Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 144 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
abandoned everything and came am me with such
indorsements as commanded the confidence of Governor
Henry Smith, the leader of the party of independence,
Gen. Houston, and all the prominent
men who advocated an absolute separation from
Mexico. At San Felipe he met and embraced his
loved Travis. Bexar had fallen. Wild schemes
not untinged with selfishness, and consequent demoralization,
were in the air. Govenor Smith sent
Col. Travis to take command at San Antonio, after
Johnson, Grant and their self-organized expedition
to take Matamoros had depleted San Antonio of its
military supplies and left it as a defenseless outpost.
Travis hastened to his post of duty, preceded
a short time by the friend of his youth,
Bonham. Travis, grand in intellect, unselfish in
spirit and noble in heart, organized his force as best
he could, determined to hold the advancing enemy
in check until Gen. Houston could collect and
organize a force sufficient to meet and repel him in
the open field. He trusted that Fannin, with over
four hundred thoroughly equipped men at Goliad,
would march to his relief. He sent appeals to him
to that effect, and finally, after Santa Anna's cohorts
had encircled his position in the Alamo, he
sent Bonham for a last appeal for aid, with instructions
also to his lifetime friend to proceed
from Goliad to Gonzales in searcli of aid. This
mission was full of peril from both Mexicans around
San Antonio and Indians on the entire route of his
travel. As things were then, none but a man oblivious
of danger would have undertaken the mission.
James Butler Bonham, then just twenty-nine years
of age, assumed its hazards. He presented the
facts to Fannin, but the latter failed to respond.
Thence Bonham, through the wilderness, without a
human habitation between the points, hastened from
Goliad to Gonzales, just as a few volunteers began
to collect there. In response to the appeals of
Travis thirty-two citizens of that colony had left
a day or two before, under Capt. Albert Martin,
to succor the 150 defenders of the Alamo. The
siege had begun on the 23d of February. These
thirty-two men had fought their way in at daylight
on the 1st of March. Bonham, supplied with all
the information he could gather, and satisfied he
could get no further present recruits, determined
to return to Travis. He was accompanied by John
W. Smith. When they reached the heights overlooking
San Antonio and saw that the doomed
Alamo was encircled by Santa Anna's troops, Smith
deemed it suicidal to seek an entrance. That was
the ninth day of the siege and the doom of the
garrison was inevitable. Smith, by his own honorable
statement afterwards, to both Gen. Sam
Houston and ex-Governor Milledge L. Bonham, in
Houston, in 1838, urged Bonham to retire with
him; but he sternly refused, saying: " I will report
the result of my mission to Travis or die in the
attempt." Mounted on a beautiful cream-colored
horse, with a white handkerchief floating from his
hat (as previously agreed with Travis), he dashed
through the Mexican lines, amid the showers of
bullets hurled at him
the gate of the Alamo flew
open, and as chivalrous a soul as ever fought and
died for liberty entered
entered to leave no more,
except in its upward flight to the throne of God.
The soul communion between those two sons of
Carolina -in that noonday hour may be imagined.
Sixty-six hours later they and their doomed companions,
in all 183, slept with their fathers.
Bonham had neither wife nor child. He was but
twenty-nine years and fourteen days old when he
fell. His entrance into the Alamo under a leaden
shower hurled from an implacable enemy was
hailed by the besieged heroes with such shouts as
caused even the enemy to marvel. It was a personal
heroism unsurpassed in the world's history.
In its inspiration and fidelity to a holy trust it was
Such was James Butler Bonham. Shall any man,
after the immortal Travis, be more prominently
sculptured on the Alamo monument than he? Let
all who love truth and justice in history answer.
The spirit of truth and justice appeals to those who
would commemorate the deeds of the Alamo, that
the names to be most signalized should be arranged
with that of Travis in the foreground, then Bonham,
Bowie, who heroically died sick in bed, Albert
Martin, leader of the thirty-two from Gonzales,
after which should follow those of Crockett, Green
B. Jameson, Dickenson, Geo. W. Cottle, Andrew
Kent, and the others down to the last one of the
one hundred and eighty-three.
South Carolina went into mourning over Travis
and Bonham, sons in whom she felt a sublime
pride. I have before me the proceedings of several
public meetings held in that State when the truth,
in all its chivalrous glory, spread over her borders.
Carolina wept for her sons " because they were
not." She baptized them with tears of sorrow, not
unmingled with the consolatory resignation of a
mother who bewails the loss of her sons but rejoices
that they fell in a cause just and righteousgloriously
fell that their country might be free.
Among many sentiments uttered at these meetings
in South Carolina, I extract the following:1.
"The memory of Cols. Travis and Bonham:
There is cause for joy and not of mourning. The
District of Edgefield proudly points to her two gal
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/144/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .