The Archives War of 1842: A Forgotten Tale of Texas History

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When Captain Eli Chandler and General Thomas I. Smith arrived in Austin, they’d been ordered privately by the president to move the archives to Washington on the Brazos. Early on December 30, 1842, these men loaded the archives onto wagons to take the papers from the city. The Committee of Safety did not anticipate such a covert movement of the archives. But one Angelina Eberly did not let the military men get away with the archives without a fight. She turned a six-pound cannon toward the men at the General Land Office and fired it.

End of the Archives War of 1842

archives war of 1842

Photo: Wikimedia

Though the Archives War started in 1842, it ended on January 1, 1843 (some sources have said December 31, 1842). Captain Mark B. Lewis, one of those opposed to the archives’ movement, led a troop with a cannon to overtake the fleeing Chandler and Smith. They proved successful at Kenney’s Fort along Bushy Creek. The archives returned to Austin, though accounts dispute whether Smith or Lewis brought them back.


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