The Battle of the Alamo: setting the record straight

Wonder what school kids in Mexico read every year at this time when American students are handed hogwash about Texan heroes who martyred themselves at the historic Battle of the Alamo.  Hopefully they aren’t subjected to the same brainwashing bilge.

One thing’s certain: Mexican American youngsters here in this country would be well served, when studying that piece in class, to go to the public library and get the real facts, not what passes for truth as the teacher tells it. God knows they get enough White supremacy thrown at them in daily life without having to swallow a lie about themselves and their history.

School books have it that for almost two weeks in 1836, from Feb. 23 through March 6, a couple hundred or so noble defenders faced the thousands-strong horde of evil Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna, this fiction goes, sought to oppress those who wanted and deserved a land of the free, a home of the…well, you get the idea. Sorry, not so.

He was dealing with a colony of land-grabbers who’d agreed to work the soil, raise cattle and otherwise make themselves useful in exchange for a place to live. Then they decided they were entitled to be permanent squatters on lush acres of grass and timber, free of charge. The Texans were also mad as hell because Santa Anna, president of Mexico, had outlawed slavery.

So, the American heroes at the Alamo weren’t freedom fighters courageously standing against oppression and tyranny, blah, blah, blah. They were barely legal immigrants, opportunists hell-bent on taking from Mexico what did not belong to them.

As for the famed battle itself, what generation after generation of school kids viewing film dramatizations see is, plain and simple, a crock. The movies portray the Alamo defenders as brave souls who, not caring that they were badly outnumbered, stalwartly gave their lives for the sake of freedom. Horse manure.

For one, there was no holding off, valiant or otherwise. It took Santa Anna 13 days to get his whole army there. Early on there was a minor foraging skirmish to test the makeshift fort’s defenses (it was a converted mission). Later came the onslaught with the full force of the Mexican Army finally on hand.

William Travis, David Crockett, James Bowie and company spent the rest of the time fearfully waiting, fervently praying for reinforcements until it was too late and they found themselves trapped, unable to run. Which Bowie very much wanted to do from the beginning, hoping to wage a guerilla campaign in the woods that would’ve helped with the odds instead of being butchered out in the open.

There’s no denying the loss of lives was tragic. Any senseless slaughter is. Doesn’t change the fact that they were in the wrong.

The only defenders at the Alamo who had a right to be there were the 23 Mexican men led by Capt. Juan Seguin. This was, after all, Mexican territory. They were the ones in revolt. Everybody else there was dying for the sake of the great White delusion, an inherent right to Manifest Destiny.

While we’re at it, what happened to Seguin — and escaped Hollywood’s notice — is disgraceful. He survived because Travis dispatched him to summon aid from Sam Houston.  Houston didn’t have help to send and figured, quite sensibly, that Seguin would do more good commanding Mexicans in Houston’s camp than dying at the Alamo.

As thanks for Sequin and his men helping Houston win, once the war was won, White Texans promptly kicked every last Mexican Texan who risked his life, including Seguin, right out of the newly free country. About which Houston, no longer general, now president, didn’t do a damned thing. You have to wonder whether Juan Seguin had been shooting at the right folk.

After the battle at that church, Texas did not become a state because a still-outnumbered, largely rag-tag army ran around enraged, shouting, “Remember the Alamo” at the Battle of San Jacinto and miraculously prevailed on the strength of sentiment. Texas became a state because Santa Anna was a lousy strategist and Houston was wily as a cornered fox.

Santa Anna got out ahead of his main body with a relatively small force that amounted to a big scouting party. Houston picked his spot, had some fellas go burn a bridge to cut off Santa Anna’s retreat and block reinforcements. He caught the overconfident generalissimo with his britches down.

Not much of a fighting man himself, Santa Anna, caught unprepared, ran. He had to be tracked down and, in exchange for his life, signed Texas over to Houston while there were more than enough infantry, cavalry and cannons to wipe out Houston plus three times his men. They just were late getting to the fight, still trying to catch up to Santa Anna when they got there and found out he’d surrendered.

The Texans didn’t gallantly win so much as Mexicans, in fact the good guys, stupidly lost. But the propaganda that gets peddled in American schools is not going to say that. Hell, according to those books, the U.S. has never been a bad guy in any war.

‘Tain’t so. In this case you can look it up. Just don’t go to a school library to do it.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to dhobbes@spokesman-recorder.com.