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Thompson's Ferry

Stephen L. Hardin General Entry

Thompson's Ferry, on the Brazos River between San Felipe and Fort Bend, was operated from 1828 to 1834 by Jesse Thompson. It was important during the Texas Revolution. As Sam Houston's Texan army retreated toward Jared E. Groce's plantation, rear-guard contingents under Moseley Baker at San Felipe and Wyly Martin at Fort Bend sought to prevent the Mexicans from crossing the Brazos River. On April 9, 1836, Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, not wishing to be delayed by Baker's men at San Felipe, led a column downriver toward Thompson's Ferry. The Mexicans arrived at the crossing on the morning of April 12 and spied a black ferryman on the east bank of the Brazos. Col. Juan N. Almonte, who spoke English well, hailed the ferryman. Probably thinking that this was a countryman who had been left behind during the retreat, the ferryman poled the ferry across to the west bank. Santa Anna and his staff, who had been hiding in nearby bushes, sprang out and captured the ferry. By this means the Mexican Centralists accomplished a bloodless crossing of the Brazos, which they completed by April 14. Twelve miles downriver, Martin and the Texans guarding the Fort Bend crossing learned that the Mexicans had crossed in force at Thompson's Ferry; outflanked and outnumbered, they had no choice but to abandon Fort Bend. Baker, also outflanked, was now obliged to end his dogged defense of the San Felipe crossing and join the rest of the Texans in their retreat. José Enrique de la Peña reported that after the battle of San Jacinto, 1,500 Mexican troops and four cannons were stationed at or near Thompson's Ferry under the command of Gen. Vicente Filisola. Peña asserted that if Filisola had force-marched his troops from Thompson's Ferry to San Jacinto, a mere two day's march, he might have undone the effects of the Texan victory. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument at the ferry site.

Stephen L. Hardin, Texian Illiad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994). José Enrique de la Peña, With Santa Anna in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). Frank X. Tolbert, The Day of San Jacinto (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1969).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Stephen L. Hardin, “Thompson's Ferry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/thompsons-ferry.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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