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A Minor Correction

The BBC History feed for today contained this:

1836: Mexican troops massacre the American garrison at the Alamo, an event that has entered US mythology.

The people in the Alamo were Texans, not Americans. They were residents/citizens of the Mexican province of Texas in revolt against their government. The event is history, not mythology, unless you insert the bit about there being Americans in the Alamo.

Texas became an independent republic before it joined the United States in 1845, just in time to provide an excuse for the Mexican War in 1846.

Update: Before someone brings up Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie – they were essentially what we would call “illegal aliens” today, or possibly “enemy combatants” if you were the Mexican government.

8 comments

1 Steve Bates { 03.06.09 at 11:14 pm }

“… Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie…”

Could be worse… one popular song in my youth referred to Daniel Boone at the Alamo. There’s just one problem with that reference…

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2 Bryan { 03.06.09 at 11:46 pm }

Well, he could have been there. They had shovels in 1836 and his grave was marked.

3 cookie jill { 03.07.09 at 9:50 am }

Guess I didn’t remember.

cookie jill´s last blog post..an indication on how sucky it is

4 Bryan { 03.07.09 at 11:34 am }

Well, Jill, California has its own version – the state budget.

5 John J. McKay { 03.07.09 at 5:37 pm }

My late father would have taken exception to calling the fall of the Alamo a massacre. Dad was an amateur expert on Custer’s final campaign. He insisted that calling Little Bighorn a massacre was a misnomer; it was a battle between two military forces that Custer lost. He also thought that, on the principle of naming rights belonging to the victor, the battle should have been called Greasy Grass.

Dad taught me that “massacre” meant the killing of unarmed civilians by an an armed military force. Most of the defenders of the Alamo were armed and considered themselves a revolutionary army. Though some civilians were killed when the legal army of Mexico overran the fort, most of the deaths were simply soldiers who lost a battle. Add to that, most of what we know about what went on inside the fort during the siege came from civilians who the Mexican army spared and allowed to go free. That both Custer and the Texans were outnumbered by their foes doesn’t change the fact that both battles were proper military engagements. I’ve never heard any reason not to follow Dad’s usage.

Just for the record, Dad was no touchy-feely liberal, like me, he was a cowboy from Montana whose mother survived an attack during the final Sioux War. He just had that sense of fairness that required him to give an honorable enemy his due.

6 Bryan { 03.07.09 at 9:21 pm }

Actually my understanding was that they Alamo was supposed to be evacuated and all forces concentrated for a major battle, but the people at the Alamo assumed that if they stayed reinforcements would be sent. They were wrong.

Heroic stupidity sells a lot of newspapers, so a lot of people die foolishly. It’s amazing the number of statues raised to really bad military leaders.

I would agree, with your Father: they weren’t massacred; they lost the battle. There is not record of quarter being asked, so dying was pretty much the obvious conclusion to the battle.

7 cookie jill { 03.08.09 at 12:11 pm }

Ah…yes…the State Budget (the movie version) Bloodbath on The Left Coast

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8 Bryan { 03.08.09 at 2:24 pm }

I didn’t work for the government [state or Federal] if I could avoid it when I was in SoCal. The Feds were usually six months for payment, and the state would give you vouchers at the end of the budget year. This is an old and never resolved problem.

I was there under Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, both Republicans, and both with the very same problem – the whackos didn’t want a balanced budget.