The Name of Andrews in Texas History - By Marjorie Rogers, Marlin, Texas
[From J. Marvin Hunter’s Frontier Times Magazine, January, 1936]
THE NAME of Andrews is listed with the great pioneer builders of Texas. The last statement of Big Dick Andrews, as he was mortally wounded in the early struggle of Texans with Mexico,"I'm a dead man, boys, but don't let the others know it; keep on fighting to death," is one of the greatest patriotic heritages bestowed upon Texans.
The Texas Revolution was in the brewing when Richard and Micah Andrews of Alabama oiled their guns, packed their covered wagon and started for the"little two-horse republic under the Lone Star." Little did these two strong, large men dream as they drove over the muddy trails guided only by familiar landmarks, watched for Indians and made plans for the new life that they were destined to become Texas heroes. Richard, better known as Big Dick, was the first man killed in the war for independence from Mexico. Fighting beside his brother Micah, he fell at the Battle of Mission Concepcion outside San Antonio on October 28th, 1835, just eight months after his arrival in the new country. Micah fought through the war for Independence and was a Lieutenant at San Jacinto under the command of Captain Billingsly.
William Andrews, the adventurous father of these boys, had been attracted to Texas about 1818. He made one of the first settlements in the southern part of Texas near the present town of Richmond in Fort Bend county. Here he erected a trading post in the bend of the Brazos river and traded with the Indians. Later he returned to Georgia, where he died. He loved Georgia for it was from there that he went to serve his adopted country in the American Revolution. For his country he had been wounded while fighting in the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. Thus it was that these brave sons came by their love for adventure.
Richard Andrews, Indian fighter and hero of the Republic, was born in Sandersville, Georgia, in 1800. Micah was born in 1809 in Alabama. Their mother died while they were quite young and they had made one trip to Texas with their father. There was something about the romantic young Texas that lured these brothers back. Perhaps it was the prospect of helping with a country's freedom.
Colonists coming to Texas around 1835 were not only adventurous but brave. This new country offered nothing but rich land, and the chance to help build a State. The colonists were sick of Santa Anna and his false promises. Everybody talked revolution. Then a rumor startled the people. "General Cos, with his troops, intends to overrun Texas, to establish custom-houses, and detachments of his army where he thinks proper, to disarm the people, to drive out all Americans who have come to Texas since 1830, and to punish those who have insulted the supreme government of Mexico and refused obedience to its laws." Just a month before the Andrews brothers arrived Travis had driven Mexican soldiers out of Anahuac.
This section of the country was sparsely populated. The colonists were exposed to Indians as well as Mexicans. Texas was a rough country. Families packed their belongings and fled to the forts; many left the would-be Republic and went back to the States. A call to arms echoed in every hill and dale. Houston was made commander of all forces in Eastern Texas. Austin was made commander-in-chief of the volunteer troops at Gonzales.
The pioneers had something real to fight for—the security of their homes, and the protection of the lives of their families. Picturesque were these Texas soldiers in their coon-skin caps, long hair, rawhide moccasins and home-spun clothing. Uniforms were scarce, but shooting ability was plentiful. The Andrews brothers grabbed their guns and joined Bowie's detachment of ninety men and started from Austin's camp toward Concepcion Mission near San Antonio. General Cos with his five hundred men had reached Bexar.
After examining San Jose and San Juan the little band approached the mission of Concepcion and encamped for the night in a bend of the river, with level prairie in front, and the densely timbered bank of the river forming an angle on both flanks and in their rear. The next morning was foggy, and worse still Fannin's and Bowie's men were surrounded by Mexican soldiers.
Bowie's report stated: "The men were called to arms but were for sometime unable to discover their foes, who had entirely surrounded the position, and kept up a constant firing at a distance, with no other effect than a waste of ammunition. When the fog rose it was apparent to all that we were surrounded, and that a desperate fight was inevitable, all communication with the main army having been cut off. Immediate preparation was made by extending our right flank (first division) to the south, and placing the second division on the left, on the same side; so that they might be prepared for the enemy should they charge into the angle, and avoid the effect of a cross-fire of our own men, and likewise form a compact body, so that either might reinforce the other at the shortest notice without crossing the angle, and exposed ground, which would have occasioned certain loss. The men, in the meantime, were ordered to clear away bushes and vines under the eminence in the rear, and along the margin of the river, and at the steepest places to cut steps for foothold, in order to afford them space to form and pass, and at suitable places ascend the `bluff,' discharge their rifles, and fall back to reload. The work was not completed to our wish before the Mexican infantry were seen to advance, with arms trailed, to the right of the first division, and form the line of battle about two hundred yards distance from the right flank. Five companies of cavalry supported them, covering our whole front flank.
"The engagement commenced at about eight o'clock a. m., by the deadly crack of a rifle from the extreme right. The action was immediately general. The discharge from the enemy was one continued blaze of fire, whilst that from our lines was more slowly delivered, but with good aim and deadly effect, each man retiring under cover of the hill and timber, to give place to others until he reloaded. The battle had not lasted more than ten minutes, when a brass six-pounder was opened on our line at the distance of about eighty yards from the right flank of the first division, and a charge sounded. But the cannon was cleared, as if by magic, and a check put to the charge. The same experiment was resorted to with like success three times, the division advancing undercover of the hill at each fire, and thus approximating near the cannon and victory. `The cannon and victory!' was truly the war-cry; the enemy only fired it five times, and it had been three times cleared, and their charge as often broken, when a disorderly and precipitate retreat was sounded and most readily obeyed, leaving the cannon to the victors. Thus a detachment of ninety men gained a complete victory over part of the main army of the Central Government, being at least four to one, with only the loss of one brave soldier, Richard Andrews—and none wounded.
"No invidious distinction can be drawn between any officer or private on this occasion. Every man was a soldier, and did his duty agreeably to the situation and circumstances under which he was placed. At the close of the engagement a piece of heavy artillery was brought up and fired thrice, but at a distance, and by reinforcement of another company of cavalry, aided by six mules ready harnessed, they got it off. The main army (of Texas) reached us in about an hour after the enemy's retreat. Had it been possible to communicate with you (General Austin) and bring you up earlier, the victory would have been conclusive, and Bexar ours before twelve oclock.
"On the 21st of April A. D., 1932, a monument was erected about the spot where Big Dick Andrews, first casualty of the war for independence, fell. This bronze bas-relief of Richard Andrews and monument was designed by Louis Rodriguez, a native of San Antonio. Andrews county is another monument to the memory of Andrews. It was created in 1876 from Bexar county and organized in 1910.
Micah Andrews was wounded at the battle of Concepcion. He was promoted to first Lieutenant March 1, and served as such at San Jacinto. He was discharged May 28, 1836. President Houston appointed Andrews captain of a company of mounted riflemen for duty in Mina. He resigned his com-mission January 1, 1838, but afterwards frequently commanded volunteers in fights with Indians.
Noah Smithwick in his "Evolution of a State," says of Micah Andrews: "Captain Andrews had retired from command during my absence and Captain Eastland succeeded him. Of all the men with whom I have been associated, none stood higher in my regard than Micah Andrews. In company with his brothers, Richard and Redden, he came to the colonies at an early date and bore his full share in all the worry and danger of the long struggle with Mexicans, Indians and poverty. Though on the shady side of life, when the Cordova-Flores combination made its advent upon the scene, he went promptly to the front and remained there until the conspiracy was frustrated. Though in no sense of the word a military man, he was a successful commander. His genial, unostentatious disposition won him the good will of his men, who would have gone through fire to serve him. Instead of ordering his men to go and come, it was 'Well, boys, I think we had better do so and so;' and a cheerful 'Allright, Captain,' was the response, acted upon with a will. Or if the matter in hand seemed doubtful there was a conference in which every man was allowed to join; thus he maintained control over his little army. He afterwards went to La Grange, where he engaged in the hotel business and I believe died there, never having married.
"A little incident that occurred at the old Coleman fort after Captain Eastland took command will show the success of Captain Andrews' policy. Captain Eastland was disgusted with the want of military discipline among the men and the easy familiarity with which they treated their commander.
"If Captain Andrews can't control his men, I will try and control mine," said he, but one morning the men all marched out on the parade, stacked arms and turning to Captain Eastland told him he might 'Go to hell and they would go home.' The men had the best of the situation and Captain Eastland had no alternative but to capitulate, which he had the good sense to do gracefully and thoroughly, and he thereafter had no trouble with his men.
"Redden Andrews actually enlisted in the army of Independence and was marching towards San Jacinto when he took ill with smallpox and was quarantined out. He lived to become a trustee of Baylor University, now one of Texas' greatest institutions of learning, which was then located at Independence, Texas. Baylor University and Waco University both Baptist institutions, were consolidated and moved to Waco in 1885. Redden Andrews, Jr., a Baptist preacher, was made vice-president of this the first college of the South and second in the world to admit women on equal terms with men to all academic privileges.
And thus it was that the name of Andrews is perpetuated in the historyof the great State of Texas.