not unusual for me to become sort of melancholy this time of the year.
When February rolls around, I tend to reflect on those historic events
that occurred in Texas so many years ago and I can't help but; "Remember
the Alamo." The story of the little fortress on the San Antonio River
has been told and re-told so many times that it may no longer stir
the emotions of some folks. But I like to believe that most Texans
still get that certain chill down their spine when they step inside
the Alamo chapel. It happens to me anytime I go near the place or
even think about it.
O. Chariton wrote one of my favorite books about the Alamo.
His work, "100 Days in Texas, The Alamo Letters," is a fantastic collection
of historic documents in the form of old newspaper articles, excerpts
from personal journals, and official orders from both the Texan and
Mexican armies. Chariton put all this information together in chronological
order as per the date they were written and he included a time period
that he felt would portray an accurate account of the Alamo story.
This period consisted of exactly 100 days, from December 9, 1835 to
March 17, 1836. Any document that he felt had any historical significance
was included for each particular day.
Chariton, I've also had a desire to get my information from the original
sources - that is, those folks who actually lived, loved, fought,
and died during those turbulent times of early Texas. Some modern-day
historians are inclined to write articles that they consider "politically
correct" about the Alamo
battle. Fact is, if some writers had their way, true events that
happened in Texas during the fight for independence would be struck
from the record and a new account would be given. To those folks I
would just say, "Read the words of the people who actually lived during
that time or better yet, just call your work fiction."
I don't know of any writer who could improve on
the eloquent words of Travis when he issued his plea of help
for his beleaguered command. "Do hasten on aid to me as rapidly as
possible, as from the superior number of the enemy, it will be impossible
for us to keep them out much longer," wrote Travis in his famous letter
of February 25, 1836. "If they overpower us, we fall a sacrifice at
the shrine of our country, and we hope prosperity and our country
will do our memory justice. Give me help, oh my country! Victory or
And who could put it any better than His Excellency Santa
Anna, when he wrote out his order of battle for the final assault
on the Alamo. "The arms, principally the bayonets, should be in
perfect order." This excerpt leaves little doubt that Santa Anna expected
the battle to be fought primarily in bloody hand-to-hand combat and
indeed it was.
He ended his order by letting his troops know what was expected of
them. "His Excellency expects that every man will do his duty, and
exert himself to give a day of glory to the country, and of gratification
to the Supreme Government, who will know how to reward the distinguished
deeds of the brave soldiers…."
Upon the conclusion of the battle, the Mexican officer Almonte
made this entry in his diary: "…at half past 5 A.M. the attack or
assault was made, and continued until 6 A.M., when the enemy attempted
in vain to fly, but they were overtaken and put to the sword, and
only five women, one Mexican soldier (prisoner) and a black slave
escaped from instant death."
Another Mexican soldier gave this account of what he saw after
the battle: "Poor things - no longer do they [Texans] live - all of
them died, and even now I am watching them burn…their leader named
Travis, died like a brave man with his rifle in his hand at the back
of a cannon."
No, we don't need anyone to re-write our Alamo
history for us - it has already been written by our ancestors.
We have a rich heritage in Texas and it came about by the sacrifices
of a tough breed of people who made their homes in the wilderness.
Personally, I would like to see even more tribute paid to the lesser-known
men who served in both those armies - Mexican and Texan, alike - after
all they too, were patriots. The Mexican was protecting his country
and the Texan was fighting for his independence. I don't know if defending
your country or fighting for liberty is politically correct nowadays,
but it seems pretty noble to me.