native of Kentucky and a veteran of the War of 1812, Milam
came to Texas via New Orleans and was making a living by trading with Comanche
Indians along the Colorado River when he threw in with Revolutionaries seeking
independence from Spain.
was imprisoned in Mexico City but released through the efforts of the U.S. minister.
Returning to Mexico after its Independence from Spain (1824), Milam
(technically a Mexican citizen) was made a Colonel in the Mexican Army that year.
By 1835 Milam was back in Mexico
seeking titles for those who had settled in the dual states of Coahuila y Texas.
But the timing couldn’t have been worse. Antonio López de Santa Anna had just
overthrown the new government of Mexico, establishing a dictatorship. Milam
was captured and imprisoned in Monterrey.
He managed to escape and cross
the Rio Grande in October of 1835. By chance he encountered troops under the command
of George Collinsworth, and only then did he become aware of the Texas Revolution.
(now serving as a Private) helped in the capture of Goliad,
and then marched with the army against San Antonio
(Bexar) which was then held by Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and his troops.
was dismayed to learn that many members of the Revolutionary Army had decided
to abandon the attack on San Antonio until Spring.
It was then Milam made his plea to the
troops: "Who will go with old Ben Milam into Bexar?" Three hundred men volunteered,
and the siege of Bexar began at dawn of December the fifth.
General Cos surrendered to the Texian forces on December the ninth, 1835, but
Ben Milam had been killed two days previously
– shot in the head from a Mexican sniper concealed in the branches of this tall