Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Contemplations and Honours to one of the Top Ten of Texas


Col. Juan N. Seguin
Colonel Juan Nepomuceno Seguin's
Alamo Defenders' Burial Oration
delivered in San Antonio
25th February 1837

Eulogy published in the 
Telegraph and Texas Register
of Columbia (later Houston), Texas April 4, 1837
"Companions in Arms!! These remains which we have the honour of carrying
 on our shoulders are those of the valiant heroes who died in the Alamo.
  Yes, my friends, they preferred to die a thousand times rather than submit
 themselves to the tyrant's yoke. What a brilliant example! Deserving of being
 noted in the pages of history. The spirit of liberty appears to be looking out
 from its elevated throne with its pleasing mien,  pointing to us, and  saying:
 "There are your brothers, Travis, Bowie, Crockett, and others whose valour
 places them in the rank of my heroes." Yes soldiers and fellow citizens, these

 are the worthy beings who, by the twists of fate, during the present campaign

 delivered their bodies to the ferocity of their enemies; who, barbarously
 treated as beasts, were bound by their feet and dragged to this spot, where
 they were reduced to ashes. The venerable remains of our worthy
 companions as witnesses, I invite you to declare to the entire world, "Texas
 shall be free and independent or we shall perish in glorious combat."
Colonel Juan N. Seguin, Commandant
San Antonio, Bexar, Texas
Army of the Republic of Texas
     The term, Alamo de Parras, meaning "Cottonwood Tree of the Grapevines" was appropriate to the area at the time, and was one of the steadily evolving common, vernacular names of what would later become San Antonio, Texas. Almost all the barely spring-fed creeks in that area of Central Texas have stands of cottonwoods right up to the creek's edge.  Then there are large cypress trees, along the standard flood line, and then walnut and pecans, growing wild, and backed by bramble and low growth.   This low growth and the middling high trees would almost always be draped with skirts of wild mustang grapes that were used by Indians and then by the Spanish colonists for the making of a pretty fair wine.  Mustang grapes can be adapted, after some effort, to a predictable husbandry, and they seem to enjoy the extremes of climate provided by Central Texas...very hot, very cold, very dry, very wet. Crummy rocky soil, but what there is can be very, very fertile is another characteristic of the geography of the area around the Balcones Escarpment, upon which San Antonio is situated.
          The Sequin family was ensconced in the Walnut Springs Creek area, about 28 miles to the east of "downtown San Antonio" and they were  well known in the San Antonio community.   Juan's mother was from the very prominent Becerra family that had lived in and around San Antonio, as ranchers, for four generations.   That was no mean task for those days. (As an aside, Becerra translated to the English means "heifer".)
     After the establishment of an independent Mexico during the 1821 - 1822 period, various of the elements of previous Spanish military and civilian order simply took up their morning chores and military and civilian duties as the only source of stability and continuity in the northernmost outpost of the new nation's northeasternmost extensions.
    Juan Sequin would become a fixture there and in adjacent places called La Bahia del Espiritu Santo  and Goliad (The Bay of the Holy Ghost and Goliath) near what is in a triangle bounded by Goliad - Victoria - Central Gulf Coast of Texas.   His social life would forever intertwine him with the names of Gonzalez, Navarro, and especially Zaragoza that were prominent in that area and also to a lesser extent up to and near San Antonio de Bexar.   He married in 1825 at the age of 19....was known to be a literate person...a musician...and a hard worker.
of a 
True Texas Hero
1834 - - Appointed Territorial Governor (Jefe Politico) of Texas.
1834 - - Being the first to organize opposition to Gen. Santa Anna by preparing a circular inviting citizens to take part in a Texas Constitutional Convention.
1835 - - Appointed to the rank of Captain in the Texas Army by Commander and Chief Stephen F. Austin: Captain Seguin recruited fighters to defend against the invasion of Santa Anna's army; Juan Seguin personally provide his own troops with horses, food and shelter.
1835 - - Battle of Gonzales erupted over possession of a cannon wanted returned by Mexican troops; Gonzales citizens challenged the troops to "Come and Take It." They then used it to fire the first shot of the Revolution.
1835 - - Juan Seguin fought alongside Jim Bowie in the Battle of Concepcion; then rushed to join the Grass Fight south of San Antonio in an effort to slow the pace of Centralist forces coming to establish a non-representative government.
1835 - - Siege of Bejar - Captain Seguin with his 160 Tejano ranchers and Texas volunteers attacked Gen. Perfecto de Cos troops then in control of San Antonio in a crucial battle that signaled no turning back by Texas freedom fighters.
1836 - - The advance guard of Santa Anna's troops was sighted near San Antonio which alerted the small detachment of defenders to quickly regroup on the grounds of the Alamo: Once there, the small unit of Texans immediately prepared their defense of the mission against the attacking troops of Gen. Perfecto de Cos that were soon to be dramatically increased by the much larger forces of General Santa Anna.
1836 - - The Siege of the Alamo commenced; Captain Seguin defended the mission alongside Crockett, Travis, and Bowie until ordered by Colonel Travis to break through Mexican Centralists' Army's lines in search of additional Texian troops.
1836 - - The Fall of the Alamo occurred while Captain Seguin was following his orders to ride to Goliad in search of reinforcements from the troops of Colonel Fannin.
1836 - - He next rushed to warn and help defend Texas citizens fleeing from the path of the Mexican Centralist Army during the ensuing Runaway Scrape.
1836 - - Captain Seguin commanded the  Cavalry Company  of the 2nd Regiment during the Texians' victory over Santa Anna Army at San Jacinto; soon after that brief struggle, he was ordered by General Sam Houston to enforce the orderly withdrawal ofGeneral Lopez de Santa Anna's troops from Texas.
1836 - - Captain Seguin with his army re-entered San Antonio to accept the surrender of the Mexican Centralist forces there under the command of Lt. Col. Francisco Castaneda, the same officer involved in the opening skirmish over the cannon at Gonzales.
1836 - - He was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel by Republic of Texas President David Burnet, who expressed special trust in the courage, patriotism, and ability of Juan N. Seguin.
1837 - - He successfully appealed to his friend, Sam Houston, to rescind a prior military order to destroy San Antonio by fire, thus earning Colonel Seguin the respect for saving that city.
1837 - - Ordered by Sam Houston to bury the remains of the Alamo defenders, Colonel Seguin provided the martyrs with a Christian burial including full military honours.
1839 - - Senator Juan N. Seguin presented a bill that established a mail route from Austin to San Antonio.

1839 - - Colonel Seguin was honored by the citizens of Walnut Springs who voted to change the name of their community to Seguin because of his service to Texas during its heroic struggle for Independence.
1837 - 1840 - - The Biographical Directory of the Texas Conventions and Congresses states that Juan Seguin was an elected member of the Senate of the Republic of Texas 2nd, 3rd and 4th Congresses; Senator Seguin's legacy includes his strong leadership for adoption of a bill requiring all of the Laws of the Republic of Texas to be written in both English and Spanish. Senator Seguin held high his views that the Republic's law should protect all citizens and that there can be no doubt as to the rights an individual enjoys, and equally important what his responsibilities are, as a citizen of Texas.
January 19, 1840. Austin was selected as the official capital. Col. Seguin was on the joint Senate and House Committee to select the site for the Capitol of Texas which was named for his bosom friend Stephen F. Austin, It is related that the committee killed buffalo for their food while camped to locate the site for the capital of Texas.
1841 - - Juan Seguin is elected Mayor of San Antonio.
1842- - After considerable harassment by newly arriving, mainly German settlers, coupled with death threats against his family, Seguin leaves to Mexico, and resides in the Rio Grande area with relatives, from Laredo to Reynosa.  He is arrested and given a choice between being jailed for treason against Mexico or serving in the Army against Indian depredations and possible Texian counter-offensives.   He joins the Army and winds up serving in the Christmas Battle of Mier, where Gen. Pedro Ampudia and Seguin defeat a Texian force after a two-day battle, known in Texas as "The Black Bean Expedition".  Later Seguin served in the Mexican defence in front of American Generals Taylor and Worth during their march to Monterrey in the Mexican War of 1847-1848.
1850- -Seguin returns to Texas and is restored to his possessions and rights of citizenship.  He returns to business as usual.
1852 - - Won election as Bexar County Justice of the Peace; re-elected for a second term two years later.
1869 - - Elected Wilson County Judge.
1874 - - Juan Seguin was declared a hero of the Texas War for Independence by the Texas Legislature and provided a lifetime pension by the state.  With this pension, his age, and complications during the 10 years of Military Governor Edmund Davis's brutal Reconstruction administration, and due to his bad treatment because of his service to the Confederacy as a elected civilian officer and as a reserve officer in the Partisan Rangers, Juan decided to return back to his remaining relatives in Laredo.   He would return to visit various friends at times, but spent his remaining days writing his recollections, explaining his life's decisions to people who wrote or visited him, and living comfortably with his assets and his Texas pension for service during the War against C. Gen. Presidente Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, (war criminal extraordinaire)  and the Mexican Centralists, the majority of whom were patriots in their own wrought and right, doing a job they felt needed be done.
1890 - - Juan Seguin dies in Laredo, Tamaulipas at the age of 84.
1974 - - The remains of Juan Seguin, Hero of the Battle of San Jacinto, are returned to Seguin, Texas and interred with all honours, and to this day his Spirit receives visitors from friends, relatives, and those interested in the life of this brave...and in ways at times hard to understand...and very loyal Friend of Texas.
    This is enough to digest.  It depresses, as well as inspires, as well as comforts an old Texan to know that there was another fellow who was dealt some hands whose cards had a lot of low numbers.  But he was very much a man of honour....who protected his family first....and always considered himself a Texan.  I bear no rancour against him, only respect and a preference that all should deal with his life and legacy in a positive way.   He truly was integral in the 13 Days of Glory, and the 22 minutes of retribution that would take place a month and three weeks after the Fall of the Alamo, in a place called San Jacinto.
El Gringo Viejo