Wild West

‘BOUGHT WITH THE BLOOD OF MY CHILD’

Word of the slaughter of the Alamo garrison filtered quickly through the Texian camp on the Guadalupe River at Gonzales in March 1836. On the morning of the 13th, frustrated by the uncertainty of intelligence brought by two Mexican vaqueros, General Sam Houston of the Army of the Republic of Texas sent scouts Erastus “Deaf” Smith, Henry Wax Karnes and Robert Eden Handy riding toward San Antonio de Béxar to ascertain the truth.

The riders returned after nightfall with others bearing news that triggered shock waves across the Texas frontier and into the United States. A dozen miles out on the road to San Antonio the trio had encountered a weary band of Alamo refugees—Susanna Dickinson, the widow of artilleryman Almeron Dickinson, carrying the couple’s infant daughter, Angelina; Joe, the teen slave of Alamo co-commander Lt. Col. William Barret Travis; and Ben Harris, Mexican army Colonel Juan Nepomuceno Almonte’s cook, whom the colonel had sent along as an escort. The scouts brought the trio to Houston’s tent, where they confirmed the general’s worst fears.

On the morning of March 6, following a 13-day siege, the army of Mexican dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna had overrun the undermanned Alamo garrison. The gallant defenders had fought fiercely to the last man. Santa Anna had then ordered the Texian dead stacked between layers of wood, splattered with tallow and set ablaze in ghastly funeral pyres.

Houston gently held Susanna’s hand as she recounted

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