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The Lake Creek Settlement Goes to War - Part 3

 

Jacob Shepperd – From West Point Cadet to Savior of Santa Anna

 

By Kameron Searle

 

.  Jacob H. Shepperd was born and raised in Surry County, North Carolina.  He was the son of W. W. Shepperd and Mary Steptoe Shepperd.  Before coming to Texas, Jacob H. Shepperd was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1829 at the age of 16 years and 4 months. Jacob Shepperd resigned from West Point shortly before he and his family came to Texas in 1831. 

Though he did not graduate from West Point, Jacob Shepperd's military activities in Texas would be extensive.  He made his first campaign in June 1832 as Lieutenant in Captain Abner Kuykendall's 2nd Company when the colonists rose to rescue William Barrett Travis and his companions who were being held prisoner by the Mexican government official, Colonel Juan Bradburn, at Anahuac.  Jacob Shepperd's future brother-in-law, Charles B. Stewart, took part in the campaign as well.

A resident of the Lake Creek Settlement which would later become the town of Montgomery, Jacob Shepperd began his service in the Texas Revolution.  He turned out with the first volunteers in the Campaign of 1835 and joined the army under General Stephen F. Austin while encamped on Salado Creek east of San Antonio.  He was 1st Lieutenant in Captain Joseph L. Bennett's company.  On October 28, 1835, in the opening battle of the Siege of Bexar, Jacob Shepperd fought with Jim Bowie and James Fannin at the Battle of Concepcion.  A few weeks after the Battle of Concepcion, Bennett's company was disbanded.  Jacob Shepperd joined Captain Robert M. Coleman's company and was chosen 2nd Lieutenant.  On November 26, 1835, Jacob H. Shepperd fought along with Jim Bowie in "The Grass Fight."  Jacob Shepperd fought the Mexicans in the Siege of Bexar from December 5, 1835 through to the capture of San Antonio on December 10, 1835.  Jacob Shepperd received an honorable discharge from General Edward Burleson on December 13, 1835.

But this was not the end of Jacob Shepperd's service.  He personally delivered the message that saved the life of Santa Anna in 1836 at a critical moment following Texas independence.  Henderson Yoakum in his History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 relates the following: "It is proper to state here a movement in the army, consequent upon the attempt by Pages to rescue Santa Anna.  It was the wish of many, and was generally reported, that by a vote of that body, it was resolved to conduct the captive to headquarters, and place him before a court-martial.  General Houston, then at Aies [Ayish] Bayou, being informed of these alleged proceedings, dispatched his protest against them.  He [Houston] protested against it, because of all the advantages accruing to Texas by his [Santa Anna's] capture would thus be destroyed.  The protest reaching the army was sent to Columbia.  A captain with his command had, just before its arrival, gone, as was said, after the prisoner, to bring him to the army; and the protest only reached Captain Patton, who had the captive in charge, in time to prevent his removal.  Captain J. H. Shepperd, the bearer of the document, says the pleasant change of affairs filled Santa Anna with joy, and he embraced him as one who had saved his life."

This is probably the only record that will ever be found of Santa Anna "embracing" a Texas soldier.  In a letter Jacob H. Shepperd wrote Jesse Grimes in July 1856, Shepperd wrote, "I bore the express from General Houston countermanding the taking of Santa Anna to the army to be tried for the slaughter of Fannin's men: which latter service saved Texas from the accusations that would have been heaped on her for his death."  Because of this service, Shepperd further stated in his letter to Grimes that he felt himself "entitled to the largest bounty of land allowed anyone for his services in the campaign of 1835.

See History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 by Henderson Yoakum, vol. 2, pp. 194-196.   Also see National Archives publication 688, U.S. Military Academy Cadet Application Papers, 1805-1866 and Publication 2047, Engineer Department Letters Received Relating to the U.S. Military Academy 1819-1866.

Kameron K. Searle is an attorney in Houston, Texas who has thoroughly researched the history of the Lake Creek Settlement and the early history of Montgomery County for the last eight years.  For more information about the Lake Creek Settlement, go to the TexasHistoryPage.Com

 

This article originally appeared in the January 28, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County News.

 

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