Debunking the Myths of the Alamo
About 6 or 7 years ago the Texas State Historical Association was having its annual event at the Menger Hotel next door to the Alamo in downtown San Antonio. I was there to listen to Dr James Crisp, Dr Andres Tijerina and of course Dr Stephen Hardin all well known scholars of Texas History. First I went to hear Dr Crisp talking about the Alamo and he said that the only flag that flew over the old Mission was the flag of the New Orleans Grays and we know that because it is in the Museo Nacional in Mexico City. Dr Andres Tijerina said that if you fell for that myth of the Alamo then that is exactly what you deserve. Of course my favorite was Dr Stephen Hardin who did an excellent job debunking the myths of the Alamo. He said that there was never a line in the sand and that was straight from John Wayne’s Movie. John Wayne’s Movie was the most distorted, historical y inaccurate movie ever to come from Hollywood. Yet there are thousands that will go to their graves believing Crockett died swinging “ole Betsy”; and was surrounded by thirty Mexicans he had killed, but not true. We should all know he surrendered and was executed for being an illegal rebel. The flag of 1824 was another hot topic but it was not there during the battle. This myth was started by a painting done by Theodore Gentilz an artist and surveyor in the Henry Castro Community from Hondo but he was not a witness of the battle; and it’s been part of the myth ever since. The flag and constitution of 1824 remained silent on the issue of slavery. In fact there is a clause in the Constitution that says that if an item is not mentioned it does not make it illegal, well hello slavery.
Dr Hardin was doing a wonderful job until he came to Jim Bowie. As he described him and his heroics he said that the illegal rebels in the Alamo would not receive any mercy and that Bowie would never have asked for any.
There is also on U-Tube a video where Dr Hardin says that the notion of the rebels killing over 1500 Mexicans is preposterous another quote in his book Texan Illiad calls the defenders illegal rebels; but He conveniently forgets to mention that Bowie was a land grabbing, slave trading opportunist and was being sought by the authorities for forging documents and acting as an agent of the General Land Office. These forged documents were sold to naive American colonists as land grants that obviously did not exist.
Now the Daughters of the Republic calls the volunteers in the Texas Revolution Sons of Liberty, but hold on says Dr Felix Almaraz they were not Sons of Liberty they were Soldiers of Fortune. But on this I agree with Dr Hardin they were illegal rebels as evidenced by the names on the Cenotaph on the Alamo compound. All of those people, with the exception of the Native Born Tejanos were foreigners. Further more if you take in to account 95% of the combatants in the Texas Revolution were foreigners thus it was not a revolution it was an invasion. Dr Phillip Tucker in his book “Exodus from the Alamo,” says that the revolution, like the Civil War, was all about the issue of slavery. Texas entered the union as a slave state and would refuse to give up that evil, unjust immoral and inhumane system of keeping black people in perpetual bondage. And if in doubt read the Texas Constitution of Texas of 1845 when it seceded from the Union where it says specifically that it would never accept black people as equals.
When Santa Anna arrived he had with him 1500 soldiers and immediately he ordered his cannons to open fire on the mission. For 12 days and nights the bombardment continued, no one was getting any sleep. On the evening of the 12th day he ordered the bombardment to cease. He ordered his cooks to feed his soldiers a hardy meal and that shoes, boots or juadaches be distributed for those without proper foot wear. He ordered that all muskets and cannons be cleaned and made ready for the following morning, He ordered that ammunition and powder be distributed and his troops knew the attack would begin in the morning. He orders his men to bed at eight in the evening. He orders that they be awake at four in the morning and at 4:30 they are marching towards the Alamo compound. It was dark and not even a dog was heard barking. The illegal rebels were asleep at their posts along the walls. By the time the rebels realized the Mexicans were jumping over the walls, and yes a Mexican soldier did shout “Viva Santa Anna ” but it was too late they were already in the compound and as they jumped in at least 80 of the illegal’s jumped out and were fleeing towards Goliad Road, which is exactly what Santa Anna expected them to do. The battle lasted 30 minutes and the sun was not yet up. Evidence of this are the funeral pyres and historical markers identified by Historian George Nelson in his book on the Alamo which are at least 500 yards out side of the compound, so there goes the last stand myth.
Now who exactly were these illegal rebels, well let’s start with the Alabama Red Rovers, the Kentucky Long Rifles, the New Orleans grays, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Missouri Volunteers , and the Louisiana Volunteers and others disguised as volunteers but were actually US Army units.
After this victory Santa Anna proceeded towards Goliad where Fannin and his men were captured and executed for being illegal rebels. Now according to Dr Andres Tijerina the Torreon Decree, issued by the Minister of War, specifically said that if you had come to this country and you were armed and your intent was to over throw the government if captured you would be executed as a pirate, and by today’s standards you would be considered a terrorist.
San Jacinto, on the other hand was a massacre. In 1836 there was no Geneva Convention but there was a chivalrous code of conduct but it would not be respected at the Battle of San Jacinto. For example at Waterloo where Napoleons French Army was defeated the soldiers held their arms up and laid down their weapons and immediately the killing would cease. But because they were Mexicans and were considered inferior and sub-human they were needlessly slaughtered. The battle lasted 17 minutes but the slaughter continued for over two hours.
As the group promoting the truth of the lynching’s of Mexicans in Texas say we “will forgive but we will never forget,” we must also acknowledge the truth and once we do that it will be much easier to live together after all we are all part of the same Human Race.
Dan Arellano Commissioner
Bexar County Historical CommissiON
Copyright 2019 by Dan Arellano and republished on Latinopia with his permission. All images in the public domain.