Circumstantial Evidence

                                                              Circumstantial Evidence:  A Series of Facts

Fact:  The Telegraph & Texas Register newspaper article (see excerpt at end) published on May 1, 1839 purporting to be the private journal of a friend makes no mention of the name of the mountain on the Colorado now known as Mount Bonnell.

Conclusion:  Mount Bonnell was not yet named.

Fact:  On April 21, 1839, Albert Sidney Johnston, Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas, wrote, "My agent will set off in a few days to commence the building of the City of Austin at the foot of the mountain on the Colorado."

Conclusion:  Johnston, former Commanding General of the Republic of Texas Army who had been elevated to Secretary of War, was a competent military person.
Conclusion:  Johnston knew the terrain from a previous reconnaissance.
Conclusion:  "The mountain on the Colorado" had not yet been named.

Fact:  Albert Sidney Johnston was a good friend of Joseph Bonnell.  They had been Cadets together at West Point.  Johnston was well aware that Joseph Bonnell was a hero of the Texas Revolution, having entered Texas alone to persuade Caddo Chief Cortez to withdraw Indian warriors set to attack General Sam Houston's small Army being organized on the Brazos River.  Johnston was well aware that Joseph Bonnell was a good friend and military aide to General Houston.

Conclusion:  Johnston knew the importance of Joseph Bonnell to the Republic of Texas and to the defense against attacks from Indians.

Fact:  Secretary of War Johnston's cabin was located where the Paramount Theater is now located.  Bronze plaque on outside wall of the theater.

Conclusion:  Johnston was one of the first residents of Austin.

Fact:  Johnston led the parade on October 17, 1839 to meet President Lamar and the rest of the cabinet when they first came to Austin.  The Seat of Government, supra, p. 234.

Conclusion:  Johnston was in Austin while it was being built, and, as senior military person, was in charge of its military defense. 

Fact:  Military men use high ground for defense.  "Take the high ground." Sun Tzu, 6th Century BC, The Art of War, Ch. X, No. 3.  Advantages of high ground, Maxim No. 14 of the Maxims of Napoleon.  As military aide to General Henry Atkinson during the 1832 Black Hawk War, U.S. Army Lieutenant Albert Sidney Johnston learned first hand about the use of high ground in combat against Indians.   War chief Black Hawk used the "Wisconsin Heights" to his advantage against the U.S. Army, and Colonel Henry Dodge used "Militia Ridge" to his advantage against the Indians. Union General John Buford seized the high ground at Gettysburg, giving the Union Army great advantage over the Confederate Army.  U.S. Army Field Manual 34-130: "To a commander, the high ground which dominates the city may be a key terrain feature."

Conclusion:  "The mountain on the Colorado" is a key military terrain feature.

Fact:  Unnamed military high ground needs a name since unnamed high ground can lead to a military blunder.  Unnamed peaks and poor maps caused a military disaster for Italian General Baratieri in the March 1, 1896 Battle of Adwa, Ethiopia against Ethiopian King Menelik when attacking Italian brigades collided into each other or got lost.

Conclusion:  Unnamed military high ground must be named by the commander.

Fact:  Edwin Walker stated, "Our labors were liable every moment to be interrupted by the hostile Indians, for whom we were obliged to be constantly on watch."  Ernest William Walker, II, The Seat of Government of Texas, The Permanent Location of the Seat of Government, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 3, January 1907, p. 235.

Conclusion:  Military defense against Indians was needed during the building of Austin.

Fact:  J. K. Holland said, Mount Bonnell was a safe haven against Indians for the citizens of Austin. (Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1897, p. 93.) 

Conclusion:  Mount Bonnell was used defensively against Indians while Austin was being built and protected by the Republic of Texas Army.
Conclusion:  Mount Bonnell had its name while Austin was being built and protected by the Republic of Texas Army.

Fact:  Johnston reported to President Lamar on December 12, 1839 that, "At this time there are four companies on the Colorado above this city."

Conclusion:  The Republic of Texas Army had provided military protection while Austin was being built.

Fact:  Johnston served in the Republic of Texas Army soon after he arrived in Texas on July 13, 1836, as commanding general from January 1837, until September 1838 when he was appointed Secretary of War by newly elected President Mirabeau B. Lamar.  Johnston's office was in Austin while Austin was being built in the spring, summer and early fall of 1839. 

Newspaper reporter George W. Bonnell entered Texas in mid-August 1836, four months after the fight for Texas independence had ended.  George Bonnell traveled around Texas gathering information for his book, Topographical Description of Texas, which was published in April 1840.  He did not arrive in Austin until October 17, 1839, after Austin had been built, which may account for the fact that his book included "Mount Bonnell" but did not include how the peak had been named.  In his book, George Bonnell explained the origin of names 14 times, suggesting that he explained the origin when he knew the origin.

There is no indication that Johnston and George Bonnell met before October 17, 1839. 

Conclusion:  Johnston did not name the military high ground for George W. Bonnell.

Summary of Preliminary Conclusions:

In 1838, Mount Bonnell was not yet named.  In April 1839, Secretary of War Albert Sidney Johnston of the Republic of Texas, knew, from a previous reconnaissance, the terrain upon which the City of Austin was to be built, and "the mountain on the Colorado" had not yet been named.  Johnston knew the importance of his friend Joseph Bonnell to the Republic of Texas and to the defense against attacks from Indians.  Johnston was one of the first residents of Austin.  Johnston was in Austin while it was being built, and, as senior military person, was in charge of its military defense.

"The mountain on the Colorado" is a key military terrain feature.  Unnamed military high ground must be named by the commander.  Military defense against Indians was needed during the building of Austin.  Mount Bonnell was used defensively against Indians while Austin was being built and protected by the Republic of Texas Army.  Mount Bonnell had its name while Austin was being built.  The Republic of Texas Army provided military protection while Austin was being built.  Albert Sidney Johnston did not name the military high ground for George W. Bonnell.

Ultimate Conclusion:  Albert Sidney Johnston named "the mountain on the Colorado" after April 21, 1839 and a considerable time before October 17, 1839 for his friend Joseph Bonnell, hero of the Texas Revolution.
________________________________________________________

Telegraph and Texas Register
May 1, 1839
Published in Houston by Jacob Cruger and Francis Moore, Jr.

<http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth48051/?q=Telegraph%20and%20Texas%20Register%20%22%20%22%20date%3A1838-1840>

A friend has kindly permitted us to publish the following extracts from a private journal, written by him nearly twelve months since, while visiting the country in the vicinity of the new Metropolis [future capital of the Republic of Texas].

Excerpt from July 25, 1838

Left the Falls and visited several large springs of water bursting out of the foot of the mountain.  Conclude to ascend the top of the mountain to enjoy the prospect no guns, and a little suspicious of Indians, but must trust to good luck and our heels if they come upon us.

Ascend to the top of the highest peak, without difficulty Arrive at the top, a more beautiful prospect could not be imagined.  The Colorado river appeared like an inconsiderable stream of 15 or 20 feet wide.  We could see its course 12 or 15 miles, winding among hills, and the broken peaks of the mountains rising one above another, could be seen at the distance of 20 or 25 miles on the north while the one on which we stood over-topped them all.  On the east and west extended the mountain chain to a considerable distance; while on our south, the broad, rich prairie, covered with flowers, and enlivened by its thousand groves of timber, completed the prospect; and made it one of the loveliest of nature's workmanship.

The top of the peak on which we stood was composed of coral rock, oyster and other shells.  Here would be a wild field for the Geologist, but I shall not now attempt to speculate upon the subject: it is enough for me to mention the fact.

The country about the foot of the mountain abounds in iron ore, and will undoubtedly, at a future period, become an object of manufacture.

We returned to Hornsby's where we met our companions without seeing an Indian, and spent the night.