Historical Articles

2. Alamo Messenger

By Bill Neeley

Texas Captain Juan Seguin peered over the fortified walls of the Alamo as Samuel Maverick rode by on his way to Washington-on-the-Brazos to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence. Maverick waved to Seguin as he rode by, wondering, perhaps, what would become of the Tejano civic and military leader.

The bravery of Col. William B. Travis, no doubt, inspired Seguin to join him and the small number preparing to defend the old mission against the dictator Santa Anna, whose brother-in-law, General Martin Perfecto de Cos, had lost the Alamo to the Texans months earlier. Seguin had been a part of the force that expelled Cos from San Antonio. Now the vengeful dictator was on the outskirts of San Antonio intent on retaking the Alamo.

Santa Anna had abrogated the constitution, the only guarantor that Texas immigrants, as well as native Tejanos, depended on to assure their freedoms. Juan Seguin respected the Mexican Constitution as much as any of the Anglo-Celtics from the United States. After all, Juan's father, Erasmo had helped to author it.

Behind the walls of the Alamo, Captain Seguin and the eight Tejano rancheros from Bexar who had followed their Captain into the Alamo braced for the assault they knew would come. If Santa Anna had chosen to surround the Alamo and starve the garrison into submission, it would have saved hundreds of Mexican lives. But the Texans expected an assault. After several days and nights of continuous bombardment, the men inside the fortified mission were sleep deprived, just what the dictator wanted before he ordered his men to climb the walls and kill the Texans.

With the need for reinforcements growing by the hour and additional Mexican troops arriving almost daily, Travis needed to send out a messenger for help. The men chose Captain Seguin to make the dangerous ride through enemy lines. "To leave the fortification at such a critical moment," Seguin recalled, "was the same as to encounter death, Santa Anna having drawn as it were a complete circle of iron around the Alamo, no one would consent to run the risk, making it necessary to decide the question by putting it to a vote. I was the one elected. Col. Travis opposed my taking the commission, saying that I was the only one who possessed the Spanish language and understood Mexican customs better. My presence in the Alamo might become necessary in case of having to treat with Santa Anna. But the rest would not be persuaded, and I must go. I was permitted to take my orderly Antonio Cruz and we left at eight o'clock at night after having bid goodbye to my comrades, expecting certain death."

Legend has it that James Bowie not only voted for Seguin but also offered the use of his own horse. As the two Tejanos rode leisurely through the Mexican lines, at first they received little notice, but before reaching safety, Seguin and Cruz were asked to identify themselves. "Loyal Mexicans!" they exclaimed while putting spurs to their horses with bullets flying all around them. Having arrived safely at Gonzales, Seguin delivered the message from Travis to send reinforcement. Thirty-two brave men and boys volunteered and rode to their deaths at the Alamo. Seguin wanted to go with them, but General Sam Houston had other plans for the Tejano Captain: protecting women and children in the Runaway Scrape as the citizens of Gonzales fled the wrath of Santa Anna.

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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