Daniel Cloud's Letter
Daniel William Cloud wrote the letter below to his brother, John B. Cloud, addressed to Russellville (sic), Logan County, Ky. He was travelling to Texas to help with its fight for freedom and had stopped in Natchitoches, Louisiana and the letter is dated there December 26, 1835. We believe he and his companion James Bailey were joined there by other volunteers, including David Crockett, and they traveled on to Texas to join the defenders of the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar. They all died either defending the Alamo or were executed after it fell March 6, 1836. The original of the letter was acquired by the Cloud Family Association and they donated it to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 1979. A copy of it now hangs in the Alamo.
(Historical note: We can only speculate, but Daniel's route may have gone through Natchitoches because of Cloud relatives who lived there but it was also the beginning of the old Spanish highway known as "el Camino Real" or the King's Highway or Royal Road. Also known as the old San Antonio Road, it was a wide, well-worn path extending some 2,000 miles from Natchitoches, across the Sabine River into Texas down to San Antonio, site of the Alamo Mission, ending in present day Mexico city. They would have traveled from Natchitoches 35 miles to Gaines' Ferry to cross the Sabine into Texas and an additional 370 miles to San Antonio and the Alamo.)
(It is also not known who traveled with him, but many historians speculate they met a contingent of the New Orleans or Louisiana Greys, so named because they had grey uniforms, as well as Davy Crockett of Kentucky.)
So much has changed, and so much has been lost. Who among us today can understand the clarity with which men like Daniel and his friends saw moral and ethical issues or their fiery zeal for the freedom and independence of all mankind? How many of us would put a professional career on hold and commit our very lives to fight for the right of fellow countrymen to be free? The United States of America was still in its infancy when this letter was written, only 60 years having elapsed since the Declaration of Independence was signed. The subsequent years of fighting and strife were fresh in the minds of every adult American, the War of 1812 having ended only 30 years previous. Their continuing struggles for survival prevented them taking those newfound freedoms for granted. Would that we could find men today of such virtue and courage.
|Beloved Brother:||Near Natchitoches, Louisiana, December 26, 1835|
A long time has elapsed since we parted and long before this period I expected to write to you but continual traveling and employment have prevented.
After leaving Uncle Louis's (The writing is not clear, it looks like Louis to this editor but it has been transcribed elsewhere as Sloan. No maternal or paternal uncle by either name is known.) in Missouri which we did on the 29th of November, we journeyed south. I left the family well except Grandma (must be Elizabeth Marrs Owen who d. Mar. 17, 1836), who was extremely ill. I have no idea that she yet lives. I left upwards of $30.00 with her besides the $10.00 sent her by Uncle William (prob. her son William Owens), which made between forty and fifty dollars which I deem sufficient in the event of her death. She has blankets and all kinds of comfortable clothing and all that Aunt could do to alleviate her suffering was done. We set off before Aunt Rice (Avy Owens Rice) and her family arrived but were informed that they had good health and enough to eat and wear.
Now you wish me to say something of the country through which we have traveled, viz. Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The soil of Illinois, north of the 38th degree is the best I ever saw and from all that I can learn, the best body of land on earth of the same extent. The water is abundant and may be called good, many parts I regard as healthy, and the ridgeland between Illinois and Mississippi River, I believe to be as healthful as the Alleghany Mountains.
Yankees, Kentuckians, and Ohioans, etc. are filling up the state with a rapidity unparalleled in the history of the West. I saw as fine farms, as good houses, barns, wagons, ploughs, horses, men, women and children, beds and furniture in Illinois as I ever saw in Kentucky. I view this state at no distant day far in advance of any western state except Ohio.
The reasons which induced us to travel on, were briefly these: first our curiosity was unsatisfied; second, law dockets were not large, fees low and Yankee lawyers numerous. Third, the coldness of the climate. Missouri, like Illinois, has too many prairies and unlike her, has very poor prairies. West of 15 degrees, west longitude from Washington City, the lands on both sides of the Missouri river about the depth of one county -- including Boone, Howard, Carroll, Ray, Clay and Clinton on the North, and Saline, LaFayette, Jackson, Van Buren, etc. on the South, are very rich and well settled already.
Our reason for not stopping in Missouri were first, we were disappointed in the face of the country and the coldness of the climate, but most of all, the smallness of the docket. There is less litigation in this state than in any other in the union for its population, as I was informed by one of the judges of the supreme court (Judge Tompkins) and what is going on redounds very little to the emolument of the practitioners. I was happy to find such a state of case existing, but while following the chase, like other hunters, wish to go where game is plentiful, fat and large. We rode through Mo. from north to south, about six hundred miles, the weather was growing cold, we knew we could not settle. It was out of our way to go by Boonville and we had not an opportunity of presenting ourselves to Col. Boone (1) and Mr. Grubbs, but we thank Brother Grubbs for the letter of introduction which he gave us and which we yet keep. We wish you to acquaint him with these facts and to present our love and compliments to him and his family.
We found Ark. territory in some places rich, well watered and healthy and society tolerably good, but the great body of the country is stony, sandy, mountainous, In passing through, we traveled ten days constantly in crossing the mountains.
On Red River the lands were immensely rich, and planters also, many of them worth two and three hundred thousand dollars. Had we chosen to locate in Arkansas, we could have made money rapidly if blessed with health and life; dockets and fees being large.
The reason for our pushing still further on must now be told, and as it is a master one, it will suffice without the mention of any other one. Ever since Texas has unfurled the Banner of Freedom, and commenced a warfare of liberty or death, our hearts have been enlisted in her behalf. The progress of her cause has increased the ardor of our feeling until we have resolved to embark in the vessel which contains the Flag of Liberty and sink or swim in its defense.
Our brethren of Texas were invited by the Mexican Government while Republican in its form to come and settle; they did so; they have endured all the suffering and privation incident to the settlement of a frontier country and have surrounded themselves with the comforts and conveniences of life. Now the Mexicans with unblushing effrontery, call on them to submit to a Monarchical, Tyranical central despotism, at the bare mention of which every true-hearted son of Kentucky feels an instinctive horror, followed by a firm and steady glow of virtuous indignation.
The cause of Philanthropy, of Humanity, of Liberty and human happiness throughout the world calls loudly on every man who can aid Texas. If you ask me how I can reconcile the duties of a soldier with those of a Christian, I refer you to the memorable conversation between Generals Marion (2) and DeKalb (3) on this point, and the sentiments of the latter I have adopted as my own.
If we succeed, the Country is ours. It is immense in extent, and fertile in its soil, and will amply reward all our toils. If we fail, death in the cause of Liberty and humanity is not cause for shuddering. Our rifles are by our sides, and choice guns they are. We know what awaits us and are prepared to meet it. My dear Brother, I am in the hands of Omnipotence and rejoice in the hope of his favor and protection. However I would have rejoiced to receive a letter from some of you in Jefferson City in compliance with my request made in my letter from Springfield, Ill. I waited ten days and nothing came. I have not heard one syllable from home since the day of our departure.
I now say again that if you or any of our relatives will write to us and direct your letters to Natchitoches, La., we may get them, and would thank you most sincerely for them. If you have any affection for me you will attend to this request. I now commission you to bear me as a son -- as an affectionate son, to my beloved Mother and her husband. Kiss sister and all the children for me. Mr. Slack and Mr. Lewis must do the same with their children. To Uncle Samuel and Uncle William, and their families, remember me and inform them of Grandma's condition.
Dear Brother, we are of the same origin, the blood of the same parents flows through our veins, and the same maternal tenderness matched over our infant slumbers, and the same councils instilled principles into our minds. Many times we have slept the livelong night locked in each other's arms. May our united petitions to a throne of divine grace invoke the same bread of life and our souls united in love, finally nestle under the protecting shield of the same all-wise and all-merciful redeemer.
Remember me to all the Brethern and acquaintances who inquire and say to them that scarsity of paper prevents me from writing to them personally. We cannot go to Natchitoches for paper on account of Small Pox.
In a few days we shall be in Texas and then having no means of writing, you may not hear from us for many days, but when we can we will write. The deed I made you on the 20th day of October for 64-1/2 acres of land, is hereby confirmed.
Request Uncle Samuel to inform Dr. Fishback by letter that he has his books. Some of you must take the trouble of informing me at length of all that has occurred in Logan County. I am extremely anxious to hear. Tell Brother Isham to write. I will some time write to Brother Anderson, tell him I think well of the country about Quincy, Ill. I think he will be pleased if not too cold for him. My health has been tolerably good. I have suffered a great deal with my stomach but am now considerably improved. I hope I shall recover entirely the hardships I am destined to undergo. Bailey (4) has fine health. We have been traveling ten weeks and have gone over 2500 miles.
If I were with you I could talk enough to tire you. I hope we shall meet again. Your brother,
|Mr. J. B. Cloud||ξ||D. W. Cloud|
The above letter was written to Daniel's brother John B. Cloud who was living in Logan Co., Ky. The hero's mother, the former Nancy Owen, was the wife of William Chastain. Her first marriage was to Daniel Cloud who died Jan. 25, 1818. (Signed: Mrs. J. Wells Vick, Logan county, KY genealogist.)
"It would be very interesting to know how this little party of patriots marched to San Antonio. But history is yet silent upon this point. From a letter written from Bexar 150 men, and that Colonels Crockett and Travis were there, and that Col. Bowie was in command of volunteers."
(1) - Col. Boone was the son of Daniel Boone.
(2) - Revolutionary Soldier Genl. Francis Marion, know as "The Swamp Fox".
(3) - Revolutionary Soldier Genl. Baron Johan DeKalb.
(4) - James Peter Bailey was a friend of Daniels, also a lawyer from Kentucky, and he too died at the Siege of the Alamo.