overall attitude and determination of Texans to make the best of
a bad situation is well known throughout the world.
It is amazing when you stop and think about the many hardships they
endured to settle a very hostile territory many years ago.
As summer rolls around, I think about how a normal day might have
been spent back then. Chances are the settlers went about their
daily routine with a firearm close by. They had to be wary of any
rider that might appear on the horizon — never knowing if it was
friend or foe.
And after spending a scorching day in the Texas sun under those
conditions, they had to close themselves up inside a hot cabin for
the night — they dared not leave windows open in Indian country.
On March 19, 1840, an event happened in San
Antonio that would help diminish the Indian threat to this part
of Texas. That event, known as the Council
House Fight, was witnessed by Mrs. M.A. Maverick — her story
was published in The Gonzales Inquirer on January 12, 1933.
Excerpts of her eye-witness account appear below.
The Gonzales Inquirer
[Headline: ‘Council House’ Fight at San Antonio]
M.A. Maverick, a resident of San
Antonio in pioneer days, was an eye-witness to the Council
House fight that took place in San
Antonio, March 19, 1840, between the Comanche Indians and citizens
and soldiers of San Antonio.
It was a memorable battle and broke the power of the Comanches in
that part of the State.
“The fight was precipitated,” says Mrs. Maverick, “during negotiations
for peace with the Comanches at the old courthouse, which stood
on the corner of what is now Market Street and Main Plaza and which
was recently torn down in order to widen Market Street.
“There were 65 of these picked Comanche warriors who came to San
Antonio with their chiefs; in the battle 32 of them were killed
and the remainder captured. Six Americans and one Mexican were killed
and ten Americans wounded.
“This was the third time the Indian delegation had come to San
Antonio for a council with local authorities looking to cessation
of Indian depredations in the surrounding country. The day of the
fatal fight they brought with them Matilda Lockhart, whom they had
taken captive in 1838 after killing the other members of the Lockhart
“The Indians wanted to exchange Matilda for ransom, having previously
dickered for trades of this nature, only to make captive the white
men who were sent to their camps to negotiate for return of white
According to Mrs. Maverick, two of the Comanche chiefs came to the
courthouse with their warriors to start negotiations. Julian Hood,
the sheriff, delivered an ultimatum to the Indians to the effect
that the two chiefs would be detained as prisoners until the Comanches
returned and delivered to all the white families their white captives.
“Immediately following this ultimatum,” says Mrs. Maverick, “the
Comanches launched a hand-to-hand attack against the whites in the
courthouse. They raised a terrible warwhoop, drew their bows and
arrows and commenced shooting indiscriminately and with deadly effect,
at the same time endeavoring to break out of the council hall.
“Captain Howard and a detachment of soldiers had been stationed
in the courthouse as a precaution in the event of hostilities. At
Howard’s command the soldiers fired into the crowd, the first volley
killing several of the Indians and two white men.
fled, with the soldiers and civilians in close pursuit. Most of
the Indians struck out for the San Antonio river; some fled southeast
toward Bowen’s Island; some ran east on Commerce Street, and some
north on Soledad Street.
citizens continued to pursue the Indians, overtaking, killing and
capturing them at all points. Some of the savages were shot while
crossing the river and some were killed in the streets. Several
hand-to-hand encounters took place. Many Indians sought refuge in
stone houses and closed the doors, but not one of these escaped.”
“When the Indian warwhoop resounded in the courthouse it was so
loud and shrill, so sudden and horrible that we women, looking through
the fence cracks, could not for the moment comprehend its purport,”
recites Mrs. Maverick, “but the Indians knew its meaning, and turned
their arrows upon Judge Robinson and other gentlemen standing nearby,
instantly killing them on the spot.
“Three Indians had entered our back gate on Soledad street and were
making toward the river. One had stopped near Jenny Anderson, our
Negro cook, who stood bravely in front of my children and her children.
She held a big rock in her hands, and lifted it high above her head
and said to the Indian: ‘Go away from here or I’ll mash your head
with this rock.’
“The Indian seemed to regret that he hadn’t time to dispatch Jenny
and the children, but his time was limited; he hesitated a moment,
then turned and rushed down the bank, jumping into the river. As
the Indians hurried down the river bank and struck out for the opposite
shore, my brother, who came in answer to my call, brought two of
them down with his rifle.”
M.A. Maverick had lived in San
Antonio since it was a struggling village. The facts of the
Council House fight have been taken from her original memoirs. She
died in 1893.
Star Diary March 23 , 2014 column
San Antonio Council House Fight by Jeffery Robenalt
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