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Annotated Bibliography

By the author…

I am grateful to the former staff of the Texas Collection at Baylor University for allowing me access to some of the older texts and papers mentioned in this bibliography during my “first round” of research many years ago. I also want to applaud the outstanding novels of Elizabeth Crook, especially her Promised Lands (Doubleday, 1994), and Stephen Harrigan, whose The Gates of the Alamo (Knopf, 2000), was, deservedly, a national bestseller. His portrayal of Mexican soldados is strikingly real. I also appreciate Mr. Harrigan’s observation that “some historical novelists…parade their research in front of the reader,” leaving the reader feeling that “the novelist is more interested in showing off these credentials than in telling a story.” He is probably right; however, since I am offering what I call a “fact-based novel,” I believe that there is an obligation to report where some of those facts came from. (But I also admit that I really enjoyed the research and the stimulating task of writing about it.) Of the many comments that I have made below, the ones that might be of some particular interest are found under the “Barnard, Joseph,” and “Cantrell, Gregg” citations; the “Fehrenbach, T.R.,” and “Flores, Richard R.” citations; and the “Lindley, Thomas Ricks” citation.

Alonzo, Armando C., Tejano Legacy: Rancheros and Settlers in South Texas, 1734-1900, University of New Mexico Press, 1998. Alonzo shows that land and space were as important to Tejano rancheros and settlers as they were to most Anglos who came into Texas much later. There is an exchange in The Edge of Freedom between Carlos de la Garza and John White Bower upon their initial encounter. Bower, with only business on his mind, is interested in concluding his land transaction with the empresario James Power. “…I would say that to own [the land] is not enough,” de la Garza tells him. “I would say that one must also belong to his land.” [Emphasis in original.] The business arrangement between de la Garza and Bower was not unique. Alonzo shows that in the early years of Anglo settlement, many Tejanos actually enhanced their holdings as a result of Anglo demand for livestock.

Ballí, Ceclia, “The Second Battle of Goliad,” Texas Monthly, May 2001. This extremely interesting article shows through the views of two contemporary Goliad citizens how the differing “pasts” related to the Goliad executions remain the subject of intense debate. A panel of prominent Texas historians came into the fray and made recommendations as to how the history of Goliad might be presented in order to show both sides of the argument.

Bancroft, Hubert Howe, History of Texas, and the Northern Mexican States, Vol. 16, 1801-1889, (1889). According to Bancroft, the last words of Fannin’s second in command, Lt. Col. William Ward, were “You have killed my comrades in cold blood. I have no wish to live.”

Barnard, Joseph H., Dr. J. H. Barnard’s Journal: Giving an Account of the Fannin Massacre, Goliad, 1965. One of the most-cited and widely read of the firsthand sources, Barnard’s Journal, for purposes of The Edge of Freedom, is especially intriguing because of the story it tells of an exchange between Dr. Barnard and the Spanish-speaking Texian Captain Francis Desaque as the two of them were marching with other prisoners from the battlefield near Coleto Creek to the presidio, where they were supposed to be held only temporarily. Desaque had already served as interpreter for the Texian side of the surrender, and thus would have known as much, or more than, any of the Texians about the facts and subtleties of the negotiations and documents. On their march together, Desaque became involved in a long and, to all appearances, amiable conversation with a Mexican officer, who even got off his horse to walk with Desaque for a few miles. When the officer left, Barnard wrote, “Captain Desaque now remarked in a very serious tone, that contrasted strangely with the cheerful voice in which he had been conversing: ‘I am now ready for any fate.’” Barnard asked if “treachery was meditated. He said: ‘No,’ but repeated his former remark. The idea struck me that here was a chance to escape by silently dropping into the water while the guard and their captain were on the other side…”

From this, I speculate that (1) Desaque felt uneasy about the surrender and probed the Mexican officer, finding some disquieting intelligence; or (2) the captain, obviously knowing that Desaque spoke Spanish, sought to persuade him to change sides, perhaps insinuating that the Texian prisoners were more likely to be held for a much longer time (while Urrea exploited his “government” contacts?) or face even harsher consequences. It is possible that both are true and that the only question is who initiated the critical part of the conversation. It is difficult for me to believe that Desaque did not have at least some concern about the two documents and the discussions leading to their acceptance. If so, did he discuss his concern with Fannin, or did he believe it was unnecessary to do so because Fannin should have understood, on his own, all that had occurred?  What I do believe this story illustrates is that Desaque did not come away from the surrender proceedings knowing that they were a hoax or that the prisoners could be in for harsh treatment. If he had known these things at the time of the agreement, why then would he have told Dr. Barnard that “I am now ready for any fate.” Desaque was executed on March 27 along with almost all other prisoners.

Binkley, William C. The Texas Revolution. Austin, Texas: Texas State Historical Association, 1979.  Binkley originally delivered a series of lectures on the Revolution, arguing against previous interpretations that placed undue emphasis on the expansion of slavery as the principal motivation for the struggle. He placed more emphasis on the Mexican government’s use of convict troops to protect provincial inhabitants, including of course Anglo colonists, from Indian depredations, and the displacement of the empresario system by wholesale speculation.

Bradle, William R., Goliad: the Other Alamo, Pelican Publishing, 2007.  An effort, like my own,to give Goliad the prominence it deserves.

Brands, H.W., Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence—and Changed America, Doubleday, 2004. Brands published this book in the same year as William C. Davis’s Lone Star Rising (see below). Much longer than Davis’s book, Lone Star Nation probably wins the narrative prize and the inclusiveness award—not insignificant from my point of view. Brands has been taken to task for not spending enough time on the political history of the era, however. What he adds is a lot of color and a lot of facts as well. If you are interested in the number of William Travis’s sexual conquests, you will find the information; if you want to know about Mexican General Manuel de Mier y Terán’s gloomy premonitions about Texas, you find the answer, and more about the unfortunate general. Brands and Davis are both eminent and accomplished academic and narrative historians. They understand the big picture, too: the Texas Revolution’s critical importance to the westward expansion of American culture and economic power—and its democratic principles as well. Many of the “adventurers” in Texas were grandsons of soldiers or militiamen in the American Revolution, and even those without direct Revolutionary forebears were filled with the romance and spirit of the great Revolution.

Brown, Gary, Hesitant Martyr in the Texas Revolution: James Walker Fannin, Republic of Texas Press, 2000. Brown offers a generally sympathetic view of Fannin and provides some of the most extensive information about Fannin’s family background and life before coming to Texas.

Brown, John Henry, The History of Texas from 1685 to 1892 (1893), Vol. I. A very prominent Texan who knew many participants in the Revolution, Brown, along with Dr. Joseph Barnard, did much to establish the good works of Francita Alavez, “The Angel of Goliad,” in the public mind. Brown had a dim view of General Urrea.

Buenger, Walter L. and Robert A. Calvert, eds. Texas Through Time: Evolving Interpretations, TAMU Press, 1991. This book of historiographical essays is a major contribution by two eminent historians (Calvert is now deceased) to bridge the enormous gap between the mythical views held in the collective memory and more thoughtful and inclusive views. Buenger’s contribution to this book is on economic history, although he is perhaps best-known for his studies of Texas in and after the Civil War. One contributor is Arnoldo DeLeón (see below), and the good news is that he and Buenger have edited a successor volume coming out in 2011, titled Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away from Past Interpretations, TAMU Press.

Cantrell, Gregg, and Turner, Elizabeth Hayes, eds., Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas, TAMU Press, 2007, No. 27 in The Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series in the West and Southwest, Andrés Tijerina, General Ed. The Foreword to this volume, written by W. Fitzhugh Brundage, says that “…Texas is unusual in the degree to which its recalled past is integral to its modern identity.” [Emphasis added.] The statement brings to mind the British historian J.H. Plumb’s classic The Death of the Past (1969). After hearing Plumb speak at the University of Texas many, many years ago when I was a graduate student there, I read The Death of the Past, and other books by Plumb, and have since been fascinated by the fact that “pasts” are what have been created or absorbed as instrumental or inspirational, no matter how inaccurate or unrealistic such pasts may be. Plumb believed that the “death” of these pasts was imminent, not foreseeing how stubborn—and often necessary—they have proven to be. The task of the serious historian may be primarily to initiate thoughtful perspectives on the past, based on genuine analytical scholarship, and hope that, over time, these perspectives might work their way into a collective memory–in the mean time providing some hope of tenure. Cantrell and Turner, in their introduction, put it best: “It is the historian’s task to turn a trained eye to the veracity of individual or collective memories of events that have become accepted by a group or a society.” They warn that the worst failing of professional historians is to go the other way round, to bind themselves to an accepted but discredited past and work to sustain it with tendentious scholarship. Whether serious historians should address themselves directly to the broadest possible audience or wish for their work to escape the sprawling megalopolis of academia is another question.

The Foreword to Lone Star Pasts also says that “…collective or historical memory is not simply the articulation of some shared subconscious but rather the product of intentional creation.” (This is a bit strong on the “creation” side of history for my taste—odd, given my choice of fiction.) Conceding that elites have the upper hand in sustaining and even imposing their versions of the past, Brundage writes that African Americans and Tejanos have forged their own enduring “counter-memories.” In speaking of the tenacity of some pasts and the evanescence of others, he notes that creators envision static versions of the past, but these are always dependent on “evolution.” Most interesting to me are these words: “Indeed, this collection offers numerous examples of the ways in which a ‘Texas identity, rooted in the remembered past, has been perpetuated and intensified, rather than dissolved, by the forces of modernity.” I applaud the book and its contributors for recognizing how important it is for Texans to broaden and refine, rather than reject, our historical memory. Among the many fine contributions are “The Bones of Stephen F. Austin: History and Memory in Progressive-Era Texas,” by Gregg Cantrell; “Constructing Tejano Memory” by Andrés Tijerina; and ‘Lyndon We Hardly Knew Ye: LBJ in the Memory of Modern Texans,” by Ricky Floyd Dobbs. The last is notable for describing how a man with great national accomplishment nevertheless fails to reach the pantheon of Texas immortals. For now.

Castañeda, Carlos E., ed., The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution, 1928.  Castañeda’s collection of firsthand accounts by General Urrea and Santa Anna are most germane to the Goliad campaign, although one of the best-known accounts is that of Santa Anna’s secretary, Ramón Martínez Caro, titled A True Account of the First Texas Campaign. The whole collection is essential to the study of the period, while it is also the source of much historical disputation. Castañeda was also the translator of The History of Texas, 1673—1779 (1935), reprint Arno, 1967, by the Franciscan missionary and historian Juan Agustín Morfi, who came to Mexico from Spain in the mid-1750s. The history was based on an arduous journey through what is now Mexico and included San Antonio de Béxar.

Crisp, James E., Sleuthing the Alamo: Davy Crockett’s Last Stand and Other Mysteries of the Texas Revolution, Oxford, 2004. Crisp and the late Dan Kilgore (below) have been on one side of the long-running Crockett death debate, while Dan Groneman and Thomas Ricks Lindley (below) are on the other. Simply put, Kilgore and Crisp accept the authenticity of José de la Peña’s diary (see Kilgore, below) and a likely corroborating source in the form of a letter from a Texian sergeant, George Dolson, a bilingual American who spoke with a captured Mexican officer after the battle of the Alamo. These sources, and others, demonstrate to most academic historians, at least, that David Crockett did not die fighting in the manner depicted in some books and movies.

Davenport, Harbert, “The Men of Goliad,” SWHQ 43, Issue 1, July 1939. This early study is still the best source about Goliad and one of the best for the Revolution. Davenport had many worthwhile insights, in this and in his other writings. He wrote that if the Texians had been paroled, “witnesses to incompetence, and worse, of Texas leaders” would have spread the word not only of that incompetence but also of the apathy of Texas colonists and their lack of appreciation for the American volunteers who were streaming into Texas. If the prisoners had been saved, Davenport wrote, the “racial egotists” who hated and derided Mexicans “would have been forced to conclude that not all Mexicans were bad.” Instead, the massacre reinforced militant bias against Mexicans and helped pave the way for the Mexican War with the U.S. He also wrote that “Texas undertook the unequal struggle with Mexico, sustained by an almost insolent racial pride.” Davenport, among others, also correctly emphasized the adherence by Fannin and many others to the code of chivalry so prominent in the Deep South. Davenport refers to it as “knight-errantry.” I believe the influence of this code on Texan leaders from the Deep South is underestimated.

Davis, William C.; Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic; Free Press, 2004. Much of what was said above about Lone Star Nation, at least thematically, applies to Davis’s excellent book (ah, the tyranny of the alphabet). Both books are worthy successors to another essential study of the Revolution, Stephen L. Hardin’s Texian Iliad (see below). Shorter than Brands’ book (no surprise there), Davis makes it abundantly clear that the Mexicans must have been thoroughly fed up with American filibustering and saber-rattling long before 1836. The biggest battle ever fought on Texas soil occurred in 1813 when Americans and Tejanos met the Mexican General Joaquín de Arredondo not far from San Antonio, in the battle of Medina. More than a thousand rebels were killed, and Arredondo had the rebel survivors executed. Davis not only informs us of this sanguinary occasion but lets us consider the influence it had on one nineteen-year-old subaltern who was present: Antonio López de Santa Anna.

De la Teja, Jesús F., editor, Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas, TAMU Press, 2010. This is a much needed start to recording more of the “Loyalist” activities of the Tejanos as well as their actions in support of the Texians. Surviving “in between” the warring groups was difficult even for the most prominent Tejanos, including members of the de León family, founders of the city of Victoria. See “Fernando de León, Leadership Lost,” by Caroline Castillo Crimm.

De la Teja, Jesús F., “The Colonization and Independence of Texas: A Tejano Perspective,” in Myths, Misdeeds, and Misunderstandings: The Roots of Conflict in U.S.-Mexican Relations, Jaime Rodríguez and Kathryn Vincent, eds., University of California, 1997. The author emphasizes the cultural roots of the conflict and the ardor with which Tejanos wanted to cling not to the central government but to their own history of self-rule.

DeLeón, Arnoldo, The Tejano Community, 1836-1900, Southern Methodist University Press, 1997.  One of the first as well as one of the strongest arguments for the independence and viability of Tejano culture in Texas. The book helped to establish and sustain the revisionist views of early Texan culture, showing that old stereotypes about Tejano energy, enterprise, and political action were incorrect. Please see “Buenger, Walter L.,” above, noting DeLeón’s collaboration on the upcoming Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away from Past Interpretations, TAMU Press.

Duval, John Crittenden, Early Times in Texas, or the Adventures of Jack Dobell (Austin: Gammel, 1892; new ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986). A Goliad survivor, Fannin antagonist, and colorful story-teller, Duval played a central role in one of the Texians’ major attempts to obtain horses. The Padre Valdez (originally a more significant character in The Edge of Freedom) was a wily man, and a poor example of sanctity, but he was related to the alcalde of La Bahía and had much influence among the devout Catholics, especially the women. The Texians resented him, knew he was in league with Tejano scouts, and wanted to capture him at the Carlos Rancho and take a large number of horses in the process. Duval was a leader in this escapade. He and his companions did capture the padre, but the mustangs they wanted tossed off would-be horse breakers and got away.  (This whole affair was in the longer version of The Edge of Freedom.) Ironically, the company to which Duval and his brother Captain Burr Duval, belonged was nicknamed The Mustangs. The name for the unit came about, however, because one of the company’s second lieutenants, who was prone to “benders,” had the violent habit of kicking in the doors of the Labadeños—the villagers of La Bahía. These villagers had been forced to endure harsh treatment from previous adventurers, over many years, and it is no wonder that almost all of them eventually sought protection from Carlos de la Garza at his rancho. Likewise, it is not surprising that many of them may have professed, and felt, hostility toward Santa Anna while avoiding any assistance to the Texians. Duval, a Kentuckian whose father was a U.S. Congressman, was typical of the many refractory members of Fannin’s force—too eager, too confident, and extremely averse to the five hours of drill that Captain Brooks tried to make them endure each day. Duval later served with William A.A. (Big Foot) Wallace and John Coffee (Jack) Hays as a Texas Ranger.

Ehrenberg, Herman, With Milam and Fannin: Adventures of a German Boy in Texas’s Revolution, Pemberton Press, 1968. Ehrenberg was quite a character, and his words reveal his amazement and sheer exuberance (mostly) while he was in Texas during the Revolution as a very young man. One can see him devouring roasted bear and other critters when he first arrived. His persona in this book of his youth strikes me as being a cross between William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, and a young version of David Crockett. See Note on the Characters for more on this talented, much-traveled, and adventurous soul. See also Natalie Ornish’s biography, Ehrenberg: Goliad Survivor, Old West Explorer (1997).

Fehrenbach, T.R., Lone Star: A History of Texans and the Texans, Macmillan, 1968. One of the most admirable traits of this hugely successful narrative historian is that he calls ‘em like he sees ‘em.  In this, his most famous book, he makes it clear that he sees the Texas story as one with mythic elements, but not mythical. On the contrary, what he writes, especially of the Revolutionary period and the Comanches, is almost bitterly realistic, chronicling with something like pride the toughness and self-reliance of the early Texans, including the inevitable brutality that accompanied their conquests. He means for the history he tells to have meaning. Without surrendering to the historical trends of the moment—quite the contrary—he wants the old past, again largely mythic, to have currency. His impatience with the minutiae that sometimes mark social and cultural histories (though evident as well, I would add, in military and political histories) is understandable in a man who grew up in tougher times with tougher choices. There is much to appreciate in this hard-boiled approach, but the celebration of the Anglo-Celt’s warrior tendencies, even when accompanied by respect for the Comanches’ ruthless bravery, sometimes seems to make history only a constant physical and elemental struggle. Hard men (mostly) in a hard land, refusing to buckle in hard times.  It is not that Fehrenbach is all “wrong” about the past, or that his past fails to have some real value to us now; it is more that he seems to have a visceral disdain for all this modern equivocation. Does this make him the quintessential Texan, speaking for both the past and the future, or is he the exemplar for what has been thought of Texas?

Field, Joseph E., Three Years in Texas, Greenfield and Boston, Massachusetts, 1836; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935. Another physician who came to Texas, Field, like some Texian orderlies and Drs. Joseph Barnard (see above) and Jack Shackelford (see below), was initially spared from execution but later actually escaped from the Mexicans. After practicing medicine for many years, he died, blind and in poverty, his small state pension having been rescinded.

Flores, Richard R., Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol, University of Texas Press, 2002. How did the Mexican victory at the Alamo morph into an American triumph for the cause of liberty? Part of the book focuses on the role of media, especially film, in establishing the Alamo as an icon while propagating mythical perceptions as well as stubborn insistence on their validity. Please see especially Chapter 6, “Why Does Davy Live? Modernity and Its Heroics.” In it the author writes that “The Crockett Craze of Disney and Wayne cannot be separated from [the] political moment….this new wave of Crockett patriotism was an effort to divert attention from issues of inequality and racial injustice….Models of valor, as in Crockett and the Alamo defenders, were reproduced as public reminders of the ‘authentic’ American character.” [Emphasis added.]

Foote, Henry Stuart, Texas and the Texans, Vols. I and II, Philadelphia, 1841; Steck reprint, 1985.  Foote’s book was unabashedly pro-Texan and romantic, a good product for Mirabeau B. Lamar, who hired Foote to write it. Foote’s book has a section by Dr. Jack Shackelford, a personal friend of Foote’s, who had great influence with early historians. Shackelford wrote that Mexican soldiers stole blankets from Texian wounded housed in the chapel at the Presidio La Bahía. The thefts and other ill treatment probably initiated a letter of complaint from Fannin to Urrea, and then caused Urrea to send his letter to de la Portilla demanding better treatment of the prisoners, “especially Fannin.”  Foote was also an early reporter on Fannin’s increasing anxiety as events seemed to take charge.

Grimes, Roy, Goliad: 130 Years After, originally published as a series in the Victoria Advocate in 1966. Grimes very usefully points out that perhaps as many as 200 Tejano rancheros assisted General Urrea at one time or other. He lists the most prominent as Carlos de la Garza, Jesús Cuellar, Guadalupe de los Santos, and members of the Moya family. He also shows how important the Tejanos were to rounding up horses—the lack of which was so detrimental to the Texians.

Groneman, Bill, Defense of a Legend, Crockett and the de la Peña Diary, Republic of Texas Press, 1994. The author argues that the de la Peña diary is not authentic, thereby making its version of David Crockett’s death unlikely. Please see further discussion under James E. Crisp, Thomas Ricks Lindley, and Dan Kilgore.

Gulick, Charles Allen, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Pemberton Press, 1968). These papers are notable for  letters between Fannin and Lt. Governor Robinson, among many others.

Haley, James L. Sam Houston, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. This outstanding and highly readable biography by a novelist and independent historian was well-received, even though it may protest too much against some academic writing about the most colorful (and mysterious) figure in Texas history. As a good novelist should do, Haley strives to bring out the private Sam Houston as much as the better-known public one. Haley claims Houston was not party to a scheme with Jackson to take Texas away from Mexico. In his 2006 book, Passionate Nation, Haley portrays Houston as having faith in Fannin to follow his orders.

Hardin, Stephen L., Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution, University of Texas Press, 1994. Hardin’s book is the best military history of the Revolution, and one of the best books on the Revolution by any measure. (I have used  his evaluation of James Bonham’s comings and goings to place Bonham at the Presidio La Bahía on February 19. Hardin questions other timelines, especially the one proposed by Amelia Williams in her well-known article “A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders,” Vols. 36-37, SWHQ, 1933-34.)  One of the most important elements in the Goliad story—and, indeed, in the whole story of the Revolution—is the lack of horses and cavalry on the Texian side. Hardin writes that “American horsemanship was proving inadequate” and that riflemen would be “powerless against cavalry.” “My kingdom for a horse” could well have been the constant plaint of James Fannin. Hardin also emphasizes the importance of the Tejano rancheros and their volunteer cavalry, citing the actions of Manuel Sabriego, Juan and Agustín Moya. Of Fannin, he wrote that he may have “misled his command regarding the surrender in an effort to prevent needless bloodshed, or he may have misunderstood.  Whatever the reason, his men were in no condition to continue fighting; he could only hope that Urrea would regard them as prisoners of war and not captured soldiers of fortune.”

Hopewell, Clifford; Remember Goliad-Their Silent Tents; Eakin Press, 1998. Hopewell is especially interesting in relating the story about Fannin’s family and his unfortunate older daughter, Minerva, who spend the last 32 years of her life in the state asylum in Austin.

Houston, Andrew Jackson, Texas Independence, 1938. Sam Houston’s son, named after the famous man’s mentor, does provide some good information about Fort Defiance. Houston claims his famous father referred to Dr. James Grant as the “evil spirit” of the Revolution.

Huson, Hobart, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (two volumes, 1953–55). Huson’s work is excellent and incorporates many of the older historians’ views along with firsthand accounts.

Kilgore, Dan, How Did Davy Die? TAMU Press, 1978.  Please see below.

Kilgore, Dan, and James B. Crisp, How Did Davy Die? And Why Do We Care So Much? TAMU Press, 2010. The late Mr. Kilgore endured severe criticism for his first book. The second was published after his death. Even if one accepts the authenticity of José de la Peña’s diary, much criticized, in which Crockett was said to have been captured, the diary does not indicate that Crockett surrendered. What it does say is that Crockett and six other defenders “survived” the battle.  “Though tortured before they were killed,” the diary says, “these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves before their torturers.” The diary was published by TAMU Press in 1975 with the title With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution. Other eyewitnesses and colonists who were close at hand reported that somewhere between five and seven defenders had either been captured while fighting or unconscious, captured after having hidden themselves, or taken after surrendering. In all, six Mexican soldiers claimed that Crockett was among those who surrendered or were captured. The most invidious account probably came from Santa Anna’s secretary, Ramón Martínez Caro. Sam Houston’s first information indicated that the men had surrendered. The New Orleans papers, always keeping a close eye of what was happening in Texas, reported that the men had surrendered. There can be no doubt that Fannin and his men certainly regarded Crockett and the other defenders as true martyrs to the cause.

Lack, Paul D., The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History, 1835-1836, TAMU Press, 1996. Lack demonstrates with solid evidence that many Anglo colonists did not rush in great numbers to support the Revolution, a fact that James Fannin knew all too well. He shows the human toll that the Revolution took even on noncombatants because of the severe dislocations and divisions within Tejano and Anglo groups. The chaos that characterized military operations was no less present in the domestic trials of non-combatants.

Lindley, Thomas Ricks, Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions, Republic of Texas Press, 2003. During their long-running historiographical gunfight over Crockett’s death, Ricks and James E. Crisp (see above) engaged in a six-part written exchange in 1995, referred to as the “Lindley-Ricks Debate.” Please go to the TAMU website below to review the debate.

To me, the debate is interesting and relevant to The Edge of Freedom because it attests to the enduring fascination of the “Victory or Death” stance on behalf of what has been considered a noble cause, not only by Texans but by people all over the world. Yet the definition of “noble” is more complicated now than it was when fewer people did the defining. I do not question the undoubted courage of the Alamo defenders, nor do I dismiss the significance of their heroism in the expansion of liberty and democracy. But courage, heroism, liberty, and democracy are not positive absolutes.  There is a corruption of historical memory—to history as it filters into our lives—when we accept the aggregate positive influence of the Texas Revolution but dismiss its legacies of exploitation as either necessary or unavoidable, and celebrate its outcome as the triumph of blue-eyed warriors. We all need “pasts” that are not cerebral or fact-based in order to get through life, but we are better off if those pasts respect the whole of experience. The greater our respect, the less absolute we become.  James Fannin wanted to be absolute—as famous as Bowie and Travis are today—but he was pulled toward the whole. This left him without resolve or too much in need of approbation. He had the sensitivity but he lacked the self-reliance. Texans are known for a self-reliance born of hard experience, an essential quality but not the only one.

Linn, John J., Reminiscences of Fifty Years in Texas, New York, 1883. Linn provides another source for information about the companies and men under Fannin.

Lord, Walter, A Time to Stand, 1961. A hugely successful narrative historian, Lord was most famous for A Night to Remember (1955), about the sinking of the Titanic. Lord said of Fannin that “action was a form of escape for him, until action became crucial. Then he dissolved into indecision.”  Cleverly stated, with some truth.

MacDonald, L. Lloyd, Tejanos in the 1835 Texas Revolution, Pelican Publishing, 2009. Some Tejano histories have focused on Tejanos that fought on the Texian rather than the Mexican, or Loyalist, side. Matovina, Timothy M. The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

McLemore, Laura Lyons, Inventing Texas History: Early Historians of the Lone Star State, TAMU Press, 2004. The author examines the origins of “enduring Texas myths” by assessing the early historians so important to their genesis. She also completes the circle by trying to understand how the early versions were understood, transformed, and ultimately embedded in consciousness. Having a sincere and emotional belief in what they wrote gave the early historians a powerful and lasting authenticity. Certainly biased, they were also surprisingly conscientious in their search for, and use of, many primary sources no longer available.

Matovina, Timothy M. The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. This fine and extremely useful book traces the ebb and flow of Tejano views of the Revolution, using newspaper accounts and other primary sources, published and unpublished, to chronicle the reactions to the battle of the Alamo. The documents include reactions from 1836 to 1914, in chronological order. The Tejano perspective was far more ambiguous than that of Anglos: Tejanos inhabited much more of the “in-between” zone, conflicted at the outset of the Revolution and engaged to this day with their relationship to it. In this they have an advantage in overcoming the “past” and finding more authentic (but less simple) bearings in the present.

Montejano, Davíd, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836—1986, University of Texas Press, 1987. Formerly on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin and now chair of the Center for Latino Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley, Montejano’s book won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award by the Organization of American Historians and was a major contribution to the Texas Sesquicentennial year. “Drama,” he wrote, “the easiest virtue to fashion for Southwestern history, has taken the place of explanation and interpretation.” Finding examples of economic and ethnic integration in his sociological examination of the Texas past, Montejano also provides insight into “the origins of Anglo-Saxon prejudice—whether these attitudes were imported and transferred to Mexicans [in Texas] or were the product of bitter warfare. Both were important sources for anti-Mexican sentiments.” Many, though not all, Anglos brought with them prejudice toward African Americans and hatred of Native Americans, and their hard fighting against Mexicans during the Revolution, along with the executions at the Alamo and Goliad, “served to crystallize and reaffirm anti-Mexican prejudice.”

Morgan, Abel, An Account of the Battle of Goliad and Fannin’s Massacre (Paducah, Kentucky, 1847). Morgan tells the story that he was allowed to keep his knife after surrendering at Coleto Creek because a Mexican soldier agreed that Morgan needed the knife to eat—he had only two teeth.  Another solider saved him from execution by hiding him and another prisoner behind large shutters. He might have been saved because he was working as a hospital orderly. After the executions, he remained at the presidio to assist the Mexican wounded and work as a laborer.

Nance, J.M., in Heroes of Texas, Texian Press, 1964. Nance’s contribution to this series issued by the former publishing house in Waco includes the observation that Fannin and Goliad have to be explained and do not stand “in glory” as does the Alamo. Explanation is a greater burden on memory than iconic images. (See Montejano, above.)

O’Connor, Kathryn Stoner, Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santu de Zúñiga, 1721-1846, Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966. Ms. O’Connor’s book was notable in part for its frank discussion of the poor treatment that the villagers of La Bahía received at the hands of invading or occupying forces. She also emphasized the roles of the Irish settlers in the Revolution. One of the major misconceptions about the Revolution when viewed through the (popularized) lens of the Alamo  is that the Texian soldiers and volunteers were mostly a group of frontiersmen who came on down to Texas wearing their coonskin caps and carrying long Kentucky rifles. Many who fought came from the Deep South, from the North and Midwest, and even from Europe, and many of these were prominent and well-educated; in addition, there were many Tejanos fighting on both sides, and Irish and German colonists, whose involvement varied according to their interests and the encroachments of the Mexican army.

Pruett, Jakie L., and Cole, Everett B., Goliad Massacre: A Tragedy of the Texas Revolution (Austin: Eakin Press, 1985). The book ontinues the criticism of Fannin as a commander and provides good summaries and quotations from eyewitness accounts. The book was a very useful addition to the Texas Sesquicentennial year. The authors are most knowledgeable not only about the massacre but the entire history of Goliad and Goliad County, including family, church, and civic history.

Roller, Gen. John E., “John Sowers Brooks,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly,9, (July 1905—April 1906). Writing about one of the most sensitive and sympathetic characters in the Goliad campaign, General Roller interestingly points out that Brooks, a captain under Fannin and a major character in The Edge of Freedom, believed he could have an accelerated military career in Texas because of the chaos that reigned there, enabling him to gain “a more elevated station” than corporal, his previous rank in the U.S. Marines. Brooks was an expressive writer. In one of his letters he wrote that “Texas opens a wide and variegated field to the ambition and enterprise of the soldier of fortune.” It is difficult to improve on the accuracy of that statement. Brooks also provides evidence that David Crockett was famous throughout the Texian ranks, and not just with his comrades at the Alamo.  On February 29, after hearing that the Alamo defenders  had fought off an attack, Brooks wrote in his diary that Crockett must have “grinned them off.” Known for his timidity in conversation, Brooks was nevertheless a passionate leader whose romantic side shone through more than his somewhat boyish attempts to sound menacing.

Salazar, Alonzo, “Carlos de la Garza, Loyalist Leader,” in Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas, Jesús F. de la Teja, editor, TAMU Press, 2010. Excellent information about the longstanding presence (approaching 400 years) of the de la Garza family in Texas.

Shackelford, Dr. Jack, “Some Few Notes upon a Part of the Texas War,” in Foote, Henry Stuart, Texas and the Texans, Vols. I and II, Philadelphia, 1841; Steck reprint, 1985. Another example of the type of prominent men who came to Texas to fight, Shackelford, like Dr. Joseph Barnard (see above) and many others, came not for personal gain but out of a genuine desire to serve the cause of liberty—though the glory of serving that cause was also alluring. A native Virginian, he was a former state senator and planter in Alabama before organizing his company of  Alabama “Red Rovers” and coming to Texas at the then ripe age of 46. He had been an assistant to Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812 and likely would have been effective in high command if he had had the opportunity. He was direct, practical, sharp in his observations, and certainly right in urging Fannin to rush to the Coleto Creek with its water and protective trees. He and Dr. Barnard were not executed because of their medical skills. Sent to the Alamo to treat Mexican wounded, they later were brought back to the presidio, where they literally walked among the bodies of their former comrades. Shackelford returned to Alabama after San Jacinto and found that his wife and friends had mourned him as a dead hero. Sadly, his son, ironically named Fortunatus, was executed at the presidio.

Smith, Ruby Cumby, “James Fannin in the Texas Revolution, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 23, (October 1919–January, April 1920). Ms. Smith’s three-part article remains an outstanding source on Fannin’s personality, background, and actions. It is from her that we have the insight that Fannin became less sure of himself and his ability to command the more he was on his own. Fannin needed approval. He was illegitimate, and his father, Isham, a veteran of the War of 1812 (Isham’s father fought in the American Revolution), seemed to have given Fannin attention at some points of his life while diverting that same attention, and more, to a younger, legitimate child, Eliza, whom Fannin sought to be close to.

Tijerina, Andrés, Tejanos and Texans Under the Mexican Flag, 1821-1836, Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University, 1994.The author questions the grip of the “frontier theory” of American history during this period, arguing that the strong Tejano culture already present when the Anglos arrived merged with rather than was submerged by the Anglo influence.

Tijerina, Andrés.  Please see Cantrell, Gregg, above, and Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas. Tijerina is the general editor of the series of volumes of which Lone Star Pasts is a powerful addition. His article in the volume, “Constructing Tejano Memory,” is cited above.

Tinkle, Lon, 13 Days to Glory: The Siege of the Alamo, McGraw Hill, 1958; reprint TAMU Press, 1985. It is hard to believe now, but Tinkle’s book came to the fore at a time when the Alamo story was yet to be told in a strong narrative style. Criticized by some and admired by most for his foray into what was then the little-known realm of psychohistory, Tinkle wanted his readers to understand the motives and passions of the main historical actors. A TV miniseries based on the book came much later, in 1987, starring James Arness as Jim Bowie, Brian Keith as David Crockett, and, yes, Alec Baldwin as William B. Travis. Many believe this TV movie is the best so far in terms of historical accuracy.

Wharton, Clarence R., Remember Goliad, Houston, 1932. Wharton was skeptical of Urrea’s desire to do much on behalf of Fannin and his men. Of Fannin’s story, he wrote that there is an “element of fantasy, an overtone of almost incredible bravado, a sort of fore-ordained and unreal quality.”  Wharton is best on Fannin’s family and background. He is especially good in describing Fannin’s desperate attempts to get his half-sister, Eliza, to grant him a sort of vicarious legitimacy giving him full acceptance. His disclosure to Eliza—when he was twenty-five and she was only thirteen—that he was illegitimate, probably served only to make Eliza’s mother, Margaret, even more inclined to shun Fannin.

Before Fannin resigned from West Point in 1821, he marched with the corps of cadets to Philadelphia, and there he met Eliza and showed himself off in his West Point uniform. His father, though deceased by then, probably arranged for Fannin’s entry to West Point in 1819, through Fannin’s guardian. My own supposition, and it is no more than that, is that Fannin may have fought a fellow cadet over the nature of Fannin’s relationship with his father. Fannin’s name at West Point was James F. Walker—Walker being the name of his maternal grandfather. My copy of Fannin’s West Point record shows that he faltered as a cadet during his first year and a half, but he came on in his last term to rank 27 in a class of 74; therefore it is unlikely that he left because of low marks. His official resignation gave no reason, allowing me to suppose that he left because of some other form of personal shame. I cut about 25,000 words from The Edge of Freedom, because of length, and most of those pages had to do with Fannin’s childhood, West Point years, and his early life in the slave trade. Fannin as “an ill-fated man” also experienced sadness as a father: his older daughter, Minerva, named after his wife, Minerva Fort Fannin, had a “blighted mind.” She outlived her younger sister, Missouri Pinckney Fannin, by many years, spending the last 32 years of her life in the Austin State Hospital, where she died in 1893 at the age of 63.

Wooten, D.G., editor, A Comprehensive History of Texas, Vol. I, Dallas, 1898. Wooten’s volumes were thought of as the “New Yoakum” version of Texas history. The section on the Goliad massacre is a reproduction of Dr. Barnard’s Diary (see above).

Wortham, Louis J., History of Texas from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Five Volumes, 1924.  Wortham says Dr. Shackelford told Fannin during the negotiations following the battle at Coleto Creek to “come back—our graves are already dug—let us all be buried together.” After reading Urrea’s version of the surrender, Shackelford believed the general was a liar.

Yoakum, H., History of Texas, Vols. I and II, New York, 1855. This history was regarded as the most professional and objective account, and it retained a dominant place in the state’s historiography long past the usual shelf-life of historical works.


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