Posted on Leave a comment

From the Alamo—Tejano Volunteers left today

February 21, 1836—Sunday

The graveness of our situation is setting in. We heard that Santa Anna is flying a red flag and we know what that means—no quarter given.  This morning about fifteen of the Tejano volunteers in the compound met with Travis, telling him they had to take their families and go. They know that Santa Anna wants revenge on the Texians for the shame brought on his brother-in-law, Cos, at the last skirmish.

A.J. Williams

Posted on Leave a comment

From the Alamo—Colonel J.C. Neill Leaves the Alamo

Sunday, February 14, 1836

Colonel Neill finished packing and left to take care of his family. He promises he will return within twenty days, but we are sorely grieved to see him go. He has been our commander long enough to earn our respect and to make this mission ready for a fight. He gave command to Col. Travis, but Travis and Bowie agreed yesterday to split the command. Travis will lead the soldiers, and Bowie will lead the volunteers.

A.J. Williams

Posted on Leave a comment

From the Alamo—“Live” reports as they happen

I have made the decision to "Live" blog from the Alamo mission in San Antonio de Bexar for the next few weeks. For the purpose of this narrative, I will assume the purely fictional character of Andrew J. Williams. He is a volunteer who arrived at the mission with Jim Bowie on January 19, 1836, and this will be his journal.

The journal entries will reflect just the information that Williams would have access to on the day of writing, and I will begin it with From the Alamo—+ the event of the day. This cannot be a complete overview, but merely the personal observations of one man. Because of this, there is historical information that will not be included, but it won’t affect the outcome.

I have gathered information from many reliable resources, and corroborated as much as I can.  To help me keep event in order, I created a huge Mind Map and will share it with you later.

I hope you find this creative and interesting enough to share with your friends and family.

Resources

Texian Iliad: A Military history of the Texas Revolution – Stephen L. Hardin
Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans
The Official Alamo website
The Handbook of Texas Online
Wikipedia

Posted on 9 Comments

March 2, 1836: A Very Good Day

The_Alamo As a Texan, it is impossible to enter this time of year without thinking about the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto. On March 2, 1836 a group of men gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos and declared independence. Texas was no longer the property of Mexico, but a Republic!

The siege of the Alamo was eight days old by the time the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed (February 23 – March 6, 1836). The importance of the stand at the Alamo can’t be expressed strongly enough; it gave Sam Houston time to gather an army and ultimately, on April 21, 1836, defeat General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Deborah and I have kicked around a few thoughts, and would like our readers to comment on these ideas. We hope to engage all our readers, not just those in Texas.

  1. Begin the Fly Your Texas Flag campaign. This could last for the 13 days of the Alamo, or until the victory at San Jacinto.
  2. "Live" blogging from the Alamo. I’m thinking a first person re-creation of those few days in history
  3. "Live" blogging Texas Independence from Sam Houston’s perspective from February through April
  4. Feature a series of articles, similar to my San Jacinto series last year. We now live within thirty minutes of the Alamo, which might be interesting.
  5. Feature guest writers from other states, writing about their state and its early struggles
  6. Feature guest writers from Texas telling their stories related to Texas Independence.

Just leave us a comment with your thoughts and ideas … or just a number if that’s all you want to say.

The painting has its own story: This painting was created as the backdrop for the opening credits to the 1960 movie "The Alamo," starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark, and Laurence Harvey. It was given to Texas A&M by John Wayne on behalf of Frederick T. Graham and the members of Squadron 14, Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, Class of 1963.

Posted on 9 Comments

March 2, 1836—Texas Independence Day

When I first started writing about the state flags, I didn’t want to write about them in any specific order. My only plan was to write about all the other states before writing about the state flag of Texas.

But now we are in the middle of the 171st anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo, which lasted for thirteen days, from February 23 (including February 29, Leap Day) to March 6, 1836. And today is March 2, Texas Independence Day.

On Feb 24th, Lt.Col. William Barret Travis, in full command at the Alamo, wrote a letter asking for help. Here in part is what he said, ” … The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls—I shall never surrender or retreat …”

Here is where the story of the flag gets confusing. No one knows for certain which particular flag it was. There is no doubt however, that the men inside the compound were fighting for independence from Mexico. They all knew that nearly two hundred miles east of the Alamo, the delegates to the constitutional convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos would soon be voting on the question of independence. Indeed, they had sent out their own delegate on February 7.

On March 3, Travis sent a letter out from the Alamo, writing,

“Let the Convention go on and make a declaration of independence, and we will then understand, and the world will understand, what we are fighting for. If independence is not declared, I shall lay down my arms, and so will the men under my command.”

Independence was declared, on March 2, 1836, the day before Travis sent his letter out. And on March 6, the Alamo defenders fell in a furious dawn attack that lasted no more than ninety minutes. Santa Anna may have won the battle, but he lost the war.

1824 Tri-Color flag

1824 Tri-Color

For a long time it was believed that the “Constitutional Tricolor of 1824” was the battle flag of the Alamo. That flag represented and called for a restoration of Texan rights under the Mexican constitution of 1824. But by the time the Battle of the Alamo occurred, the Texans were long past a reconciliation with Mexico. There was no turning back. Travis’s exultation over the flag would not have referred to the 1824 Tricolor (in my opinion).

Two Star Tri-Color

Two Star Tri-Color

Another flag likely flown at the Alamo was the Two Star Tri-Color, but while it may have been flown by the Tejanos (Texas-born Mexicans) in the compound, it probably would not have been used as a flag of independence either.

The blue silk flag of the New Orleans Grays was at the Alamo, but it was a volunteer company’s flag, and would not have been used as a flag of independence. After the battle it was recovered in good condition and removed to Mexico as a souvenir. It was photographed in 1980, but its location now is unknown.

I think the most likely flag to have flown over the Alamo was the flag flown by Texas ships, the Lone Star and Stripes. Flown since at least 1834, its legality was unquestioned for use on the high seas. Travis, who was educated as a lawyer, and lived initially in Anahuac on east side of Galveston Bay, would have seen this flag often on the ships coming in and out of the bay.

When the trouble started at Gonzales, Travis joined up, and by January 23, 1836 he was ordered to the Alamo. It is recorded that he stopped to buy a flag for five dollars, the design of which was not recorded.

Lone Star and Stripes

Lone Star and Stripes

But the Lone Star and Stripes was already recognized by other countries, and commonly used, and would have been readily available for purchase. It was unquestionably NOT a flag of Mexico, and in fact had obvious roots in the U.S. flag. A single star was already a popular motif used in Texas flags, and pairing it with the red and white stripes of the U.S. flag was a stirring design.

Texas Lone Star

Texas Lone Star

Happy Texas Independence Day! I hope this flag is flying today at your house. In a few days I will write more about the Lone Star of Texas, and how it came to be one of the most recognized flags in the world.