Matthew Caldwell, nicknamed "Old Paint", was born in Kentucky on March 8, 1798. He moved to Missouri with his family in 1818, where he traded, fought and learned the ways of the Indians. He, his wife, and family arrived in Texas in the Green DeWitt Colony on February 20, 1831. On June 22, 1831, he received the title to a parcel of land near the Zumwalt Settlement, southwest of current Hallettsville, Texas. Settling in Gonzales, Caldwell acquired the original James Hinds residence on Water Street and soon became a person of notoriety, involved in security and command of minutemen rangers in Gonzales and the surrounding areas.
Actively recruiting before the battle of Gonzales in October 1835, he rode from Gonzales to Mina informing colonists of the dire need of their support in the volunteer army. Because of this, some have called him the Paul Revere of Texas. As a participant at the battle, he would serve as a scout and mediator. On Nov. 3, 1835, the delegates of the citizens of Texas established the provisional Texas government by the Consultation of 1835. The Consultation authorized the recruitment of 25 Rangers and later was increased to three companies of 56 men each. Caldwell was appointed a subcontractor to the Texian Army by the Provisional Government of Texas, to supply and administer a volunteer army at the siege of Bexar and the Alamo.
On 1 February 1836, he and John Fisher were elected delegates from Gonzales to the Texas Independence Convention of 1836 at Washington on the Brazos and both were signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, on March 2. The convention appointed a committee of three, of which Caldwell was a member, to assess the situation of the enemy on the frontier and the condition of the Texian army. They then dispatched couriers with the message of independence and Caldwell went along with them, paying close attention to the state of the new republic as they passed through numerous settlements.
On February 4, 1836, Matthew Caldwell was named along with Byrd Lockhart and William A. Matthews as commissioners to raise a group of volunteers for a Gonzales Ranging Company. The company was mustered by March 23, 1836. The muster list of 23 rangers is shown here.
Officers Capt. Byrd Lockhart, Lt. George C. Kimble, First Sergeant William A. Irvin
Privates John Ballard, John Davis, Andrew Duvalt, Jacob Darst, Frederick C. Elm, Galba Fuqua, William Fishbaugh, John Harris, Andrew J. Kent, David B. Kent, John G. King, Daniel McCoy, Jesse McCoy, Prospect McCoy, Isaac Millsaps, William Morrison, James Nash, Marcus L. Sewell, William Summers, Robert White
When the call for immediate reinforcements came from Lt. Col. William B. Travis by way of courier Captain Albert Martin on February 25, Lt. George C. Kimble responded on the 27th with 12 of the original rangers mustered and 20 more men joined as they worked their way to the Alamo.
The Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers company primarily consisted of family men from Gonzales and DeWitt's Colony, who had gathered when the call for support was issued. After receiving Travis's "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World" appeal on February 25, the Gonzales Rangers would leave the town of Gonzales on the evening of Saturday, February 27, led by commanding officer Lieutenant George C. Kimble and Captain Albert Martin, who had been the Alamo courier to deliver Travis's appeal at Gonzales. Of the 23 original members who were mustered into the Gonzales Ranger Company on the 23rd, a total of 12 are thought to have entered the Alamo with the final Relief Force on March 1 and all but one died there. Lockhart, Sowell, John William Smith and others would accompany the 32 Rangers into the Alamo and later depart, at night, as other couriers left.
According to one account, a group of 25 men left Gonzales at two in the evening on the 27th. As they passed through Green Dewitt's Colony toward the Umphries Branch community and on to the Cibolo Creek, the company would gain 8 more members, increasing the company to 32 men. The youngest member of the Alamo defenders, William Philip King, only 16 years old, would become a part of this group. Due to family illness, he had substituted in his father's place. On the 29th, the group searched to find a way into the Alamo and through the Mexican lines. Then at three o'clock, in the early hours of March 1, they made a wild dash into the fort while being shot at by Alamo sentries. One man was slightly wounded and after a few rash words, the Alamo gates flew open for the Gonzales force to enter.
The list of the 32 immortals are: Isaac G. Baker, John Cain, George Washington Cottle, David P. Cummings, Jacob Darst, John Davis, Squire Daymon (Damon), William Dearduff, Charles Despallier, William Fishbaugh, John Flanders, Dolphin Ward Floyd, Galba Fuqua, John E. Garvin, John E. Gaston, James George, Thomas J. Jackson, John Benjamin Kellogg II, Andrew Kent, George C. Kimble, William Philip King, Jonathan L. Lindley, Albert Martin , Jesse McCoy, Thomas R. Miller, Isaac Millsaps, George Neggan, Marcus L. Sewell, William Summers, George Washington Tumlinson, Robert White, Claiborne Wright.
Although knowing their chance of survival was slim, the Gonzales Rangers remained in the Alamo, serving as possibly the only reinforcements to make it into the Alamo during the siege. The 1836 Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers would all perish in the battle of the Alamo. For their heroic effort to support the besieged and outnumbered Texians, they are remembered as the "Immortal 32".
In the fall of 1837, after the revolution, settlers began returning to Gonzales. Nothing remained of the former town but one charred building. The Comanche had reestablished their claim to the area. Caldwell would serve as the first law officer or Sheriff of Gonzales (Guadalupe, Dewitt, Caldwell, Lavaca) County.
In 1838, he and his fellow rangers founded the town of Walnut Branch, a sparsely populated area in northwest Gonzales County. The area was well favored and had been a frequented DeWitt ranger campground years before the revolution.
1838 frontier rangers
Caldwell formed a frontier ranger company of 29 men. Charles Lockhart became First Lieutenant and Robert Hall joined as his Second Lieutenant. They built a log fort to provide security for the residents and only mustered for a real crisis. In October that year, Indians raided the town and stole two young women and some children, The rangers pursued the group, but could not catch them. They were able to make allies of friendly Indians and valued their support.
Rumors of a Mexican retaliation soon flourished and Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar would appoint Caldwell, on January 15, 1839, as a captain, to recruit a company of Gonzales Rangers, to defend the Texas frontier. Two months later he had raised his company of rangers and on March 23, 1839, Caldwell became captain of a company in the First Regiment of Infantry of Texas. On March 29, 1839, a company of 80 men commanded by General Edward Burleson had defeated Vicente Córdova and his rebels during a fight near Seguin, Texas, at "Battleground Prairie". Córdova survived, but was pursued by Caldwell's Rangers, Seguin militia and then joined by members of the Henry Karnes company, insuring his departure from Texas.
Caldwells Gonzales & Seguin Rangers 1839
During this time, 1st Lt. James Campbell would be stationed at the Seguin outpost with half of the Caldwell Rangers, providing protection for the new town and others stationed close to Gonzales. The officers of the Rangers were: Captain Matthew Caldwell, 1st Lt. James Campbell, 2nd Lt. Canah C. Colley, 1st Sergt. George D. Miller, 2nd Sergt. John R. King, 3rd Sergt. William N. Henry, 4th Sergt. John Archer. The privates were: M. L. Baber, Seth Baldridge, Nathan Burgett, Curtis Caldwell, William Clinton, James M. Day, Miles G. Dikes, A. S. Emmitt, James Forrester, Daniel Gray, John B. Gray, Thomas Grubbs, Frederick W. Happle, Everett H. Harris, Vaughter Henderson, David Henson, John S. Hodges, Maury Irvin, E. R. Jones, William H. Killin, Henry B. King, Henry Eustace McCulloch, T. N. Minter, G. H. Nichols, George W. Nichols, James W. Nichols, John W. Nichols, Sol. G. Nichols, Thomas R. Nichols, William S. Osbourne, James Pinchback, D. M. Poore, William Putman, David Reynolds, Abram Roberts, Alexander Roberts, James B. Roberts, Jeremiah Roberts, Russell, D. W. Russell, John H. Ezekiel Smith, French Smith, William Smith, A. J. Sowell, Asa J. L. Sowell, J. N. Sowell, John S. Stump, James A. Swift, T. W. Symonds, Nathan Wadkins, Isaac Wallace, John D. Wolfin
1840s defense and imprisonment
Indian attacks continued to plague the new Republic and in March Caldwell participated in a meeting to trade captives with the Comanches. However, the meeting turned violent and the Council House Fight erupted, where he was wounded. He had recovered in time to lead a company at the battle of Plum Creek on August 12, 1840.
As captain of Company D of the scouting force in the Texan Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, he was captured with other members and imprisoned in Mexico. He was soon released and headed to San Antonio to confront the invading Mexican forces there.
On September 18, 1842, Caldwell commanded a force of 200 men from Gonzales, Seguin, San Antonio and other near settlements, confronting and defeating General Adrián Woll, at the battle of Salado Creek.
In 1826 when Mathew was 28, he first married Martha A and had 3 children. Martha died abt 1833 in Gonzales, TX.
Their 3 children: - Curtis (1827) - Lucy Ann (1829-1906) - Martha Elizabeth (1831-1892)
On May 17, 1837, when Mathew was 39, he married Hannah Morrison in Washington County, Texas.
Matthew Caldwell died at his home in Gonzales on December 28, 1842, and was buried with honors as a military hero.
Caldwell County, Texas was established in 1848 and named in his honor. In 1930, he was honored by the state of Texas, when a monument was placed at his grave site at Gonzales. The 1936 Texas Hall of State Building, in Dallas, commemorates Caldwell's past on the exterior historical figure frieze.Caldwell, Cliff (2011), Texas Lawmen, 1835–1899: The Good and the Bad by Cliff Caldwell and Ron DeLord, Charleston, SC: The History Press, ISBN 1-60949-216-1
Edmondson, J.R. (2000), The Alamo Story-From History to Current Conflicts, Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-678-0
Groneman, Bill (1990), Alamo Defenders: A Genealogy, the People and Their Words, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 978-0-89015-757-2
Hardin and "Brazos", Stephen L. (1992), Life of Robert Hall, Austin, TX: State House Press, ISBN 0938349902
Hardin, Stephen L. (1994), Texian Iliad – A Military History of the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-73086-1, OCLC 29704011
Lindley, Thomas Ricks (2003), Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions, Lanham, MD: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-983-6
Moore, Stephen L. (2006), Savage Frontier: Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas, Volume II, 1838–1839, Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, ISBN 978-1-57441-206-2
Todish, Timothy J.; Todish, Terry; Spring, Ted (1998), Alamo Sourcebook, 1836: A Comprehensive Guide to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 978-1-57168-152-2
Dahlqvist, Rasmus (2013), From Martin to Despallier: The Story of a French Colonial Family, North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace IPP, ISBN 978-1-49360-325-1