The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

interesting as Chamberlain's story. Insofar as possible, Goetzmann untangles
fact from fiction in this frequently undocumentable saga of seductions, atroci-
ties, and battlefield exploits, intermingled with Chamberlain's perceptive and
accurate observations of the natural and social environments. For example,
Chamberlain effectively conveys a sense of the San Antonio area and South
Texas with fascinating vignettes as well as vivid images, such as Mission
Concepti6n, 1846. Too, it is a measure of his abilities that Chamberlain's "first-
person" account of the Battle of Monterrey convincingly portrays the reality
of a battle in which he did not participate.
As Goetzmann indicates, the importance of Chamberlain's work lies in its evo-
cation of the sensibilities of the Romantic Era, rather than in its worth as a com-
pletely factual historical document. Beneath the rollicking narrative, the reader
gets glimpses of an elderly man who, while often reveling in his memories, may
have had at least a few twinges of regret for those instances in which he did not
overcome, as he put it, "my worst enemy, myself."
Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University SAM RATCLIFFE
Eyewitness to the Alamo. By Bill Groneman. (Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 1996.
Pp. x+267. Acknowledgments, introduction, illustrations, notes, sources,
index. ISBN 1-55622-502-4. $12.95, paper.)
It is rather remarkable that an eminently useful anthology such as this one has
not been previously published. John Rios's Readings on the Alamo (1987) took a
historiographical approach, while Timothy Matovina's The Alamo Remembered
(1995) dealt only with Tejano accounts central to the formation of an ethnic
consciousness. Groneman's careful selection of contemporary accounts of the
storied battle, both authentic and fanciful, is a particularly engaging companion
volume to Matovina's excellent book, but also stands alone as the best single vol-
ume of its kind now available.
Groneman's thoughtful commentary on these narratives adds considerable
value to the book. His organization is straightforward and clear: part one deals
with letters written at the time of the battle by participants; part two with
accounts given immediately after the battle, part three with nineteenth-century
memoirs, and a final section with twentieth-century appearances of previously
unknown accounts. It is extraordinary just how much new material on the battle
is only now coming to light. Future research in the relatively unexplored
Mexican archives will undoubtedly yield even more of value. All of this new
material, as Groneman makes clear, is fundamentally changing our understand-
ing of what was once assumed to be a well-known story.
Groneman strays only slightly from the path of clarity when he mounts his
favorite hobbyhorse-how Davy Crockett died. This leads him to attack the
motives of George Dolson, whose letter from Galveston Island to his brother six
months after the battle gives a riveting version of Crockett's death taken from a
Mexican officer captured at San Jacinto. This lame assault on Dolson is only nec-
essary because he so closely parallels the account of that eternal bogeyman of

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed September 24, 2014.