Indian wars and pioneers of Texas Page: 152 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
out doubt the only surviving American who witnessed
the fall of the Alamo in the Texian revolution
of 1836, and his account of it will show of how
little worth is popular opinion as material for
"' When I lived at Alexandria,' says Bastian,
'it was a frontier town and the abiding-place of
many of the worst ruffians in the Southwest.
Prominent among these was Bowie. He devoted
himself to forging land titles, and it is amusing to
me to, read accounts of his life, in which he is
spoken of as a high-toned Southern gentleman and
a patriot who died for the cause of Texian independence.
He has come down to these times as the
inventor of the Bowie knife, but my recollection is
this: Bowie had sold a German, named Kaufman,
a forged land title. Mr. Dalton, the United States
land registrar, refused to record it, Kaufman
threatened to prosecute Bowie and was promptly
stabbed to death for his presumption. In a suit at
law shortly after, the United States district judge
complained of the endless litigation over land
claims, and one of the attorneys answered sarcastically,
'that Bowie's knife was the speediest and
surest way of settling trouble about such disputes,'
and this, I believe, is the story of Bowie's connection
with the historic knife.' "
In the days referred to the brothers Rezin P.
and James Bowie were quiet planters on Bayou
Lafourche, 124 miles from Alexandria, and rarely
in that place. This man's age was, according to
his own statement, then ranging from ten to sixteen
years. His statements about land titles, murders
and the Bowie knife, are notoriously false. At the
time he became sixteen, Col. James Bowie, from
being a casual, became a permanent citizen of
Texas, married the lovely and accomplished daughter
of Governor Veramendi, of San Antonio, and
until the death of herself and two children was a
model and devoted husband and father. A happier
couple, by the testimony of all who knew them,
Of the Alamo in 1836 the impostor says: " I
was in the Alamo in February. There was a bitter
feeling between the partisans of Travis and Bowie,
the latter being the choice of the rougher party in
the garrison. Fortunately Bowie was prostrated
by pneumonia and could not act. When Santa
Anna appeared before the place most of the garrison
were drunk, and had the lMexicans made a rush the
contest would have been short. Travis did his
best and at once sent off couriers to Colonel Fannin,
at Gonzales, to hurry up reinforcements. I
was one of these couriers, and fortunately I knew
the country well and spoke Spanish like a native,
so I had no trouble. On the 1st of March I
met a party of thirty volunteers from Gonzales
on the way to the Alamo and concluded to
return with them. When near the fort we were
discovered and fired on by the Mexican troops.
Most of the party got through; but I and three
others had to take to the chaparral to save our
lives. One of the party was a Spanish creole from
New Orleans. He went into the town and brought
us intelligence. We were about three hundred
yards from the fort concealed by brush, which
extended north for twenty miles. I could see the
enemy's operations perfectly."
After the fall, March 6th, he says: "Disguising
myself, and in company with Rigault, the creole, we
stole into the town. Everything was in confusion.
In front of the fort the Mexican dead covered the
ground, but the scene inside the fort was awful."
The idea of the fellow being concealed as stated,
with thousands of Mexican troops camping on the
ground, is in any an(d every sense preposterous;
but when we consider that at that time there was
no chaparral or thicket as stated by him, nor for
miles in that direction, it was absolutely impossible.
Moreover, neither he nor any one else was
cut off from the Gonzales band. There were
thirty-two of them, and every one of them died in
the Alamo. He falsifies about bearing an express
to Fannin at Gonzales. Fannin was at Goliad, a
hundred miles nearer the coast, with a wilderness
and no road between them.
Here is another sample of his gifts. After
claiming to have spent some time in the Alamolong
enough to see the dead
he says: We
now thought it time to look after ourselves,
and made for the chaparral, where our companions
were. We had nearly reached the wood when a
mounted lancer overtook us. Rigault awaited and
shot him dead, and so we made our escape. Our
good fortune did not end here, for we had to make
a detour to reach Gonzales and learned in time that
the place was invested, and so were spared the fate
of the garrison, for they and their commander,
Colonel Fannin, were massacred by the Mexicans."
Gen. Houston did not leave Gonzales till seven
and a half days after this man claims to have
started for that place. Fannin had not been there.
The place was never invested. The Mexicans did
not arrive till seven days after Houston left.
The fame of Bowie as a soldier, a patriot, a gentleman,
and as a husband and father, will pass
from father to son and mother to daughter, so long
as honor, justice and truth abide in Texas.
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas, book, 1880~; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/152/: accessed February 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .