As Mexican army marched toward San Antonio to lay siege to the Alamo, many Texans tried to get out of his way. Pioneers began to flee as early as January 14, before Santa Anna’s army even crossed the Texas border.
After the Alamo fell, though, on March 6 Santa Anna’s army pressed on toward Goliad. Terror spread with the rumor of his ruthless victories. Texas settlers fled toward the United States borders in a desperate evacuation remembered as the Runaway Scrape.
Suzanna Dickinson was one of the women who survived the battle of the Alamo. The soldiers captured Suzanna and her daughter, Angelina, and took her to be questioned by Santa Anna. The Mexican general penned a letter of warning to Sam Houston, gave Mrs. Dickinson a blanket and two silver dollars, and released her. She made her way toward Houston’s camp in Gonzales with the assistance of Deaf Smith, a Texas spy she met along the way. They arrived in Gonzales on the evening of March 13, where the families of several Alamo defenders begged for news. “All dead, all dead,” was all that Mrs. Dickinson could say at first, but then she began to give her account of the tragedy.
Sam Houston gave orders to retreat to the east.
Major W. E. Heard gives this account:
“Gen. Houston came down and ordered the horses to be got up, and the fires put out; after which such a scramble and confusion commenced as I had never witnessed. About 10 o’clock at night we were ordered to move, by whom I do not recollect; as to guards, we had none; there was no order or regularity in the retreat from there to Peach Creek, ten miles east. The town of Gonzales was burnt…Some of the women and children had started before we did; some started with us, and we left others crying and screaming in the town. Some we passed on the road…”
Teaching Tip: It is hard to imagine how we would feel if our home lay in the path of an invading army. Students may want to write fictional diary entries to describe the fears and hardships Texians faced.
Field Trip Idea: The George Ranch Historical Park will host a re-enactment of the Runaway Scrape on April 8 this year.