Men of Legend: The Battle of the Alamo

by Chris on April 2, 2009 · 42 comments

in A Man's Life, Manly Knowledge

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Few men so well embody masculinity as the legendary assembly that stood in defense of the Alamo from February 23 to March 6, 1836. With a cast of characters larger than life itself, the story of the Battle of the Alamo stands out in early American history.The most notable of these men, David Crockett, was a true embodiment of masculinity. His had a full life, filled with bear hunts, expeditions into the unknown, speaking out against government corruption, and eventually giving his life in defense of the freedom he never once took for granted. A near mythical figure in his own time, his legend only continued to grow after his death, and his legacy lives on even today.

Drawing on their own words and the words written about them, we can examine the characteristics that made Crockett and his fellow Alamo defenders legends.

Never compromise your values

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Davey Crockett

Crockett was already quite the celebrity by the time he arrived at the Alamo. Always interested in affairs of state, he ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives and was twice elected to that office. As a Congressman, he was known chiefly for his opposition to the Indian Removal Act. This unfortunate policy was later signed into law in spite of his objections, and his outspokenness is considered the main cause of his defeat in a reelection bid the following year. Following this defeat, Crockett wrote:

I would rather be beaten and be a man than to be elected and be a little puppy dog. I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearlessly and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried than to be hypocritically immortalized.

Crockett won his seat back the following election, only to lose it again at the end of the same term, signaling the end of his life in politics. Crockett then set his sights on Texas. Leaving behind his now large family, he went seeking adventure and exploration of unknown lands, hoping to find a place for his family to settle permanently.

In order to legally settle in Texas, Crockett had to take an oath of allegiance and sign on with the Texas militia. Eventually this course led him to the Alamo, where he fought bravely in defense of freedom and his fellow man.

A great man keeps company with great men

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Jim Bowie

Arriving at the Alamo, Crockett quickly surrounded himself with invaluable counsel in the form of Colonel William Travis and another American legend, Jim Bowie. Travis, leader of the forces at the Alamo, is remembered for his refusal to surrender in the face of the overwhelming odds presented by the invading Mexican force. Bowie, another prominent frontiersman like Crockett, is especially remembered for the knife which now bears his name. Crockett expressed an interest in the then already legendary blade, noting that the mere sight of the immense weapon was enough to make a man sick before breakfast. Both men had been said to share a mutual respect, and Bowie was glad to have Crockett alongside him, not only for his fighting capabilities, but because of the energy and spirit he raised in the men.

Great men are courageous in the face of adversity

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The encounter at the Alamo would soon unfold. Mexican General Santa Anna was marching his men across the Rio Grande with intent to capture all of San Antonio. Doing this would suppress the Texan rebellion and allow Mexico to regain control of the territory. The invasion crossed the path of the Alamo, which was said by General Santa Anna to have “the greatest concentration of cannons west of the Mississippi river.” It was a force he simply could not ignore. On February 23, 1836, Santa Anna arrived at the Alamo, bringing with him numbers reported as high as 5,000, although an estimated 1,400 were actually deployed in the attack. The Mexican forces laid siege to the old mission for thirteen straight days before their final assault. Seeing the bleak chances of success, Colonel Travis sent riders to request assistance from the Texas Government. His last letter, sent as an appeal for reinforcements, emphasizes his steadfast courage:

The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat.

Travis’ request for back-up went  unanswered, due mostly to a lack of manpower and poor organization on the part of the Texas Provisional government and the standing Texian army. This left the men at the Alamo, most of who were not even soldiers, to defend their post alone.

Visibly outnumbered, the forces of the Texas rebels held their post for thirteen days before the Mexican army pushed its final assault on March 6. The attack started at 5:00am and by 6:30am it had ended- the small mission now under Mexican control. Jim Bowie, who had been confined to his bed during the battle due to illness, stayed true to his legend, fighting until his last breath. He shot every Mexican soldier that entered through his door until he was out of ammo, upon which event the enemy was so scared to enter that they shot him from the doorway. They then approached his bed, and with his last dying breath he plunged his trademark weapon into the heart of one of the soldiers and fell dead.

Best estimates seem to indicate that all 183 Texians fell at the Alamo, crushed by the overwhelming Mexican force that raided the old mission.

How David Crockett met his untimely end is one of the great mysteries in the record of American history. While it is taken with a degree of certainty that he died defending the Alamo, there is much debate over whether he went out fighting or was captured and executed. One account, from a Colonel in Santa Anna’s Army, states that Crockett was captured with a few remaining others and tortured and executed. Many, however, consider this to be propaganda intentionally spread around by Santa Anna’s men to break the American spirit. Another account, taken from a former American slave who acted as cook for one of Santa Anna’s officers, maintained that Crockett’s body was found in the barracks surrounded by “no less than sixteen Mexican corpses,” with Crockett’s knife buried in one of them. The full account of Crockett’s demise may never be known, and perhaps that is for the better. In his book, Three Roads to the Alamo, William C. Davis writes of Crockett’s end:

His death, like his life, was simply too big to contain within the normal bounds of mortals. In the best heroic fashion of Nimrod Wildfire, Jeremiah Kentucky, Daniel Boone, and a whole generation of Americans searching for a new identity all their own, Davy Crockett, David of the River, Davy of the West, Loco Davy had died everywhere, because he was a host in himself. Besides, his end fitted the life of a legend. For when no one sees a legend die, then the legend lives.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jert April 2, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Way to be pro-America, guys. I work (on a daily basis) with 15 men of Mexican descent who will gladly give you a different take on the ‘massacre at the Alamo’ (243 Texans killed to 489 Mexicans). Please stop the histrionics. Stick to fact and valuable information. Being true to oneself and one’s allies is all good and proper, but outright ignorance is not excusable. Thanks for a great site otherwise.

2 A April 3, 2009 at 1:11 am

Reminds me of the Battle of Camarón, where 65 French legionaries encountered 600 Mexican cavalry and retreated to a nearby inn.
The Mexicans were later joined by 1200 infantry, but the French captain refused to surrender, promising to fight to the death.
They kept shooting until they ran out of bullets, at which point the 5 remaining soldiers mounted a bayonet charge.
The last two were disarmed and the Mexicans asked them to surrender – they demanded safe passage home, to keep their weapons and they wanted to take the body of their captain with them.
The Mexican commander agreed saying, “What can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils.”

No famous people involved, but a fine example of courage I’d say.

3 Dom April 3, 2009 at 2:22 am

Read “To the Last Cartridge” by Robert Barr Smith, Colonel, US Army (Rtd) for some extraordinary last stand military actions from medieval England through the Napoleonic Wars, US Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam and the Falklands. A truly inspiring book. You can only hope that were you to be put in a similar position you would act appropriately…

4 Chris April 3, 2009 at 2:39 am

@Jert

No histrionics intended. I changed the wording a bit to reflect that. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. The intention was to point out that the Texian force was dead to the last man, overcome by an insurmountable adversary.

As for being pro-American…guilty. I bleed red, white, and blue and will make no excuse for it.

5 Britt April 3, 2009 at 3:38 am

Thank you very much for not promulgating the BS envisioned by Hollywood in their last movie. These men were heroic men, the stories of their lives show them to have been. Many people can arise and become heroes, given the opportunity, I like to think that given the right circumstances we all are capable of heroism, however, Crockett and Bowie were men who shown time and time again that in the face of adversity they did not shirk, but faced it head on, took what was coming and lived with the results. As an example, I believe it was Col Bowie’s mother who, when told of her son’s death, said, “I’ll wager you found no wounds in his back.” Meaning she knew he was not going to turn and run but that he would fight, head on, until the end.

@Jert
If you bothered to do any research at all you would know the contemporary story is almost entirely supported by journals of the Mexican soldiers present at the time. These Mexicans of which you speak, have they done any research? Or are they just loud mouth buffoons who want to run America down? They are proud of their country, why can’t you be proud of yours? Being proud of your country is not a crime, except in Hollywood, New York City and Boston, MA, are you from those places? I find your comment offensive.

6 Britt April 3, 2009 at 3:43 am

The Battle of Cameron, That is a great story. Every year the wooden hand of the Captain of that Garrison is put on display to remind the people of his and his soldiers heroism in their performance of their duties. Not many know that story. I am glad to see it repeated.

The hand had been found by a Mexican Soldier, turned in to his commander, and offered back to the French Foreign Legion, by the Mexican Government, so that it can be displayed to Legionnaires.

7 Britt April 3, 2009 at 4:02 am

Oh, and Texas was fighting for Independence from Mexico, it was not part of the USA, so strictly speaking, speaking of these men as heroes is not Pro American in the sense in which that term is usually meant, it is Pro Texas!

8 Mike Habeeb April 3, 2009 at 5:49 am

@ Brit:

Be careful how you characterize the city of Boston, MA. It makes you appear less credible. Boston, as I know it, is famous for a few things:

1. The Red Sox (one of the oldest and most storied franchises ever to play America’s past time) and their ballpark, one of the oldest in the country, Fenway Park.

2. Its role in the American Revolution. The majority of Boston’s tourist attractions have been, and continue to be, historical sights famous for their role in our nations battle for independence. (Paul Revere, Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, Sons of Liberty, any of these ringing a bell?)

3. John F. Kennedy, who is responsible for a quote which is perhaps the best representation of what it means to be a true patriot ever uttered, (no, it’s not Heston’s “from my cold dead hands”) “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Yes, it’s true that there are some parts of Boston that have more Irish flags than American flags, and other parts where there are more Italian flags than American flags, but that’s only because these areas are populated primarily by immigrants (Many of whom also proudly display American flags as well as the flag of their homeland). Proximity to non-Americans is not inversely proportional to patriotism.

9 Oyaji April 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

I have to admit a certain amount of bias since members of my family came from Mississippi and Tennessee to Texas long before the Republic. For me, the Alamo is a story of “Man Up” by everyone, except General Santa Ana.

None were perfect. Each had their own reasons to be there. Bowie was said to be a likeable rogue while Crockett was alleged to have gone to Texas to revive his flagging political career.

The Texicans fought and stood their ground. A number of Tejanos joined, and perished with them. The Mexican soldatos that marched up from Mexico endured conditions that should have stopped them long before the reached the Alamo. Both sides entered with honor and gallantry, but the battle ended with the bayonet.

There is enough of the legend for everyone. Some see it as a shrine, others a marker and still others as an inspiration. There were only great men at the Alamo.

10 Francisco Hernandez April 3, 2009 at 6:27 am

You sould read something about the battle in “El Castillo de Chapultepec”. The American Army Vs. Mexican boys ins a Milutary School…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ni%C3%B1os_H%C3%A9roes

11 Joel April 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

As a history teacher, I find the changing semantics in the telling of history interesting. For example, take Wounded Knee. It used to be called the Battle of Wounded Knee and it is now referred to as the Massacre at Wounded Knee. But when the author uses massacre for what happened at the Alamo, he gets criticized. so I guess the conclusion we can draw is:

-When Indians are vastly outnumbered in men and firepower, valiantly fight back but are entirely wiped out, it’s a massacre.
-When white guys are vastly outnumbered in men and firepower, valiantly fight back but are entirely wiped out, it’s a battle.

12 Stuart April 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

Thank you, Art of Manliness, for this fine honor to the brave and courageous heroes of the Alamo who fought for the Republic of Texas.

13 Brucifer April 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

When stationed in San Antonio, I took a off-post trip to see the Alamo. My inital reaction was to how small it actually was. From the camera angles in the John Wayne movie, the on-screen edifice seemed larger-than … what proved to be life. Methinks, authentic heroism notwithstanding, we will always have to sift through the myth and legend, along with the propaganda and the counter-claims, to get to the reality.

14 Britt April 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

@Mike Habeeb,

First off, I am from Boston. Grew up there and lived in MA for 35 years. Now before I start disparaging the patriotism of Bostonians in general, let me cast some aspersions upon JFK.

JFK was the guy that started the Vietnam war. NOT Richard Nixon (ask any Bostonian and they will call it Nixon’s War as they have been trained to by Sen. Kerry and the Boston Globe, On the other hand Richard Nixon DID keep his campaign promise to get us out of Vietnam, and we withdrew completely in 1972) Eisenhower was staunchly against US involvement in that quagmire and only allowed a few hundred unarmed advisors in to train the ARVN.

JFK was the guy that gave the go ahead for the Bay of Pigs invasion, after leaking to Castro that it was going to occur and after canceling air support. Eisenhower was not in favor of the Bay of Pigs invasion and that is why the CIA couldn’t get his approval for it the first THREE times they ran it across his desk.

Now, the Red Sox. In what way does having a Baseball team mean a city is patriotic in general?

Fenway Park, yeah, so they got a big green wall down in the Fenway… And that spelss patriotism How?

I am a member of the Sons of the Revolution, I see no Bostonians as intelligent or enlightened as the founders of our republic today. (Yeah, John Kerry makes me throw up a little in my mouth whenever that lying POS speaks)

I don’t see what being a Bostonian from Southie or the North End has to do with patriotism, I have known many fine people from both of those parts of Boston and joined the Army with one. In my mind many of the most ‘flag-waving’ Americans are the recent Immigrants, those that came over not so long ago that they have forgotten why they choose to, what they wanted to escape from, just as I have friends who escaped from East Germany and the Ukraine, they love America more than most people I have known from San Francisco.

So, I’ll dis boston in general because, I have been intimately familiar with it, I was there in 2001 when the towers went down and students in Cambridge were all supporting the terrorists, when the Boston Globe published editorial after editorial condemning the United States for not helping Afghanistan more after we helped them kick the Russians out (that was what Osama bin Laden claimed as the reason for that terrorist act at first, BTW).

15 jim_bob April 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Like many Texans, I have mixed feelings about the Alamo. I still remember the first time I went there — it’s a solemn shrine that even today gets me choked up. There is no questioning the bravery of the “Texians” who fought and died there. In the face of certain death they stood their ground. That said, many question their motives for launching their revolution in the first place. Like other Americans who came to Texas (then part of Mexico), these men had sworn an oath to abandon the practice of slavery and to never take up arms against Mexico. They did not keep their word. Courage is a virtue, but what of honor? A man must stand by his word even when it might be politically and financially expedient to do otherwise.

16 Andy April 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

@Britt
Wow. I loved how you dump on New York, yet wrapped yourself in flag when it comes to any discussion of the attacks in September 2001. Last time I check New York City was part of the United States. New York City was American enough to be attack. You can’t have it both ways.
I am a New Yorker. I was there in 2001. I spent the weeks following the attacks volunteering for the Red Cross. I saw plenty of pride and patriotism. I still do.
How dare you question my pride. Not very manly. You’re ignorant and classless!
‘America, love it or leave it’.
You are ignorant and classless.

17 Mike Habeeb April 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm

@ Britt … again

I also have spent large amounts of time in Boston, and grew up just outside of it. From your latest post, it’s tough to tell what side you’re on. First you said Boston was anti American, and now you’re saying that there’s all sorts of patriots in the North End and Southie. I’m not here to argue JFK (or anyone’s) politics because based on whether someone’s a liberal or a conservative they’re just going to say the other side is anti American.

Based on your last post, it seems that the only evidence you have for Boston being anti American (aside from your obvious distaste for liberal politics) is the Boston Globe and protesting students. So lets focus on those arguments.

Regarding the Globe: What I want to know is why the entire city of Boston gets called anti American just because the Globe published an opinion piece that attempted to discover how the situation became what it is in Afghanistan. There’s nothing more American than the freedom of the press. Also, just as a point of clarification, the Globe never said that the terrorists were right, or that America deserved to be attacked, they simply published editorials that explained how the country of Afghanistan became such a power vacuum that terrorists were able to take power there.

Regarding protesting college students: Wherever there are college students, there will be protests. Most of them don’t even care what they’re protesting about. Each week they speak out against a new “injustice.” It’s part of being young. I would also like to point out that the colleges in Cambridge that you’re referring to are not exactly full of native Bostonians, but rather are populated in large amounts by foreign students and out of state students. They aren’t Bostonians any more than a kid from Chicago doing four years at Texas Tech is Texan.

As far as I can see, your entire argument, in reality, focuses on the politics being more liberal than you’d like and not on the actual feelings of Bostonians toward their country. I think you need to come up with a better argument, or stop attacking people.

18 Aaron April 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Shortly before the battle of the Alamo, a group of Texans held of the Mexican army from taking one of their cannons. They raised perhaps the manliest flag ever:
https://www.galleryoftherepublic.com/osc/images/gonzales_fr.jpg

19 Brett McKay April 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm

@Aaron-That is one awesome flag. Thanks for sharing it.

And btw, I just read your blog and you’re pretty dang funny.

20 Taylor April 3, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Just a random question– why is the Texas flag in the picture upside down? The red always goes on bottom. An insignificant detail, but I couldn’t help noticing.

As someone who has lived in Texas all of my life, its easy to forget the significance of the Alamo because we hear about it from the time we enter school. We should spend more time looking back at those stories we were forced to memerize in elementary school and recognizing that such stories tell us more than just who won or lost, or what events provided inspiration for later battles. These stories demonstrate that men throughout history have been willing to fight and die for their ideals, a commitment that seems sadly absent in today’s me-first society.

21 Taylor April 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

And I know its memorize, I am a horrible typist

22 Tim Kiselis April 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm

My 5th great-uncle, Daniel William Cloud, Jr., fought and died at the Alamo. This is a passage from the last letter he wrote his family on his way to the Alamo. I just read your 35 great speeches and then saw this article on the Alamo and they reminded me of this letter.

“Ever since Texas has unfurled the banner of Freedom and commenced a

warfare for Liberty or Death, our hearts have been enlisted in her behalf. The

progress of her cause has increased the ardor of our feelings, until we have

resolved to embark in the vessel which contains the flag of Liberty and sink or

swim in its defence. Our Brethren of Texas were invited by the Mexican

Government while republican in its form to come and settle, they did so, they

have endured all the privations & sufferings incident to the settlement of a frontier

country and have surrounded themselves with all the comforts and

conveniences of live. Now the Mexicans with unblushing effrontery call on them

to submit to a Monarchical, tyrannical, Central despotism, at the bare mention of

which every true hearted son of Kentucky feels an instinctive horror followed by a

firm and steady glow of virtuous indignation. The cause of Philanthropy, of

humanity, of Liberty & human happiness throughout the world call loudly on every

man who can, to aid Texas. If you ask me how I reconcile the duties of a soldier

with those of a Christian I refer you to the memorable conversation between

Genl. Marion & DeKalb on this point, and the sentiments of the latter I have

adopted as my own. If we succeed, the country is ours, it is immense in extent

and fertile in its soil and will amply reward all our toils. If we fail death in the

cause of liberty and humanity is not cause for shuddering. Our rifles are by our

sides and choice guns they are; we know what awaits us and are prepared to

meet it.”

23 Bill Hertzing April 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

@Taylor Probably just an artist rendering of the upside-down flag for distress. The Texas Flag wasn’t adopted until 1839.

24 Cliff April 6, 2009 at 3:19 pm

The Battle of the Alamo – They died defending slavery.

Brave men, perhaps. Worthy of my respect, I think not.

25 Jesse April 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm

… “Like many Texans, I have mixed feelings about the Alamo”… Wrong! Texans have no “mixed-feelings” about the Alamo. You little nancy-boy… Long live TEXAS!

“Brave men, perhaps. Worthy of my respect, I think not.”… Why don’t you jump up and bite my as$!!

YOU MAY ALL GO TO HELL – AND I WILL GO TO TEXAS!!

26 Ethan April 6, 2009 at 8:33 pm

@Britt

I agree with you in regard to Jert’s statement. But I invite you to come visit Boston. I grew up in New Hampshire (can I get a Live Free or Die?) and now live near, and work in, that bluest of blue cities. But the fact remains that it was and remains the cradle of democracy in our country. Any tour should include a visit to the John Adams historic site in Quincy, a walk on the Freedom Trail downtown (including Paul Revere’s house, which still stands, the Old North Church, and the USS Constitution). And you can top it off with a brew from Sam Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain. Patriotic and manly activities all.

Ethan

27 Ethan April 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Well then – after reading ALL of the posts I see that my point in response to Britt has already been made, and made more eloquently! Apologies. Britt, I understand where you’re coming from. The Globe and Cambridge can be pretty disgusting sometimes. But setting politics aside, I just don’t want anyone not from the area overlooking the good things about Boston and the rest of New England for that matter. I encourage everyone to set your stereotypes about the region aside and pay a visit, if you haven’t already. Especially if you’re a history buff or an outdoorsman.

28 Mark April 6, 2009 at 10:50 pm

@ Jesse…

Well said, sir! It’s always good to witness a solid, well-aimed verbal kick to the sack. :-D

I’m an Australian, and I admire the strong patriotism that I’ve seen in the Americans that I’ve personally known! I detest people who badmouth their own country to outsiders (posts like Jert and Cliff – sorry guys, it had to be said), and as for Cliff saying that the “men among men” who died at the Alamo are not deserving of his respect, well, I hazard a guess that if they were alive to care they wouldn’t be losing too much sleep over that fact.

I’ve never even been to America, but these men (like all brave men) have my admiration and respect.

29 Austin Porter April 7, 2009 at 8:18 am

The Alamo – certainly something to be proud of, a bunch of racists fighting to keep Texas a slave state.

30 Jason Whitney April 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

This is absolutely retarded. Old men whose lives have passed them and whose ego’s are so big that they didn’t have the balls to do what was that actual brave thing and surrender so that his men might live to fight another day.

Bowie and Crockett were in love with their over-inflated personas and they were willing to sacrifice the lives of many men in order to preserve them.

If you want a hero, look at the men who despite their youth and families, stood there ground on the wall and obeyed their orders, even if they came from an old man dieing on his death bed willing to use another mans life to validate his own. And here you all are, doing it for them. Or is it just the fact that they killed some Mexicans that get some of you off? You should all be ashamed.

31 Mark April 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

@ Austin Porter:

LOL. Tell us, which historical figures *do* meet with your approval? Because when we judge history by today’s standards there are precious few heroes/heroines left to admire. Are we allowed to admire the Spartans at Thermopylae; after all, they kept slaves. Are we allowed to admire Erwin Rommel; a brilliant general, but one working for the Nazis. What about Saburo Sakai of the Japanese air force in WWII? And how about Vietnam vets? Are we allowed to respect them? The list is endless. You would obviously disagree, but I think that for most of us it isn’t a requirement that a person shares our viewpoints before we adjudge them worthy of our respect.

@ Jason Whitney:

Wow, man, it’s almost like you were there with them when that old man selfishly killed all those young guys to validate his own existence. I wonder if that was his last thought, “Thank Goodness those men validated my existence before I died!” That sounds much more plausible than the snarl of defiance those of us who admire him think likely.

Please, next time you use the anonymity of the net to tell us all that we’re racists and retards who should all be ashamed of ourselves, display less dumb@ssery when you do it.

32 Jason Whitney April 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

@ Mark

I served in the Marines in both Iraq wars. I promise you, there is plenty of men out there worth honoring. Many of which are no longer with us.

But in all honesty, when someone such as yourself uses terms such as ‘snarl of defiance’, I can only laugh. Seriously? Grow up. I’m not a dumb@ss, as you so eloquently put it, I’m just a grown man. Come back when you’ve gone out young pup, lived a little, and grown some hair on your nuts. Then we can talk. Outside of the ‘anonymity of the web’.

33 Mark April 7, 2009 at 7:24 pm

@ Jason Whitney:

Good work on being a marine, and excellent work on serving your country. That doesn’t give you a leave pass on accuracy though. Nor does it give you the right to talk down to those of us who think differently to you.

Don’t get hung up on my use of “snarl of defiance” – I was trying to illustrate a point that I think your judgement of Jim Bowie was unfair. Perhaps snarl of defiance is wrong, undoubtedly it’s purple prose, but IMO it’s a more accurate reflection of what happened based on the characters involved than what you portrayed.

Perhaps you aren’t a dumb@ss, but be reasonable; when you come out calling people who do not share your point of view retards, racists (from your use of the phrase “they killed some Mexicans that get some of you off?”) and that we should be ashamed of ourselves, then you’re acting like a dumb@ss whether you really are one or not.

I’m not young. I wish I was, but I’m not.

Also, no matter how much older I get, since I live in Oz, and you presumably in the US, we’ll never meet outside the “anonymity of the web”. Since you could do nasty marine attack things to me in the flesh, I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. :-)

34 Austin Porter April 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Rommel might very well have been a great general but but I don’t respect him. Any more then I respect Stalin or Hitler because they were great leaders. I do feel that people who put there bodies where there mouths are, who place themselves in danger based on honorable intentions deserve our respect. We can argue about what honorable intentions are but supporting slavery is not one of them. As to Vietnam Vets: I have friends who volunteered and made certain they went to Vietnam to defeat Communism or liberate the south from northern aggression or what not . I think they were misguided in their reasons for enlisting, but it took a lot of nuts to make that choice. Some of them still think the war was worth fighting, others have changed their minds – all of them have my respect. The kids who went over feeling invincible, filled with piss and vinegar, wanting to kick some ass and prove how tough they were, they were young and foolish and if anything, I feel sorry for them. As for the people who thought that Oh,l maybe I wont get drafted, maybe I wont pass my physical, maybe I wont end up in the infantry, maybe I wont end up in Vietnam, maybe I wont see combat, I wondered how they could be so casual about their lives. But then we were kids, stupid, and if we made the right choices back then, we were probably lucky. I also wonder why, when we speak of bravery, we usually talk about war. The freedom riders in the early 60s, the blacks that sat in lunch counters and were beaten, they had a lot of balls to. Being a man, if you will, is more then muscle, it’s having the courage to put your mind and muscle to work in support of what you think is an honorable cause. And, again, honorable people can disagree about what an honorable cause is.

35 rb3m April 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Texas will always be an open wound for Mexicans. Not only because of itself but also as the first chapter of the invasion that would follow ten years later and that would end up with the loss of half our territory. There is no need to excuse or apologize for the Texian motives, though, or to doubt their honor or their word.

Although there were a good number of squatters, most had swore allegiance to Mexico, became Catholic and were overall good Mexican citizens. A special dispensation was made for slave ownership, since a lot of them wouldn’t have made the trip without slaves. A very important fact to keep in mind is that they had sworn allegiance to the Constitution of 1824 which made Mexico a federal republic.

Several factors contributed to the Texian revolution. One was the end of the dispensation for slavery and the institution of customs between the US and Texas border (before then the Texians were able to import goods from the US duty-free); but this wasn’t that important. Another was the interest of the US government to expand towards the Pacific and had sent a number of agitators to incite the population. But they had been largely unsuccessful, greatly thanks to Steve Austin who honestly believed that the future of Texas should remain as part of Mexico.

The really big causes were the dreadful contempt and complete lack of attention from the part of the Mexican government to the northern provinces and territories. Basically nothing came from central Mexico. A survey carried out in the 1820′s already warned the government of this, and the dangers of not instituting better policies to make Texians feel more like Mexicans. A feeble attempt at sending more colonists from central Mexico was carried out, but completely unsuccessful.

However, the detonator, of course, was when Santa Anna took power and changed the government system from a federal to centralist, and basically handled like a dictatorship. Texas was no the only Mexican province to rebel. Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and Yucatán did as well. Only Yucatán and Texas succeeded, the first mostly because of the distance from central Mexico; the latter because of the unofficial aid it got from the US (I mean, courage is all well and good, but can only go so far).

Sure, Mexican disorganization, lack of funds, lack of navy, and the savage and barbaric way to conduct war which both emboldened the Texians and demoralized the Mexicans (not happy at all with the situation) contributed a lot. And perhaps that’s what we Mexicans don’t really like about it. Not so much that we lost, but how and why we lost it. Something we need to learn to accept if we ever want to grow up as a people.

36 Jacob Acosta April 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm

This is crap.

Yeah flag me down whatever, but this comes from a collegiate historian in San Antonio.

Let’s take Davy Crockett for example, his biographer, Marl Derr, wrote in 1994 that he was a “drunk, brawler, womanizer, adulterer, upstart, liar, loser, and hypocrite.”

Is this really someone to hold in such a high esteem?

Good way to promote false nationlistic ideas based on racial biases, Chris. Yes some American’s came-Stephen Austin- to the Mexican frontier and attempted assimilation. Others, however, were born under a flag with the predisposition of unprecedented growth, who would ultimately murder thousands in order to accomplish those pursuits.

If you want to give a history lesson, than I would recommend you not focus on revolutionaries because its always the victor’s story that typically gets told despite the fallacies, as apparent by your post.

37 Uziel April 18, 2009 at 7:36 am

Why is everyone voting down the comments on the slavery issue? I love the article, which is at it’s core about willing to die for what you believe in, and in this case those men believed in the independence of Texas and their rights. Nothing more manly than that. However, this isn’t cause to ignore basic facts. At the time, Texas was a part of Mexico. Mexico had abolished slavery. Texas fought for independence, got it, legalized slavery and was annexed into the United States where it was already legal. The people living in San Antonio were already US citizens doing what they perceived as their legal right under their countries’ laws. Stating these facts does NOT detract for their brave actions to defend their rights, even if the course of history could possibly later vilify some of their motives. It doesn’t, so that is irrelevant.

38 Bill Barnes March 7, 2013 at 3:52 am

I’ve never understood why the men stayed in the Alamo to fight and face a sure death! I understood in my grade school History that at least some of them could have escaped through the Mexican Lines at night and might have lived to fight another day! As The Birdman Of Alcatraz said, “Life is too precious to be thrown away”!

39 Carl Fowler June 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm

You bleeding heart liberals make me sick…always looking for a way to bad mouth this country…let me take you back in history to ” The Massacre at Goliad ” which took place after th battle at the Alamo…your great and wonderful Santa Anna ordered the massacre of 330 prisoners of war at Goliad…carried out on Palm Sunday March 27, 1836 no less…so much for the Catholic religous mexico…the bodies were stripped and piled in heaps, an attempt to burn them failed so they were left to rot and be scavenged by dogs and wild animals!

As for me God bless the USA and remember the Alamo!!!!

40 Ben G September 19, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Battle of the Alamo to keep Texas a slave state?! I taught 7th and 8th grade history for a while, and you, sir, must have quit school before then.

First off, Texas wasn’t even a state yet.

Second, they were fighting to be free from Mexican rule.

@Jacob Acosta

You may have some information from someone who wrote a book about Crockett, but it does strike me as strange that in my research and that of others here we have never come across that information. The Crockett that I have looked up was a much more admirable man than the one you describe.

41 Logan Millsap April 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

My relative, Isaac Millsaps, was a member of the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers, which actually did respond to Travis’s call for reinforcements. As they rode up to the fort in the wee hours of March 1st the Texians thought they were a band of Mexicans and fired on them, wounding one.

Isaac Millsaps riding to the defense of his doomed fellow Texians is, to me and my family, a fine example of true manliness.

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