Texas History Written in Blood

Driving across West Texas, that vastness reaching from Fort Worth to the Rio Grande, I stopped at a nineteenth Century U.S. Cavalry fort.

Gravestones were tucked behind the fort, most of them dating from Indian days.

One of the headstones marked a Texas ranger’s grave. The headstone said the ranger was from Marshall, Texas, my hometown.

That made me think (and cry a little).

Texas history is written in blood, heroics and stoicism in the face of drought, tornedos, and Mexican armies.

Yet many Americans despise us because we’re proud of ourselves.

That’s one of the reasons I wrote “Scalp Mountain,” to defend the state I love.

Revisionist historians, trying to cut us down to size, insist Davy Crockett was captured at the Alamo and then executed – it beats me how this would make him less heroic – and that Texans fighting at the Battle of San Jacinto massacred fleeing Mexican soldiers.

Yeah, I guess Texans were a little upset over the Alamo and Goliad.

Goliad isn’t as well known today as the Alamo, but it was infamous in its time.

At Goliad, the Mexicans executed hundreds of Texas prisoners and then tied commander James Fannin to a chair and filled him full of holes.

James Fannin wasn’t good at strategy, and James Bowie did buy and sell slaves.

But judging them by 21st Century standards is silly. It was a different time and cultures had different ideas.

These were the men who wouldn’t run, who stayed at the Alamo, stuck with Houston’s army, risked their lives and gave them up for liberty.

They died for us.

Historians have said tsk, tsk, Texas belonged to Mexico and the bad Americans stole it.

Really? If Texans had not rebelled then Texas would still be part of Mexico and we would all be living in poverty, drug dealing and corruption.

While it’s true the Comanche’s’ were here first (although they also emigrated from somewhere else and drove other tribes from their territory), it’s also true their war tactics were horrific.

I refer you to Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne.

It took courage to live on the plains during the Comanche (full) moon, listening for owls and coyotes who might not be owls and coyotes after all.

In 1865, after that little mistake we made seceding from the Union, Texas cattlemen began rounding up wild Longhorns and heading them north, beating stampedes, stretches of waterless trail, river crossings, rustlers.

Chisos Mountains

Don’t criticize Texas to me.

I love the way Hill Country rivers flow shallow over white rocks, the Brazos, the Guadalupe, the Nueces; the way the Chisos Mountains spring out of the desert and hover over the winding Rio Grande; the emptiness of the Big Bend country filled with nothing but sun and the sweep of sky from horizon to horizon; the way green East Texas pine looks against blue sky.

And the isolated little towns that dot the great sweep of land have their own ambiance: Pecos, Bandera, Fort Davis, Medicine  Ground, Quanah, Robert Lee, Llano, Palo Pinto, Balmorhea, Sonora, Marshall.

When I was at the cemetery at the cavalry fort, I gathered some wild flowers and put them on the Texas ranger’s grave.

I wanted yellow roses.

Julia can be reached at juliarobbmar@aol.com, Facebook, #scalpmountain.blogspot.com and on twitter, at juliarobbmar.

Julia Robb is author of the  historical novel, Scalp Mountain.


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  • No one but a Texan understands how much blood soaked into our landscape before we were really independent.

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