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Long Expedition

The Long expedition, named after James Long, was an early attempt by Anglo-Americans to take Texas from Spain. The expedition was the last of the series of early filibustering campaigns. It attracted many men because they were promised land in Texas. The first force of 120 men, led by Eli Harris, crossed the Sabine River on June 8, 1819 and went on to Nacogdoches. At Camp Freeman, citizens of Nacogdoches organized a temporary government that was led by Long. On June 23, the “government” declared the independence of Texas. The Supreme Council gave land to the soldiers and sold other land for fifty cents an acre. By the middle of July, Long had more than 300 men under his command. They did not receive the necessary survival supplies, so Long encouraged the men to live off the land. The Supreme Council declared Galveston a port of entry, authorized the construction of a fort at Point Bolivar, and made Jean Laffite the governor of the island.

Spanish Governor Antonio Maria Martinez sent Colonel Ignacio Perez and more than 500 men to drive Long out of Texas. Perez captured a few of the filibusters in October and a month later drove the American settlers out of East Texas.

Long escaped being captured by fleeing to Louisiana. He joined Jose Felix Trespalacios who was planning an expedition in New Orleans to support the Mexican liberals. Long made his headquarters at Point Bolivar, and in April 1820, he attempted to reorganize his troops. He also reorganized the Supreme Council with the help of Trespalacios, Benjamin Milam, and Jose Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara. On September 19, 1821, Long and 52 men sailed to capture La Bahia, Texas. He was able to take over the town, but four days later Long was forced to surrender to Perez. He was taken prisoner and was sent to Mexico City. Six months later he was shot and killed by a guard.


Source: Long Expedition
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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