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WHIP-HANDLE DISPATCH. The name Whip-Handle Dispatch is given to a group of letters sent from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, to Texas in 1836. The letters, which were hidden in a hollow whip handle, were written by Henry Teal and Henry W. Karnes, Texas commissioners to Mexico, by William Parsons Miller, who had been captured at Copano, and by William Howell, a Pennsylvania wool buyer resident in Matamoros. Reuben M. Potter copied Karnes's letter to make it more legible. The dispatch bore information warning the Texans that a large number of Mexican troops might possibly invade Texas in the summer of 1836. The unidentified Mexican courier bearing the whip, to be delivered to Thomas Jefferson Rusk, was intercepted by a Texas patrol near the Nueces River, and the dispatch was forwarded to the Texas War Department. Secretary of War Alexander Somervell used the Teal and Miller letters as the basis of a circular calling for an enlistment of the militia.


William Campbell Binkley, ed., Official Correspondence of the Texan Revolution, 1835–1836 (2 vols., New York: Appleton-Century, 1936). R. M. Potter, "Escape of Karnes and Teal from Matamoros," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 4 (October 1900).


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

"WHIP-HANDLE DISPATCH," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed April 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.