Biography of Wilkinson, W. M., Gen.
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General William M. Wilkinson, the father of Mrs. Jane Long, was a distinguished officer in the United States Army of the war of 1812. When. Aaron Burr, in 1806, was contemplating the conquest and revolutionizing of Northern Mexico, which then included Texas, his base of operations being Blennerhassetts Island, General Wilkinson was ordered with a part of the United States Army to watch his movements, and also the Spanish army who were coming toward the Sabine River to meet Burr’s invasion. Thomas Jefferson was President at this time, and it was the policy of the United States Government to prevent any armed expedition from leaving her borders for such a conquest. The Spanish government had notification of the intention of Burr, and at that time, not recognizing the Sabine River as the boundary line between the Spanish possessions and those of the United States, moved an army toward that point. Late in the spring, some time in June, Generals Herrera and Cordero, with 1,200 veteran Spanish soldiers, reached Nacogdoches. Governor Claiborne, of Louisiana, called out the militia and placed them at the disposal of General Wilkinson also, and he hastened toward the Sabine with all of these available forces from New Orleans. Negotiations had failed as to the question of boundary and part of the Spanish army had already crossed the border when Wilkinson arrived and confronted them. Both commanders were defiant, and for a time a pitched battle seemed to be unavoidable. The American commander told the Spanish generals plainly that they must recross the Sabine, that they would not be allowed over there to fight Aaron Burr, or under any other pretense. The Americans were anxious to fight and chafed under the delay of a parley, which was finally held by the opposing leaders, and the difficulty settled without bloodshed. They entered into a treaty of the “neutral ground,” agreeing that a narrow strip of country between the Arroyo Hondo and the Sabine should be respected as “neutral” and occupied by neither government until a definite treaty fixed the boundary between the two nations. The Spanish army then recrossed the Sabine and retired beyond this strip of country, much to the disgust of the American troops, who wished to whip them for crossing the line.
Hearing rumors that Burr was descending the Mississippi River with his expedition, General Wilkinson, on arriving at New Orleans, commenced vigorous preparations to oppose the passage of Burr. A flotilla was prepared and the forts near New Orleans were put in a state of defense. He called out the militia of Louisiana again and also of Mississippi, and proclaimed martial law. He arrested and held in custody every one suspected of being in sympathy with Burr. The whole country was patroled by General Wilkinson guards. Aaron Burr, however, did not come, and was afterwards arrested and tried for conspiracy against the United States Government, but was acquitted. These details do not belong here and only mention is made of the part taken in it by the father of the noble and distinguished lady whose remains rest in the cemetery at Richmond, Fort Bend County.