The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

death overtakes him, and he has to go there. The Texas volunteer
also rather fights than work.
Here it will be appropriate to quote the memorable words of
Gen. Ed. Burleson before the battle of San Jacinto. Gen. Houston
ordered him to get his men to build a temporary bridge over a
branch of the Buffalo Bayou, for he thought that the large force of
Mexicans to whom the illy equipped and inferior number of Texans
were opposed might compel retreat.
Gen. Burleson communicated that order to his men, but had to
return to Houston, reporting that "his men would rather fight than
build bridges."
Now to put the Texans to work would have been a job; at least
the Texans would not have hurt or overexerted themselves, in spite
of guards or vigilance.
I was told by some of our men, who were chained and had to
work on public streets or works in Mexico, that they would pretend
to get scared and run away with a wheelbarrow full of stones, and
arrive with only half a load; others who had to wheel sand in sacks,
contrived to get holes in the sacks so they would leak.
At night they would contrive to get clear of their shackles, filing
off the rivets, and while one of the party would whistle the tune of
a dance, another would pat. (Now the northern man can not under-
stand what patting is; to him I have to explain, that the former
slaves often had no musical instruments to accompany a dance, there-
fore they would sing or whistle and with hands slapping together,
or on head or breast keep up time. The first time I saw this per-
formance by a negro, I was really amused at his grotesque figure;
his whole body was in motion, with his big feet he beat time on the
floor, hands and body in motion, in fact it is utterly impossible for
me to describe to any one, unless he has been in the southern states.)
I hope I shall be excused for this digression; the future is so sad,
therefore I had rather add some things between, that may be humor-
ous and yet true.
To President Santa Anna the blacksmiths bills for repairing the
fetters of the Texans seemed to be too frequent, and he called a
blacksmith to account; the blacksmith replied: "Your Excellency is
aware, that the grand round of soldiers at night examines the prison-
ers to assure themselves of their safe confinement, and they report
all right, but how some seem to be loose next morning I can not
explain, truly I am often called on by the officers of the guard to
repair that these Texas heretics are in league with the devil."
Now I was told that our men by some means would file off the
rivets, then dance, having one on guard to inform them when the
tramp of soldiers would approach their prison, then all quickly en-
sconsed themselves in their blankets, lay down on the floor (no

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed December 18, 2014.