Thursday, 21 May 2015

Beware of the Mini-series Texas Rising: Balogna Alert


     It is not a good thing to warn of something that is not yet well known enough to be certain as to it ill-effect upon the culture or the understanding of history at its most accurate level possible.   It is incumbent upon this observer, however, to advise all OROGs to be especially careful about the new release on the History Channel, lamentably, under the title of "Texas Rising".

     What little this writer can glean from the trailers and other sources, scenes, and discussions about the mini-series indicates that it is a combination of literary licence, pointless lewd and lascivious depictions, and purposefully shabby historical spinning.   It is a probable fact that people during those days had sexual relations, went to the bathroom / outback, vomited, were snake-bitten, had children who died of appendicitis, married Indians, exchanged gifts on the Feast of the Nativity, and did things they wished to do, ought not to have done, and left undone things they should have done.

     Of the scenes that this writer has reviewed there are many accuracies, especially concerning firearms and uniforms or lack thereof of military personalities.  There also seems to be an over-dwelling upon the personality of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  There also is a misrepresentation of Lopez de Santa Anna as a gallant, sabre-pointed-towards-the-enemy front-line commander.
     He was, allow us to quickly state, not a coward, hovering behind his Praetorian Guard.  He was not stupid, but to the contrary, and lamentably, one of the upper 2% in raw and studied intelligence in North America at the time.   Quite frankly, our opinion would be that he ranked among those minds such as Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin.
     It is well to remember that he "re-invented" himself after having been totally relegated to the dust-bin of history on several occasions.  Long after his ignominious defeat at San Jacinto in April of 1836, he later came back to take command of the Northern Army of National Defence outside of Saltillo, Coahuila to defeat the United States Army's penetration under Genls. Taylor and Worth at the Battle of Buena Vista.   While the battle may have been a draw....such as was Gettysburg....the defending army stopped the offending army, and that is a victory for the defending army.   Taylor and Worth turned their forces around and returned to police and garrison duty in Monterrey, from when they had come.
     Santa Anna, like the snake that he was, marched a huge and growing army back down to Queretaro, and stopped.  There he held 40,000 A- minus quality and supplied soldiers, and the best of the Guardia Nacional, another 30,000 well supplied and trained troops out of the fray, essentially yielding Mexico City to the Gringos.   My opinion has always been that this treasonous act was done in order to allow him to move in with strength after the cessation of hostilities, a peace treaty, and the retirement of the American military from Mexico.   At that time Antonio could move in with be best military in the south and western part of North America, and essentially take over Mexico as a permanent dictator for the subsequent 20 or 30 years.
     The Gringos stayed a little to long, and "his" army began to dissolve, leaving him essentially twisting in the wind.   So the glory of what was probably his greatest victory...the Battle of Buenavista...was left for the Gringos to tell, and they called it an American victory.  General Taylor di not call it that, to be sure, because he knew it for what it was.   It was an army too far away from supply, surrounded by a superior force that was willing to fight and that had food, powder, ammunition, mounts, etc. in sufficient supply.

     If there are scenes of Antonio Lopez order the firings squads to shoot people, they are ridiculous.  He would not dirty his hands with such.  Ordering such, yes....but serving as an execution squad sergeant?   Oh! You kid!   Much too arrogant and pretentious.
     Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies series about David Crockett, also left many, many things to be desired, and contained several glaring, misleading inaccuracies.   This mini-series will be even worse.   The notion that the Mexican Centralist forces came sneaking over ridges as they filtered into the precincts of San Antonio de Valero de Bexar is preposterous.    Their entry was Napoleonic....marching in good order, in best uniform and just out of distance of the best known artillery held by the Defenders.

     The dwelling upon a certain woman by the name of Emily (are they referring to Emily Morgan or to the Yellow Rose?) West.   She is the person depicted as the main squeeze of Antonio Lopez, and the perhaps the mini-series will depict her as a "heroine" who gave up her virtue to as to distract Lopez de Santa Anna from the impending  attack at full-force of the Texian Army.   Such is preposterous on the face of it, due to the fact that Emily could not ever have known of the day, hour, minute, and/or second of the attack so as to co-ordinate said event with any type of conjugality.
Building and grounds of the Institute of Texian Cultures
Outside fly the banners of the 28 nations whose ethnicities
are most represented in the cultural fabric of the Republic
of Texas.
     Much of that repetitious bilge was fostered by an old boss of El Gringo Viejo, when he served under the supervision of the blustery, bologna-vendor J. Henderson Shuffler.  I was a field researcher of the Institute of Texian Cultures when the anthro-historical museum was being built in preparation for San Antonio's and Texas's HemiFair - 1968.   The museum still lives in the centre of San Antonio, equidistant from where the San Antonio Spurs play their home games and the Alamo.   Shuffler, in academic terms, was a shallow-plough farmer who delighted in learning and re-telling off-coloured tales and stories (jokes) involving Negroes.  There are others tales to tell about Shuffler, but they are better left to the wind to nowhere.
    He was a favourite of another coarse jackass by the name of Lyndon Baines Johnson who happened to be President of the United States of America at that time, successfully being elected in 1964 by campaigning against Barry Goldwater, and promising that for so long as he would be President no American boy would be sent to fight in a land war in Asia.   Shuffler threw me out of his office one morning because I suggested that a display about the stern-mounted paddle wheelers of the Rio Grande could be an interesting display because the founder of the King Ranch came from Brooklyn and wound up being Texas's biggest cattle and land baron for a good while.  He grumbled that he had never heard of such stupid BS and ordered me to the door.   He was, of course, wrong....but I was 19, and he was 327 years old.

     In any regard, he and various others promulgated the false legend of Emily West Morgan.   First and foremost, there is between none and less evidence that she had anything to do with Antonio Lopez.

    "But, but Gringo Viejo, how can you say such a stupid thing?  Everybody knows that Emily was always shacking up with Antonio all the time.   She was a slave trying to connive her way to emancipation, everybody knows that....and she had a big affair with Jim Bowie, too....I saw it in a movie one time."

     Well, not so much.   (1) There were various Mexican officers of record who were there, very near or within the distance of having reasonable first-hand knowledge of very intimate details about Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.   They wrote about and complained about his continual use of cocaine and aged wine in copious amounts.  They hated him almost to a man.  None made mention of this supposed "relationship" between Lopez de Santa Anna and Emily West.  (2)   There were some observations that he had a proclivity towards very, very young girls...not old ladies of 24 - 27 years of age, like Emily.   Lopez de Santa Anna's last wife was taken, from a good family in Vera Cruz, at the age of 15 when Antonio was nearing 40. (3)   In the account by Jose Enrique de la Pen~a, Lieutenant Colonel, 1st Zapper Battalion, Army of the United States of Mexico....possibly the first commissioned officers through the walls of the Alamo, there is no mention of Lopez de Santa Anna's interloping with Emily West.  (4)    Depicting such congress in and/or around San Antonio, as is frequently done, is ridiculous on the face of the matter because Emily never ventured far from the area around Galveston, Washington on the Brazos, to the Buffalo Bayou, San Jacinto, and Harrisburg area.   (5)  In many accounts, some formally given in military legal processes, no mention was made about Emily West by officers who hated, despised, and  wished ill upon Lopez de Santa Anna.  (6)   Miss Emily West was the charge of a fellow from New York, and came to Texas under his sponsorship while in the company of Mrs. Lorenzo de Zavala, Vice-President of Texas and one of the cornerstone Texian Heroes.  These were very staid and correct people, and even Antonio Lopez would have been careful with such prisoners.   He was never known to have personally availed himself of people of such class and connection and gender.  Emily was born a free woman, not a slave as some say, and she was brought to Texas as a governess or formal nanny and moved comfortably among people of the social strata of Mrs. de Zavala. (6)  The surname "Morgan" was added on not by marriage.  This usually was done parenthetically, to women who had a ward or one  ever made mention, at least to be historically recorded that Emily was a mistress in the modern sense, a concubine of any kind, or a woman of convenience for Mr. Morgan or Mr. Anyone.  (7)   She returned under the eye and supervision of the very young widow of Lorenzo de Zavala who died very young (47 years of age) after fighting off a return of malaria, and then the effects of a fall into Buffalo Bayou during a cold period in the latter part of 1836.  He developed pneumonia and, after building the foundation of the Republic of Texas, expired....stunning the new Republic.

     My burden is knowing too much that no longer makes any difference.  But our cultural, economic, historical, and political ignorance, I fear, will cause the final collapse of the American Republic.   Failing to know the history of important episodes and matters cause folks to devalue such history and relegate that history to an obscure corner to rot in the darkness.   Mini-series that round the corners and colour orange into blue and put high mountains into areas like San Antonio and disservice to one and all.

More later.
El Gringo Viejo