THE hand is cold that wrote the foregoing pages, and it devolves upon another to record the subsequent events. Before daybreak, on the 6th of March, the Alamo was assaulted by the whole force of the Mexican army, commanded by Santa Anna in person. The battle was desperate until daylight, when only six men belonging to the Texian garrison were found alive. They were instantly surrounded, and ordered, by General Castrillon, to surrender, which they did, under a promise of his protection, finding that resistance any longer would be madness. Colonel Crockett was of the number. He stood alone in an angle of the fort, the barrel of his shattered rifle in his right hand in his left his huge Bowie knife dripping blood. There was a frightful gash across his forehead, while around him there was a complete barrier of about twenty Mexicans, lying pell-mell, dead, and dying. At his feet lay the dead body of that well known character, designated in the Colonel's narrative by the assumed name of Thimblerig, his knife driven to the haft in the throat of a Mexican, and his left hand clenched in his hair. Poor fellow, I knew him well, at a time when he was possessed of many virtues, but of late years the weeds had choked up the flowers; however, Colonel Crockett had succeeded in awakening in his bosom a sense of better things, and the poor fellow was grateful to the last, and stood beside his friend throughout the desperate havoc.
General Castrillon was brave and not cruel, and disposed to save the prisoners. He marched them up to that part of the fort where stood Santa Anna and his murderous crew. The steady, fearless step, and undaunted tread of Colonel Crockett on this occasion, together with the bold demeanour of the hardy veteran, had a powerful effect on all present. Nothing daunted, he marched up boldly in front of Santa Anna, and looked him sternly in the face, while Castrillon addressed "his excellency," — "Sir, here are six prisoners I have taken alive; how shall I dispose of them?" Santa Anna looked at Castrillon fiercely, flew into a violent rage, and replied, "Have I not told you before how to dispose of them? Why do you bring them to me?" At the same time his brave officers plunged their swords into the bosoms of their defenceless prisoners. Colonel Crockett, seeing the act of treachery, instantly sprang like a tiger at the ruffian chief, but before he could reach him a dozen swords were sheathed in his indomitable heart; and he fell, and died without a groan, a frown on his brow, and a smile of scorn and defiance on his lips. Castrillon rushed from the scene, apparently horror-struck, sought his quarters, and did not leave them for several days, and hardly spoke to Santa Anna after.
The conduct of Colonel Bowie was characteristic to the last. When the fort was carried he was sick in bed. He had also one of the murderous butcher knives which bears his name. Lying in bed he discharged his pistols and gun, and with each discharge brought down an enemy. So intimidated were the Mexicans by this act of desperate and cool bravery, that they dared not approach him, but shot him from the door; and as the cowards approached his bed, over the dead bodies of their companions, the dying Bowie, nerving himself for a last blow, plunged his knife into the heart of his nearest foe at the same instant that he expired.
The gallant Colonel Travis fought as if determined to verify his prediction, that he would make a victory more serious than a defeat to the enemy. He fell from the rampart, mortally wounded, into the fort; and his musket fell forward among the foe, who were scaling the wall. After a few minutes he recovered sufficiently to sit up, when the Mexican officer who led that party attempted to cut his head off with his sabre. The dying hero, with a death grasp, drew his sword and plunged it into the body of his antagonist, and both together sank into the arms of death. General Cos, who had commanded this fortress while in the possession of the Mexicans, and from whom it was captured, on entering the fort after the battle, ordered the servant of Colonel Travis to point out the body of his master; he did so, when Cos drew his sword, waved it triumphantly over the corpse, and then mangled the face and limbs with the malignant feelings of a Cumanche savage. One woman, Mrs. Dickinson, and a negro of Col. Travis, were the only persons whose lives were spared. The bodies of the slain were then thrown into a mass in the centre of the Alamo, and burned. The loss of the Mexicans in storming the place was not less than eight hundred killed and mortally wounded, making their losses since the first assault more than fifteen hundred. This immense slaughter, by so small a number, can only be accounted for by the fact of the Texians having five or six guns to each man in the fort. Immediately after the capture Santa Anna sent Mrs. Dickinson and the servant to General Houston, accompanied by a Mexican with a flag, offering the Texians peace and general amnesty, if they would lay down their arms, and submit to his government. General Houston's reply was, "True, sir, you have succeeded in killing some of our brave men, but the Texians are not yet conquered." He sent him a copy of the Declaration of Independence recently agreed on at New Washington.
After the capture of San Antonio, Santa Anna had made a feint on Gonzales, where General Houston was with a very inferior force, which induced the latter to fall back on the Colorado, under the belief that the whole Mexican army was marching to attack him. A similar feint was also made by the Mexican General on Bastrop, a town on the Colorado, north-east of San Antonio. Gonzales lies east of that place. Having, in both instances, effected his object, Santa Anna concentrated his forces, and marched directly for La Bahia, or Goliad, which is situated about ninety miles south-east of San Antonio, on the Colorado. The fort at Goliad is of great strength, and was defended by Colonel Fanning with a small force of volunteers. About the middle of March, orders were received from General Houston directing the blowing up and evacuation of the fort, and that Colonel Fanning should concentrate with him on the Colorado. On the 18th of March the Mexicans were discovered, in considerable force, in the neighbourhood of Goliad, and through the day there was some skirmishing with the advance parties. On the 19th the fort was set on fire, and its wooden defences destroyed; but the wall was left entire, and Colonel Fanning took up his line of march. His force, at that time, was reduced to two hundred and sixty, rank and file. With this force and several field pieces he set out to cross an open country, and endeavour to effect a junction with General Houston. On the evening of the first day of their march, the enemy made their appearance in the rear, about three miles distant. Colonel Fanning halted, and opened his artillery on them, instead of hastening forward to avail himself of the shelter of a wood, some distance ahead. The enemy manifesting a disposition to cut him off from the woods, he again put his forces in motion, but it was now too late. , He not only lost the shelter of the timber, which would have ensured his safety against the enemy's horse, but the assistance of his advanced guard, which was cut off from him by this manoeuvre of the enemy. The absence of the advanced guard reduced his forces to two hundred-and thirty-three, rank and file, to which the enemy opposed five hundred cavalry and two hundred infantry. The action commenced about five o'clock, and continued until nearly dark. The enemy was repulsed with great loss in every charge, and never was able to penetrate nearer to Fanning's force than sixty-five or one hundred yards; and finally, about dark, drew off his forces to a secure distance, leaving only a few to succour the wounded, who were not molested. Fanning's loss was five killed and twelve wounded, two mortally. The enemy acknowledged the loss of one hundred and ninety-two killed, and a large number wounded. So soon as the Mexicans withdrew, Fanning commenced throwing up intrenchments, at which his men were employed during the whole night.
About sunrise on the 20th, the enemy again advanced on Fanning, and fired their cannon four times over him; a large reinforcement of Mexicans was plainly to be seen, three miles distant. At this moment a white flag, attended by a small party, was seen advancing from the enemy, which was met by a similar one from Fanning, under Major Wallace. The enemy demanded the surrender of Fanning and his forces, and promised, in the most sacred manner, that they should retain all their private property; that they might return, by the first opportunity, as prisoners of war, to the United States, or remain until they were regularly exchanged; and that they should be treated in the most humane manner while retained in confinement. With these specious promises he was induced to trust to the honour of the butchers of the Alamo, and accept of the terms of capitulation.
As soon as the necessary arrangements could be made the prisoners were marched, under a strong guard, to Goliad, and huddled together, officers and men, into a church within the fort at Goliad. The enemy having succeeded in capturing other small parties, the number of prisoners amounted to four hundred, and were all crowded together in the church, and compelled to sit or lie constantly. The only accommodation afforded was a few benches for the officers. They were retained in this situation for three days, and during this period received only a small ration of raw beef, not exceeding half a pound each. On the fourth day they were marched out into the open air, and limits prescribed them, over which they were not to pass. For four days longer they were kept in this situation, during which they were allowed only two rations similar to the first; and, but for the pecan nuts purchased from the Mexican soldiers, and a small quantity of jerked beef procured in the same manner, they must have suffered immensely. On the eighth day representations were made to the prisoners, that it would be necessary to remove them out of the fort, as they were about to drive in beeves to slaughter, in order to prepare rations for their removal to Matagorda, where they were to take shipping for New Orleans. They were accordingly marched out, in parties of one hundred each, and, in single file, were led along a high brush fence; when, at the distance of two hundred yards, they were ordered to face about, and the cocking of the guns gave the first intimation of the fate that awaited them. At the first fire nearly all fell mortally wounded. A few escaped by falling at the flash, and as soon as the firing ceased, they leaped up, and sprung over the fence, and succeeded in reaching the woods, where they eluded their pursuers. The Mexicans proceeded to despatch with their bayonets any who showed signs of life after the firing, and they then stripped and burnt the bodies. The authorities of Texas bestowed solemn obsequies upon their mutilated and blackened limbs, on the 4th of June, after their murderers had sank unto death on the plains of San Jacinto, under the appalling words, "Remember La Bahia!"
But this succession of barbarities, so far from intimidating, served to rouse the energies of the oppressed. The vainglorious Spaniard, elated with his success, without adverting to the fact that he had never been victorious without having at least from five to ten of his mercenaries opposed to one of his foes, now ventured to cross the Colorado, believing that victory was perched upon his standard, and would not leave it until Texas should be subdued.
His track was marked by death and desolation. Fire, famine, and the sword were in his train, and neither sex nor age was received as a plea for mercy. The hoary head of the grandsire, the flaxen curls of the babe, and the dishevelled tresses of the affrighted mother, were alike stained with gore. Farm houses were consumed by fire, the crops destroyed in the ground; and the settlers fled in dismay, feeling that the worst of scourges had been let loose upon them. The plains were strewed with thousands of the unburied slaughtered; and the air was fetid with corruption and decay. The merciless tyrant saw all this, and his heart expanded with joy, as he moved on, like Attila, and beheld the terror and wretchedness of those he came to annihilate, rather than to scourge into subjection. But his was a temporary triumph. He crossed the Colorado full of hope of carrying his demoniac intentions into execution, but shame, confusion, and defeat awaited his coming.
About the 18th of April the tyrant, with one division of his troops, marched in the direction of Lynch's ferry, on the San Jacinto, burning Harrisburgh as he passed down. The Texian forces under General Houston were ordered to be in readiness, and on the morning of the 19th they took up their line of march in pursuit of him, and found him encamped on the banks of the San Jacinto. About nine o'clock on the morning of the 21st the Mexicans were reinforced by five hundred choice troops, under command of General Cos, increasing their effective force to upward of fifteen hundred men, while the aggregate force of the Texians, for the field, numbered seven hundred and eighty-three. General Houston ordered the bridge on the only road communicating with the Brazos, distant from the encampment, to be destroyed, thus cutting off all possibility of escape. The Texian army was ordered to parade their respective commands, which they did with alacrity and spirit, and were anxious for the conflict; the disparity in numbers only seemed to increase their enthusiasm and confidence. Houston, having the enemy thus snugly hemmed in, and his little army drawn up in order of battle, addressed them, in person, briefly, and concluded by saying, "Fellow soldiers, there is the enemy before you; do you wish to fight?" "We do!" was the universal response. "Well, then," he continued, "remember it is for liberty, or death! — Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" The soldiers shouted, "We shall remember!" — "Then go ahead!" From General Houston's official account it appears that the war-cry was, "Remember the Alamo." The attack was furious, and lasted about eighteen minutes from the time of close action until the Texians were in possession of the enemy's camp. Our riflemen, not having the advantage of bayonets, used their pieces as clubs, breaking many of them at the breach. The rout commenced at half-past four o'clock, and continued until twilight. In the battle our loss was two killed and twenty-three wounded, six of whom mortally. The enemy's loss was six hundred and thirty killed, and seven hundred and thirty were taken prisoners, among whom were Generals Santa Anna and Cos, who were captured a day or two after the battle. About six hundred muskets and three hundred sabres were collected; several hundred mules and horses were taken, and near twelve hundred dollars in specie.
We learn, from other sources, that General Cos, when taken, was pale and greatly agitated; but Almonte displayed, as he had during the fight, great coolness and courage. Santa Anna fled among the earliest who retreated. His horse bogged down in the prairie, near the Brassos timber; he then made for the timber on foot. His pursuers, in the eagerness of the chase, dashed into the same bog, and continued the pursuit on foot, following the trail of the fugitive, which was very plain on account of the recent rains, until they reached the timber, where it was lost. The pursuers then spread themselves, and searched the woods for a long time in vain, when it occurred to Arnold Hunter that the chase might, like a hard pressed bear, have taken a tree. The tree tops were then examined, when, lo! the game was discovered snugly ensconced in the forks of a large live oak. The captors did not know who the prisoner was until they reached the camp, when the Mexican soldiers exclaimed, "El General, El General Santa Anna!" When conducted to General Houston he offered to evacuate Texas, and acknowledge its independence, on condition that his life and liberty should be granted to him, and a safe escort to Mexico.
The enemy passed La Bahia and Bexar, blowing up the Alamo; spiking, and throwing the cannon in the river, in his retreat. The Cumanche Indians commenced depredating in the rear of the Mexican army, as they advanced from Bexar upon the settlements. All their horses and mules, of which they had many, as well as much baggage, were taken by the Indians. At every step they met with trouble, and are hurrying with all possible despatch toward the interior.
The fate of poor Fanning, who was not killed in the indiscriminate massacre of his troops, has since been ascertained. He was condemned to be shot. When he found that was determined on, and was ordered out for execution, he handed his watch to an officer, as compensation to have him buried, deliberately tied a handkerchief over his eyes, begged them not to shoot him in the head, bared his breast, and requested to be shot there. He was shot in the head, and never buried!
Such are the monsters that freemen have had to contend with, to maintain their freedom the struggle is not yet over, but nothing can impede the onward march, and Texas must take her stand among the independent nations.