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The Alamo--Needless Martyrs

DigiTrad:
REMEMBER THE ALAMO
THE BALLAD OF THE ALAMO


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GUEST,Ron Davies 07 Apr 04 - 10:56 PM
Stilly River Sage 07 Apr 04 - 11:27 PM
Deckman 07 Apr 04 - 11:38 PM
Peace 07 Apr 04 - 11:38 PM
mack/misophist 08 Apr 04 - 12:47 AM
katlaughing 10 Apr 04 - 11:53 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 11 Apr 04 - 12:48 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Apr 04 - 12:54 AM
kendall 11 Apr 04 - 07:19 AM
GUEST 11 Apr 04 - 08:08 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 Apr 04 - 09:34 AM
Bill D 11 Apr 04 - 10:23 AM
Little Hawk 11 Apr 04 - 12:27 PM
JohnInKansas 11 Apr 04 - 08:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Apr 04 - 09:05 PM
Little Hawk 11 Apr 04 - 09:10 PM
katlaughing 11 Apr 04 - 10:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Apr 04 - 11:23 PM
katlaughing 12 Apr 04 - 12:14 AM
Mark Clark 12 Apr 04 - 01:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Apr 04 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,petr 12 Apr 04 - 07:38 PM
Bill D 12 Apr 04 - 08:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Apr 04 - 09:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Apr 04 - 10:04 PM
ex-pat 12 Apr 04 - 10:49 PM
Dave Hanson 12 Apr 04 - 11:11 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Apr 04 - 11:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 04 - 12:28 AM
fretless 13 Apr 04 - 09:51 AM
DonMeixner 13 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Apr 04 - 12:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 04 - 12:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jul 07 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 16 Jul 07 - 04:56 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jul 07 - 06:08 PM
Midchuck 16 Jul 07 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Texican 16 Jul 07 - 08:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jul 07 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,Young Buchan 17 Jul 07 - 06:31 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jul 07 - 03:11 PM
TheSnail 17 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jul 07 - 04:40 PM
Scoville 17 Jul 07 - 04:54 PM
Ebbie 17 Jul 07 - 05:16 PM
TheSnail 17 Jul 07 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 17 Jul 07 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,Texican 17 Jul 07 - 07:22 PM
Midchuck 17 Jul 07 - 07:28 PM
fumblefingers 18 Jul 07 - 04:22 PM
Gulliver 18 Jul 07 - 05:10 PM
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Subject: BS: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs?
From: GUEST,Ron Davies
Date: 07 Apr 04 - 10:56 PM

Due in large part to the movie coming out soon, Smithsonian had an article on the Alamo--great reading. Movie sounds worthwhile, but what really fascinated me was the complexity of the situation--way beyond the '189 heroes' we heard about in the 50s. The article didn't deal with this question but I did some more research and it seems evident that the Alamo slaughter was needless.

General Houston, in charge of the regulars, had in fact sent Jim Bowie to carry the word to destroy the Alamo and retreat to a more defensible position--as originally a mission, it was not a good place to be besieged. But what appears to have happened is that when Bowie got there he was so impressed with what had been done to improve the position, and possibly convinced it was essential as a forward post, so he decided to stay and help improve it further. Houston had sent a message to Governor Smith (governor of what I don't know, since Texas was neither a country nor a state at that point--he appears to have been the head of a governing committee a la the Continental Congresses). Houston told Smith that the Alamo should be abandoned if Smith saw fit. Gov. Smith did not see fit.


What a cast of characters!

Jim Bowie, former slave trader with Jean LaFitte of Battle of New Orleans fame, and current land swindler and definitely a fighter. Though he did not invent the famous knife (his brother did), he sure used it to good advantage before he got to Texas.

Former Congressman David Crockett--one of the US' first celebrities and a Jackson man who had turned against Jackson over some land bills. It appears that Jackson wanted a free hand for land speculators--profits to be used for education!--while Crockett felt the squatters who had actually cleared the land should get the land cheap. Also Crockett was one of the few prominent Westerners (meaning west of Pennsylvania) who opposed Jackson's Indian removal policy. He had lost his seat in Congress due to Jacksonian opposition. The famous quote was " Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" Hope he really said it--it's a classic. In Texas Crockett planned to be a land agent -- maybe more.


Lt. Colonel Travis--27 at the time of his death--an attorney with military experience, who was not the choice of the volunteers at the Alamo--they finally agreed to let him lead the regulars while Bowie was elected leader of the volunteers--Bowie celebrated by getting smashed and letting out prisoners. Soon Bowie was down with pneumonia and Travis was in charge.


Santa Anna--nobody seems to know where the extra n came from--originally Santa Ana. The ultimate turncoat--first against the Spanish as an officer in the Spanish army. After switching allegiances an amazing number of times, he was let through a US blockade in 1846 to negotiate a diplomatic settlement, at which point he put himself ·(again) at the head of the anti US forces in Mexico. In 1836 he did surprise the Alamo defenders by appearing sooner and with more troops than expected---many of them press-ganged Indians who didn't speak Spanish.


Houston--in a different way from the Alamo defenders a profile in courage--not only beating a larger Mexican army at San Jacinto soon after the Alamo, but much later, as governor, refusing to support secession of Texas and refusing to take the oath of loyalty to the newly formed Confederate States of America, for which he was removed as governor. (He did eventually verbally support the South).


General Cos--Mexican commander when the Americans besieged and took the Alamo themselves (December 1835)--he was given safe-conduct for him and his forces, on condition that he not fight against the Texans. When Santa Anna ordered him to rejoin, he did--a main leader in the besieging forces which slaughtered the Texans in March 1836.


None of the defenders had a death wish (though Bowie probably realized he was mortally ill). All they had to do was do what Houston suggested. They didn't. They called for reinforcements--very few came, due to their own problems, and the larger relief force would have been too late.

So the Alamo was considered a military assset after all. But after the slaughter, which Santa Anna had "legalized" by declaring all rebels to be outlaws, the Mexicans got it anyway. You can say the outrage caused by the Alamo and the Goliad massacre soon after raised volunteers and hence helped Texas get independence, guaranteed by Santa Anna as a prisoner after San Jacinto.   But the Alamo slaughter seems like a real waste of some great men--including some Spanish-speaking Mexican-born defenders.

I think Houston was right---any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Apr 04 - 11:27 PM

There is tons out there about the Alamo. It's a very complex situation, that war, let alone that battle. It is still in some ways a political hot potato in Texas.

U of Texas @ Arlington Special Collections Poke around here for lots of Texana.

From The Handbook of Texas, subject, Alamo:

Alamo (the mission)

Article about the battle

Survivors

A separate site, visit Alamo.org

You can spend a long time reading on this subject.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Apr 04 - 11:38 PM

A hundred years ago, when I was a fledgling Army medic stationed at Fort Sam Houstin, Texas, I visited the Alamo often. What impressed me most of all was the SMALLNESS of the place. I'm sure that in those earlier years it was considered huge, but now it's very small.

But, like events even today, the issues seem to transcend the physical surroundings. Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Peace
Date: 07 Apr 04 - 11:38 PM

According to Michener in the novel "Texas", The Yellow Rose occupied Santa Anna's time, thus allowing the 'defenders' of the mission to further reinforce their position, gaining an extra day for the Republic of Texas.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: mack/misophist
Date: 08 Apr 04 - 12:47 AM

In Texas, this is a religious issue; better not discussed by infidels.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Apr 04 - 11:53 PM

I got this from an interesting article in Scotland Today and thought it was good that at least the movie brought thsi out:

And, for the first time on the big screen, the movie highlights the Scottish contribution to the battle by featuring bagpiper John McGregor who originally came from Aberfeldy in Perthshire.

While four Scots died during the battle of the Alamo, it is McGregor, a piper and second sergeant of Captain William R Carey's artillery company that has romantically captured the imagination of Alamo historians and enthusiasts.

In a bid to raise the morale of the besieged defenders, McGregor performed musical 'duels' with American folklore legend and second generation Scot, Davy Crockett, who played the fiddle. McGregor was said to have won the duels because he played the longest and loudest.

The pair's musical endeavours led to the enduring Alamo myth, now an urban legend, that the Mexican troops coined the word 'gringo' after hearing the defenders, many of them Scottish-Americans, singing rousing choruses of 'Green Grow The Rashes Oh!' as they faced certain death.


kat


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 12:48 AM

The folks who fought this battle did it over land. It was a case of we want it and you are a bad greedy dictator.

The people in the middle - the native Texans, Hispanics and a few Irish Catholic refugees (funny that bit ...these folks were taken from under the yoke of colonial England in Ireland to the then Tejas IN Mexico where they were allowed to be Catholics )- got the shaft as usual.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 12:54 AM

Santa Anna had the nine lives of a cat, in and out of power and favor many times.
He first gained fame by turning back an ill-advised Spanish invasion at Tampico in 1829. He became president in 1833, but left legislation and governance to an anti-clerical, Farias, who lost army support when he reduced the army. Santa Anna had 'retired,' but carried out another coup in 1834, this time supporting the clerics. He soon 'retired' again, leaving governance to his vice-president.
In 1835, fighting at San Antonio defeated the Mexican force there.
When Texas declared independence, Santa Anna took over command of the campaign, which he lost at San Jacinto.
Santa Anna conceded Texas in return for his personal freedom. The Mexican government refused to admit the loss of Texas, and Santa Anna lost his popularity. A new president led for four years.
A brief war with France over compensation for nationals left Santa Anna minus a leg, but with renewed popularity. Joining a revolt against the current president, Santa Anna became dictator in 1843. Mexico was broke and he couldn't pay officers or officials; he ended up being exiled to Cuba.
When the Mexican War started, Santa Anna returned to Mexico. In 1847, he defeated an inexperienced column led by Zachary Taylor. This he represented as a great victory, and overthrew the government again. Against a real army, Santa Anna was, of course defeated. The United States gained the entire northern Mexican area, from Texas to California (the present Garden City, Kansas was about at the northern boundary).

Again Santa Anna emerged from defeat and exile to become "El Supremo" in 1853. He messed up as usual and was again exiled in 1855.
He was allowed to return in 1872, and died in 1876.

This story of success followed by failure due to incompetence, repeated over and over, has no parallels that I know of.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: kendall
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 07:19 AM

T he history I have read about this is that the Americans who moved into Texas did so by invitation of the Mexican government. Then not liking the government, rebelled and started a war. It was like a guest coming into your house and taking over. Far as I can see, they asked for it.Heros, BAH! Humbug!


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 08:08 AM

And to top it off, Santa Anna invented chewing gum while living on Staten Island!


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 09:34 AM

That "green go the lilacs" bit is a myth.

From WikiPedia:

    Gringo (feminine, gringa) is a term (sometimes derogatory) in the Spanish and Portuguese languages for a person who speaks a non-Romance language. Normally it is used to refer to a white English-speaking person, but it could be used to name a German, Swedish or Croatian citizen, as well as U.S or Canadian people regardless of their ethnic origins.

    Etymologically, gringo comes from griego ("Greek"), since Greek was the proverbial example of not understandable language: an example of this is found in Shakespeare's "It was Greek to me" (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2). It was applied to speakers of foreign languages, especially the English language, by the eighteenth century. In Spanish it was later extended to white-skinned people even if Spanish-speaking, and can sometimes even mean just blond. Brazil, after learning the word from its Spanish-speaking neighbours, has kept closer to its original sense.

    A recurring folk etymology explanation for the derivation of the word states that it originated during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. The legend maintains that "Green Grow the Rushes, Oh!" was a popular song of the day and that Mexicans heard the invading US troops singing "Green grow..." and contracted this into gringo. Another version, heard in Brazil, refers to the USAF airbase near Natal during World War II. The soldiers, wearing their green uniforms, would be told "green, go!" by their sergeants during training. While the legends are certainly imaginative, they do nothing to address the fact that gringo was attested in Spanish long before either incident.

    Most English language speakers have met the word in Western films.

    Compare with Yankee.

    See also: American, Alternative words for American



It has a few embedded links I didn't duplicate here, but the link above takes you to this page.

SRS


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 10:23 AM

I guess they were 'making a point'...but in the face of 27 bazillion Mexicans, I would have thought "surrender" and live to continue the struggle elsewhere.

(Just saw the BIG movie with John Wayne, and they managed to do more preaching, speculating and other tedious oratory than fighting! Old farts with grizzled beards having learned philosophical discussions about the afterlife! Sure..)


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 12:27 PM

The John Wayne film was one of the most tedious and boring westerns ever made.

The Battle of the Alamo was a fascinating incident, filled with drama and notorious characters of the time. I'd say that Sam Houston was right, from a military point of view. It was foolish to try and hold that place with inadequate forces. The smart thing for Travis and his people to have done would have been to "git" while they still had time to...by skeedaddlin' away at night. They could have lived to fight another day.

In the long run, I think Santa Ana's extraordinary talent for screwing up would have led to a Texan victory regardless.

But then me and my friend Johnny Cartwright would not have had the chance to re-enact the glorious deaths of Davy Crockett, Georgie Russell, and all them diehard Texicans and Kentuckians under a horde of greasy danged Mexicans atop my parents' oil tank in the backyard of our house in Milton, Ontario.

So maybe we should thank Travis and Santa Ana fer doin' whut they did, and stirrin' the hearts of generations of little boys.

- LH


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 08:47 PM

Bill D -

"Old farts with grizzled beards having learned philosophical discussions about the afterlife!" ???

In reality, it's quite possible. When books were scarce, the only ones available were "good" ones. The few people who could read were often in pretty great demand to read/recite, and it is not too much of stretch to think that some of these old desert rats could quote a fair amount of Shaky.

Check out the transcript for Clipping 2 – Jim Bridger in the Taylor collection at the Smithsonian, or see the original . The Taylor clippings date to about 1880 – not all that long after the battle.

While it's true that most towns of any size might have several saloons, they'd usually also have an "opera house" almost as soon as they put a roof on the church.

(Front page for the Taylor Album, in case you're interested.)

John


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 09:05 PM

The Gringo-Rushes tale has been gone over ad nauseum in another thread. The term gringo was known to Mexicans; it appears in a dictionary printed there long before the Mexican War, in turn already a term for lousy foreigners (French, at first) in 18th c. Spanish.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 09:10 PM

Y'know, Bill, that John Wayne movie amazed me. I would not have thought it possible that anyone could make such a boring film about the Alamo had I not seen it. Also, John Wayne was a supremely unconvincing Davy Crockett. He was good for some parts, but not that one.

- LH


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 10:53 PM

In fact, SRS, the bit I posted said exactly that:
The pair's musical endeavours led to the enduring Alamo myth, now an urban legend..
.

Q, I do remember that thread, too.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Apr 04 - 11:23 PM

That Wayne Alamo film was on TV here tonight. One look at that coonskin (skunk?) hat and one sentence out of Wayne's mouth, and I switched channels.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 12:14 AM

I usually change the channel when any of Wayne's old movies come up!:-)

A fairly good related movie, imo, was the one Tom Berringer did about Los San Patricios, song and discussion in this thread

kat


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 01:10 AM

“…since Texas was neither a country nor a state at that point…”
I'm with Kendall on this. It was a country, it was the sovereign state of Mexico; Mexico became a republic—and outlawed slavery—in 1824. Settlers had been invited into Northeast Mexico (Texas) to spur development. It was the abolition of slavery that spurred the fight for independence. Those guys were fighting to defend the right to maintain slavery.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 06:54 PM

It always strikes me as strange when American go on about how Islamic terrorists who take part in suicide missions must have a compeltely alien way of thinking - but yet the penny doesn't seem to drop that the Alamo defenders must have had rather a similar way of thinking, and they are American heroes.

And I note the use of the same term "martyrs" in the heading of this thread...


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 07:38 PM

a recent documentary examined 'evidence' or a journal kept by a mexican officer who died not long after the alamo, that Crockett and Bowie and a few others were actually taken prisoner and executed later. Whether or not its true, it certainly has a lot of people bristling at the suggestion that their Texas heroes might have surrendered.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 08:54 PM

no, Kevin...they are not "American" heros....they are sorta Texas heros, but most of the US is indifferent to the whole thing, although we do remember hearing about it.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 09:48 PM

McGrath, the Alamo and its defenders has become myth over the past 150 years or more since that time. Slavery, etc., was not in the minds of the fighters there. Their agendas were mixed. They died, but defeat was not on their minds. Some, like Bowie, apparently thought that they could hold out. The opposing force was unknown. Some only wanted to preserve rights to their lands, granted by the Mexican authorities, but which were threatened by changes to the regulations. Others were latecomer wannabe entrepreneurs.

A number of non-combatants, who had taken refuge in the Alamo, survived the siege; not all within the Alamo died (some died as a result of what we now call 'collateral damage).'

Far more Mexican soldiers died in the assault, some 600, than died in the Alamo. Santa Anna's officers had opposed the action, suggesting that waiting them out was the best action.

Houston, as far as we can gather from the records, had been in favor of abandoning or razing the site before the battle.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 10:04 PM

Left out the last line- The Smithsonian article seems to be close to the truth.

As near as I can find out, Santa Anna's antecedents used that spelling for some time. The saint's name Santa Ana, does not seem to be a factor, except possibly back in time.
There are a number of living Americans, and 19th c. records of Americans, with the last name Santa Anna. I am sure that Spanish records would turn up many with two n's.'


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: ex-pat
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 10:49 PM

I visited the Alamo a few years back and was moved by the whole place.
Saw the new movie today and was suitably impressed. Billy Bob Thornton as David Crockett is really good. Crockett played the fiddle and his turns playing in the film are well done.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 11:11 PM

Apart from the fighting scenes, the John Wayne film just devolved into mawkish sentimentality.
eric


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Apr 04 - 11:28 PM

petr, there is a lot of scepticism regarding that "journal" you mention. Texans don't want to think that their heros might have surrendered, so call it bogus. But I think it also has some questionable provenance.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 12:28 AM

The Mexican journal is now regarded as bogus and a fairly recent forgery. It does not, moreover, fit eye-witness accounts by surviving non-combatants who were within the Alamo compound, particularly a Mexican-Texan woman who saw Crockett's body surrounded by dead soldiers (whether these soldiers were killed by Crockett is another matter; in any case he was killed during combat within the confines of the Alamo).

The chapel itself was rather small (noted in a posting above) but the grounds were larger than they are now and there were workshops, quarters and all sorts of outbuildings. Only part of these remain as ruins (or may have been restored- some 30 years since I have been there).


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: fretless
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 09:51 AM

OK. So skip this message if you haven't seen the new film and want the ending to be a surprise.

The "Mexican journal" may not be as universally accepted as bogus as Q suggests. Here's what today's online Chronicle of Higher Education says about it:

Regarding Davy Crockett's death, Mr. Hancock's film is faithful to the account of José Enrique de la Peña, a lieutenant colonel in the Mexican army, who wrote in his 1836 diary that Crockett and a handful of other Alamo defenders were executed after the siege.

De la Peña's account, which was not published in English until 1975, has divided historians. As Q notes, some authors have questioned its veracity, including Thomas Ricks Lindley in "Alamo Traces" (Republic of Texas Press, 2003). One of the historians who worked on the new movie, who lives in Katy, Tex., has been criticized, even cussed out, for arguing that Crockett did not die fighting. "Down here," he says, "that draws up a similar image to saying Christ didn't resurrect."

There is no other account of Crockett's death, however, and the historians who worked on the movie accepted de la P.'s account that Crockett was executed.

In the absence of other contemporaneous accounts, the burden of proof seems to be on those who would have Davy go down swingin' (like Fess Parker) or with a self-selected bang (as John Wayne).


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: DonMeixner
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 11:39 AM

If you drop all the second guessing and pre supposed politics, get away from the right and wrong of things and concentrate on the situation and the people involved this is a great story. I will go see it and look at it in that light.

I also pay zero attention to anyone who whines about historical revisionism. If it happened, it happened. If history is uncovered that shows with out a doubt that Crockett had a by god missing Strad at the Alamo and played Mozart upon it then it happened.

We want our heros to be saints. But in the light of historical discovery this isn't always the case. Some men and women are great men and women all their lives. Some are great and do great things along the way only to fail because of one misplaced step. Some are are hoplessly average, some are just plain bad, but they are a part of the age they live in and rise to greatness because of a single selfless act.

And lastly, John Wayne made many very good movies. He made a few great movies. The Alamo was not in either catagory.

Don


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 12:30 PM

Whatever the actual facts, the legend is what matters - and the legend carries a message that accepting Certain Death for a Righteous Cause is a heroic thing, and the dead deserve to be revered as martyrs.

How totally unlike the way all those fanatical foreigners with their alien mentality see such things!


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 12:31 PM

If the 'account' of Peña is accepted, what, actually, did it say? The Handbook of Texas gives a brief summary.
"When Penñna's eyewitness account was placed together with other corroborating documents, Crockett's central part in the defense becomes clear. Travis had previously written that during the first bombardment Crockett was everywhere in the Alamo "animating the men to do their duty." Other reports told of the deadly fire of his rifle that killed five Mexican gunners in succession as they each attempted to fire a cannon bearing on the fort.... Peña reported that Crockett and five or six others were captured when the Mexican troops took the Alamo at about six o'clock that morning even though Santa Anna had ordered that no prisoners be taken. The general ordered their immediate execution; they were bayonetted and shot. Crockett's reputation and that of the others was not sullied by their capture. Their dignity and bravery was, in fact, underscored by Peña's recounting that "these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves before their torturers."

Although there were many falsifications in the account, Richard Penn Smith's "Exploits..." of 1836 gave a similar account of Crockett's capture and execution. Many, however, wanted to have a more heroic death and told of his clubbing Mexican soldiers with his empty rifle and there was even one story about his survival to work as a slave in a Mexican salt mine.

See Dan Kilgore, 1978, "How Did Davy Die?," Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, and J. W. Burke, 1984, "David Crockett," Austin Eakin Press.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 04:30 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 04:56 PM

My great, great grandfather, one John McGaffey, was one of the first white settlers in southeast Texas, in 1822, eventually co-founding the town of Sabine Pass. Two of my great grandfather's cousins died at the Alamo. The first time I saw the place was from the top floor suite in a hotel directly across from the complex. Then, and especially after touring the Alamo, I was struck (as most are) by the small scale of the place and in the absolute inadequacy of the outlying breastworks to offer any real resistance to a determined army.

Much of the current dispute over detail emanates from memoirs of General Martin Perfecto de Cos, which suggest that not all died in the Alamo, but were taken prisoner and executed afterward, by order of Santa Anna. Crockett was said to be among them. Texans are loath to part with legend, however much in dispute it may be. Suffice it to say that the Alamo became a metaphor for heroic defense by any group. Whether, as many now suggest, it was a waste of life has almost become a secondary consideration.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 06:08 PM

The movie with Billy Bob Thornton as Crockett is great. It makes up for the dreary John Wayne epic, and then some. I just watched it again last night.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 06:42 PM

What might have happened....

Peter


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,Texican
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 08:28 PM

The Mexicans played the deguello before the final assault. No prisoners were taken.

"DEGÜELLO. The degüello, music played by the Mexican army bands on the morning of March 6, 1836, was the signal for Antonio López de Santa Anna's attack on the Alamo. The word degüello signifies the act of beheading or throat-cutting and in Spanish history became associated with the battle music, which, in different versions, meant complete destruction of the enemy without mercy." Handbook of Texas.

The hotel across from the Alamo is the Menger. Lots of sites online that talk about the Menger's history. Interesting place.

"John Warne Gates demonstrated barbed wire for Washburn and Moen in Military Plaza (Alamo Plaza), San Antonio, Texas in 1876. The demonstration showing cattle restrained by the new kind of fencing was followed immediately by invitations to the Menger Hotel to place orders." Wikipedia

Ron Paul is holding a rally at Alamo Plaza next weekend, I think.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 10:20 PM

"El degüello" is an old Spanish cavalry trumpet call, midi at http://www.rjsamp.com/cav/cav1.html (see link at left of page)
Cavalry calls

Supposedly it was sounded in the battles against the Moors, etc., but it is hard to separate facts from fiction.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,Young Buchan
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 06:31 AM

I have no comment to make on the military questions; but surely Wikipedia is wrong to link Gringo to the popularity of Green Grow The Rushes-o. surely 'Green grows the laurel and soft falls the dew'?


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 03:11 PM

'Gringo' is an old Spanish word for foreigner, 18th c. or earlier, now mostly supplanted by estranjero in Spain. See previous threads.
Gringo was used in all Spanish and former Spanish colonies for foreigners, in some places applied to the French, or to the English, or collectively; its use in Mexico dates to the latter 18th c. at least, thus has little to do with any of the songs sometimes speculatively related to it.

Wackipedia is not peer-reviewed; many of the statements in it cannot be verified upon examination.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM

Q

Wackipedia is not peer-reviewed; many of the statements in it cannot be verified upon examination.

Same's true of Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 04:40 PM

The Snail- Yes, very true.
"Gringo*, adj. coloq. Extranjero, especialmente de habla inglesa, y en general hablante de una lengua que no sea la espanola."
Also "7. Lenguaje ininteligible."
From "Dictionario de la Lengua Española," Real Academia Española, xxii ed., 2001, vol. 1.
*"De etim. disc." = origin under discussion.

See thread 46273, esp. post by Dicho, 09 Apr. 02, concerning entry by Terreros y Pando in his Diccionario, ca. 1750.
A lot more, but I am not about to do your reading for you.

Why Mexicans called them


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Scoville
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 04:54 PM

Wikipedia is wrong to link Gringo to the popularity of Green Grow The Rushes-o. surely 'Green grows the laurel and soft falls the dew'?

Yes, it's wrong, but, in fairness, it does list this reference under "undocumented and folk etymologies" and not in a scholarly context (so far as anything in Wikipedia is scholarly), and notes that the use of the word predates the Mexican War. None of it's footnoted, though.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Ebbie
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 05:16 PM

"This story of success followed by failure due to incompetence, repeated over and over, has no parallels that I know of." Q

How can you say that! It fits our current leaders to a T. Except for the 'success' part.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 05:23 PM

Thanks Q. Happy to do my own reading. It's just nice to have references rather than bald statements.

As to the origin of "gringo", I think we can safely say "Nobody knows".


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 05:41 PM

Referring back to the famous bugle call, signaling "no quarter:" That it was played has never been in dispute. It would seem to signal Santa Anna's order that no one was to be left alive. However, the diary of General Cos, in particular, has called into question whether or not the order was carried out to the letter, as one writer obviously believes.

Cos specifically refers to a group of survivors being marched or carried in front of Santa Anna, following the battle. Cos, and others (according to him) asked for mercy for them, one of whom was identified by Cos as Crockett. Santa Anna denied them and ordered their immediate execution. All this, according to Cos. This has caused endless consternation among Alamo historians and lovers and defenders of Texas history and folklore. No one likes revisionist historians or "debunkers."

The Cos memoirs are, apparently, considered authentic. The fact that they were written some years after the fact certainly brings the validity of his memory into the discussion.

In my opinion, the Alamo is a metaphor for nothing. It was a singular event, tragic and futile, the ultimate consequence of which was the creation of an angry and vengeful group of "Texicans" who defeated Santa Anna and created a new territory for themselves. Most of the rest has been rooted in the grand American tradition of the "tall tale," used much like a parable; i.e., Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, et al, used to impress children with the honor and glory inherent in heroic behavior.   But, don't tell that to a Texan!


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: GUEST,Texican
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 07:22 PM

Well, the time the Mexicans had to spend at the Alamo allowed Houston to raise the force needed to defeat the dictator Santa Ana. So the Alamo accomplished that.

And if your commander signifies to you through orders and through trumpet blasts that no prisoners are to be taken, wouldn't you be risking a firing squad yourself if you took prisoners? No defender survived the final onslaught. Cos was just a bitter old coot. His Generale tried to escape after the battle of San Jacinto by dressing as a private. More courage in one toenail of an Alamo defender than in that whole general. Of course Cos tried to rewrite history.


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Midchuck
Date: 17 Jul 07 - 07:28 PM

The British have their national myths - Arthur and all that bunch; and the French have theirs, with Charlemagne, and the Spanish with El Cid, etc. ad infinitum. Why is everybody determined that we can't have ours? And what does what actually happened have to do with it?

Peter


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: fumblefingers
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 04:22 PM

What does all this have to do with folk music?

My kinfolks came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin in 1821. Like so many others of the era, they were pioneers in a hostile country. They were all heroes to me. So there!


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Subject: RE: The Alamo--Needless Martyrs
From: Gulliver
Date: 18 Jul 07 - 05:10 PM

When I read the list of the fallen at the Alamo in San Antonio I noticed a number of men with Irish names who were particularly young when they were killed. A colleage in Austin told me that these were Irish who had only recently arrived in Texas and had become involved in the fighting although they didn't really know what it was all about. Any further information on this?

For some reason Gerry O'Beirne's song The Holy Ground always reminds me of this.

Don


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