Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Bit More Concerning San Jacinto, the Sequins, Sam Houston, and the Texanos.....(updated and corrected)


   In our previous writing, we have attempted to orient the OROG to many of the greater complexities that were swirling around the geographic expanses of what would become Mexico as it solidified, Texas as it ventured off into becoming an independent Republic, and issues as arcane and disjointed as the Battle of Puebla de los Angeles and its connection to the family of Juan Sequin.

     Long ago, this writer, while still at university, uncovered a body of older newspapers clippings (and copies thereof) with well-written stories about Texas Rangers in the 1830s who were essentially small companies (10 - 20 men) of scouts, essentially light-cavalry, and frequently Latin and Spanish-speaking.  Some of the companies were totally Latin, and at times there were Indians who rode in the ranks.
     There was even one story about such a group that left during the siege of the Alamo and rode from their homes in and around Yorktown, Texas about 90 miles southeast of San Antonio.   It declared as fact that they had gone to San Antonio, after learning of Col. Fannin's disastrous experience at Goliad, in order to join the issue at the Alamo.  
     As scouts, they proceeded carefully and gained proximity to San Antonio, then discarded their mounts (who would return home without riders) and snuck into the city and finally within the walls of the venerable, if battered, old mission.  It was said that they arrived too late to be registered and rostered, but that they were assigned to areas that needed more defence. 

    A couple of days ago, another writer and analyst of these issues and the Texanos.....made similar salient entries into the McAllen Monitor with accurate reporting surrounding the events of the period.  To wit:

     "On the battlefield that day, Captain Juan Sequin and his 20 Tejanos fought alongside Gen. Houston and his soldiers, according to Sequin's memoirs.  Texas history has always assumed that only 20 Tejanos were fighting for Texas Independence that day, but now, according to a recently discovered petition to the State Comptroller's office for (concerning) pensions that were not granted to Texanos who fought for Independence, the more correct figure was almost 120.  
      "Gen. Houston ordered Lt. Salvador Flores, Seguin's second in command to take 25 Texanos to patrol the ranches and settlements to the south of San Antonio.   About 20 Texanos, including Blas Herrera, Sequin's favourite scout, were transferred to Erastus (Deaf) Smith's company of scouts.  About 30 Texanos were sent east to escort and protect Texas families (who had caravanned towards Louisiana in case Santa Anna would have been successful in disbanding all Texian resistance).   Three other Tejanos were too sick to accompany their main body and were left at San Felipe de Austin, 10 more were stationed in Harrisburg, and 5 more were put in charge of the remuda of horses (possibly 250) at the moments of the Battle of San Jacinto."
Mr. Jack Ayoub 

     These facts are not disputed and are on record.  My own minor differences are that, for instance, at one time and a long time ago at that, I was content with my knowledge that Juan Sequin was in command of the Cavalry (what little there was) at San Jacinto.  I was wrong for about 15 years.   As we stated not too long ago, further research have shown that it is more than conclusive that Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar was the commander of cavalry at San Jacinto.   It was he who ordered, by form of verbal request, the person of Capitan Juan Sequin to organize the cavalry and prepared for attack for the next day....the 21st of April.
     Lamar, Seguin, and Seguin's subordinates conferred about the general details of their attack.  The great body of Texian draft and reserve cavalry horses were moved back,  several miles, herded by the five men described above in all probability.  It was, therefore, Sequin and his men who performed the task, but technically, Lamar was the commander of that small and very important part of the force.
     It should also be pointed out that all of the Scouts and others who performed the very dangerous task of riding to the flank and behind enemy lines, and all the others who served in extremely precarious service never backed down, rendered, surrendered, capitulated, or in any way performed in a Benedict Arnold manner during this profoundly difficult time.
     Concerning the pensions not having been paid, that matter requires an explanation that might appear to be complex and / or deceptive,  but which is reasonable.   The pensions, once voted in the 1850s by the Texas Legislature, were terribly disordered at the failure of the Southern War for Independence.   Reconstruction lasted longest in Texas, ending in 1876.  Many of the records of the State Land Commissioner's Office and the State Comptroller's Office were in almost total disarray.
     For instance, in Tennessee which was "reconstructed" much more quickly, the pensions for "Coloured" veterans of Confederate service began to be paid, usually to surviving spouses in the 1890s,  because of the age requirement.  There was some, but not considerable difficulty in approving many of the applications, simply because of the time elapsed.
     Another thing was that many of the same families who had Tejanos in the war against Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna also participated in the War Between the States 25 years later, and almost all served in the Confederate forces.
      Therefore, this writer does not see a wholesale avoidance of paying pensions to deserving veterans and / or their spouses,  but rather a jumble of disregard by Union occupying forces, and then a passive lack of concern by women who might have been eligible but really did not care to travel from San Patricio to Austin in order to make application, thirty or forty years after the fact.
To wit:

Esparza Family survivors of the Battle of the Alamo
(El Gringo Viejo notes:   Gregorio Esparza was Col. James Bowie's closest friend.  He snuck into the Alamo through a window, well into the siege, and cared for the ailing Bowie, and died defending him.  Gregorio's brother was a ranking officer in the Mexican Expeditionary Force, and requested Lopez de Santa Anna that his brother be granted the benefit of Christian burial, and not burned, as in a trash heap.  Lopez de Santa Anna gave permission for that one internment with Holy Rites of the Roman Catholic Church.)

    His family members were spared and are listed as official non-combatant survivors of the Battle of the Alamo. María de Jesús Castro also known as María de Jesús Esparza was the young step daughter of Esparza, who was also spared after the battle. His wife, Ana Esparza died in 1847, and the family was left without parents. Between 1850 and 1860, Gregorio's sons, Enrique, Manuel and Francisco filed pension petitions to gain the rights to land at Pleasanton, Texas (south of San Antonio about 25 miles). Enrique, a San Antonio truck-farmer, also in the Alamo during the siege, was rediscovered in 1901 and became a recorded eyewitness of what transpired during the siege. His brother, Manuel owned a general store in Pleasanton, and later served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Francisco would also serve in the Confederate Army and later became a Texas Ranger. He eventually moved to Tucson, Arizona, and became a law officer in the area.

     So, kudos to Mr. Jack Ayoub for shaking bats from my belfry.  It reminds us, especially during these days, that the easy explanations are suspect.  The braids and strands of truth and fact must always be studied and considered and respected so as to avoid being turned into the rope of lies that would allow despots and people with ill agenda to hang us from a gallows of false history.