March 6, 1836, 81 years ago, the Alamo fortress was overrun by soldiers of the Mexican Army under the leadership of General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The general called it “a small affair,” but it became a myth of epic portions.
“They all died bravely, fighting to the last man.” So the story ran, as told by Suzanna Dickinson, a survivor. That’s the narrative my mother told me, the tale I read in “Texas History Movies.” Then, in 1955, came the diary of Mexican General José Enrique de la Peña.
It was my mother who first told me of de la Peña’s account, which told of Davy Crockett captured alive and executed. Some Texans broke out of the back of the Alamo compound and attempted to escape, only to be run down by Mexican lancers.
Some Texas historians hit the roof. “A forgery.” The surviving version does appear to be a copy of an earlier document. Today, de la Peña’s diary has been accepted as authentic by many – but not by all!
There were other Texan survivors of the Alamo battle. Women and children who hid in the chapel. At least one man who insisted he was a captive, not a Texan fighter. Some of these survivors were interviewed in the early 1900’s by a reporter on the San Antonio Express. One or two were obvious liars. Others have the ring of truth. These reports are chronicled in a volume, “Eyewitness to the Alamo,” by historian Bill Groneman. There were always those rumors, in San Antonio, that Davy Crockett had been executed. Walter Lord, in his definitive Alamo history, “A Time To Sand,” included the Crockett surrender story.
The Alamo story lives in the hearts of us old Texans. And it continues. Saving the site from destruction, the battle between Adina de Zavala and Clara Driscoll, the ownership contest between the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the state government.
I don’t fail to visit the Alamo when I’m back in San Antonio. I join the gawking tourists. “Hats off. No pictures inside!”
March 6, 2017
“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that in never occurs to you to question them,” – Adina de Zavala.