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Bob Bowman's East Texas

A Frenchman at San Jacinto

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

In 1893, the Galveston Daily News printed a reporter’s interview with Charles Cronea, a Jean Lafitte pirate who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, where Texas won its independence from Mexico.

Cronea, a native of Marseilles, France, slipped aboard a French frigate, and came to America as a cabin boy and, after working on ships along the Gulf Coast, he joined a company of men and wound up at San Jacinto.

“It was fine fighting,” he said, “and we gave the Mexicans hell. We just killed them until we got tired. We killed thirty greasers (Mexicans) around one cannon; they could fire it only once.”

Santa Anna’s men soon began crying out, “We no Alamo,” referring to the battle in San Antonio that became the battle cry at San Jacinto.

One of the men in Cronea’s company captured Santa Anna, who had hidden in a creek bed. “None of us recognized him, or we would have shot him right there. When some of the prisoners recognized him, we wanted to kill him, but the officers wouldn’t let us.”

Cronea said “if Santa Anna had not been a Mason, his hide wouldn’t held shucks. But both Santa Anna and Sam Houston were both high Masons, and Houston and the other Masons got him off in a disguise.”

Cronea said seven Texas soldiers followed Santa Anna from San Jacinto. “If we had overtaken him, he wouldn’t have made it back to Mexico.”

Following the brief battle at San Jacinto, Cronea went to Bolivar and began farming. He later moved to Plaquemine Parish in Louisiana, where he cast his first ballot for Andrew Jackson.

Cronea lived among his descendants and during his latter years he was revered at an oracle. People often came to him for advice and, regardless of his frequent profanity, the people listened to him. He died at Roll Over Pass in Chambers County and was buried there.

Bob Bowman's East Texas
January 16, 2011 Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

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(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of almost 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
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The Forgotten Towns of East Texas, Vol. I
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