A Line in the Sand by P-SimonSchuster

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 7

More Info
									A Line in the Sand
Author: Randy Roberts
Author: James S. Olson
Table of Contents

ContentsPrefaceMapPrologueIn the Footsteps of History "The Free Born Sons of America""The Bones of
Warriors""Those Proud Tow'rs""VICTORY or DEATH"INTERLUDEIn Search of Davy's GraveRetrieving the
Bones of HistoryKing of the Wild FrontierOnly Heroes, Only MenDe la Peña's RevengeThe Third Battle of 
the AlamoEpilogueNotesBibliographic EssayIndex
Description

In late February and early March of 1836, the Mexican Army under the command of General Antonio
López de Santa Anna besieged a small force of Anglo and Tejano rebels at a mission known as the 
Alamo. The defenders of the Alamo were in an impossible situation. They knew very little of the events
taking place outside the mission walls. They did not have much of an understanding of Santa Anna or of
his government in Mexico City. They sent out contradictory messages, they received contradictory
communications, they moved blindly and planned in the dark. And in the dark early morning of March 6,
they died.In that brief, confusing, and deadly encounter, one of America's most potent symbols was born.
The story of the last stand at the Alamo grew from a Texas rallying cry, to a national slogan, to a
phenomenon of popular culture and presidential politics. Yet it has been a hotly contested symbol from
the first. Questions remain about what really happened: Did William Travis really draw a line in the sand?
Did Davy Crockett die fighting, surrounded by the bodies of two dozen of the enemy? And what of the
participants' motives and purposes? Were the Texans justified in their rebellion? Were they sincere
patriots making a last stand for freedom and liberty, or were they a ragtag collection of greedy men-on-
the-make, washed-up politicians, and backwoods bullies, Americans bent on extending American slavery
into a foreign land? The full story of the Alamo -- from the weeks and months that led up to the fateful
encounter to the movies and speeches that continue to remember it today -- is a quintessential story of
America's past and a fascinating window into our collective memory. In A Line in the Sand, acclaimed
historians Randy Roberts and James Olson use a wealth of archival sources, including the diary of José 
Enrique de la Peña, along with important and little-used Mexican documents, to retell the story of the
Alamo for a new generation of Americans. They explain what happened from the perspective of all parties,
not just Anglo and Mexican soldiers, but also Tejano allies and bystanders. They delve anew into the
mysteries of Crockett's final hours and Travis's famous rhetoric. Finally, they show how preservationists,
television and movie producers, historians, and politicians have become the Alamo's major interpreters.
Walt Disney, John Wayne, and scores of journalists and cultural critics have used the Alamo to contest
the very meaning of America, and thereby helped us all to "remember the Alamo."
Excerpt

Chapter 5: "VICTORY or DEATH"Perhaps Travis and a few others had some vague sense that something
was different when they were awoken early on February 23 by the sound of horses and wagons and
Spanish voices drifting down the streets of the town and heading toward the open country to the north and
east. Tejano Béxar was on the move in much greater volume than before, and the creaking carts, lowing 
oxen, and neighing horses made it hard to miss. Those with carts had them packed full; those on foot
carried supplies on their shoulders. Although Travis had other concerns to occupy his attention, he was
troubled by the rapid and unexpected exodus. He had his soldiers detain a few peripatetic stragglers for
questioning.He asked some where they were going, and they answered evasively, talking about the need
to begin spring planting. Unsatisfied, Travis had a few arrested, but that tactic also failed to loosen their
tongues. Finally, Nathaniel Lewis, a local merchant, told Travis what every Tejano seemed to know: a
Mexican army had been sighted at León Creek, less than eight miles southwest of Béxar. They were 
coming, and the Tejanos had been warned. Exactly how and by whom was uncertain. José María 
Rodríguez, a child in 1836, long afterward recalled that early in the morning of February 23 a man named 
"Rivas called at our home and told us that he had seen Santa Anna in disguise the night before looking in
on a fandango on Soledad Street." Rodríguez's father was away "with General Houston's army," but his 
mother made the decision to bury their money in the clay floor of their home, pack their goods into
oxcarts, and go to the ranch of Doña Santos Ximénes.Rodríguez's memories, though seventy-five years
after the event, probably faithfully captured the mood of Béxar that morning. Rumors of Santa Anna 
sighting, always inaccurate, mixed with reports of the size of the army, always exaggerated. Added
together they equaled fear. Any unrecognized man in a poncho and a broad-brimmed hat might be Santa
Anna, and an army of ten thousand, fifteen thousand, twenty thousand, or more was on the outskirts of
town. Remember what happened in Zacatecas the year before, or after the 1813 insurrection in Béxar 
itself. If the army was coming, local wisdom dictated that every resident of Béxar should scurry out of 
harm's way.At first Travis was unconvinced, but after a few more reports he took precautions.
Accompanied by John Sutherland and a few other men, Travis climbed to the belfry of the San Fernando
Church between the Main Plaza and the Military Plaza and squinted toward the southwest. Nothing. But
to be on the safe side he posted a reliable man as a sentinel with orders to ring the bell if he spied the
enemy. Hours passed. Travis looked after other affairs. Then in the early afternoon the bell clanged wildly.
Once again Travis scaled to the top of the square tower, glared out into the sun, and saw nothing save a
wide prairie broken by patches of mesquite and thickets of chaparral. But the sentinel insisted that he
had seen Mexican soldiers out there in the direction of the sun. They had simply disappeared in the
bushwood.Sutherland wanted to ride out and take a look, and Travis agreed that he should take John W.
Smith, a local carpenter who knew the country, and reconnoiter the area along the Laredo Road.
Sutherland told Travis if "he saw us returning in any other gait than a slow pace, he might be sure that we
had seen the enemy."If Sutherland and Smith took the Laredo Road, they rode directly south. At...
Author Bio
Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts is professor of history at Purdue University. He is the author of Papa Jack: Jack Johnson
and the Era of White Hopes and the co-author (with James Olson) of John Wayne: American. Both books
are published by The Free Press. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana.<br/>


James S. Olson
Randy Roberts is professor of history at Purdue University. He is the author of Papa Jack: Jack Johnson
and the Era of White Hopes and the co-author (with James Olson) of John Wayne: American. Both books
are published by The Free Press. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana.<br/>
Reviews

There are dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of books about the Alamo, but none does what A Line in the
Sand does. Meticulously researched and vividly written, it painstakingly reconstructs the famous 1836
battle to combine entertaining narrative with shrewd analysis. Must-reading for Alamo buffs and serious
scholars alike.



Randy Roberts and James Olson have produced a fresh kind of history. Besides recounting the actual
battle at the Alamo they provide background for the event and study the way that incident has affected
modern attitudes, including movies and television...highly entertaining.

								
To top