Historical Articles

5. Seguin and the Alamo: A Loss and a Win

By Bill Neeley

As a Captain in the Texas Army and an ethnic Mexican, Juan Seguin was the perfect choice for a messenger to get through to General Sam Houston that Col. William B. Travis desperately needed reinforcements in order to hold out much longer in the Alamo. Seguin thought he had little chance of success, as he "expected certain death," but by dodging bullets he did reach Houston with Travis's message. The Texas commander, however, saw the Alamo as a lost cause and refused to grant Seguin permission to return to the old mission to fight with the seven Tejanos inside the Alamo as they supported Travis's mission of holding the fortified old church. Seguin's message did stir a handful of men and boys from Gonzales to reinforce Travis. As Houston predicted, they were all wiped out with the rest of the Alamo defenders.

The Mexican officer left in charge of the blood-soaked grounds of the Alamo was the same officer, Francisco de Castaneda, who had earlier demanded of the citizens of Gonzales that they surrender their cannon to Mexican forces. Juan Seguin, without an officer's commission at the time of the attack on Gonzales in the fall of 1835, fought alongside the Texian defenders of the cannon, telling the Mexicans that they "could come and take it." Not long after the battle General Stephen F. Austin commissioned Juan N. Seguin as a captain in the Texas Army, authorizing him to raise a force of volunteers to serve under him. All of his men came from ranches around San Antonio and Goliad. They were great horsemen and knew the country over which battles raged between Mexican forces and the local Tejanos. It soon became evident to the Mexican officer corps that their lack of familiarity with Texas was their Achilles' heel. So while Seguin's Tejanos knew where they were, Mexican troops did not.

Certainly, after the Battle of San Jacinto and the capture of President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexican forces were forced to withdraw. Before shadowing Santa Anna's crestfallen troops to the Rio Grande, however, Lt. Colonel Juan Seguin, having received a bump in rank because of his heroics in every battle of the Texas Revolution, stopped by San Antonio on the way to the border. He had unfinished business at the Alamo: to accept the surrender of Castaneda, the same Mexican officer who had demanded the cannon at Gonzales. As Colonel Seguin led Castaneda and those under his command toward Mexico, he could take little satisfaction in commanding the Alamo, for he mourned his lost comrades in arms as he passed over the blood-soaked ground where they fell, brave to their last breath.

The above is excerpted from A Tejano Knight: The Quest of Don Juan Seguin by Bill Neeley. Copyright © 2017 Bill Neeley. All rights reserved.

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