What do Sam Houston and Davy Crockett have to do with Independents Day 2011?
I happened to research these fellows during my history study days in 05-06; when we lived in Houston, Texas. That included accepted histories and alternate histories – including verbal histories, Black histories, Mexican histories and Native American histories.
Crockett and Houston were US Congressmen representing the state of Tennessee. (Houston later became Governor). Both left Tennessee for Texas when the reaction to their counter-cultural ideas got too thick. Both defied President Andrew Jackson’s policy to renege on treaties with Native Americans.
Both loved people, were bigger than life and were great story tellers.
Davy and Sam were both colorful characters in the war for Texas independence from Mexico. Both publicly swore allegiance to independence, offering their heads as targets to the then formidable Mexican army.
Crockett died at the massacre at the Alamo (in San Antonio) at the hands of a ruthless general and dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Because the massacre was so complete, and Crockett’s legend so splendid, many different and contradictory histories of how he died for Texas independence arose.
Unlike Crockett, Houston chose not to dig in in South Texas and get massacred by General Santa Anna’s superior numbers and superior arms. After the massacres of the Alamo and Goliad, Santa Anna devoted the rest of his campaign in Texas to hunting down Sam Houston and what remained of the Texas army (really a militia). For some time Houston moved his men north, never engaging – instead dodging, bobbing and weaving. The media and politicians began to get on Sam, calling him a coward and worse. His own men began to grouse about retreating all the time. With several officers openly complaining, it looked as if a mutiny might arise.
Finally, Santa Anna believed he had Houston and his men cornered with their backs against the San Jacinto River, just east of present day Houston Texas. Houston decided the confrontation with the Mexicans would occur there. Most of his aggressive (near mutinous) officers voted that Houston’s army dig in and await the Mexican attack – a sound strategy being outnumbered and out gunned. Houston overrode them and planned a direct attack during the Mexican troops’ siesta time.
It so happened that Santa Anna was in no big hurry to attack Houston. He was a supremely arrogant man. He was as ruthless as they come, as he had proven at the Alamo and at Goliad. He was quite comfortable in his giant base tent, complete with grand piano, fine wines, and a rather stunning woman. Emily was an “escaped” slave from a nearby plantation bordering Galveston Bay. Her deep brown eyes were said to have the power of hypnotism over men. Well, old Santa Anna was shacked up with Emily the night before. And by Siesta time he had still not even arose from his partying the night before. Seems Emily knocked the wind right out of his sails.
Houston rallied his out-numbered and out-armed men behind the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo!” An appeal to replicate the courage of the likes of Davy Crockett and at a baser level an appeal for revenge.
Houston’s men attacked so forcefully the superior Mexican troops were shocked and were immediately dispersed. Santa Anna personally retreated so quickly he did not even have time to put his pants on. In a nineteen minute battle the Texans killed 700 Mexicans and capture more than 700 more. Only nine Texans died in the battle. The next day Santa Anna was captured several miles away, found cowering under an oak tree still in his underwear.
Now, there are many legends and myths about the Yellow Rose of Texas. Some say Emily was the original Yellow Rose of Texas (including quite conservative historian James Michener).
How important Emily was to all this is a matter of speculation. And if she were so important to the outcome, it tends to take away from the legend of Sam Houston. But, nobody ever explained how Emily found her way from a secure plantation and into the tent of General Santa Anna.
Nor has anyone explained how Sam Houston, who had done nothing but retreat for months suddenly and with great certainty decided to attack Santa Anna’s superior forces head-on against the advice of his fight-hungry lieutenants.
I got a hunch that old Sam got all sudden for a reason – a secret only he, and maybe a few close friends sworn to secrecy knew. Maybe it had something to do with his love of people and whiskey and the gin joints he frequented where the objects of his loves mixed. Houston went on to become the First President of the Republic of Texas, and later a US Senator for Texas and finally Governor of Texas when she joined the Union. He stepped out of politics after his stand to resist group agreement to have Texas join the Confederacy was met with violence.
Put the Yellow Rose controversy aside for a moment. Just look at the story as a whole. Perhaps you might see some parallels with our own Independence movement.
I’d like to say that we strategically chose the location for the 2011 Independents Day celebration in honor of Crockett and Houston. But that would be a lie.
Nonetheless, I think it is kind of fitting that our Second Annual event will be held right smack dab between the Davy Crockett National Forest and the Sam Houston National Forest. In the lush Texas piny woods region between Dallas and Houston. At Independents Ranch, forty acres on the shore of Lake Livingston.
While we are fortunate to have plenty of space and privacy, Independents ranch is only an hour and half drive from Bush International Airport in Houston. Transport from the airport will be provided.
Our hosts will be the Independence stalwarts Shannon and Hiro Kimoto. Independents Day Founder Christie King Collbran will work with Shannon to make all this happen with the clockwork of our first annual event. The Texas welcoming committee, growing by the day, is headed by Yvonne and Ken Schick, Catherine Von Ach, KayProctor (of Austin), Steve “Thoughtful” Hall (of Dallas), Mike Laws (Beaumont/Port Arthur), my man Boz from Midland, along with us truly from deep South Texas.
Shannon and Christie will be sending out invitations to a list of folk whom they have determined have effectively publicly declared allegiance to Independence. Please do not feel slighted if your name was not included. They culled the names from the blog – and it can sometimes be confusing what with the handles people use. If you don’t hear from them in the next week, simply email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t miss your chance to put your Texan on. Don’t be shy. It seems like just about everyone’s got a bit Texan in ’em: