William Corner.

San Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history online

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visions quickly returns, and the little garri.son is left to its fate. On the morning
of the first of March there is doubtless a wild shout of welcome in the Alamo ;
Captain John W. Smith has managed to convey thirty-two men from Gonzales
into the fort. These join the heroes, and the attack and defence go on. On the
•>rd a single man, Moses Rose, escapes from the fort. His account of that day*
must entitle it to consecration as one of the most pathetic days of time.

''About two hours before sunset on the ord of March, IS-'UI, the bombard-
ment suddenly ceased, and the enemy withdrew an unusual distance Col-
onel Travis paraded all his effective men in a single file, and taking his position
in front of the centre, he stood for some moments apparently speechless from
emotion : then nerving himself for the occasion, he addressed them substantially
as follows : —

" 'My brave companions : stern necessity compels me to employ the few
moments afforded by this probably brief cessation of conflict, in making known
to you the most interesting, 3'et the most solemn, melancholy and unwelcome

fact that humanity can realise Our fate is sealed. Within a very few

days, perhaps a very few hours, we must all be in eternity ! I have deceived you
long by the promise of help ; but I crave 3'our pardon, hoping that after hearing
my explanation you will not only regard my conduct as pardonable, but heartily

sympathise with me in my extreme necessity I have continually received

the strongest assurances of help from home. Every letter from the Council, and

* As transmitted by the Ziiber family, whose residence was the first place at which poor Rose had dared to
stop, and with whom he remained some weeks, healing the festered wounds made on his legs by the cactus-
thorns during the days of his fearful journey. The account from which these extracts are taken, is contributed
to the Texas .\lmanac for 1S78, by W. P. Zuber, and his mother, Mary .\un Zuber.



«6 SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.

ever)- one that I have seen from individuals at home, has teemed with assurances
that our people were ready, willing and anxious to come to our relief. . . . These

assurances I received as facts In the honest and simple confidence of my

heart I have transmitted to 3'ou these promi.sos of help and my confident hope of
success. But the promised help has not come, and our hopes are not to be
realised. I have evidently confided too much in the promises of our friends; but

let us not be in haste to censure them Our friends were evidently not

informed of our perilous condition in time to save us. Doubtless they would
have been here by the time they expected any considerable force of the enemy.
.... My calls on Colonel Fannin remain unanswered, and my messengers have
not returned. The probabilities are that his whole command has fallen into the
hands of the enemy, or been cut to pieces, and that our couriers have been cut
off. [So does the brave simple soul refuse to feel any bitterness in the hour of

death.] .... Then we must die Our business is not to make a fruitless

effort to save our lives, but to choose the manner of our death. But three modes
are presented to us ; let us choose that by which we may best serve our country.
Shall we surrender and be deliberately shot without taking the life of a single
enemy ? Shall we try to cut our way out through the Mexican ranks and be
butchered before we can kill twenty of our adversaries ? I am opposed to either

method Let us resolve to withstand our adversaries to the last, and at

each advance to kill as many of them as possible. And when at last they shall
storm our fortress, let us kill them as they come! kill them as they scale our wall!
kill them as they leap within! kill them as the}- raise their weapons and as they
use them! kill them as they kill our companions! and continue to kill them as
long as one of us shall remain alive! .... But I leave every man to his own
choice. Should an}- man prefer to surrender . . . or to attempt an escape . . .
he is at liberty to do so. My own choice is to stay in the fort and die for my
country, fighting as long as breath shall remain in my bod}-. This will I do
even if you leave me alone. Do as you think best ; but no man can die with me
without affording me comfort in the hour of death ! ' '

"Colonel Travis then drew his sword, and with its point traced a line upon
the ground extending from the right to the left of the file. Then resuming his
position in front of the center, he said, 'I now want every man who is determined
to stay here and die with me to come across this line. Who will be the first?
March ! The first respondent was Tapley Holland, who leaped the line at a
bound, exclaiming, ' I am ready to die for my country ! ' His example was
instantly followed by every man in the file with the exception of Rose. . . . Every
sick man that could walk, aro.se from his bunk and tottered across the line.
Colonel Bowie, who could not leave his bed, said, ' Boys. I am not able to come
to you, but I wish .some of you would be so kind as to remove my cot over there.'
Four men in.stantly ran to the cot, and each lifting a corner, carried it across the
line. Then every sick man that could not walk made the same request, and had
his bunk removed in the .same way.

" Rose too was deeply affected, but differently from his companions. He
stood till every man but himself had cro.ssed the line. . . . He sank upon the
ground, covered his face, and yielded to his own reflections. ... A bright idea



siDXi'V i,.\xii-:r's historical ski-:tcii. 87

came to his relief; he spoke the Mexican dialect very fluentl}-, and could he once
get safely out of the fort, he might easily pass for a Mexican and effect an
escape. ... He directed a searching glance at the cot of Colonel Bowie. . . .
Colonul David Crockett was leaning over the cot, conversing with its occupant in
an undertone. After a few seconds Bowie looked at Rose and said, 'You seem
not to be willing to die with us. Rose.' ' No,' said Rose ; ' I am not prepared to
die, and shall not do so if I can avoid it.' Then Crockett also looked at him, and
said, ' You may as well conclude to die with us, old man, for escape is impossi-
ble.' Rose made no reply, but looked at the top of the wall. ' I have often done
worse than to climb that wall,' thought he. Suiting the action to the thought,
he sprang up. seized his wallet of unwashed clothes, and ascended the wall.
Standing on its top, he looked down within to take a last view of his dying
friends. They were all now in niotion, l)ut what they were doing he heeded not;
overpowered by his feelings, he looked away and saw them no more. ... He
threw dowm his wallet and leaped after it. . . . He took the road which led down
the River around a bend to the ford, and through the town by the church. He
waded the river at the ford and pas.sed through the town. He saw no per-
son .... but the doors were all closed, and San Antonio appeared as a de-
serted city.

" After passing through the town lie tiu'ned down the River. A stillness as of
death prevailed. When he had gone al)out a ([uarter of a mile below the town, his
ears were saluted by the thunder of the l)oml)ardment which was then renewed.
That thunder continued to remind him that his friends were true to their cause, by
a continual roar with but slight inter\-als until a little before sunrise on the morning
of the 6th, when it ceased and he heard it no more." =••

And well may it "cease" on that morning of the (Jth ; for after that thrilling
M, the siege goes on, the enemy furious, the Texans replying calml\- and slowly.
Finally Santa Anna determines to storm. Some hours before (la>light on the
morning of the (itli, the Mexican infantry, ])ro\-ided with scaling ladders, and
backed by the cavalr>' to keep them up to the work, surround the doomed fort. At
daylight they advance and ])lant their ladders, ])ut give l)ack under a deadly fire
from the Texans. They ad\-ance again, and again retreat, A third time — Santa
Anna threatening and coaxing b>- turns — the>- plant their ladders. Now they mount
the walls. The Texans are ovei whelmed by sheer weight of numbers and ex-
haustion of continued watching and fighting. The Mexicans swarm hito the fort.
The Texans club their guns; one by one llie\- fall fighting— now Travis yonder by
the western wall, now Crockett here in tlie angle of the cluu-ch-wall. now Bowie
butchered and nuitilated in his sick-cot, breathe (piick and pass away; and presently
every Texan lies dead, while there in liorrid hea])s are stretched five hundred and
twentv-one dead Mexicans and as niaii>- more wounded! Of tlie human beings that
were in the fort five remain alive: Mrs. Dickinson and lier child, Colonel Travis'
negro-servant, and two Mexican women.

* Rose snccteded in making his escape, and re.iclud the house of the Zubers. as before stated, in fearful
condiUoi). .\fter remaining here some weeks, he started for his home in Nacogdoches, hut on tlic way his
thorn-wounds became inflamed anew, and when he reached home " his friends thought that he c- under the tree, which for a time relieved
the soil of Texas from hostile footsteps. San Antonio was nevertheless not free
from bloodshed, though beginning to dri\-e a sharp trade with Mexico, and to make
those approaches towards the peaceful arts which necessarily accompan>- trade.
The Indians kept life from stagnating, and in the year 1 840 occurred a bloody battle=i=
with them in the very midst of the town. Certain Comanche chiefs, pending nego-
tiations for a treaty of peace, had i)r()mised to bring in all the captives they had;
and on the 19th of March, ISIO, nw-t tlie Texan Commissioners in the Council-
house in San Antonio, to redeem their promise. Leaving twenty warriors and
thirty-two women and children oiitside, twelve chijfs entered the council-room and
presented the only captive tlie\- had 1)rought— a little white girl— declaring that
they had no others. This statement the little girl pronounced false, asserting that
it was made solely for the purpose of extorting greater ransoms, and that slie had
but recently seen other captives in their camp. An awkward pause followed.
Presently one of the chiefs inquired. How the connnissioners liked it? By way of




re])ly, the c- below El Paso, and the large quanti-
ties of money expended in connection with the supply and transportation of all
materiel for so long a line of forts have contributed very materially to the pros-
perity of the town. From a population of about ooOO in 18-30, it increased to
10,000 in lS.-)(x*

Abandoning now this meagre historical .sketch, and pursuing the order indi-
cated in the enumeration of contrast and eccentricities given in the early part of
this paper : one finds in San Antonio the queerest juxtaposition of civilisations,
white, yellow (Mexican), red (Indian), black (negro), and all possible permuta-

*Saii .\iitouio has now an cslimalcil population of .jO.OOli.— \V. C, Ivd.



90 SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.

tions of these significant colors. Americans, Germans, and Mexicans; besides
these there are probably representatives from all European nationalities. ='^

Religious services are regularly conducted in four languages, German, Span-
ish, English and Polish.

Perhaps the variety of the population cannot be better illustrated tlian by the
following " commodity of good names," occurring in a slip cut from a daily paper
of the town a day or two ago :

Matrimoniai,.— The niatriinoiiial market for a couple of weeks past has been unusually
lively, as evidenced by the following list of marriage licenses issued during that time : Cruz
de la Cruz and .Manuela Sauseda ; Felipe Sallaui and Maria del R. Lopez ; (i. Isabolo and
Rafaela Urvana ; Anto. P. Rivas and Maria Ouintana ; Garmel Hernandez and Seferina Rod-
riguez; T. B. Leighton and Franceska E. Schmidt ; Rafael Diaz and Michaela Chavez: Levy
Taylor and Anna Simpson, colored ; Ignacio Andrada and Juliana Baltasar ; August Dubiell
and Philomena Muschell ; James Callaghan and Mary Grenet ; Albert Anz and Ida Pollock ;
Stephen Hoog and Mina vSchneider ; Wm. King and Sarah Wilson, colored ; Joseph McCoy
and Jesse Brown ; Valentine Heck and Clara Hirsch ; John F. Dunn and E. Annie Dunn."'

Much interest has attached, of late years, to the climate of San Antonio, in
consequence of its alleged happy influence upon consumption. One of the rec-
ognized " institutions " of the town is the consumptives, who are sent here from
remote parts of the United States and from Europe, and who may be seen on fine
days, in various stages of decrepitude, strolling about the streets. This present
writer has the honor to be one of tho.se strolling individuals ; but he does not in-
tend to attempt to describe the climate, for three reasons : first, because it is sim-
ply indescribable ; second, if it were not so, his experience has been such as to
convince him that the needs of consumptives, in point of climate, depend upon
two variable elements, to wit, the .stage which the patient has reached, and the
peculiar temperament of each individual, and that therefore any general recom-
mendation of any particular climate is often erroneous and sometimes fatally de-
ceptive ; and third, because he fortunately is able to present some of the facts of
the climate, which may be relied upon as scientifically accurate, and from the
proper study of which each intelligent consumptive can make up his mind as to
the suitableness of the climate to his individual case. For the past five years,
Dr. F. V. Pettersen, a Swedi.sh physician and ardent lover of science, resident in

*Si(Incy I.aiiier litre says of the old bridge which preceded the present one :

".At the Conunerce Street bridge over the San .Antonio River, standsa post supporting a large sign board,
upon which appears the following three legends :

Walk your horse over this bridge, or you will be fined.
Schuelles Reiten uber diese Brucke ist verboteii.
Anda despacio con su caballo, 6 teme la ley.

To the the meditative stroller across this bridge— and on a soft day when the Gulf breeze and the sunshine are
king and queen, any stranger may be safely defied to cross this bridge zvithoiil becoming meditative— there is a
fine satire in the varying tone of these inscriptions— for they are by no means faithful translations of each
other ; a satire all the keener in that it must have been wholly uncousciouF. For mark ; ' Walk your horse,
v:\.c., or you -Mill he Jiiifiir This is the American's warning : the alternative is a money consideraiion, and the
appeal is solely to the pocket. Hut now the Otrman is simply informed that .vr//;/.//.-.v Reiten over this bridge ist
vcrholen—is forbidden; as who should say: 'So, thou quiet, law abiding Teuton, enough for thee to know that
it is forbidden simply.' And lastly, the Mexican direction takes wholly a different turn from either: Slow
there with yourhorse, Me.xicano, ' o lenie la ley,'— ox 'fear the lc.v,.i()


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Online LibraryWilliam CornerSan Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history → online text (page 13 of 22)