by Mike Cox
"Most people think the towering star-topped limestone
monument, built during the Texas Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto monument.
Actually, it’s only the biggest."
stone obelisks rise over the San
Jacinto battlefield – one is 570 feet tall and is one of the most photographed
monuments in America while the other is easily missed by visitors. |
people think the
towering star-topped limestone monument, built during the Texas
Centennial in 1936, is the only San Jacinto monument. Actually, it’s only
The first San Jacinto monument is a white marble
shaft put up in 1881 to mark the final resting place of eight Texas soldiers killed
or mortally wounded in the April 21, 1836 route of Gen. Santa Anna.
remember the men who died in the Alamo,
they remember the men executed at Goliad,
but the men who died at San
Jacinto have been largely forgotten.
years, most accounts of the battle
placed the Texas death toll at nine – two men killed outright and seven who died
later from their wounds. The best book on the battle,
Stephen H. Moore’s “Eighteen Minutes” (Republic of Texas Press, 2004) lists
12 Texas soldiers who gave their lives at San Jacinto:|
Blakley; Benjamin Rice Brigham; James Cooper, Mathias Cooper; Thomas Patton Fowle
(sometimes wrongly listed as Thomas Patton Fowler); Giles Albert Giddings; John
C. Hale; George A. Lamb; Dr. William Junius Mottley; Ashley R. Stephens, Olwyn
Trask (wounded April 20 in the initial skirmish with the Mexicans) and Leroy
says four of the men – Mathias Cooper, Fowle, Hale and Lamb – died fighting.
The other eight died later from wounds they suffered in the battle.
died harder than Mottley.|
“As I entered the little room where
he lay,” Dr. Ashbel Smith later wrote, “he cast on me one of those looks of deep
distress that too often speak of despondency to the physician. Extending my hand
to him I felt his tremulous grasp, and he said, ‘Doctor, I am a gone case.’”
Smith said Mottley had been “shot through the abdomen, and his bowels…lacerated.”
The young doctor begged for water, but could not hold it down.
I die?” he asked Smith.
“It is your lot now to part from us, but what
have you to dread?” Smith asked.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” Motley
At that, Smith turned away, later admitting: “The scene was
too painful.” Mottley died later that night.
last to die of wounds sustained during the battle
was Giddings, a 24-year-old surveyor from Pennsylvania, who had lingered
until June 7.
The details of Giddings’ last moments went unrecorded,
but a letter he wrote to his parents only 11 days before the battle has survived.
“If we succeed in subduing the enemy and establishing a free and independent
government, we shall have the finest country the sun ever shown upon,” Giddings
wrote the day after he enlisted in the Texas army, “and if we fail we shall have
the satisfaction of dying fighting for the rights of men.”
He went on
to urge his parents not to worry about him. “I am no better, and my life no dearer,
than those who gained the liberty you enjoy. If I fall you will have the satisfaction
that your son died fighting for the rights of men.”
family buried Giddings elsewhere, but Blakey, Brigham, Lamb, Mottley, Mathias
Cooper, Fowle and Stephens were buried beneath the spreading oaks where Houston’s
army had its camp. Their graves had only crude wooden markers, and by the late
1870s, only Brigham’s grave could be identified.
J.L. Sullivan, a Richmond
lawyer, began an effort to raise money to put a permanent marker commemorating
the Texas soldiers. The Legislature chipped in $1,000.
The engraved stone
shaft was dedicated on Aug. 25, 1881. Present at the ceremony was Robert J. Calder,
captain of the company in which Brigham had served; Temple
Houston, Sam Houston’s grandson and Blakey’s granddaughter, identified only
as Mrs. Buchanan.
Carved on the south side of the monument are the words
of Thomas Jefferson Rusk, first secretary of war for the Republic of Texas and
a participant in the battle:
“The sun was sinking in the horizon as the battle
commenced, but at the close of the conflict, the sun of liberty and independence
rose in Texas, never, it is to be hoped, to be obscured
by the clouds of despotism.
23, 2005 column
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News of the fall of the Alamo
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later, produced the terrible Runaway Scrape, a mad flight of refugees who scrambled
eastward to escape a similar fate at the hand of General Antonio Lopez de Santa
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Talk by Mike
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