Subject: Alamo money
Date: 11/07/98
From: W.L.Mckeehan

What was the value of an 1836 Mexican peso, reale, and American dollar in today's dollars? Was there any hard cash in the pockets of the Alamo Defenders?


As a partial answer: Based on today's dollar, the value of a U.S. dollar in 1836 was worth about $17.45. However, that value wouldn't have applied to all prices of all commodity goods in 1836, because like today, prices varied according to geographic area. As an example: A March 9, 1836, J.M. Allen of New Orleans purchased one $20 cart. That same cart would have cost him $349 in "today's" money.

William Chemerka
Editor, Alamo Journal

Can anyone answer his other questions?

Subject: What did they eat?
Date: 11/08/98
From: Charlie Erion (

What did the men and women of the Alamo have to eat? What would the diet have been like in San Antonio. I know of Travis's comment about the corn  and beef but what else did they have to eat?

Were there any ministers at the Alamo and what was their background?

Charlie Erion

When the 7th U.S. Infantry Living History Association was putting together the Alamo 162 living history event at Alamo Village last Spring, this same question came up. Yes, the obvious is the 20 or 30 heads of "beaves" Travis secured from Ignacio Perez at the start of the siege and the 80 or 90 bushels of corn (all referenced in the February 24th Letter). Travis issued Perez a receipt for his "beeves", that was later filed to the Texian Republic for payment.

There is an earlier list of provisions, military and other stores in February that lists 250 lbs. of Salt beef and pork, 140 lbs. of flour, 4,450 lbs. of coffee, 4,500 of sugar, 10 sacks of salt, 1 bbl. of pepper, 10 bbl. vinegar.

The typical Anglo diet included pork and corn. They win out as the most common foodstuffs.

Kevin R. Young


Subject: Brown Bess
Date: 11/10/98
From: Bob Carbajal

I've heard comments that many of the Mexican casualties, generally agreed to not exceed 600, were the result of fratracide. Specifically, that the average soldado would have had difficulty firing their surplus "Brown Bess" from anything but the "hip, " primarily due to their physical size. Additionally, as the final assault occurred during the early morning twilight, aimed fire over the sights would not have been feasable. Understandibly, this could have produced the claimed effect. Can anyone comment regarding the firing characteristics of the "Brown Bess"? Could an individual of generally small stature been expected to place effective fire on a target?

Also, since the attack was initiated in darkness, wasn't Santa Anna overly optomistic about his Army's ability to control it's fire. From personal experience,(22 years in the infantry) a night assault is not something to be taken lightly, primarily because of the fear of fratricide, and control of friendly fires.

Finally, some accounts describe several loaded rifles being assigned to each individual within the mission to facilitate an initial rapid rate of fire. Texas in March can be a cold, damp place to live. Would this have been practical given the alleged shortage of munitions? Furthermore, would it been practical considering the weather, and the potential to damage the quality of the powder?

I think your forum is great, and I try to read it regularly.

Bob Carbajal
Houston, Texas


Subject: Francisco Becerra
Date: 11/10/98
From: Brian Huberman

I am interested in locating the grave-site of Francisco Becerrawho was killed while serving as a police officer in Brownsville, Texas sometime during the late 1880's. Becerra was a sergeant in the Mexican Army in the Texas Revolution and fought at the battle of the Alamo. After the war he remained in Texas and later joined the Confederate army during the Civil War.

Becerra was an informant for two important early Texas historians, Reuben Potter and John S."RIP" Ford. I presume that Becerra is buried in a Confederate cemetery in Brownsville and any help locating the site would be most appreciated.

I am an independent documentary filmmaker and professor of film production at Rice University, Houston, Texas.

Thank you,

Brian Huberman
Houston, Texas

Subject:Re: What did they eat?
Date: 11/13/98
From: W.L. MCKeehan

It is noteworthy in Kevin's example that the stores of condiments exceeds the basic foodstuff by at least 40 fold (not a fair figure since pork and beef was mostly off the hoof fresh daily). However, the example is still overall typical, in addition to the "austere" basics of pork, beef and corn, I have always been impressed by the understanding of the Texian volunteer quartermasters of the importance of and ability to acquire those timeless amenities which sustain an army's morale and will to fight. The following examples illustrate the priorities.
--TIMES HAVE NOTCHANGED! [Examples from the Siege and Battle of Bexar]

Austin on the banks of the Guadalupe on the way to Bexar (11 Oct 1835) with what amunition you can procure for Cannon and small arms-powder, lead etc. also provisions such as meat, beans, sugar and coffee and what ever else you may judge necessary for the troops. I would have you send also 2 reams of paper-2 bottles of Ink with a supply of quills, wafers and sealing wax..

Joséph Linn from Goliad (17 Oct 1835). I have acted as Quartermaster and have found, a good supply of Stores say 175 Barrels Flour with plenty of Sugar coffee Rum whiskey wine etc

Capt. Augustus Jones (21 Oct 1835) in response to request of J.W. Fannin in Bexar for "supplies:" GOLIAD, October 27, 1835. MAJOR J.W. FANNIN JR., Camp near Bejar DEAR MAJOR..You will receive one wine box of liquors, etc., also two small bags sugar and coffee.

B.J. White to Austin (17 Oct 1835) from Goliad...I found it imposibleto send you Bread, but have sent a supply of flour and in a few days will follow up with as much Bread as can be bakd-we have plenty of flour say 30 bbls [barrels] 9 Bbs [barrels] powder (good) we are repairing the Guns...

Typical purchases of members of the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force   prior to departure from Gonzales:
William Dearduff: woolen vest, pantaloons, a woolen roundabout, striped and flannel shirts, shoes, leather stirrups, bridle, 13 pounds coffee, a set of cups and saucers, set of plates, four bowls, 0.5 pounds tobacco, axe, tin cups and plates, skillet, a pound of gunpowder and two bars of lead..

George Kimball (27 Feb 1836) Rec'd Gonzales 27th Feb. 1836 of Stephen Smith 52 lbs Coffee Being for the use of the men that has volunteered to go to Bexar to the Releaf of our Boys."

G.C. Kim (his signature)

[Smith owned a general store in Gonzales, Kimball was commanding officer of the Gonzales Rangers]

William Fishbaugh [five different visits to Gonzales]:  pantaloons, roundabout coat, shoes, shirt, hat, two handkerchiefs, suspenders and a pound of tobacco, shoes and a vest, pound of tobacco.fourth pound of tea and an ounce of  "allows" , stirrup leathers, a butcher knife, looking glass, saddle rings,, .pantaloons and pound tobacco, three pounds tobacco, borrowed $5.00 to pay off John McCoy, pencil, bridle, three shirts, thread and needles, blanket and combs..

Andrew Kent [multiple visits to store]:  toothache medicine.pound of tobacco.8 bars of lead, 2 pounds of sulfur (brimstone), 2 pounds of salt..4 saddle rings, leather stirrups, 12 gun flints, 1 ounce smelling salts (hartshorn) 2 pounds tobacco, 4 bars of lead and 4 pounds gunpowder.

W.L. MCKeehan
Contributing Editor, Alamo de Parras

Subject: Re: Brown Bess
Date: 11/14/98
From: Robert Clark

Regarding the questions on the Brown Bess, Santa Anna did not believe much in marksmanship rather volley fire and then the bayonet. His orders for the assault only provide for six cartridges per man. My belief, assuming that men were stronger then, is that a Bess would be managable by the soldier of the day. It is heavy and even more so with a fixed bayonet, that is the issue, not so much from recoil. Because of the tactics, and not from recoil, I do belief that troops on top of the north wall, received hits from friendly fire.

Regarding the questions about Crockett's death, I have always been amazed at the omission of fact when considering Mexican accounts of Crocket's alledged surrender. #1 His body was found in his assigned area to defend, #2 Mrs. Dickinson saw his body, while being lead out of the chapel, she herself being shot in the calf, and and this is the main point shots were still being fired! Did some men hide, and then surrender?  Possibly, maybe probably, but not Crockett. He was already down before things got quiet. Frankly, if shots were still being fired, I cannot comprehend a General going into rooms even with infantry and looking under mattresses, rather I see shots fired first, then the bayonet. The Mexicans were still in an uproar -- they even shot a cat, because he was after all an American cat -- no way did Crockett surrender. Ms. Dickinson's statement proves it, at least to me. I just got on this site, still learning - just GREATINFO. Thanks for the chance to participate.

Robert Clark
Mt. Airy, Maryland

The Mexicans weren't issued six cartridges, but six packets of cartridges(that's roughly 10 to 20 cartridges per packet). The Mexican weren't the only army not allowing live ammunition practice -- the Americans, British and French did the same. Most assaults, like the Alamo, were done using the bayonet only and not loaded weapons. The dawn assault of the Alamo is a remarkable example of an assaulting force actually firing their weapons.

It also amazes me that everyone loves to quote Mrs. Dickinson about where Crockett's body was found, but not Alcade Ruiz and Sánchez-Navarro. They said his body was found on the West side of the plaza.

Kevin Young

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