March 6, 1836: Victory in Death




Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat-the Alamo had none.
Thomas Jefferson Green


One hundred and eighty-two years ago the Alamo fell.  The defenders had achieved victory in death, giving thirteen precious days in which Texan independence was declared and Sam Houston appointed by the Texas Constitutional Convention as Commander-in-Chief of the Texan Army, which at that time consisted of a few hundred raw recruits.  The Alamo defenders inflicted some 600 killed and wounded on the 1800 man force of Santa Anna.  Word of the Alamo spread throughout Texas, convincing each man that this was a fight to the end, and that the cry “give me liberty or give me death” were what they were facing. (more…)

Published in: on March 6, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

March 2, 1836: Texas Declaration of Independence

Four days before the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, the people of Texas in Convention assembled proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Texas.  Surely few such proclamations have been issued in more dire straits.  Texas had no military other than some raw militia units.  The Texan garrison at the Alamo was under siege by a large professional Mexican army under Santa Anna.  It seemed as if the Republic of Texas was a still-born State, doomed to be forgotten soon after its birth, its advocates lucky to be alive if they survived the coming military debacle.  However, General Sam Houston, commander of all of the non-existent armies of Texas, had other ideas.  Here is the text of the Declaration: (more…)

Published in: on March 2, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on March 2, 1836: Texas Declaration of Independence  
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The Ballad of the Alamo

Something for the weekend.  The Ballad of the Alamo from the Alamo (1960), John Wayne’s love note to America.  The film was scored by Dimitri Tiomkin, one of the true masters of film music.  Here is his haunting Deguello from the same film: (more…)

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Ballad of the Alamo  
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The Ballad of Davy Crockett

Something for the weekend.  The Ballad of Davy Crockett.  Well, I didn’t have a coonskin cap when I was a kid, but I loved this song and the tv show which I saw in reruns. (more…)

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Ballad of Davy Crockett  
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300 Spartans and Freedom

Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none.

                                                                        Thomas Jefferson Green

The heroic last stand at Thermopylae of the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, along with a few thousand other Greek hoplites in 490 BC, has long fascinated Americans.   Fighting to the last for freedom has served to inspire Americans in times of war.  The recent movie 300, although I greatly enjoyed portions of it, especially the final speech which may be viewed here, was more a comic book brought to the screen, Mark Miller’s graphic novel, rather than any attempt to be historically accurate.  Perhaps the finest living expect on classical Greek warfare Victor Davis Hanson points out just a few of the inaccuracies in the film:

300, of course, makes plenty of allowance for popular tastes, changing and expanding the story to meet the protocols of the comic book genre. The film was not shot on location outdoors, but in a studio using the so-called “digital backlot” technique of sometimes placing the actors against blue screens. The resulting realism is not that of the sun-soaked cliffs above the blue Aegean — Thermopylae remains spectacularly beautiful today — but of the eerie etchings of the comic book.

The Spartans fight bare-chested without armor, in the “heroic nude” manner that ancient Greek vase-painters portrayed Greek hoplites, their muscles bulging as if they were contemporary comic book action heroes. Again, following the Miller comic, artistic license is made with the original story — the traitor Ephialtes is as deformed in body as he is in character; King Xerxes is not bearded and perched on a distant throne, but bald, huge, perhaps sexually ambiguous, and often right on the battlefield. The Persians bring with them exotic beasts like a rhinoceros and elephant, and the leader of the Immortals fights Leonidas in a duel (which the Greeks knew as monomachia). Shields are metal rather than wood with bronze veneers, and swords sometimes look futuristic rather than ancient. (more…)

Published in: on December 27, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Letter From Travis

“Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none.”

My post yesterday which featured a You Are There video clip about the Alamo, reminded me about that battle, the American Thermopylae.  I have always been deeply moved by the letter of Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis asking for aid from “all Americans in the world”: (more…)

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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You Are There At the Alamo

From 1947-1950 CBS broadcast on radio an educational show called You Are There which would be a newscast reporting on a historical event.  The series was revived for Television from 1953-1957 and briefly in 1971-72.  The video at the beginning of this post is from an episode of the 71-72 revival.  Walter Cronkite hosted the show in both the Fifties and the Seventies.

Published in: on August 29, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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