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BRUSHY CREEK, BATTLE OF

BRUSHY CREEK, BATTLE OF. The battle of Brushy Creek, between Texas Ranger and militia units and Comanche marauders, occurred in late February 1839 a few miles from the site of present Taylor in Williamson County. It was a running affair along Battleground (present Cottonwood) and Boggy creeks and culminated north of Brushy Creek. In January 1839 Chief Cuelgas de Castro, traveling with a friendly Lipan party, reported to the settlers on the Colorado River that a Comanche band, their enemies, had entered the settlements and were encamped on the San Gabriel River north of Austin. Col. John H. Moore called out two companies of thirty men each. Joined by the Lipans, they rode to the campsite and found that the Indians had moved upstream. A snowstorm delayed pursuit. Moore tracked the intruders west to the mouth of the San Saba River and skirmished with the Indians, who, under the pretense of surrendering, made off with all his men's horses. About February 18 the Comanches returned east and swept through Travis County into Bastrop County. At Webber Prairie, twelve miles above Bastrop, they killed Mrs. Elizabeth Coleman and her son Albert. They captured her five-year-old son Tommy and seven of Dr. James W. Robertson's slaves.

About February 24 Jacob Burleson, elected a captain of a group of twenty-five mounted men, began scouting the area. Capt. James Rogers, his brother-in-law, joined him with an additional twenty-seven men. A day later, at ten o'clock in the morning, they came upon a Comanche camp near Post Oak Island, some three miles north of Brushy Creek. As most of the Indians fled on foot, Burleson ordered an attack to prevent them from reaching a nearby thicket. Historian J. W. Wilbarger wrote that the Texans flinched, Burleson was killed, and the command fell back that evening to Brushy Creek. Edward and Aaron B. Burleson and all their brothers–Jacob, John, and Jonathan–were in the Brushy Creek fight. Jacob Burleson ordered his men, twelve in number, to dismount and charge. Winslow Turner and Samuel Highsmith did so, but the others, seeing they were outnumbered, took cover. Jacob Burleson was shot in the back of the head while trying to help a young friend untie his horse. Within hours of the debacle, Gen. Edward Burleson and ranger captain Jesse Billingsley reached Brushy Creek with thirty-two men. Burleson began an immediate pursuit of the Comanches and overtook them shortly after noon. They found the Indians in a strong defensive position. Although his men were outnumbered, Burleson ordered an attack that became a running fight along Battleground Creek. After dark the Comanches departed. They left a wounded black slave who said the Indians lost at least thirty dead and wounded. Besides Jacob Burleson, the Texans lost Edward Blakey and John Walters. Rev. James Gilleland died ten days later.

In 1925 the schoolchildren of Taylor raised money for a red granite marker to mark the battle site. It was dedicated on November 5, with Walter P. Webb as featured speaker. The marker is on private property 1.4 miles south of Taylor on the west side of Highway 95.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

John Holland Jenkins, Recollections of Early Texas, ed. John H. Jenkins III (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958; rpt. 1973). Kenneth Kesselus, History of Bastrop County, Texas, Before Statehood (Austin: Jenkins, 1986). David Nevin, The Old West: The Texans (New York: Time-Life Books, 1975). Noah Smithwick, The Evolution of a State, or Recollections of Old Texas Days (Austin: Gammel, 1900; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). J. W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas (Austin: Hutchings, 1889; rpt., Austin: State House, 1985).

Karen R. Thompson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Karen R. Thompson, "BRUSHY CREEK, BATTLE OF," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/btb02), accessed August 22, 2014. Uploaded on August 7, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.