attorney in fact for us and in our names to ask for, claim, and secure pay for certain services rendered by us in the Year 1839 to the Late Republic of Texas (say in July) in a campaign against the Comanches under Col Henry W. Karnes, John A. Seguín being Captain of the Company….” Bexar County, September 28, 1860. Followed by twenty-one original signatures or marks of Juan N. Seguín, Gregorio Soto, J. Luis Carvajal [sometimes Carbajal or Carabajal], Francisco A. Ruíz, Nepomuceno Flores, Francisco de la Cerda, Ignacio Castillo (mark), Luciano Navarro, Agapite Servantes (mark), Manuel López (mark), Antonio Benites (mark), Ignacio Espinosa, Leandro Arreola (mark), Manuel Leal (mark), Nicolás de los Santos (mark), Antonio Ruíz (mark), Jesús Zabola (mark), Manuel Flores (signing as administrator of Salvador Flores’ estate), Antonio Estrada (mark), and Caytano Rivas. [On verso] autograph document signed by public notary P.L. Buquet, with his purple paper seal, certifying the signatures on the recto. San Antonio, April 11, 1861. 2 pp., folio (30.5 x 19.2 cm) on pale blue ruled paper. Creased where formerly folded, otherwise very fine, the document and signatures bold.

     This document is explained by a September 28, 1860, notarized statement by Seguín found in the Texas State Archives in Austin. In his statement, Seguín swears that in the summer of 1839 at San Antonio two companies of volunteers were raised, “one being composed of Mexicans and the other of Americans.” Seguín was elected captain of the Mexican force of about fifty-four men, L.B. Franks (Handbook of Texas Online) was elected captain of the Anglo force of about the same strength, and Karnes was elected overall commander. Salvador Flores served as Seguín’s First Lieutenant and Leandro Arreola as his Second Lieutenant. The companies searched for Comanche in the area of the Medina river headwaters, Hondo Seco, and other places before returning to San Antonio three weeks later, where the force was discharged. He further states that the troops were all outfitted at private expense and never reimbursed by the Republic. He concludes that the reason he is giving this statement now is: “That the deponent has no list of the men composing his company from the time of service, the same having been lost or mislaid, never expecting to receive pay for said service.” The statement is followed by a list of fifty-four names, on which are included all the signatories to the present power of attorney. So far as is known, the men’s claims were never audited or paid.

     The expedition referred to was organized and led by Henry Wax Karnes (1812-1840; Handbook of Texas Online) in response to Governor Lamar’s call for a punitive expedition against hostile Comanche who had killed four Béxar surveyors in May of 1839, William P. Delmour, clerk of the San Antonio court, who was murdered and scalped on May 28, and several other men in the area. The expedition consisted of two companies. In the three weeks the expedition was in the field, it managed to drive the Comanche out of the area (since they constantly retreated), killing a few of them and destroying some abandoned villages. Karnes never succeeded in forcing a pitched battle with his foes. The only Texas casualty was Seguín’s soldier Pedro Flores Morales, killed by an accidental gunshot wound. (A description of the expedition and versions of the muster rolls of both companies may be found in Stephen L. Moore, Savage Frontier, Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2006, Vol. II, p. 230; Seguín’s 1860 reconstruction of his muster roll is printed in Jesús F. de la Teja’s edited edition of Seguín’s memoirs, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2002, pp. 184-186.)

     Although diarist Mary Ann Adams Maverick is incorrect about the commander, she witnessed this expedition and comments on it as follows (Memoirs, San Antonio: Alamo, 1921; see Items 384 & 385 herein), pp. 29-30:

On June 10, 1839, a party of Americans under Hays and a company of Mexicans under Captain Juan N. Seguin set off in pursuit of the Comanches, who just then were very bold, and were constantly killing and scalping and robbing in every direction. The Indians fled and were chased into the Canyon de Uvalde, where our men found and destroyed their villages, newly deserted. They saw numbers of Indians all the time in the distance, amongst rocks and hills, but scattered and hiding or fleeing from danger. They had been away from San Antonio ten days, when Captain Seguin returned reporting the woods full of Indians and predicting that our men would surely be killed. Mr. Maverick was with Hays, and after five more terribly anxious days, I was gladdened by his return. Our men had killed only a few savages and returned with some Indian ponies, dreadfully ragged, dirty and hungry.

     Particularly noteworthy in the present document is Juan Nepomuceno Seguín (1806-1890; Handbook of Texas Online), political and military figure of the Texas Revolution and Republic of Texas. After the Battle of Gonzales in October of 1835, Stephen F. Austin granted a captain’s commission to Seguín, who raised a company of thirty-seven. Seguín’s company was involved in scouting and supply operations for the revolutionary army in the fall of 1835, and on December 5, they participated in the assault on Cos’ army at San Antonio on December 5. Seguín entered the Alamo with the rest of the Texan military when Santa-Anna’s army arrived, but was sent out as a courier and organized a company that functioned as the rear guard of Sam Houston’s army (the only Tejano unit to fight at the battle of San Jacinto). He accepted the Mexican surrender of San Antonio on June 4, 1836, and supervised the burial of the Alamo dead. He was repeatedly elected mayor of San Antonio in subsequent years.

     Karnes, Seguín, N. Flores (1811-1881), and Manuel Flores (ca. 1801-1868; Handbook of Texas Online) were all at the Battle of San Jacinto, the latter two serving in Seguín’s company as First Corporal and First Sergeant, respectively. Another signer of note is Francisco Antonio Ruiz (ca. 1804-1876; Handbook of Texas Online), who was alcalde of San Antonio during the battle of the Alamo and was held under house arrest until the Alamo fell. Santa-Anna ordered him to identify the fallen Alamo leaders and to dispose of the dead. Ruiz left what is considered the most accurate and vivid eye-witness accounts of the fall of the Alamo (published in the Texas almanac for 1860). Signer Luciano Navarro (1800-1869; Handbook of Texas Online) was a prominent Tejano patriot who helped secure Texas independence and assisted the troops who won the Battle of Béxar. After the fall of the Alamo, Santa-Anna sent him with a letter to the Mexican citizens of Gonzalez ordering that they come to be pardoned. He was later involved with attempts to establish the Republic of the Rio Grande.

     Other members of Frank’s company also saw distinguished service in the Texas Revolution and after. Texas Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994), Stephen L. Hardin analyzes the Tejano role in the Texas Revolution and Republic, commenting: “Tejanos brought much needed range skills to the rebel army, rendering it a blend of two frontier traditions. For Anglo-Celtic Americans out of their element, such assistance was critical” (p. 28). Hardin claims that even the Texas Ranger tradition was indebted to the Tejanos: “Anglo Americans had to be taught how to ride like Mexicans. Comrades such as Juan Seguín and Plácido Benavides proved excellent instructors” (p. 249).

     John James (1819-1877; Handbook of Texas Online), who wrote the document and signed it in third person, was one of the most important surveyors, developers, and businessmen in Texas at the time, well known for having re-established San Antonio’s original boundaries as granted by Spain. James surveyed in Texas at a time when such endeavors were all too well understood by Native Americans, rendering such work perilous, to say the least. He, too, was on the expedition documented in the present manuscript and applied in 1860 to be paid for his services. For more on James, see our Auction 21, Lot 63, describing an archive acquired by the Daughters of the Texas Revolution, Alamo Library.

     This document is a reminder that the Republic of Texas had many lingering problems relating to its fight for independence and its Indian Wars, including requests for the reimbursement of many people who were all to happy to volunteer for service with no thought of payment, as is the case here. By the time of this document, Tejano and Anglo relations had gone in an entirely different and unwelcome direction, as Seguín himself personally experienced, and Anglos were dominant. This manuscript documents a time when the two groups worked more closely together to secure independence and make Texas a safe place to live, yet the division of the force into Anglo and Tejano companies hints at the growing conflicts to come.

     In the introduction to his book on Seguín, de la Teja comments: “As Tejanos rediscover their contributions to Texas history, as they overcome the barriers that separate Texan and Tejano, Juan Seguín has again returned to serve as intermediary between the two. Writing in a new century and taking note of the quickly changing ethnic, social, political, and economic landscape of Texas, I would like to amend that conclusion. It is not only Tejanos who have been on a journey of rediscovery, so too have Anglo Texans. Juan Seguín is not just a hero for Texans of Mexican descent. All Texans now recognize his unique contribution to Texas history.”


Sold. Hammer: $2,800.00; Price Realized: $3,360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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