The Twin Sisters
It is the goal of the TexasHistoryPage.com to make this page the greatest single source of
information about the famous "Twin Sisters" on the Internet. Our goal is to assist those researching the
historical significance of the Twin Sisters suring the Texas Revolution. We also hope this page will serve as
a starting place for those seeking to try their hand at locating the elusive Twin Sisters which have been lost for
well over 100 years. The Twin Sisters are without a doubt the "Holy Grail" of Texas archeology.
We begin our search for the famous and elusive Twin Sisters with an article written
by Dr. S. O. Young in his book True Stories of Old
Houston and Houstonians, Oscar Springer, Publisher, Galveston, Texas 1913:
The Famous Twin Sisters
There is an old story about two fond parents who were watching the passing of a
military company, in the ranks of which their son was marching. "Look at that," said the mother, "our boy
is the only one in the whole company who is keeping step."
The story has recurred to me several times lately and I will tell you why. Two or
three years ago there was a great deal of talk about the famous "Twin Sisters," two cannon used with such
good results by the Texans at San Jacinto. One report was that they were buried somewhere near
Harrisburg; another was that they were thrown in Galveston Bay, between the island and Virginia Point, and
another story located them in the National Museum at Washington. All these stories spoke of the "Twin
Sisters" as iron pieces. Some gentlemen made extensive excavations near Harrisburg, where they were said
to be buried, but the search was fruitless. Obviously it was impossible to search Galveston Bay, but the
Washington story could be investigated and I did so, with the result that I am informed by those in authority
that there were no such cannon either in the museum or anywhere else in Washington.
Aside from the historical interest in the subject I was attracted to it by the fact
that when I was a boy there were two brass six pounders, known as the "Twin Sisters," that stood for many years
on the northwest side of market square. They were beautiful guns and each bore this inscription, engraved
just in front of the vent:
"Presented to the Republic of Texas by the Ladies of Cincinnati."
These guns seemed to be under no particular care and the boys pulled them about,
sighted them and mowed down whole imaginary armies of Mexicans and Indians and played with them to their
hearts' content without let or hindrance. To the boys of that day the "Twin Sisters" were as familiar
objects on market square as are Dick Dowling's monument and the fountain to those of the present day.
These guns were used by a Confederate battery during the war, but in 1871 or 1872 I saw one of them near the
land office in Austin and read the inscription on it. Being so familiar with the subject, I was a bit
amazed when I saw the "Twin Sisters" being referred to as iron pieces and as having plates screwed on
their sides stating that they were presented to the republic of Texas by General Chambers. Up to that
time I was sure that I was the only man in the company who was keeping step and that all the others were
wrong. Then I read Governor Frank Lubbock's Memoirs and when I found there an account of the iron guns
known as the "Twin Sisters" being turned over to Texas by Louisiana during the war, I began to wonder if I had
not best catch up with the others.
That two guns known as the "Twin Sisters" were used by the Texans at San Jacinto is a
matter of history, but whether those guns were the iron pieces presented by General Chambers is the question,
for now there can be no doubt that there were four guns in existence instead of two. Thus instead of
settling the question it becomes more involved for all four are not only lost, but when, if ever, they may
chance be found, it will have to be determined whether they are genuine or not. That the "Twin Sisters"
that were so long in market square were brass pieces I know beyond a doubt, and the fact can be proven by
Colonel W. M. Stafford of Galveston, Mr. I. C. Lord, Mr. Owen Cochran and Mr. Henry Thompson of Houston and no
doubt by others who were raised in Houston, whose names escape me just now.
When the war broke out these cannon were turned over to some Confederate company, but I
know nothing of their history during the war. I do remember the last time they, or rather one of them was
fired before the war. It was in 1860, when Sam Houston was elected governor. Because of his
pronounced Union views many of his former friends opposed him and he had a hard fight. When the news of
his election was received, his friends got the "Twin Sisters" with the intention of firing a salute in honor of
his victory. The guns were taken to a grassy hill, corner of Fannin and Commerce Streets. One gun
was fired and a bag of powder was rammed down the other, but when they started to prime the piece they
found someone had spiked it. They rushed to the other gun, but found it spiked also. That broke up
the salute, of course, but it was a fitting thing that the last time one of the "Twin Sisters" spoke in time of
peace should have been in honor of the hero of San Jacinto.
In early days there were a great many survivors of San Jacinto living in or near
Houston and San Jacinto Day, April 21, was always celebrated in great style. The "Twin Sisters" were
taken down to the corner of Commerce Street and a salute was fired, after which the town was literally turned
over to the heroes of San Jacinto. I remember well one of the most conspicuous of them. He was
Tierwester, an old Frenchman. At the battle of San Jacinto he had a powder horn slung to his neck.
This powder horn was a cow's horn scraped very thin and had a wooden plug at the large end and a small plug at
the little end of the horn. During the battle a Mexican bullet struck this horn and entered through one
side, but did not have enough force to go out the other. Tierwester never removed the ball, but on San
Jacinto Day he came to the reunion wearing his horn round his neck and the drunker he got the louder he told
the story and rattled the bullet. He was a great character and lived and died in what was then
known as Frosttown, not far from the Hutchins residence, now the center of Houston almost.
But these San Jacinto celebrations were not always fun alone. Tragedy cropped up
occasionally. I remember one which occurred when I was a little boy. The "Twin Sisters" had
been taken out, as usual, for the salute. A man named Tom Ewing took charge of the big end of the gun and
volunteered to hold his thumb on the vent hole, a necessary precaution to keep the gun from exploding after it
became heated. Mr. Warren Stansbury performed the duty of loading the piece. The salute was about
half over and Stansbury was ramming home a charge when the gun became so hot that Ewing, thoughtlessly,
took his thumb from the vent. Instantly the piece discharged and Stansbury's arm was so badly mutilated
by the rammer that amputation was necessary. He recovered and lived several years afterward.
Of course all has been done that can be done to locate the "Twin Sisters," but there is
one question that can be and should be settled: Which Twin Sisters were used at San Jacinto?
Those presented by the ladies of Cincinnati or those by General Chambers. As a native Texan, I had the
greatest respect and reverence for the brass pieces of market square and I would like to know if I have
been worshipping false gods all these years. I know nothing of the Chambers iron cannon, but if they
should be proven to be the real San Jacinto cannon I am willing to transfer my homage and allegiance to
An 1839 newspaper article supports Dr. S. O. Young's account of the Twin Sisters being located in
Houston, Texas and of salutes being fired by the Twin Sisters on special occasions. In the March 6, 1839
edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register newspaper published in Houston, Texas (Volume IV - No. 38 -
Whole No. 194) on page 3 we find the following article transcribed here:
The celebration of the third anniversary of our national independence was conducted in
a very interesting and appropriate manner by our citizens. A procession was formed at the court house at
12 o'clock, which, under the escort of the Milam Guards, proceeded to the capitol, where an oration was
delivered by Judge Thompson, before a very large and respectable audience. Among those present, we
noticed the president and vice president, the heads of the several departments, the honorable Alcee LaBranch
and several other distinguished foreigners. At sunset a national salute was sounded by the "Twin Sisters"
in front of the capitol, and the proceedings of the day closed without accident or disturbance of any
Former Harris County Clerk, Texas Governor and personal Aide
de Camp to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Francis R. Lubbock, provides additional
information about the Twin Sisters in his book Six Decades in Texas or Memoirs of Francis Richard Lubbock
Governor of Texas in War-Time 1861-1863 published in 1900. On pages 141 and 142 Lubbock describes the
use of one of the Twin Sisters at the second inauguration of Sam Houston in Austin in 1841:
I was not present at the inauguration of President Houston at Austin, but I
gathered this account of it from contemporaneous newspapers and other sources considered reliable:
After several days of elaborate preparation, the inauguration of General
Houston came off at the old wooden capitol, on December 13, 1841. The day was beautiful, and thousands had
collected from every part of the Republic to witness the imposing ceremonies. To accommodate the sightseers,
who swarmed on the ground at an early hour, a staging had been erected, and seats prepared under a beautiful
awning spread in the rear of the capitol. These seats were occupied by both houses of Congress
and a brilliant assemblage of ladies and gentlemen. President Lamar and President-elect Houston were
escorted in military style by the Travis Guards from the President's house to the capitol. President-elect
Houston and Vice-President-elect Burleson, attended by committees, made their appearance at 11 a. m. Prayer
was offered by Judge R. E. B. Baylor, and the Speaker of the House administered the oaths. When General
Houston kissed the book as a seal to his official oath, one of the "Twin Sisters" belched forth her hoarse
approval, and the multitude, taken by surprise, joined in with bursts of applause. On conclusion of the
ceremonies, both houses of Congress dined with the President, on his invitation, at the Eberly House. The
inevitable inaugural ball followed at night.
Lubbock explains how the Twin Sisters came into the possession of the United States Government on
By the terms of annexation Texas ceded to the United States her public edifices,
navy, ports, arms, and armaments. In this delicate matter I understand Lieut. W. A. Tennison, of our navy, was
agent for Texas, and that Hiram G. Runnels represented the United States. Among other arms transferred were the
"Twin Sisters," the two cannon used at San Jacinto.
During the Civil War, the State of Louisiana returned the Twin Sisters to Texas. Recently,
David P. Salyer of Galveston, Texas, located a couple of articles in The Galveston Weekly News concerning
this event in the April 16, 1861 edition. The TexasHistoryPage.Com would like to thank David P. Salyer for
bringing this primary source regarding the Twin Sisters to our attention.
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Austin,
The Twin Sisters.-The steamship Rusk brought over to-day the two pieces of field
artillery, six pounders, known as the "Twin Sisters," which were used at the battle of San Jacinto, and did
such good service there. They some how or other found their way back to Louisiana, where they have been
considered as old iron.
The State of Louisiana, through its Legislature's action, has presented the guns again
to the State of Texas, remounted there anew throughout. Gov. Moore had them forwarded to the care of
Messrs. Sorley, Smith & Co., of this city, who have informed Gov. Clark of the fact, and asked of him what
is to be their destination.
They are to be escorted this afternoon at 5 o'clock, from the warf, by the Artillery
Company, to their Armory.
See The Galveston Weekly News, Galveston, Texas, Vol. 18, No. 2, Page 1, Column 1.
Note: Some additional details concerning the history of the Twin Sisters during the Texas Revolution can also be
found on page 2 of the same edition of The Galveston Weekly News.
Lubbock provides the following information about the return of the Twin Sisters to Texas on pages
372-373 in his book Six Decades in Texas or Memoirs of Francis Richard Lubbock Governor of Texas in War-Time
Another joint resolution was the following, relative to the "Twin Sisters" cannon,
which, after they had been given to the United States government, had been at Baton Rouge:
'Whereas, the State of Louisiana having caused to be placed in order and
delivered to the State of Texas the two guns known in the history of Texas as the 'Twin Sisters,' as a
token of friendship towards this State, and desiring to return our acknowledgment of such a gift and to
express our friendship and kind feelings towards our sister State:
"Section 1. Be it resolved by the Legislature of the State of Texas, that we
receive the valuable and useful gift to Texas, and acknowledge our obligations to our sister State for the
friendship and generosity so manifested by the donation of the guns that are so famous in the history of
"Sec. 2. Be it further resolved, that we assure our sister State that it is our
desire to cultivate and perpetuate the friendly relations that now exist between this State and the State of
Louisiana, and, should an occasion occur in which it will become necessary for Texas to use the 'Twin Sisters'
in defense of the rights of Louisiana, Texas, or any other State in the Confederacy, and to repel the invasion
of a despot, the sons of Texas will be found ready to man them and to remain by them until the invaders of our
common country shall be driven from our soil.
"Sec. 3. Be it further resolved, that the Governor of the State of Texas be,
and he is hereby, requested to cause a copy of these resolutions to be transmitted to the Governor of the State
of Louisiana." (Approved January 13, 1862.)
The guns came in due time and were deposited at Austin. Maj. A. G. Dickinson,
commanding the post at San Antonio, on November 30, 1863, wrote Maj. S. T. Fontaine, chief of artillery and
ordnance for Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas : "The 'Twin Sisters,' I am informed are at or in a camp in the
vicinity of Austin. They are in a deplorable condition, and I am fearful could not be used," and, continuing,
referred him to Col. John S. Ford for further information. This is the last official mention of these guns,
says the compiler of "Records of the Rebellion," published by the United States government since the war. The
subsequent fate and present whereabouts of these guns (if they are still in existence) is unknown.
The Texas History Page will begin to use this page as a source for all information about the
history of the Twin Sisters with the hope that the information will someday help locate both of these historically
significant artillery pieces that helped change the history of Texas, the United States and the