n the first installment of my response to Thomas Ricks Lindley's three-part critique of my 1994 article, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," I discussed the inherent flaws in the methodology which Lindley used in his attempt to demonstrate a high level of "disagreement" between three accounts of the executions of prisoners following the battle of the Alamo: those written by Ramón Martínez Caro, George M. Dolson, and José Enrique de la Peña.
As I said at the end of that installment, I stand by my previous statements that the Dolson and de la Peña accounts (both of which identify David Crockett as one of the executed prisoners), while hardly identical in all respects, are nevertheless remarkably similar, and that both are fundamentally consistent (allowing for the slight discrepancy in the number of men killed) with the memoir of Ramón Martínez Caroa memoir which Lindley accepts as a reliable account of the Alamo executions.1
In the second of his extended dissents from my article's endorsement of the probable authenticity of the de la Peña memoir, Lindley turns his full attention to the "Dolson letter."2This is the 1836 letter from a sergeant in the Texan Army which Bill Groneman dismissed inDefense of a Legendas containing "enough nonsense...to eliminate it as a credible source."3I argued in 1994, and will reiterate now, that Groneman's peremptory dismissal of the Dolson letter is premature, and his arguments against its credibility unconvincing.4
Lindley has repeated and elaborated upon Groneman's arguments, stating unequivocally that the Dolson letter places the executions outside the Alamo (though it doesnotdo so explicitly), and that the Mexican informant was identifiedby Dolsonas Col. Juan Nepomuceno Almonte (though many historians, myself included, do not agree with this reading of the document's meaning).
I welcome the opportunity, in this essay and the one to follow, of taking an extended look at the Dolson letter-to clarify and to elaborate on my arguments with Groneman and Lindley on the nature of this document, which remains the best single piece of corroboration for de la Peña's account of Crockett's death. It may be, as Lindley points out, hearsay evidence, in that it is Sergeant Dolson's retelling, in English, of the narrative of the event that he heard in Spanish. The story also comes to us not only through a translation, but once removed from Dolson's own hand, from its appearance in a newspaper, with all of the chances for a corruption of the text that such circumstances allow. Yet I believe that if we keep precisely these circumstances of its origin in mind, the Dolson letter can prove to be a valuable historical source.
"El Pabellón de Santa Anna"
Like Groneman, Lindley states that the Dolson letter is fatally flawed because it "incorrectly locates the executions outside the Alamo."5This is how both Groneman and Lindley interpret Dolson's statement (based on the testimony of his source, a Mexican officer for whom Dolson was translating at a prisoner-of-war camp) that the captured defenders were marched to the tent of Santa Anna. Lindley rejects my argument that Dolson's use of the word "tent" was a likely mistranslation of the Spanish wordpabellón, which can indeed mean "tent," but which also refers to a banner, and especially to the national flag. If Dolson's informant said that General Castrillon marched the prisoners to thepabellónde Santa Anna," this is not disqualifying nonsense, but rather a perfectly sensible reference to the national colors accompanying the Mexican president and commanding general as he entered the Alamo following the battle.
Without noting a single error in my translations (except for his argument that I have misconstrued the word "pabellón"), Lindley states that my questionable language skills and my failure to cite Spanish dictionaries contemporary with the battle of the Alamo are flaws which have led to my incorrect usage of this term. Lindley, using dictionaries published in Madrid (1726), Boston (1839), and New York (1852), along with quotations from two 1837 Mexican publications, comes to the conclusion that pabellón" refers only to the national flag as flown by a ship (specifically a military vessel), and that "a common sense analysis" conflicts with any interpretation which suggests that Dolson's informant, in using the word pabellón, was referring to the Mexican flag or a military version of it."6
Lindley is incorrectin his very narrow presumed definition ofpabellón. The legislation which created Mexico's coat of arms and national flag, upon that country's declaration of independence from Spain in 1821, begins as follows:OrdenSe designa el escudo de armas del imperio, y los colores de supabellón. The legislation determined that the imperial arms would depict a crowned eagle above a cactus ("el nopalthe prickly pear) growing from a rock that protruded from the waters of a lake. At the same time, the legislation permanently adopted the colors green, white, and red on vertical bands forel pabellón nacional y banderas del ejercito."7
It is important to note that this last phrase, "the national flag and the banners of the army," should not be interpreted to mean that the army carried onlybanderaswhile thepabellónwas reserved for the exclusive use of the navy. Governmental installations on land, including those of the army, also flew thepabellónnacional. Specific legislation was passed in 1830 and 1836 which referred to the flying of thepabellónfrom embassies, as well as from fortresses ("fortelezas") and in garrisons ("plazas de armas").8
Other legislative usage of the termpabellónmade it clear that the word meant more than merely the nautical banner. When Iturbide was overthrown as emperor, and the Mexican Empire replaced by a more republican form of government, a new law was passed which removed the crown from the eagle's head on both the nation's coat of arms ("escudo de armas") and the national flag (pabellónnacional).9
Lindley is correct that military flags and banners were often referred to as banderas. This word, in fact, may be used to designate a military unit itself, as well as the flag carried by such as unit, as when a constitutional provision was adopted in December of 1835, making it an act punishable by the loss of Mexican citizenship to enlisting foreign military unitspor alistarse en banderas extranjeras."10Another piece of legislation, which called for the setting up of recruiting or supply units in the wake of the San Jacinto defeat of 1836, referred to such units as "banderas de recluta.11
A number of Spanish words were used in nineteenth-century Mexico to refer to military flags and banners. An 1825 law referred to the banners and standards carried by the civil militiabanderas y estandartes de milicia civil."12An 1836 decree of mourning for the capture of Santa Anna by the Texans called for the placing of black crepe bows onlas banderas y á los guiones de los alerpos del ejércitothat is, on the banners and guidons of the corps of the army.13A flagpole was called an "asta de bandera," even in legislation that regulated the flying on it of thepabellónat embassies.14
There was, in short, considerable variety in the number of words that could be applied to flags and banners used by the Mexican military. Lindley is probably correct that bandera was used for the flags of private vessels, while military ships flew thepabellón. "This is in line with modern usage in Peru, for instance, where the bandera(the national colors without the coat of arms) is flown on buildings, houses, factories, and ships that are privately owned, while thepabellónnacional(the national colors emblazoned with the national coat-of-arms) is to be raised on buildings occupied by the powers of the state, the authorities of those powers (such as the president), and public corporations. Thepabellónis also used in Peru by the military, in barracks as well as on ships.15
However, Lindley's primary argument, that in nineteenth-century Mexico the term "pabellón" was reserved for nautical use, is directly contradicted by the most reliable of nineteenth-century Mexican sourcesthe very laws which created and governed the use of Mexican flags and banners. This broader definition of "pabellón", moreover, was in use not only in Mexico, but also in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world at the time. 16
When aTiendais not a Tent, and a House is not a Home
Lindley makes an even more blatant and revealing linguistic error when he attempts to show that the de la Peña manuscript itself uses the term "tienda" to mean tent, as opposed to the suggestion in my article that this "word in Mexico is most often used to designate a shop, store, or stall."17He tries to prove by this same evidence that the de la Peña diary describes "a tent at Bear [San Antonio] that could have been identified as Santa Anna's tent." Lindley's ultimate conclusion here is that either I am is wrong about the contemporary Mexican military usage of "tienda, or, on the other hand, if I am right, "then the de la Peña manuscripts . . . might have been written by someone other than de la Peñaa person unfamiliar with military terms."18
Lindley's evidence is the following sentence from the Carmen Perry translation of de la Peña: From among the goods and the tents found which the enemy had abandoned when they took hurried refuge in the Alamo, one of the tents erected was called the president's tent because it was placed in the premises occupied by his Excellency."19Now that's odd, isn't it? The tent is set up in the premises occupied by Santa Anna! A tent erected inside a house? What's going on here?
The problem here is that Lindley, following in the footsteps of other non-Spanish-speaking writers who have attempted to argue the authenticity of the de la Peña manuscripts while relying on the unreliable English version for their information, has been tripped up by one of Carmen Perry's mistranslations.20The original Spanish sentence reads as follows: "Con los efectos de las tiendas que los enemigos abandonaron, al encerrarse precipitadamente en el Alamo, se puso una al ejercito que se denominó la tienda del Presidente, por hallarse situada en la misma casa que habitaba su excelencia."21
You don't have to be a Spanish whiz to see thatlos efectos de las tiendasdoesn't mean the "goods and the tents." What de la Peña's sentence actually says is this: With the goods from the stores that were abandoned by the enemy, when they precipitously shut themselves up in the Alamo, one was set up for the army that was called the president's store, because it was found situated in the same house in which his Excellency was staying.22
If there were any lingering doubt as to the meaning of "tienda" in this context, confirmation of the correctness of my rendering of "store" here rather than Perry's and Lindley's tent is provided by the next sentence:En ella se vendieron dichos efectos a cuádruplo precio del que tenían en la plaza, despues que se habian entresacado los mejores para el uso personal de su excelencia y de sus favoritos. Or in English: "In it were sold said goods at quadruple the price that they were worth in the plaza, after the better items had been culled for the personal use of his Excellency and that of his favorites."23
Thus, with "tienda" having taken on the meaning of "store" as well as tent- in Mexican Spanish, the word "pabellón" was often called upon to do double duty. It could mean tent" in military contexts, and yet it could also, in that same context, mean "flag"and especially the national banner signifying the presence of the national authority in the person of General (and President) Santa Anna. And so a misunderstanding by Sergeant Dolson of the intended meaning of his Mexican informant in this casehearing "pabellón" and writing "tent"is hardly remarkable or extraordinary.
In an extended footnote attached to the (mis)quotation from Carmen Perry, Lindley manages to repeat the same methodological errorarguing about the authenticity of a Spanish-language manuscript while relying on a flawed English translation.24 This time, however, the misleading translation is that by Wallace Woolsey of the memoirs of General Vicente Filisola. Lindley notes that the de la Peña diary describes a meeting of Mexican generals on April 25, 1836, that took place, according to the diary's author, in "General Filisola's tent."25Sure enough, the author of the original Spanish, as Lindley notes, uses the wordtiendain describing this scene.26
Taking a opportune swipe in this footnote at the authenticity of the de la Peña diary itself, Lindley pounces on the presumed fact that General Filisola's memoirs recorded that this meeting took place, not in a tent, but in "the home of Mrs. Powell." That, according to Lindley, certainly makes sense. Why set up a tent when a house was available for quarters?"27Lindley cites the Woolsey translation of Filisola as his source, and there it is, on page 234 of Woolsey's volume II: all of the generals were "gathered together in Madame Powell's house."28
But if Lindley had looked down to the next paragraph in Woolsey's translation, he would have noticed that as a result of the decisions made that day by the generals,"the troops rested the night of the twenty-fifth in the home of Madame Powell."29Now just how many house guests did Mrs. Powell have that night? According to Filisola, who had just arranged for three Mexican armies to converge from three different directions on Madame Powell's home, there were 1,408 from his command, and 1,165 of General Urrea's troops from Columbia and Brazoria, for a total of 2,573!30
That's quite a place that Mrs. Powell had, isn't it! A quick consultation with Filisola's original Spanish will show that he used the same words for the meeting place of the generals as he did for the place the troops spent the nightthe "habitacion de madama Pawel."3l He used the same preposition, "en," as well, for what Woolsey translated first as "in Madame Powell's house" and then as "inthe home of Madame Powel1."32
What is happening here is that Woolsey (and thus Lindley) is mistaking a place name, "Mrs. Powell's" for a literal house, when Filisola's meaning is plainly that of a geographic location. Note the manner in which Filisola discussed this place in his account of his evacuation of Texas: "Four days after the defeat of the president, Generals Tolsa, Woll, Gaona, Sesma, Urrea, and I were concentrated at Mrs. Powell's [en la habitacion de madama Pawel]33with the whole force of the army betwe[e]n the Brazos and the Colorado."34Filisola argued that "because of its location in the country [the home of Madame Powell] was the most truly military point and adequate to the circumstances that might arise."35"The home of Mrs. Powell," said the general, "where I ordered the concentration to take place, is situated on the plain, five leagues from the river, and almost half way between Old Fort and Columbia."36
If Lindley is going to insist on the false precision of Woolsey's translation of the meeting place of the generals as Mrs. Powell's house (and thus contradict the de la Peña diary's report of the meeting in Filisola's tent),then he also has to take at face value the next paragraphs description of 2,573 Mexican troops snugly tucked in for the night in the home of Madame Powell. I'll go with de la Peña and the tent!
Allow me to make one last comment with regard to "Santa Anna's tent": I commend Tom Lindley on his diligence in finding the letter detailing Colonel James Morgan's dispatch of this bulky trophy of San Jacinto to his friend the Collector of the Port of New York, but I believe that Lindley has answered his own question with regard to Morgan's failure to mention Crockett's death in his letter Samuel Swartwout. To mention the death of Crockett, who had become one of Andrew Jackson's fiercest critics, to Swartwouta Jackson political appointee, arch-Democrat and zealous supporter of Old Hickorywould have been to risk either holding up Jackson's most famous critic as a hero, or if a less heroic image were drawn, of injecting partisanship into the matter of Crockett's very recent death. Would not the better part of discretion for Morgan in this case be to simply avoid mentioning Crockett at all?37
Before turning to the issue of the identity of Dolson's informant, I should also give Lindley credit for pointing out that my dramatic (and unnecessary) suggestion that tumult and confusion still reigned within the walls as Santa Anna entered the Alamo is probably incorrect. Such a picture is not borne out by any of these three alleged eyewitness accounts of the executions; nor would such circumstances be necessary in order for General Castrillon to have decided to march the prisoners to the "pabellón"the flagof Santa Anna.38
A am surprised and disappointed that Lindley repeats, without qualification, the assertion that sergeant Dolson identified Juan Almonte as his informant. This is not a fact," but an act of interpretation of the following now-famous sentences from the Dolson letter as published in the (Detroit)Democratic Free Pressin September of 1836: "Colonel Crockett was in the rear, had his arms folded, and appeared bold as the lion as he passed my informant (Almonte.) Santa Anna's interpreter knew Colonel Crockett, and said to my informant, 'the one behind is the famous Crockett.'"39
Lindley rejects my argument, which follows that of Dan Kilgore inHow Did Davy Die?, that Almonte in parentheses was misplaced by the newspaper's typesetter on the wrong side of the period, and that the sentences should have read: Colonel Crockett . . . appeared bold as the lion as he passed my informant. Almonte, Santa Anna's interpreter, knew Colonel Crockett, and said to my informant, 'the one behind is the famous Crockett.'''40
I believe that Almonte in parentheses" was written between the lines in the original letter, as Dolson in an afterthought identified Santa Anna's interpreter. "I find it astounding that Lindley can assert with a straight face that Almonte could not be accurately called Santa Anna's interpreter! Lindley himself quotes Santa Anna's statement that Almonte "was a most faithful companion during my bitter days [of captivity] and served me as an interpreter whenever I needed him.41
Lindley argues that this statement by Santa Anna showed that Almonte's role as interpreter was "temporary," and he goes to great lengths to show that Almonte held other important jobs, including minister to Belgium in 1839 and Secretary of War during the later conflict with the United States.42Lindley could have added that in March of 1862 Almonte landed at Vera Cruz with the intervening French, who declared him supreme chief of the Mexican nation, from which position he became the president of the regency which brought the Emperor Maximilian to the throne.43All of these later positions, of course, are totally irrelevant to Dolson's quite accurate characterization of Almonte in the summer of 1836 as Santa Anna's interpreter!
It is true, as Lindley states, that Santa Anna's very first interpreter following the battle of San Jacinto was Houston's aide-de-camp, the son of Texan Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala. According to Santa Anna, when he was brought before the wounded Houston on April 22, 1836, the two generals "began a conversation at once with the young de Zavala acting as interpreter.44However, as Margaret Swett Henson notes, "After Santa Anna was brought into the Texan camp on April 22, Houston summoned Almonte to translate and the president's secretary, Ramón Martínez Caro, to write letters."45
Martínez Caro reports: "Shortly after the arrival of His Excellency in camp, Mr. Thomas J. Rusk, who was acting as secretary of war for the Texans, came looking for me and took me to the presence of Houston, where His Excellency was standing by his side. A very short time elapsed between my arrival and that of Colonel Almonte, and soon after, agreeable to a decision I was informed that accompanied by one of Houston's aides I should go back to the battlefield to search for and bring back the portable escritoire and other belongings of the private secretarial staff of His Excellency."46
This Spanish-speaking aide to General Houston, who immediately accompanied Martínez Caro to the San Jacinto battlefield to retrieve the writing-table, was very probably the young de Zavala.47In any case, Martinez Caro reports that on the net day a tent was erected near General Houston's, and he, Almonte, and Santa Anna were placed in it. He reports no restrictions on their communications with one another in Spanish at this point. Lindley's quotation from Caro that the prisoners "were prohibited from speaking any other language except English, is take out of context from another incident altogether.
This incident occurred much later, in August of 1836, after Santa Anna, Martinez Caro, Almonte, and Colonel Gabriel Nuñez (who had been held with the other three since late April) had been moved several times, and were being held at Orozimba at the house of a Dr. Phelps. It was at this place, noted Martínez Caro, that we enjoyed the only peace we had during our imprisonment, due mainly to the distance we were from the general lines of communication." One evening a number of guests (including a Spanish wine merchant named Bartolomé Pagés, who was involved in a plot to help Santa Anna escape) arrived at Dr. Phelps' house and asked to see the captives.48
Martínez Caro narrates what happened next: "One evening Colonels Almonte, Nuñez and I were in our rooms. His Excellency was lying down in his own room. The sergeant of our guard came in just then and told us that several ladies and gentlemen wished to see us. Looking out of the window, we saw several persons, but due to the distance we were unable to recognize any of them. We all made excuses for not appearing, his Excellency excusing himself likewise. As our visitors had already dismounted from their horses and entered the hall, Dr. Phelps, the owner of the house, invited us to come out and we were obliged to accede. Imagine our surprise upon seeing Pages among our visitors! We took a seat, Colonel Almonte sitting down by the ladies, while I found a place next to Pages.Although while there we were prohibited from speaking any other language except English, nevertheless, the lively desire of learning the outcome of the mission made me disregard the order. Speaking between my teeth, I asked Pages what news he had."49
When Pages and Martínez Caro attempted to speak surreptitiously at this point, the sergeant of the guard interrupted them and "rudely dragged Pages from his seat and began abusing him with a thousand epithets, scolding me for having disregarded orders. Fortunately," continued Martínez Caro, "I justified my act by saying that I was ordering supplies, for we had absolutely none. This incident put an end to the visit,and soon after, I told his Excellency what Pages had said."50
I have quoted Ramón Martínez Caro at such length because I believe that the reader needs to see the context from which Lindley has lifted this statement about the prisoners "being prohibited from speaking any other language except English." On the very next page of his memoir, Martínez Caro makes it perfectly clear that as soon as the visitors were gone, he conveyed the very sensitive information to Santa Anna. Is Lindley going to try to persuade us that he gave Santa Anna the news in English?
While Lindley uses this misleading quotation, taken wildly out of context from the memoir of Martinez Caro, in his effort to show that Juan Almonte could not be properly called Santa Anna's interpreter, he conveniently passes up this statement from the same memoir: "At about twelve [on May 2, 1836, while the Texan army and their distinguished prisoners were encamped about three leagues from San Jacinto] they [Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala and other members of the Tecan cabinet] all came to where we were and presented to His Excellency a draft of a treaty in English.After Colonel Almonte translated it and I made a copy of it, he read it and expressed to Zavala the impossibility of carrying out the terms stipulated ..."51
In other words, Lindley has gone to very great lengths indeed to deny the validity of Dolson's apparent reference to Almonte as Santa Anna's interpreter, when the documentary record plainly shows that Almonte was playing precisely that role during the summer of 1836, when Dolson's letter was written.
And not satisfied with contradicting only the documentary record, Lindley manages to contradict himself in his effort to trash the Dolson letter. On the ninth page of his essay, Lindley tells us that "the punctuation custom of the period required that the appropriate punctuation mark or marks be placed inside the parentheses," just as they were in the published Dolson letter's version: (Almonte.) In the very next paragraph, Lindley asserts that For Crisp's theory [i.e., that the name Almonte refers to Santa Anna's interpreter] to be correct, the typesetter would have had to have made three mistakes to have created ' . . . my informant(Almonte.)'"52
What are these three mistakes? The first is the obvious one, putting the word "Almonte" on the wrong side of the period. "Secondly," says Lindley, "he failed to remove the parentheses." (What Lindley does not say, is why he calls it a mistake at all for the typesetter to retain the parentheses.) And "Finally," Lindley concludes,"he put the period inside of the parentheses. One error might be reasonable, but three mistakes involving one word does not seem plausible."53
The readers who made it through both Lindley's first attack on my article (inThe Alamo Journal#96), and then my response (inThe Alamo Journal#98), are familiar by now with Lindley's amazing ability to turn one discrepancy (or "disagreement) into two or three. But I expect that they are as amazed as I am to see Lindley find an "error" in the typesetter's adherence to what Lindley has just told us was "the punctuation custom of the period" !
Moreover, after titling his second attack on my article Theory Paraded as Fact, and charging that my answers are deficient because "they are not evidence, just suppositions," Lindley has the audacity to come to the following "conclusions" with regard to the Dolson letter's reference to Almonte: "Firstly, if '(Almonte)' was written between the lines in the holographic version of the letter, Dolsonprobablyincluded information that indicated the name referred to 'my informant.' Secondly, the manner in which 'Almonte' appears in the newspaper version isprobablythe way it was written in the original missive." And what is Lindley's evidence? None, other than his self-contradictory analysis of the typesetter's alleged "three" mistakes, and his wishful thinking, which leads him into sentences like: "it seems unlikelythat Dolson, after going back to write '(Almonte)' between the lines, would have failed to have written something to indicate which person he was identifying with the name."54
The real question is not what seems unlikely" to Tom Lindley, but which is more likely in the Dolson letter itself: that the "Almonte in parentheses" referred to the informant (when we know that Almonte was not on Galveston island at the time Dolson wrote his letter, and thus could not have been the informant), or that the "Almonte" reference was to Santa Anna's interpreter, a role that Almonte was filling, despite Lindley's efforts to deny it, during this summer of 1836.
It is helpful to recall in this regard that the Dolson letter mentions the sergeant's informant" six times, with the "Almonte" reference coming only in the next to last. Dolson first refers to his informant as one of Santa Anna's officers.'' He then calls him "the Mexican officer," and then simply "the Mexican." He next calls him "the officer" again, and then only in the fifth reference does he say, "as [Crockett] passed my informant (Almonte.)" Dolson then refers to the interpreter's statement "to my informant."55Which of the following is more probable? That Dolson would carefully avoid mentioning the informant's name, and then go back and stick the parenthetical "Almonte" next to the fifth reference to the informant, or that Dolson was simply trying to insert a name in his letter in order to identify Santa Anna's interpreter (whom we know was Almonte at the time) as (you guessed it)Almonte!
One of the acknowledged mysteries of the Dolson letter is the question of how Santa Anna's interpreter(almost certainly Juan Almonte) was able to recognize David Crockett at the Alamo, so that he could say to Dolson's informant, the one behind is the famous Crockett." In my response to Bill Groneman's assertion inDefense of a Legendthat "there is no documented evidence anywhere which indicates that Almonte would have known Crockett on sight or that he had ever heard of him before," I was able, as Lindley points out, only to place Almonte in Louisiana and in the Anglo-American colonies of Texas in 1834, when Crockett had a very high profile,(including some lithographed portraits) in Eastern newspapers that may have reached these areas at the time.56
I can now offer a somewhat stronger case that Almonte could have recognized Crockett on sight even though, as I acknowledged in my 1994 article, the paths of the two men may not have crossed until that fateful morning at the Alamo.57In addition to his two months in Louisiana on his way to Texas in 1834, Almonte returned to the United States for an extended stay in 1835 (the year in which Crockett's celebrated anti-Jackson congressional campaign was given national prominence).58Almonte spent much of his time during this trip in New York City, where as late as November he was on friendly speaking terms with Stephen F. Austin's cousin John P. Austin, to whom he expressed regret that Stephen had recently taken "steps . . . in opposition to [Mexico's]government".59
Having left Mexico City on April 30, 1835,6 Almonte would have had plenty of time to get to New York in time for the public display at the National Academy of Design in June of that year of a new, life-size, full-length painting of Congressman David Crockett, produced by the Washington, D. C., artist John Gadsby Chapman, for whom Crockett had posed (using borrowed dogs and hunting clothes) in 1834.61This painting, which the June,1835,Knickerbocker Magazinecalled an "excellent likeness," was eventually sold to the State of Texas , where it burned in the Capitol Building fire of 1881.62However, the artist had in the meantime done a smaller, oil-on-canvas copy of the original, which is now in the collections of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. This is the painting which was featured on the cover of theSouthwestern Historical Quarterlyin October, 1994, and which is reproduced with the permission of that journal and the Ransom Center on the following page.
Obviously, the fact that Almonte could have seen this painting while he was in New York does not prove that he knew David Crockett. It only shows that Almonte might well have recognized Crockett from a painting he had seen in New York.
But didn't Sergeant Dolson say that "Santa Anna's interpreterknewColonel Crockett . . .? Lindley attempts a pre-emptive strike on my net argument, when he writes that "Crisp . . . can always argue his theory by claiming that 'knew Crockett' is a translation mistake, that the officer said 'knew of' Crockett."63
It is not so much a translation mistake, I would suggest, as it is an example of one of the occupational hazards of the interpreter: to be presented with words which can take on new shades of meaning when translated from one language into another. There are two common verbs for "to know" in Spanish: "saber" is to know a fact; "conocer" is to know a person. But conocer can also mean "to be acquainted with," or even "to be familiar with. "
Thus if Dolson's informant said that Santa Anna's interpreter "conocía a Crockett" (using the imperfect past tense), the meaning could be that he "knew Crockett," or that he "was acquainted with Crockett, or that he "was familiar with Crockett."64The ambiguity is inherent in the Spanish verb, just as the verb "decir" means both "to say" and "to tell"a distinction that is eplicit in English but not in Spanish. (I once had a friend from Madrid who knew English quite wellhe had studied at the London School of Econornicsbut he never rnastered the subtle difference, absent in Spanish, between tell me and "say to me" in English. With my friend Pedro Ceballos, it always came out: "Say me, Jim!")
As with the ambiguity of language, we are left with the ambiguity of history. Have I proved that Juan Almonte visited the display of the Chapman painting of Crockett at the National Academy of Design while he was in New York, and was thus able to recognize Crockett almost a year later at the Alamo? Certainly not. But has Tom Lindley proved that Almonte was not Santa Anna's interpreter, or that the Dolson letter is "fiction? Even more certainly not!
I believe that I have shown quite clearly that, despite Lindley's claims to the contrary, the Dolson letter isnotfatally flawed,eitherby its reference to Santa Anna's tent, or by what seems at first to be its impossible identification of Almonte as Dolson's "informant. George M. Dolson, a very real person who had cast his lot in 1836 with the Texas Army and the Texas Republic,didwrite this letter that Lindley calls fiction to his brother from Galveston island in July of that year. In my next and final installment, I will respond to Tom Lindley's very interesting theory of what the Dolson letter" is all about.
1. See James E. Crisp, Davy in Freeze-Frame: Methodology or Madness?"The Alamo Journal#98 (Oct.,1995).
2. See Thomas Ricks Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II): Theory Paraded as Fact,The Alamo Journal#97(July, 1995).
3. Bill Groneman,Defense of a Legend: Crockett and the de la Peña Diary(Plano: Republic of Texas Press,1994), 60.
4. See James E. Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There: The Myth and Mystery of the de la Peña Diary,"Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XCVIII (Oct., 1994), 287-293.
5. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II)," .
6. Ibid., [5-63.]
7. "Numero 254, dated November 2, 1821, in Manuel Dublan and José Maria Lozano, comps.,Legislacion Mexicana, ó Coleccion Completa de las Disposiciones Legislativas Expedidas desde la Independencia de la Republica(5 vols; Mexico: Imprenta del Comercio, á cargo de Dublan Y Lozano, hijos, 1876) I, 554. This decree was also published inColeccion de Ordenes y Dccretos de la Soberana luna Provisional Gubernanva y Soberanos Congresos Generales de la Nacion Mexicana(2nd ed.; Mexico: Imprenta de Galvan a cargo de Mariano Arevalo, 1829),I, 26.
8. "Numero 864," dated Sept. 4, 1830,Legislacion Mexicana, II, 285; "Numero 1737," dated May 20,1836, ibid., III, 163.
9. "Numero 323," dated April 14, 1823, ibid., I, 634. This decree was also published inColeccion de los Decretos y Ordenes del Soberano Congreso Mexicano, desde su instalacion en 24. de Febrero de 1822, hasta 30. de Octubre de 1823, en que cesó(Mexico: Imprenta del Supremo Gobierno de los Estados UnidosMexicanos, en Palacio, 1825), 111.
10.Cassell's Spanish Dictionary, ed. Edgar Allison Peers,et al. (New York: Funl & Wagnalls, 1968), 115, defines "bandera" not only as a "banner, standard, ensign, or] colours of an irlfantry regiment," but also as "asubdivision of an infantry battalion in certain corps." See "Numero 1668," dated Dec. 15, 1835,Legislacion Mexicana, III, 110.
11. "Numero 1736,"dated May 20,1836, Legislacion Mexicana, 111,162.
12. "Numero 457," dated Mar. 21, 1825, ibid., I, 770.
13. "Numero 1737," dated May 20, 1836, ibid., III, 163.The New Book of Knowledge Dictionary, I, 585, defines a "guidon" as "a small flag or pennant, often with a forked end, carried as a standard by a regiment or other military unit."
14. "Numero 864," dated Sept. 4, 1830,Legislacion Mexicana, II, 285.
15. Felipe Bustos Venturo,Los Simbolos de la Patria(Lima: Ministerio de Educacion Publica, 1961), 25-27.
16. See Teniente (D) Francisco Alejandro Vargas,Estudio Historico sobre la Bandera, el Escudo y el Himno de Venezuela(4th ed.; Caracas: Editorial Grafolit, 1949), 11; and D. lose Martinez Rives,El Pabellón Espanol en África: Drama Original en 4 Actos, en Prosa y Verso(Burgos: Establecimiento tipográfico de D. Timoteo Arnaiz, 1859), 19, 20, 22, 66, 74. The last cited page depicts explicitly the official and ceremonial display ofthe "PabellónEspañol" by the victorious Spanish army.
17. Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," 291-292.
18. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II)," .
19. José Enrique de la Pena,With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolutionby José Enrique de la Peña, ed. and trans. Carmen Perry (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975), 61-62.
20. Some of Perry's other mistranslations and their significance are discussed in Crisp, The Little Book ThatWasn't There," 278-280, 289 (n.74). A similar error-producing reliance on the Perry translation by newspaper columnist Lynn Ashby is described in James E. Crisp, "When Revision Becomes Obsession: Bill Groneman and the de la Peña Diary,"Military History of the West25, no. 2 (Fall 1995), 144-145.
21. José Enrique de la Peña,La Rebelion de Texas: Manuscrito Inédito de 1836 por un Oficial de Santa Anna.ed. J[esus] Sanchez Garza (Mexico: A. Frank de Sanchez, 1955), 81.
22. This is my own translation, the accuracy of which I have confirmed with Kent Lioret, of the Department of Foreign Languages at North Carolina State University. I am grateful to Lioret for the assistance that he has rendered on this and other occasions since I first found it necessary in 1994 to question and correct errors of translation, by Perry and others, associated with the de la Peña manuscripts and published editions of the"diary." For a discussion of a critical rnistranslation by Carlos E. Castañeda, see Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," 269-270.
23. Sanchez Garza (ed.),La Rebelión de Texas, 81 (my translation).
24. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part 11)," note 38, page .
25. Perry, (ed. and trans.), With Santa Anna, 14S.
26. Sanchez Garza (ed.),La Rebelión de Texas, 167.
27. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II),  (n.38).
28. Vicente Filisola,Memoirs for the History of the War in Texas, trans. Wallace Woolsey (2 vols.; Austin,Texas : Eakin Press, 1985, 1987),II, 234.
29. Ibid., II, 234.
30. Ibid., Il, 231-232.
31. Don Vicente Filisola,Memorias para la Historia de la Guerra de Tejas: Segunda Parte(México: Tipografia de R. Rafael, 1849), 478-479. My thanks to Dora Guerra, Head of Special Collections at the Library of theUniversity of Texas at San Antonio, for her timely assistance in locating and comparing this and other Spanish-language editions of General Filisola's memoirs.
32. Woolsey (trans.),History of the War in Texas, Il, 234.
33. Vicente Filisola,Representacion Dirigida al Supremo Gobierno por el General Vicente Filisola en Defensa de su Honor y Aclaracion de sus Operaciones como General en Gefe del Ejército sobre Tejas(México: Impreso por Ignacio Cumplido, 1836), 14.
34. Vicente Filisola, "Representation to the Supreme Government with Notes on His Operations as General-in-Chief of the Army of Texas , in Carlos E. Castaneda (trans.), The Mexican Side of the Texas Rcvolution (1928;reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1976), 174.
35. Woolsey (trans.),History of the War in Texas, II, 231.
36. Filisola, "Representation to the Supreme Government," 182.
37. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II)," [7-8].
38. Ibid., [6-7]; cf. Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," 292.
39. (Detroit)Democratic Free PressSept. 7, 1836. The Dolson letter has been reprinted in its entirety in Thomas Lawrence Connelly (ed.), "Did David Crockett Surrender at the Alamo?: A Contemporary Letter,"Journal of Southern HistoryXXVI no. 3 (Aug., 1960), 368-376. Connelly, at the time of publication a graduate student in history at Rice University, mistakenly believed that Almonte had in fact been Dolson's informant. See ibid., 370, .
40. See Dan Kilgore,How Did Davy Die?(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975), 37 (n. 36);and Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," 287-288.
41. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, "Manifesto Relative to His Operations in the Texas Campaign and His Capture," in Carlos E. Castañeda (trans.),The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution(1928; reprint, New York:Arno Press, 1976), 89. (Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II), 110], misquotes whenever" as "when in thissentence, and cites page 91 rather than page 89 fm Castañeda.)
42. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II)," [9-10].
43. Walter Prescott Webb, H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephen Branda (eds.),The Handbook of Texas(3 vols.; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1952,1976),1, 35.
44. Santa Anna, Manifesto," 83.45. Margaret Swett Henson, "Politics and the Treatment of the Mexican Prisoners after the Banle of San Jacinto,"Southwestern Historical QuarterlyXCIV, no. 2 (Oct., 1990),194.
46. Ramón Martínez Caro, A True Account of the First Texas Campaign and the Events Subsequent to the Battle of San Jacinto," in Carlos E. Castañeda (trans.),The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution(1928; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1976), 123-124.
47. Ibid., 124-125.
48. Ibid., 127, 134-136.
49. Ibid., 136.
50. Ibid., 137.
52. Lindley, "Killing Crockett (part II)," .
55. See the Dolson letter in either the (Detroit)Democratic Free Press, Sept. 7, 1836, or in Connelly (ed.),"Did David Crockett Surrender a the Alamo?" 372-373.
56. Groneman,Defense of a Legend, 58; Crisp, "The Little Book That Wasn't There," 290-291; Lindley,"Killing Crockett (part 11), .
57. Crisp, The Little Book That Wasn't There," 291.
58. James Atkins Shackford,David Crockett: The Man and the Legend, ed. John B. Shackford (Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1956), 160, 195.
59. Helen Willits Harris, The Public Life of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, (Ph. D. thesis, University of Tecasat Austin, 1935), 81, 84-85. According to Harris, Almonte was sent by Santa Anna to use his influence to counteract sympathy in the United States for the "Texan cause." The letter quoted, cited on page 85 of the Harris thesis, is from John P. Austin to Stephen F. Austin, New York, November 8, 1835, in E. C. Barker(ed.),The Austin Papers[Volume Ill] (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1927), 244-246.
60. See Stephen F. Austin to Samuel M. Williams, Mexico City, May 6, 1835,Austin Papers, III, 73.
61. Ibid., Frederick S. Voss, Portraying an American Original: The Likenesses of Davy Crockett," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XCI, no. 4 (Apr., 1988), 469-474.
63. Lindley, Killing Crockett (part 11)," .
64. My thanks again to Kent Lioret of North Carolina State University for confirming my understanding of this Spanish usage.