an East Texas volunteer's rifle shot had hit its mark, the Alamo
battle might have taken a different turn.
Early in the
March, 1836, siege of the Alamo, Micajah Autry, an expert marksman,
was chosen by his company to eliminate Santa
Anna, who often sauntered across the ground just beyond the
Alamo wall. Autry raised his long rifle, took careful aim as his
breathless companions watched, and fired.
In that moment,
the history of Texas might have been changed, but in the nervous
tension and great hope of killing Santa Anna, Autry's bullet went
wild and Santa Anna, who for once lost his dignity, scampered to
through the 13 days of the Alamo siege, the prowess of his marksmanship
adding to the numbers of Santa Ann's dead. He fell with his comrades
at the stockade, overwhelmed by the Mexican troops, determined and
courageous to the end.
a native of Sampson County, North Carolina. Between the ages of
17 and 18, he volunteered for service against the British in the
War of 1812 and remained in Charleston in the company of Captain
Long until the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1815.
Autry studied law and was admitted to the bar in Jackson, Tennessee,
where he practiced until he went to Texas. His reason for moving,
he said, was that he hoped to find a home for his family, as well
as a possible means of support.
Memphis, he wrote to his wife on December 7, 1835: "On the steamboat
Pacific, I have met a number of acquaintances bound for Texas...I
am determined to provide a home for you...or perish."
Louisiana, he wrote: "About twenty men from Tennessee form our squad...the
war (in Texas) is going favorably for the Texans, but it is thought
that Santa Anna will make a descent with his whole force in the
spring. But there will be soldiers enough of the real grit in Texas
by that time to overrun all Mexico. We have between 400 and 500
to foot it to the seat of government. We cannot get horses, but
have sworn allegiance to each other."
on January 13, Autry wrote his last letter, still optimistic: "I
walked from Natchitoches to this place, 115 miles, through torrents
of rain, mud and water...we expect to march to headquarters (Washington-on-the-Brazos)
to join Houston,
and receive our destination...I expect to help (Texas) gain independence...it
is well worth risking many lives, for there is not so fair a portion
of the Earth's surface, warmed by the sun...Colonel Crockett has
just joined our company..."
appeared before John Forbes in Nacogdoches
to take the oath of allegiance to Texas on January 14, 1836, and
marched to the Alamo
in San Antonio.
The Micajah Autry
Society presents a play based upon his adventures each summer in North
All Things Historical
25-March 3, 2001 Column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
Published by permission.
(Bob Bowman is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association
and the author of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore. He
lives in Lufkin.)