The thirteen day defense of the Alamo of San Antonio by some
200 Texans against a Mexican force of at least ten times their number is the
stuff of epic, and has been the subject of several motion pictures, few of
which are particularly accurate.
The siege and fall of the Alamo was also, in true nineteenth
century fashion, the subject many a poetic effort, most even more abysmal than
the films. One of the better efforts was
by Joaquin Miller, the pen name of the
rather heroically named American writer Cincinnatus Heine Miller (c. 1840-1913).
The Defence of the Alamo
SANTA ANA came storming, as a storm might come;
There was rumble of cannon; there was rattle
There was cavalry,
infantry, bugle and drum --
Full seven thousand in pomp and parade.
The chivalry, flower
And a gaunt two
hundred in the Alamo!
And thirty lay sick,
and some were shot through;
For the siege had been bitter, and bloody,
die!" -- "Men, what will you do?"
And Travis, great Travis, drew sword, quick
Drew a line at his
feet. . . . "Will you come" Will you go?
I die with my wounded, in the Alamo."
Then Bowie gasped, "Lead me over that
Then Crockett, one hand to the sick, one hand
to his gun,
Crossed with him;
then never a word or a sign
Till all, sick or well, all, all save but
One man. Then a woman
stepped, praying, and slow
Across; to die at her
post in the Alamo.
Then that one coward
fled, in the night, in that night
When all men silently prayed and thought
Of home; of
to-morrow; of God and the right,
Till dawn; and with dawn came Travis's
In answer to insolent
From the old
bell-tower of the Alamo.
Then came Santa Ana; a crescent of
Then the red escalade; then the fight hand to
Such an unequal fight
as never had name
Since the Persian hordes butchered that
doomed Spartan band.
All day -- all day
and all night; and the morning? so slow,
Through the battle
smoke mantling the Alamo.
Now silence! Such
silence! Two thousand lay dead
In a crescent outside! And within? Not a
Save the gasp of a
woman, with gory gashed head,
All alone, all alone there, waiting for
And she but a nurse.
Yet when shall we know
Another like this of
victory, victory ho!"
I say 'tis not always to the hosts that win!
I say that the
victory, high or low,
Is given the hero who grapples with sin,
Or legion or single;
just asking to know
When duty fronts
death in his Alamo.