Philip Nolan, a native of Ireland, traveled west from his home in Natchez, Mississippi with a party of 28 heavily armed men to establish a camp in the northwestern Hill Country, near what is now Blum, Texas. He and his men captured wild horses and sold them to Spanish military garrisons in Louisiana. On March 21, 1801, a company of 120 Spanish soldiers made a surprise attack on Nolan’s camp. The skirmish stopped when a cannonball killed Nolan with a blow to the head and his men surrendered. As a final insult to the adventurer, an enemy of Nolan’s cut off his ears and gave them to the Spanish governor as a gift.