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San Patricio Minute Men

Keith Guthrie General Entry

The San Patricio Minute Men were formed in February of 1841 in order to provide protection to the people in the colony of San Patricio. Capt. A. T. Miles is listed in the ranger muster roll of May 14–28, 1841, as heading a squad of men. Reported estimates regarding membership in the group varied from fifteen to forty. Local tradition puts the camp for this ranger group two miles outside of San Patricio on the road that led to McGloin Bluff on Ingleside Cove. Legend also reports that a fort was built for these rangers. At this time San Patricio had been declared a depopulated area that was largely controlled by gangs of former Mexican soldiers and gringo cattle rustlers. Another muster roll for June 1–15 contained the same names, with the addition of T. Walker. On July 12–26 Miles headed a group of twelve men, but by August 10 the list had grown to thirty. The last roll, dated August 11–25, 1841, listed thirty-one men. Though Miles's previous record as a cowboy was a bit unsavory, on August 29, 1841, the group was being led by W. J. Cairns, whose reputation was worse. According to minuteman law, county companies could have only a total of four months' service a year. In September 1841, however, the Department of War and Marine granted the company official sanction after a Mexican raid on Refugio illustrated to authorities the fragile security of area settlements. Cairns and five other men were still operating in March 1842, when Lt. Col. Ramón Valera and a Mexican army force of 132 men raided Goliad and Refugio. Valera sent a small detachment commanded by Capt. José María Gonzales to destroy Cairns's group. The skirmish on March 7, 1842, represented the end of the company. Cairns and two of his men were killed, two others were captured, and one escaped. The Old Colony remained virtually deserted until Gen. Zachary Taylor stationed a dragoon of troops in San Patricio in 1845 to insure safety for John H. Wood, who had agreed to furnish beef for Taylor's army.

Keith Guthrie, History of San Patricio County (Austin: Nortex, 1986). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969). Telegraph and Texas Register, March 30, 1842.

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

Keith Guthrie, “San Patricio Minute Men,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.