SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2007, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
About Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas

Shorts and Opinions by Don Guillermo

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What, if any, contribution did David Crockett make to the Texian cause?   Does the attention given to him because of his celebrity status diminish the equally valiant contribution of the other Alamo defenders?

"If for the right, go a-head"

Both Sam Houston and Davy Crockett appear to have clinched hero status by blind luck and spur of the moment necessity by being at the right place at the right time. Political opportunist Houston secured his future when he turned south with the boys he was appointed to lead on the Harrisburg Road and by surviving at San Jacinto while relatively honest and "nice guy" Crockett secured his by dying with the boys with which he took refuge while a tourist without a visa or possibly an illegal immigrant while looking for a new life. Imagine the alternative scenario, assuming Davy was among a few survivors at the last, if Santa Anna had taken him into custody, kept him in Perote Prison for exchange after San Jacinto, or released him to US authorities in New Orleans.

Crockett was destined to turn circumstance, including running out on a disagreeable situation to him, into legend and to become an immortal hero as early as 1798 when he ran out on my third great grandfather Jacob Siler on a cattle drive in Virginia. Grandpa Siler herded cattle between his home in Natural Bridge, Virginia and Greene County, Tennessee on the Abington Road where the Crockett family ran a tavern. On one drive 12 year old Davy was hired out by his father to assist with the drive. From Davy Crockett's Own Story (Citadel Press) and misc. family histories:

"An old Dutchman by name of Jacob Siler, ----made a stop at my father's house. He had a large stock of cattle that he was carrying with him. ---He hired me to the old Dutchman to go the four hundred miles on foot, with a perfect stranger that I had never seen until the evening before. I set out with a heavy heart, it is true, but I went ahead until we arrived at a place, which was three miles from what is called Natural Bridge, and made a stop at the house of Mr. Hartley, who was father-in-law to Mr. Siler, who had hired me. My Dutch master was very kind to me, and gave me five or six dollars, being pleased, as he said, with my services."

Davy stayed at the Peter Hartley's (my 4th great grandpa and Siler's father-in-law) for four or five weeks, became homesick so the story goes and slipped away just after he got a payment without grandpa Siler's permission at night in a snowstorm to join a teamster, Mr. Dunn, for a ride back to Tennessee.  Rather than an irresponsible act which left his father's promise to grandpa Siler, the runaway episode became a legend of youthful self-reliance as Davy's collective legendary character grew to such extent that it ranks with the stories of Moses, David, Alexander, Caesar, Richard the Lion-hearted, Lord Nelson, etc. and 50 or more others that are the great Heroes of History (see Hero Tales From History by Smith Burnham, a compilation for all ages).

According to the Walravens in The Magnificent Barbarians

"Crockett never really succeeded in much except creating a legend [for himself] while he lived largely because of his frontier image [outgrinning 'coons, coonskin hat, etc.] -----successful hunter, but not soldier -----great campaigner because he stood for the rights of the common man -----not much of a congressman because he was too honest [and not a womanizer] ------defeated in politics he went to Texas where he saw the prospect of free land and unlimited political opportunities [like Houston]."

Houston, who was no living legend before the retreat east after the Alamo and Goliad, the turn south to San Jacinto and the battle, by fate survived and acquired legendary status which he had to protect until his natural death, while Crockett was placed by the same forces in a position to immortalize his already legendary personality by death in the cause of regional republicanism and autonomy. To some he was a tourist without a visa, possibly an illegal immigrant, who by chance found himself in a rebel stronghold when all hell broke loose in the place he happened to be visiting. He likely gave it his best shot having no other real choice, joining in the fight against the attackers, but also, in his case quite honestly, used the innocent bystander appeal to spare his life at one time as well. We will never know the details of every second of his last moments, but he probably stoically accepted his fate at some stage as he unknowingly was about to acquire heroic immortality.

Ironically, Crockett's contribution to the Texian cause, aided by Hollywood and unwavering respect for myth and heroes, came long after his death and continues to date. As mentioned above, Crockett is alone among the ca. 50 top tier immortal heroes of world history whose setting was Texas (if we discount LaSalle and some others who may have passed through or visited), continuing to bring the attention of the world of all ages to the Texian cause and spirit and to all the heroes of the Alamo and the Texas struggle for independence in general.

12/10/98 Alamo de Parras War Room

According to author William Kennedy in his book Texas, even the famous "Be sure you're right, then go ahead" is somewhat a legendary quote of the famous Tennessean.  He says "I am indebted to Mr. Webster, at present secretary of State in the Harrison administration, who rectified my imperfect version of this now universal American ism, at Washington, in the Spring of 1839."


The famed 32 from Gonzales, was that officers and men or just a simple total as recollected years later?

The number 32 has become less a precise figure and more a symbolic term to refer to those individuals in the Gonzales Relief Force, the officers and men who fought their way in to aid the Alamo garrison after it was surrounded, most of which subsequently died in the garrison. Although there is constant suggestion and speculation concerning relief of the Alamo in its final days, current evidence suggests that the Gonzales Relief Force was the only successful effort to significantly reinforce the garrison after the siege began.  The relief force which originated in Gonzales was comprised of members, both officers and enlisted men, of the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers, who were mustered under direction of Byrd Lockhart, Commissioner for the Provisional Government of Texas.  The force also included volunteers at the moment who were not listed on the roll. Three officers accompanied the force, Lt. Kimble, who was officially commander of the Rangers, Capt. Albert Martin, a DeWitt Colonist and member of the Alamo garrison who brought Travis's appeal for aid to Gonzales as a courier, and Capt. Byrd Lockhart (who survived the battle while on a later courier mission).  The Relief Force consisted of 12 individuals, 11 of whom died in the Alamo, who were on the muster roll of 27 for the Ranging Company while 3 members on the roll were apparently in the garrison prior to arrival of the force and later died there. Lt. Col. Travis was also attached to the Gonzales Ranging Company as their superior commander. Of the 15 Alamo defenders on the roll, two were officers, Lt. Kimble and Capt. Lockhart. Seventeen more individuals in the Relief Force, all casualties, were residents at one time of Gonzales or the surrounding DeWitt Colony region and are usually considered members of the Gonzales Rangers. Many of the members of the relief force can also be considered members of the Alamo garrison by their prior presence there, most are thought to have been at home in Gonzales on leave or as couriers when the garrison became surrounded. Although there is continuous debate over precise identities, that the Relief Force was comprised of at least 32 members who died in the Alamo.   John G. King, usually listed among the Immortal 32 from Gonzales, was later found to have remained at home north of Gonzales having been persuaded by family to allow his 16 year old son to accompany the group without him.  Gonzales Ranger Marcus Sewell, who is not listed in most memorials, but in the garrison, may have been with the relief force.

It is not certain which members of the group other than David Cummings actually left Gonzales as part of the force on 24 Feb or met the group along the way.  As mentioned above, some counted among the Immortal 32 may actually have been in the garrison at the beginning of the siege, but were in or about Gonzales in the last few weeks of the garrison.  Members of the garrison and many Bexar residents and members of the DeWitt Colony and the Gonzales Municipality moved relatively freely between the two sites apparently up until the last moments of the defeat, an intercourse which because of proximity and common problems on the western frontier of Texas was normal and much more frequent than the intercourse between Bexar and the Austin Colony to the east and south. David Cummings, was clearly not a resident of Gonzales, but joined the group on the way to Bexar. There are reports that more individuals joined the group between Gonzales and Bexar, but it is unclear and a continuing source of speculation as to the number of and who these individuals were.

Eleven DeWitt Colony residents who died in the garrison are thought to have been there when the siege began (3 were on the Gonzales Ranger muster roll). At least 7 more DeWitt Colony residents survived as couriers and foragers who were outside the garrison at the final moments, but had participated in the defense at one time or another. It is possible, even likely, that the Alamo Relief Force may have been larger than the estimated total of 34 (32 casualties and survivors Byrd Lockhart and John W. Smith) due to those unaccounted for who joined in Gonzales and on the way to Bexar and may have died in the garrison or even survived by departure before the end.  It is unlikely that this number was sufficiently larger to make a substantial difference on the current estimates of total Alamo defenders. 

Amid the debate of detail of why the more visible heroic Alamo icons were there, how they died, could they leave, and why others as Houston and the more well to do land and slave owners of the east and south were not, there is little room for debate about purity and clarity of motive and mission of the Immortal 32 who fought their way into the garrison, more than a few understanding, that short of a miracle, they would never leave.

12/16/98 Alamo de Parras Forum


Evaluate William B. Travis as a cavalry officer.

Fate and the course of the Mexican Federalist War that led to independence of Texas never allowed Travis's skills as a cavalry officer in the field to be tested. His first cavalry command given by order of Gen. Austin was essentially a scouting and reconnaissance unit. According to Moses Austin Bryan (Austin's nephew at the Battle of Bexar), Travis and his men in Nov 1835 at Bexar were equal to the best of the "eyes and ears" of the Texian Army, Deaf Smith and his men. Bryan said "......one or the other was always out. No one was more efficient in this line of service than Travis."

Travis's performance as a cavalry officer in his next opportunity of record in which he received a field promotion of Captain by Gen. Austin can best be summed up by his own actions and words on 6 Nov 1835:

"Head Quarters, Novr. 6th 1835 To The Commander in Chief of The Army of Texas Sir- Believing that I can not be longer useful to the army without complaints being made, I herewith tender to your Excellency my resignation as Capt. of Cavalry W. B. Travis."

Following his lifetime erratic and impulsive style, Travis' made a comeback as a "volunteer" under Capt. Briscoe by capturing the horses that he had failed to find previously which had precipitated his resignation. Before 5 Dec when Bexar was successfully stormed and Gen. Cos had capitulated, Travis had abandoned the cause and drifted back to his law practice in San Felipe. On 7 Dec he was offered commission as First Major of Texian Artillery under Fannin (Col. of the Artillery), but declined while pressing the Provisional Government for establishment of a Cavalry Battalion commanded by a Lt. Colonel. The battalion was established and he was appointed Lt. Colonel Commander. The 26-year-old attorney from Anahuac and San Felipe was now Lt. Col. Commander of the entire Texian Cavalry with a three month service record described above.

Although excited by a potential role of the cavalry in the proposed offensive action against the Centralistas at Matamoros, fate determined that Col. Travis would be pre-occupied with the difficulties of recruitment in the current environment. Depressed by failure to hit recruitment targets, he drifted over to Bexar to his destiny to be immortalized as commander of a completely defensive position with no formal element of cavalry except the faithful scouts, couriers and foragers.

Travis' appeal to the Provisional Government for a Cavalry Battalion was eloquent and on target:

"----for I consider that such a Battalion as I have indicated, is indispensable to the services of Texas during the present struggle. Do you wish to get information of the movements of a distant enemy? It must be done by cavalry - Do you wish to escort expresses? Guard Baggage while on the road? Charge a defeated & retreating enemy? Cut off supplies of the enemy? Harrass an invading army by hanging upon his rear, or forming ambuscades in his front? Do you wish to carry the war into the enemie's country as has been indicated: Do you wish to take him by surprise, or perform any other movement requiring celerity & promptness? All these things must be done by cavalry - and cavalry alone."

Ironically, Travis' appeal was a description of Centralist Gen. Urrea's division precisely, his points proven by their disastrous consequence on the Texian forces at Agua Dulce, San Refugio and Goliad.

Anglo-Texian leaders beginning with Stephen F. Austin were slow to supplement the superior marksmanship and infantry qualities of the frontiersman from the United States of the North with the cavalry skills, honed to perfection on the frontera since the early 18th century, of native Tejano rancheros and vaqueros (examples like Tlascalan Compania Volante San Carlos de Parras, the Guardia Victoriana, the San Fernando Rangers, Cordova's Nacogdochenos and the Bexar squadrons of Juan Seguin and Salvador Flores). This tradition did mature in the days of the Republic and beyond, primarily in the form of the Texas Rangers, appropriately described by James W. Nichols in his journal referring to a training session for rangers near Seguin in Capt. Jack Hay's company in 1843:

We put up a post about the size of a common man, then put up another about 40 yards farther on. We would ran our horses full speed and discharge our rifles at the first post, draw our pistles and fire at the second. At first thare was some wild shooting but we had not practised two months until thare was not many men that would not put his balls in the center of the posts. Then we drew a ring about the size of a mans head and soon every man could put both his balls in the circul. We would practics this awhile, then try rideing like the Comanche Indians. After practisng for three or four months we became so purfect that we would ran our horses half or full speede and pick up a hat, a coat, a blanket, or rope, or even a silver dollar, stand up in the saddle, throw ourselves on the side of our horses with only a foot and a hand to be seen, and shoot our pistols under the horses neck, rise up and reverse, etc.

1/18/99 Alamo de Parras War Room


Which Flag Flew Over the Alamo on March 6, 1836 and Why?

This issue has been recently covered by Texian Web author, CharlieYates who concludes

"...the idea that the defenders would have considered flying the 1824 Flag from the walls of their fortress is, at the very least, farfetched and, at the most, demeaning to their cause and their memory." 

Which banner flew on the Alamo raises the great issue of the timetable of opinion, motivation and spirit in Texas supporting a complete break to an independent Republic or an independent State within a democratic and Federalist Republic of Mexico.

I disagree with Charlie and believe that it is possible that a significant number of Alamo and also Goliad defenders (victims of the massacres) were fighting for the Constitution of 1824, if not within the Republic of Mexico, its principles. One should not forget that ironically, the principles espoused by the legislature of the State of Coahuila y Texas and the "Chameleon of the West," Santa Anna, in 1834 and 1835 was the most promising and hopeful for colonists to that date, e.g. freedom of religion, justice and economic reforms, reduction of barriers to immigration from the United States of the North, more representation in the state legislature, etc. Thus it is not unlikely that a variant of the Mexican tri-color alluding to the Constitution of 1824 or the twin stars of the tri-color representing Coahuila y Tejas were flown, at least as guidons by supporters within the fortress.

It is interesting to trace the move away from unique Mexican symbolism in evolution of the Lone Star flag of today as the last remnants of hope for a democratic Federal Republic of Mexico died with the tyrannical racist dictatorship and vice-regalism that kept a great people enslaved to almost into the 20th century. I believe strong opinions of support for independence within a democratic Federal Republic of Mexico lasted longer than most think among Anglo Mexican-Texians and was passed on to some of the fresh volunteers from the United States of the North as the cause.

Baker's flag of San Felipe retaining the Lone Star on Mexican green along with the Anglo Union Jack symbol, may have flown at San Jacinto.  Austin's "Lux Libertas" design also with the Union Jack, although probably never flown, retained the Mexican red, white, green vertical stripes in early1836, although Mexican green was absent in his proposed "In His ExampleThere is Safety" banner with George Washington's picture in the center.   Although often displayed in another color, Burnet's naval flag of April 1836 in the only known contemporary rendition, the Julia Sinks Scrapbook, retained a green field backing the Lone Star.  The Burnet Lone Star Flag of the Republic, Dec 1836 is shown in near green (or aquamarine) in the Julia Lee Sinks Scrapbook. In the final Lone Star which retained no remnant of Mexican green, was retained the wide red, white stripes of our Mexican roots although they were rotated to horizontal similar to the 13 stripes of the United States of the North.

How long into 1836 were there still incidents of loyalty, hope and concern for the Federalist Republic out of which independent Texas was born?—Although both subject to questions concerning authenticity, I have been intrigued by the Zuber story that Bowie was mutilated on his deathbed because of cursing the "Chameleon of the West" for his traitorous course and subversion of the Constitution of 1824. The most intriguing is the narrative of Lt. José Enrique De La Peña's referring to the execution of Col.Fannin at Goliad on 27 Mar 1836

"when he [Fannin] was informed of the order for his execution, he received it calmly and merely asked for enough time to write a farewell letter to his wife and another to General Santa Anna, in which he declared that he was not for the independence of Texas and that had died a victim of his love for the Constitution of 1824, under the auspices of which he had come to the country and for which he went to the sacrifice gladly."

3/12/99 Alamo de Parras War Room


At Goliad, did Fannin withhold details of key surrender terms from his men?

Amid the controversy and uncertainty that will likely forever rage over motive and competence of Colonel James Fannin, over ethics of Centralista despots and field commanders, and points of law surrounding the Goliad Massacre and terms of capitulation at Encinal del Perdido, there is one certainty in this writer's mind. The Colonel DID NOT misrepresent his views on surrender and terms of surrender to his men or to his enemies. Misrepresentation of the terms would have required an extensive conspiracy of officers and eyewitnesses, some of whom survived and wrote extensive accounts of events. Terms of surrender are remarkably consistent among Texian accounts. Surely others besides Col. Fannin read, or had read to them by others than Col. Fannin, the written English version of the terms on which they based their consistent accounts.

Surviving Commander of the Alabama Red Rovers and surgeon Dr. Jack Shackelford:

...I remarked to him [Col. Fannin], that I would not oppose a surrender, provided we could obtain an honourable capitulation; one, on which he could rely: that if he could not obtain such--come back---our graves are already dug---let us all be buried together. To these remarks the men responded in a firm and determined manner; and the Colonel assured us, that he never would surrender on any other terms. He returned in a short time thereafter, and communicated the substance of an agreement entered into by Gen. Urea and himself. Col. Holsinger, a German, and an engineer in the Mexican service, together with several other officers, then came into our lines to consummate the arrangement. The first words Col. Holsinger uttered after a very polite bow, were: Well, Gentlemen, in eight days, liberty and home. The terms of the Capitulation were then written in both the English and Mexican languages, and read two or three times by officers who could speak and read both languages. The instruments which embodied the terms of Capitulation as agreed on, were then signed and interchanged in the most formal and solemn manner; and were in substance, as follows

"1st. That we should be received and treated as prisoners of war according to the usages of the most civilized nations. 2d, That private property should be respected and restored: that the side arms of the officers should be given up. 3d. That the men should be sent to Copano, and thence to the United States in eight days, or so soon thereafter as vessels could be procured to take them. 4th. That the officers should be paroled and return to the United States in like manner."

Surviving Capt. Benjamin Holland who surely was privy to the details leading to capitulation:

...and the following treaty was concluded upon, and solemnly ratified: a copy of it in Spanish was retained by General Urea, and one in English by Colonel Fannin. Seeing the Texian army entirely overpowered by a far superior force, and to avoid the effusion of blood, we surrender ourselves prisoners of war, under the following terms:

Art. 1st, That we should be received and treated as prisoners of war, according to the usages of civilized nations. Art. 2d. That the officers should be paroled immediately upon their arrival at La Bahia, and the other prisoners should be sent to Copano, within eight days, there to await shipping to convey them to the United States, so soon as it was practicable to procure it: no more to take up arms against Mexico, until exchanged. Art. 3d. That all private property should be respected, and officers' swords should be returned on parole or release. Art. 4th. That our men should receive every comfort, and be fed as well as their own men. Signed, Gen. UREA, Col MORATEAS, Col. HOBZINGER, on the part of the enemy; and on our part, signed by Col. FANNIN, and Maj. WALLACE.

Survivor John C. Duval, brother of Capt. Burr Duval and likely privy to official deliberations and policy through his brother:

The substance of the Mexican officer's communication (as I understood at the time) was to the effect "that Gen. Urrea, the commander of the Mexican forces, being anxious to avoid the useless shedding of blood (seeing we were now completely in his power), would guarantee to Col. Fannin and his men, on his word of honor as an officer and gentleman, that we would be leniently dealt with, provided we surrendered at discretion, without further attempt at hopeless resistance." When this message was delivered to Col. Fannin he sent word back to the officer "to say to Gen. Urrea, it was a waste of time to discuss the subject of surrendering at discretion----that he would fight as long as there was a man left to fire a gun before he would surrender on such terms."

...[After white flags went up from both sides] Col. Fannin and Major Wallace went out to meet them, and the terms of capitulation were finally agreed upon, the most important of which was, that we should be held as prisoners of war until exchanged, or liberated on our parole of honor not to engage in the war again at the option of the Mexican commander in chief. There were minor articles included in it, such as that our side arms should be retained, etc. When the terms of capitulation had been fully decided upon, Gen. Urrea and his secretary and interpreter came into our lines with Col. Fannin, where it was reduced to writing, and an English translation given to Col. Fannin which was read to our men……

Surviving surgeon Dr. Joseph Barnard states:

…..[capitulation], as understood, were the sentiments of the party generally. When the matter was first proposed to Col. Fannin, he was for holding out longer, saying: "'We whipped them off yesterday, and we can do so again today."…….After some parley a capitulation with General Urrea was agreed upon, the terms of which were that we should lay down our arms and surrender ourselves as prisoners of war; that we should be treated as such, according to the usage of civilized nations. That our wounded men should be taken back to Goliad and properly attended to and that all private property should be respected. These were the terms that Col. Fannin distinctly told his men on his return, had been agreed upon, and which was confirmed by Major Wallace and Captain Dusangue, the interpreter……..We were told that the articles of capitulation were reduced to writing and signed by the commander of each side and one or two of their principal officers; that the writings were in duplicate, and each commander retained a copy……..We were also told, though I cannot vouch for the authority, that as soon as possible we should be sent to New Orleans under parole not to serve any more against Mexico during the war in Texas; but it seemed to be confirmed by an observation of the Mexican Colonel Holzinger, who was to superintend the receiving of our arms. As we delivered them up, he exclaimed: "Well, gentlemen, in ten days, liberty and home."

 

Surviving surgeon Dr. Joseph Fields:

….When the two commanders met at a proper distance from their respective armies, the Mexican General Urrea embraced Col. Fannin and said, 'Yesterday we fought; but today we are friends.'  Articles of capitulation were soon agreed upon by the two commanders, and committed to writing with the necessary signatures and formalities. The articles were, that in consideration of our surrendering, our lives should be ensured, our personal property restored, and we were to be treated, in all respects, as prisoners of war are treated among enlightened nations. We also received a verbal promise to be sent, in eight days, to the nearest port, to be transported to the United States.

Survivor Abel Morgan:

...I asked Col. Fanning upon what conditions he was to surrender his arms. He told me that our lives and our private property were guaranteed to us; that we were to give up to the Mexicans all of the Texas property that was in our possession, and that as soon as they got their provisions out of their vessels that were at Copino, that all of us who belonged in the States were to be sent to New Orleans; and that what few prisoners they had, that belonged to Texas they were to retain as prisoners of war until exchanged...

From the record it is clear that instead of misrepresenting something, Col. Fannin deferred his own opinion to continue fighting, or to make for the timber at Coleto, to the consensus of his officers and men to capitulate, largely on behalf of the wounded. Once he deferred, he obtained the best of terms under the circumstances and particularly the letter of Mexican law and continued to believe in those terms until the moment of massacre at Goliad. Any deceit and withholding of details of the "real" terms of surrender was on the part of the despotic Centralistas represented by Urrea, his boss Santa Anna, and their lackeys, who fatally deceived this loyal and patriotic Anglo-Mexican Federalist James Fannin who wrote Santa Anna prior to execution that he was

"not for the independence of Texas and that had died a victim of his love for the Constitution of 1824, under the auspices of which he had come to the country and for which he went to the sacrifice gladly."

"They trusted our generosity too much.......Fannin was one of those who had trusted our supposed humanitarianism; one had often heard him say, 'Oh, I have great faith in the honor and character of all Mexicans.'"

(Above quotes from Lt. José Enrique De La Peña's With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution.)

6/4/99 Alamo de Parras War Room

In reply to respondents who quote the one surviving surrender document in the Mexican War archives:

Caution should be exercised as Col. Fannin and his men found in trusting Centralista diablos including their archival documents. The following questions arise concerning the purported surrender document found by Dr. E. C. Barker in the Archives of the War Department in Mexico City: 

1. Assuming the document is authentic, particularly the signatures of Wallace, Chadwick and Fannin, why was it not also signed by Centralista representatives including Gen. Urrea above the addendum? Does this not alone invalidate the document? Even the four article agreement in English reconstructed in detail by surviving Capt. Benjamin Holland in his account acknowledges signatures by both sides:

"Signed, Gen. UREA, Col MORATEAS, Col. HOBZINGER, on the part of the enemy; and on our part, signed by Col. FANNIN, and Maj. WALLACE."

2. Was the addendum added by Gen. Urrea done on 20 Mar 1836 or much later as cover-ups and recriminations among Centralista chameleons proceeded after the loss of Texas? Why was the addendum undated? Even if added in the period, it is likely, if part of the document is authentic, that it was signed before the addendum and the addendum was added without knowledge of the Texian commissioners, much less with their agreement to it. 

3. Why were the words "nor wish" in Urrea's addendum in the War Archives not included in the copy of the capitulation later cited in his Diario which he edited and published in 1838 after Santa Anna's account of the Texas campaign in Manifesto published in 1837? In Urrea's diary, the phrase translates "I ought not, nor can I, grant any other terms." 

4. Did Urrea admit himself that there was a "capitulation" in his official contemporary report only to change his story later after publication of Manifesto by Santa Anna? 

MINISTER OF WAR AND MARINE  Central Section Desk No. I. Division of Operations Most Excellent Sir---On the 19th Inst., the fort of Goliad was abandoned by the enemy after an attempt to fight this division. The said fortress is, therefore, at the disposal of the supreme government. The leader, Fannin, and his companions with more than three hundred soldiers (who capitulated) that were garrisoning the said fortress are likewise at its disposal.  (Translation by Carlos Casteñeda) 

Casteñeda notes: "Urrea in his Diario, published immediately after the Manifesto, says 'the phrase in the parenthesis [who capitulated] has been altered, for I wrote Que se titulaban [who called themselves such] and there is a vast difference between the two phrases evident from their very meaning, but specially so, given the circumstances.' This document is reproduced in the appendix to Urrea's Diario. It was published in the Diario del Gobierno, México, April 13, 1836, and also in the Alcance of El Mercurio, Matamoros, April 3, 1836. In both instances the phrase in question appears as 'que se titulaban.'"

Given the remarkable and explicit consistency of multiple recollections of terms of the capitulation among survivors who no doubt heard and read the English version and even participated in the agreement, if the Centralista document is authentic, it is conceivable that there were multiple versions, the one described by Texians and somewhat alluded to by Col. Holzinger's contemporary optimistic comments, and the official Centralista document in the Mexican War Archives. If so, the capture and destruction of any Texian documents immediately after surrender was likely a high priority on the part of the Centralistas.  

Then as now the take home lesson is "Never trust a Centralista Diablo" (their followers, representatives and commissioners) whether that be Mao, Stalin, Hitler or Milosevic (or Santa Anna and those like him that lost Texas and over half of the original Republic of Mexico, while keeping a great people enslaved for most of the 19th century).

On the modis operandi of Centralista General José Urrea, The Fox of Durango.

Similar to Hitler's Desert Fox Rommel, respect for Urrea's superior performance as a field commander in the Texas campaign and his eloquence in self-defense after loss of Texas and ensuing inter-Centralista recriminations has periodically caused some to suggest that the "Fox of Durango" does not belong alongside his commander-in-chief in the war crimes dock. He was a repeat offender---both in the offering of terms to induce surrender which he later denied and admitted were illegal under the letter of Mexican law and impossible for him to adhere to, and the brutal execution of the wounded and prisoners in his presence when he could have prevented it directly.

Within the one week of his major deception of the Fannin force at Coleto which led to massacre, witness the actions of the Fox of Durango:

From Urrea's own words, we have an example of his actions when in direct command on site and when the force to be captured was too small to be of consequence if they fought to the death. Capt. King's force was sufficiently small and isolated that the Fox of Durango's subterfuge concerning terms of surrender were not necessary to induce their surrender and they were disposed of swiftly. From Urrea's Diario:

"I authorized the execution, after my departure from camp, of thirty adventurers taken prisoners during the previous engagements, setting free those who were colonists or Mexicans."

Lewis T. Ayers related concerning Capt. King’s men at the Mission Refugio:

……I should have mentioned that the two Germans and myself are the only survivors of the 33, one of these Germans soon after died from his wounds. The rest of our party were barbarously shot, stripped naked and left on the prairie about one mile from the Mission. . .

The helpless and wounded at Mission Refugio posed no threat, therefore no subterfuge was needed to induce surrender, prior to executions at which the Fox of Durango was personally present and in command after Ward’s departure. Henry Scott relates:

"Infuriated by the tremendous losses they had sustained the day before, the soldiers rushed upon the wounded Texian soldiers and their care-takers and bayoneted them with brutal cruelty……The scene was harassing; the muttered curses of vengeance against the 'diablos Tejanos'; the groans of the dying….."

Sabina Brown Fox also describes the scene at the Mission Refugio under direct personal command of the Fox:

"…..When she went to make him a cup of tea, there were two dirty Mexicans wiping the blood off their swords and the poor boy was breathing his last; she said, "My poor boy," and one of them replied; "Here you got no boy."

Two days after his deception of Fannin’s forces at Coleto, the Fox of Durango employed the same approach to induce surrender of Col. Ward’s contingent.

Survivor Joseph Andrews relates:

……They came running in announcing the approach of the enemy---Council was held. Ward was for fight; but the most were for surrendering; the Mexicans hoisted a white flag---The surrender was made. They were to be treated as prisoners of war; and were to be sent back to the U S---They were marched to Victoria; thence to Goliad where they met with Fannin and his men all prisoners….

Survivor Samuel T. Brown relates:

"The two men came within speaking distance of us, stated our situation and the power of the enemy, and desired Colonel Ward to see General Urrea upon the terms of surrender: upon which Colonel Ward, Major Mitchell, and Captain Ticknor, had an interview with General Urrea and returned, making known to us the offer of the enemy, if we surrendered prisoners of war, that we should be marched to Copano without delay, and from thence to New Orleans, or detained as prisoners of war and be exchanged. Colonel Ward addressed his men and said he was opposed to surrendering; that it was the same enemy we had beaten at the Mission, only much reduced in numbers, and that he thought our chance of escape equally practicable as it was then. He proposed that the attack on us might be evaded until night, when he might possibly pass the enemy's lines and get out of danger. At all events, he thought it best to resist every inch, as many of us as could save ourselves, and if we surrendered, he had doubts of the faith and humanity of the Mexicans; that he feared we should all be butchered. The vote of the company was taken, and a large majority were in favor of surrendering upon the terms proposed; Colonel Ward informed them that their wishes should govern, but if they were destroyed, no blame could rest on him. The same officers as before, to wit: Colonel Ward, Major Mitchell, and Captain Ticknor, again saw General Urrea, and I understood a paper was signed by the Mexican general, to dispose of us as above stated, on condition that we should never serve Texas any more; one copy in Spanish, and another in English. Then came the hour for us to see all our hopes entirely blasted."

With the action with Ward’s contingent, the Fox of Durango twice within days executed successfully his modis operandi---induction of surrender by deceit of a force for which he knew, as stated later in his Diaro, would otherwise fight to the death, a tactic which was ironically illegal under the letter of Mexican law, and dishonorable under any codes or laws of war. 

In his treatise, Representation, of 1836 in defense of his honor regarding operations in the Texas campaign, his commander after the demise of Gen. Santa Anna Gen. Filisola says:

Por cada una de estas escaramuzas, merecia el Sr. Urrea un consejo de guerra, y el castigo condigno, por haber asesinado en ellas porcion de soldados valientes, debiendo sin este sacrificio haber obtenido iguales resultados.

For everyone of those skirmishes, Urrea deserved a court martial and condign punishment, for having assassinated in them a number of brave soldiers, as he might have obtained the same results without this sacrifice.

William Kennedy in his 1841 book on Texas points out that Filisola's use of the term "capitulado" ["En donde habian capitulado"] to refer to the surrender of Fannin's men at Mission Refugio and at Encinal del Perdido (Coleto) indicated his [Filisola's] belief that stipulations had preceded their surrender."

The original question of this thread, whether Texian leaders misrepresented the terms of surrender to their men, can also be applied to Col. Ward as well as Fannin. Both Fannin and Ward expressed reservation about surrender, both followed the wishes of the majority of their men, both obtained similar surrender terms from the Fox of Durango, and both met a similar fate at Goliad. Being much more a "foreigner" in Mexican territory than was loyal Mexican Federalist Fannin, Ward appears to have more intensely expressed his distrust of the Mexican officials in regard to honoring terms of surrender, yet in the end followed the wishes of the majority of his men as did James Fannin.


Juan Seguin Memorial Project.   In reviewing the section in the brochure "The Need to Honor Juan N. Seguin" of this worthy and important project, I was prompted to comment on the last two sentences below:

The History of Texas has often been told without a full representation of the contributions of Tejanos and the risks they faced. During the fight for independence, both Anglos and Tejanos fought equally hard against the tyranny of Santa Anna, who was openly violating the Mexican Constitution of 1824. However, if the fight for independence had been unsuccessful, most of the Anglos could have returned to the United States without further risk. The Tejanos, on the other hand, would have been subjected to loss of property at best or, most likely, loss of life.

The statement in parentheses above may have been true for those fresh from the US who had come temporarily to aid the cause of Texas independence. However, it is an erroneous statement when applied to the great majority of Anglo-Mexican immigrants who gave up all for a new life, the hope of economic, political and personal freedom, and to contribute to development of a free society at the invitation of the Mexican government and protection by the Constitution of 1824. Anglo and Hispanic Tejanos, who resisted tyranny and Centralism, faced equal dangers and equal losses of life and property, both groups were forced to abandoned homes and property (of which in most cases was totally destroyed) and both fled to the Sabine River and the United States for sanctuary on the Runaway Scrape.  The United States, primarily Louisiana, was the safe haven in the great majority of cases for most native Hispanic Tejanos who chose to leave the Republic of Texas because of discrimination.  If the fight for independence had been unsuccessful, Anglo Tejano colonists would have been the greater losers while Hispanic Tejanos would have been offered amnesty and return of their property if they were willing to declare allegiance to Centralista Mexico.

8/13/99 Alamo de Parras Forum

Did Juan Seguin betray the Republic of Texas for whose independence he heroically fought?

In response to the common simplistic suggestion that his actions were motivated by selective mistreatment of Hispanic Tejanos.   Then as now the knee-jerk reaction is to simplistically cry discrimination and injustice based on race, cultural, economic, or some other individual characteristic to justify regrettable decisions of moral choice and loyalty (witness Hillary Clinton's poor attempts to blame the women in her husband Bill Clinton's childhood to justify his character faults).  There is no doubt that Seguin faced unfair discrimination because some factions unfairly and stereotypically associated his ethnic and cultural background with the despotic enemy against which Texas had won its independence.  However it is equally likely that Seguin's actions were motivated by flaws in character and personality that has historically gotten public servants from Kings to former San Antonio Mayor Cisneros into trouble that must be dissected from racial and cultural discrimination which cannot be used as a shield of justification for poor ethics. 

Often stated to justify Seguin's actions is that unjust land deals, squatting and other shady actions to obtain land ownership and other property by unscrupulous individuals, Anglos the majority, were weighted more against Hispanic-Tejanos (Seguin being an example) than Anglo-Tejanos who also established land ownership by title or homestead improvements under Spain, Mexico and the Republic? Where is the evidence?  Has a study been done tracing the fate of all land titles under Mexico and the Republic, including bounty for service distributions to determine that Hispanic Texans statistically were the selective victims of shady land deals? Similarly, has a statistical study been done to show that involvement in immoral and illegal activities occurred in greater proportion to population in one or more racial, cultural, or economic groups of the period.  I suspect not, and further predict that one is unlikely to find that graft and corruption in respect to land ownership discriminated on that basis. 

Individual-initiated, in contrast to government-sanctioned, land speculation, shady mortgaging, smuggling, political vendetta and fear of loss of political and social status as well as financial security with old age (desire to maintain a military reputation and eventual pension) may have been factors in the complicated reasons for Seguin's betrayal of his native land.  By some contemporaries, Seguin's actions were explained as a reaction to suits pending in San Antonio to confiscate lands for which illegal speculation or at best poor management had been exercised, thus the reason for the timing of one Centralista invasion for when San Antonio court was in session.  The validity of such claims and whether Seguin could receive a fair hearing under the circumstances is a subject of debate. 

In evaluating Seguin's actions, one must respect the fact that there were many known, but largely unknown, Hispanic Tejanos and Mexican anti-Centralistas of similar race and cultural background to Seguin who lie in unmarked graves throughout Texas and Mexico who stood fast amid persecution and discrimination without taking such actions.  By taking his traitorous action, Seguin gave ammunition and justification to the opinions of the factions who discriminated against him, in his own words "a few wicked men."

Then as today, the consequences of flaws in character and individual action, must be weighed and balanced against the broader, long term contribution to the public service.  Perhaps greater than the single man Juan Seguin is Juan Seguin the symbol of the forgotten loyalty, heroism and essential role of Hispanic Tejanos to Texas in the struggle for its independence and freedom as well as the contributions to its unique identity as a state and culture.  It is obvious that Texians, contemporary to his life, and continuing today were and are extremely forgiving and liberal in acknowledging his heroic contributions in the service of Texas and Mexican Federalism.   Even his harshest contemporary critics concerning his service to the invading Centralista Mexican army of the 1840's do not fail to mention his service to the security and struggle for independence of Texas.  Many aided Seguin's repatriation.

I, like many of Seguin's contemporaries, most intensely his father Erasmo, and in the end he himself, am saddened when I read his story and at a loss to simplistically explain his alliance with Mexican Centralistas.   Seguin's own rationalization is that in addition to discrimination which motivated his departure from San Antonio, that he was also taken prisoner in Mexico and his choice was prison or service in the Centralista military.  However, there is no doubt that he served with distinction evidenced by both his own and Commander Woll's reports.  Seguin paid a heavy price for his actions for which he suffered unhappiness and regret throughout his life.  In his own words "a victim to the wickedness of a few men... a foreigner in my native land; could I be expected to stoically endure their outrages and insults?  I sought for shelter amongst those against whom I fought; I separated from my country, parents, family, relatives and friends, and what was more, from the institutions, on behalf which I had drawn my sword, with an earnest wish to see Texas free and happy."

The majority old Texian opinion was expressed best by Houston himself in his letter to Don Erasmo Seguin in the summer of July 1842, no doubt a time when Don Erasmo had failed to persuade his son Juan against his traitorous action to leave Bexar and consort with the Centralistas south of the border:

Private.  City of Houston, 6th July, 1842.  To Don Erasmo Seguin.  My Dear Sir, It affords me pleasure to present you salutations of my friendly esteem and regard. I am aware that you are unhappy in consequence of the absence of your son, Colonel J. N. Seguin, from Bexar. I deplore his absence much; and when I heard of his situation at Bexar some time since, I intended to invite him to a situation which would be more agreeable to him here than at Bexar. What his motives are for absenting himself from home at this time, I cannot imagine; but you may be assured, my dear Sir, and you may so assure him, that I cannot, nor will I ever entertain a suspicion of his fidelity to the Republic of Texas; until I have the most conclusive evidence---and that, I trust I shall never have.  The conduct of Captain Seguin and his brave company in the army of 1836, and his brave and gallant bearing in the battle of San Jacinto, with that of his men---his soldierly and ofñcer-like conduct as Colonel in the service of the nation, have afforded me too much happiness to sacrifice my estimation of his worth and character to idle rumor, or unexplained circumstances.  I pray, Sir, that you will not suppose for one moment, that I will denounce Colonel John N. Seguin, without a most perfect understanding of the circumstances of his absence. I rely upon his honor, his worth, and his chivalry.  Allow me to render to you my sincere expressions of friendship, and tender you my salutations of profound esteem and regard to your family. Your friend, Sam Houston [Rubric]

In addition to President of the Texas Republic, Anson Jones opinion in 1845 quoted by an earlier correspondent:

"Col. Seguin fought as well at San Jacinto as any man there; but has been forced by bad usage to quit the country, and, as is said, has turned traitor; but I am unwilling to believe it."

Here are what some other of his contemporaries said of him including his commander General Woll in the invasion of 1842:

DeWitt Colonists Ben Highsmith as told to A.J. Sowell:

"Captain Seguin had some trouble with the Americans near his ranch, and thinking he had been wronged by them, turned traitor to Texas, removed to Mexico and returned with the invading armies of Vasquez and Wall in 1842."

From the diary of Miles Bennet, son of deceased Texian quartermaster Valentine Bennet, describing the response to Centralista invasion:

"….The prompt gathering of the few settlers of the Guadalupe and their taking their position near San Antonio, arrested the intended raid on Gonzales, begun by John N. Seguin and his mercenaries, and the pluck of our men in thus throwing themselves between the vandals and the settlements prevented it which might have been disastrous."

DeWitt Colonist Robert Hall (aka Brazos), a veteran referring to the Battle of Salado and Dawson's Massacre:

"Col. Seguin, a Mexican gentleman who had been prominent in Texas, went away with Gen. Woll. I don't think the Texans treated Seguin right."

From The Journal of James Wilson Nichols 1820-1887, DeWitt Colony resident (unedited):

"In the spring, the 7th of March, Gen'l Vascos, then commanding the Mexican forces at Matamoras, made a decent on San Antonio with twelve hundred vetrian troops, led on by desineing men, two of whom I will mention, John N. Seguin, who had done signal service at the Battle of San Jacinto with a company of rancharoes in behalf of Texas and kept on doing good servises in watching the retreeting foe and reporteing their manuvers to head quarters. He was called on to inter the remaines of the fallen heroes of the Alamo which he responded to but who had turned traitor and had left Texas and all his larg posesions mostly land and taken a colonels comission in the Mexican army but who after many years sneaked back into Texas and claimed a pension under the law granting pensions to old Texas vetrens and had his name placed by the side of som of the men who he faught against at the Battle of Salado and continued to draw the pension until his death. The other was Antonio Periz, another noted Mexican leader, who commanded a company under Santa Anna and assisted in the massacree at the fall of the Alamo and who was left to garison the place by the dictator, but after the occurance he was concidred by som a friend to Texas and a good citizen. He remained with us and done som good Indian fighting until 1840 when he left Texas for the same purpose that Seguin did, a commission as Col. in the Mexican army. These two men had large landed estates and thare was suits pending in the court at San Antonio to confiscate their lands, and suposeng that court was in session at that place, it being the time for the regular session, hence the raid by Gen'l Vascos, they swooped down on the town and unsuspecting citizens about dark when the town was an easy prey."

From Senator Henry E. McCulloch in a speech to Texas State Senate 1858 to preserve the Alamo:

"....In the fall of 1942, General Wall, a Mexican general, at the head of a band of Mexican robbers, (for I can call them by no milder name), some 1,200 or 1,500 strong, led, in part, by heartless traitors---and when I say that, I mean what I say, and will name Colonel Juan N. Seguin, who now lives on the San Antonio river, and Captain Antonio Perez, who is dead, as the leaders I refer to---made a descent upon San Antonio, when the district court was then in session, and overpowered and took the place, making prisoners of all the Americans that were there, robbing and plundering the town, and spreading alarm through a sparsely populated and defenseless country, causing the settlers to leave their homes and flee to places of safety...."

From General Adrian Woll's battle reports of 1842:

"…..I also recommend to Y.E., [Your Excellency] so you may kindly do the same before the Supreme Government, Mr. Juan N. Seguin, Commandant of the Bejar Defenders, who lent his most important services during the march and in combat; as well as the Brevet Lt. Colonel, Capt. of the same Defenders, Antonio Perez, their Captains Manuel Leal, Manuel Carbajal, and Lt. Leandro Arreola; and also the Brevet Squadron Commandant, Capt. of the Rio Grande Defenders, Mr. Manuel Quinto de Luna; their Capt. Manuel Flores, and another of the same rank, Vicente Cordova of Nacogdoches."

"…Mr. Juan Nepomuceno Seguin, did likewise fulfill this time what he had offered to the government, and what his friends had expected of his steadfast character and his well accredited valor; having drawn his sword, he fights under the Mexican flag, and the Fatherland can expect a great deal from this honorable citizen in the forthcoming conquest of the usurped territory, with his talent, bravery and vast knowledge of the Department of Texas; I beg Y.E. to recommend earnestly to the Supreme Government, the merits of Mr. Seguin, as well as the particular ones earned by Brevet Lt. Colonel, Capt. Antonio Perez, the Captains Manuel Leal and Manuel Carbajal, also Lt. Leandro Arreola, all of them of the Bejar Defenders commanded by Juan Seguin."

"Mr. Juan N. Seguin, Commandant of the Bejar Defenders, and the intrepid Brevet Lt. Colonel, Capt. Antonio Perez, the Captains Manuel Leal and Manuel Flores, have rendered important services; and so did Lieutenants Manuel Carbajal and Manuel Patiho. Finally, Y. E., I will conclude bringing it to your superior cognizance, that the behavior of all was such, as to cause admiration among the enemy prisoners themselves, who declared frightened, that they could not have imagined the Mexican soldier to fight with so much intrepidity and serenity."  Alamo de Parras War Room 08/11/99


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