Troops from the arriving and deploying armies of the Centralist Mexican forces are completing their circumferential blockade of San Antonio de Bexar. As of these hours, 179 years ago, at a place called Washington on the Brazos, Texians are gathering to take stock, to run or stand, to wait for orders, to prepare to give orders. All are ill at ease. Rumours are the stock of the days' information.
General Urrea has already captured one of the largest military units of the Texian Army, that being the entire command of Colonel Fannin. This officer had the somewhat peculiar sense that it would be good to encamp and prepare to receive a superior force, backed by considerable artillery, while fully exposed on flat ground. His valour lasted about thirty-six hours before he and his remaining force of about 325 effectives remaining were captured and moved to Goliad.
Just this amount of news was almost enough to start a complete rout to the Sabine and a retreat all the way to Natchitoches or New Orleans. Had someone clapped real loud about that time, it might well have happened. But let us join what was happening afar from the Alamo, in the highest council chamber of the desperate State.
A Word from the Past about the Past - The sword is drawn, blood is shed.....
This entry comes partly from previous writings because much of history does not change, unless successfully re-argued. We attempt at this moment to re-visit these same moments of the Texian Historical Calendar. These are the profound times, and those were profound times. Few, in the right, opposed the many and powerful who were in the wrong. The only thing the few had in abundance was resolve.....and even that was measured by small numbers during the darkest hours. All men stood to lose their lives and fortunes. Women would be left with fatherless children. Fortunes, small and great, would become nothing overnight should the Presidente-Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna dispose of the "filibusteros y invasores viken~os".
The one person who stood to lose the most was the man pictured below. He was Lopez de Santa Anna's most vigorous detractors and opponents. A native of the Yucatan, de Zavala was prominment on the political and social scene throughout Mexico. This is important, because in those years, the Yucatan Peninsula was clearly a separate identity, socially and politically and culturally from the rest of Mexico. This is not so odd, because Mexico in reality was essentially a loosely bound geographical area, not too precisely proscribed, consisting of as many as seven or eight different and functionally somewhat autonomous regions and States.
It is best to remember that the Defenders of the Alamo never knew that Texas had declared independence and withdrawnfrom the Mexican Union. The Alamo fell on the 6th of March, 1836, four days later. Their battle flag was the Mexican tri-colour with the number 1824 written on the center white field. Some think that that banner was designed as a statement of desire to seek reconciliation with Mexico. It was and it was not. It was first and foremost a statement of total rejection of the person and authority of Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. At best, Texas would never have remained withing the Mexican Union. A commonwealth arrangement was possible. Some dispute the fact that the 1824 flag flew over the Alamo, but it is well documented, even in the diary of Lt. Col. Enriquez de la Pena, XO, First Zapper Batallion, which was the first group to breach the walls. It is said that two flags were taken by the Army, one was the white star/blue field of the New Orleans Blues, Volunteers, and the other the Mexican 1824 flag. Some say the Lopez de Santa Ana had the latter destroyed, some say it was taken at San Jacinto, after the defeat of the main body of Lopez de Santa Ana's army and his capture. Legends say that a collector probably has it to this day, hidden away. I doubt that.
The composition of the delegation has been condemned at times, but consider that only 2 of the general officers in the Centralist Government's Army of Invasion were Mexicans by birth....Lopez de Santa Anna and Urrea. The other five were European, or from elsewhere in the New World. Notice also the absence of the name of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas".....but his absence was due to ill health. The lack of more Latins comes from two reasons (1) the English speaking group was already in the vast majority of the Texas population even at the early time, and (2) the greater bulk of the Latin group, which actually did oppose Santa Anna by overwhelming percentage, was mired in the San Antonio - Goliad area, already well "behind enemy lines", making travel north to Washington on the Brazos extremely dangerous. Especially for the Latin element of the population, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had brutal solutions for their "treachery".
The three Latins present, interestingly, had a combined worth equivalent to the 57 others. Stephen F. Austin was elected finally as President and de Zavala became essentially the Executive Officer, being elected Vice-President of Texas and serving in the absence of Mr. Austin.
El Gringo Viejo