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|Quitman witnesses mass exodus called 'Runaway Scrape'|
Texans called it the "Runaway Scrape," an exodus of American-born settlers from San Antonio eastward to Louisiana. Many were colonists who had been awarded land grants by the Mexican government. However, not long after declaring their independence from Mexico, they were racing eastward in advance of the fast-moving army of Mexican dictator Santa Anna who intended to quickly put an end to the Texas Revolution.
Natchez attorney and public servant John Quitman, who volunteered to fight for Texas independence, first witnessed the Runaway Scrape on April 9, 1836. At Gaines's Ferry on the Sabine River, the Texas-Louisiana border, Quitman wrote a friend that "we found many families coming over into Louisiana. As we advanced, the refugees rapidly multiplied."
All were seeking the safety of the United States, whose western border of Louisiana was protected by the American garrison at Fort Jesup in the northwestern portion of the state. The fort was near present day Many in Sabine Parish, about 22 miles west of the Red River at Natchitoches.
In command at Fort Jesup was Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, a 59-year-old seasoned officer who fought with distinction in the War of 1812 and had vast experience with American Indians. Gaines also earned a footnote in history when, as commander at Fort Stoddard in Alabama three decades earlier, he arrested former Vice President Aaron Burr for treason.
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