The Alamo cannon

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

DaveC

32 Cal.
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
382
Reaction score
177
Location
San Antonio, Texas
When the Texians ejected Perfecto de Cos and the Centralists from San Antonio, they made an inventory 13 Dec. 1835 and at first mis-identified the pedrero as a "culverin." It is a weird gun. It basically used stone shot, and so it typically had a large-ish bore, but thin walls. It also used a smaller powder charge, a bit like a howitzer or "obus" in Spanish. It has since disappeared without a trace... One the missing guns. It seems that an inventory made by the Mexican forces accounted for 75 stone balls for it and a "box" or "bote de metralla" of musket balls.

https://www.thealamo.org/remember/savethealamo/digitalbattlefield/index.html

Incidentally, the Mexicans itemized weapons and ammunition taken from the Alamo after the battle. They enumerated 816 firelocks, so each defender had something like three and even four guns at his disposal. Unfortunately, they left no indication how many were double-barrel muskets (like that of Travis), or muskets, or long rifles. The one firearm with Alamo provenance appears to be a fine Jacob Dickert, Lancaster Pennsylvania rifle, which has been written about by Texas Monthly and is on display at the Alamo. Researchers suggest that a good many of the New Orleans Greys acquired Model 1817 Common Rifles, .54 cal.

Lots of muzzle loading artillery enthusiasts come out to the Alamo in the last weekend of September/ first weekend in October for "Cannon Fest." Not much shooting, but lots of guns on display, and discussions of the cannon... A great event! I've been privileged to attend the past two years as an assistant matross...

Please note that the guns listed on the map are decidedly inaccurately sited and listed... The list I posted earlier has the current thinking on where the guns were... At least three of course were simply without carriages laying around...

As may be seen, the Alamo compound was simply too large to be adequately defended, and while there were many cannon, it required a lot of crew to be able to serve the guns. The Mexican artillery included several "7-pulgada" howitzers (about 6-1/4 to 6-1/2 English/U.S. inches) that fired many exploding case shot shells into the compound, which is written about by Travis. Most Mexican artillery pieces were 4-pounders.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

DaveC

32 Cal.
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
382
Reaction score
177
Location
San Antonio, Texas
I think most folks know a lot of the relevant details about the battle at the end of the siege, but along the lines of the lack of personnel to defend the old Mission/ fort, there were not enough men or crews to spike the guns when the Mexicans finally renewed their attack and scaled the wall and broke into some of the rooms along the north wall and west wall... So the Mexicans used the artillery against the defenders in the long barracks, hospital building and finally the chapel.
 

Juice Jaws

54 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jun 24, 2006
Messages
1,780
Reaction score
683
Location
Near Yosemite Park
The diary of Jose Enrique de la Pena, a lieutenant of the Centralist Mexican forces under Santa Anna, and an account that is highly critical of him and his conduct reported that David Crockett and about six other defenders were captured and hors de combat. His excellency, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna saw them and demanded to know why the Toral decree that any North American taken in arms was to be summarily executed as a pirate had not been carried out? The officers present insisted that these were valiant men who'd fought to the bitter end and that such an order was dishonorable. Santa Anna ordered that the execution be carried out, and his sycophants and entourage drew their swords and fell upon the unarmed group and slaughtered them. The lieutenant reported that they died bravely and did not ask for mercy or make any pleas. So they died defending the Alamo too. Susanna Dickinson, widow of Capt. Almaron Dickinson, reported seeing Crockett slain outside the Alamo chapel after the battle when she and the surviving women and children and Travis' butler and servant Joe were led away to see Santa Anna and receive a few silver coins and blankets from him... So either you believe her, or the Mexican Lt....

I attach one of the Mexican illustrations of the fortified Mission compound.
Thanks Dave, I tend to believe it.
 

GunnyGene

75 Cal.
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
5,241
Reaction score
68
Location
MS Hill Country

Eutycus

58 Cal.
Joined
Nov 10, 2018
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
792
Location
South Texas
Are the wheels going to be stained a darker color or is that light color of the wood going to be the final tint to the whole thing? Either way it looks pretty good.
 

GunnyGene

75 Cal.
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
5,241
Reaction score
68
Location
MS Hill Country
Are the wheels going to be stained a darker color or is that light color of the wood going to be the final tint to the whole thing? Either way it looks pretty good.
The carriage, including the wheels, will be painted per the contract with the Alamo. They specified the colors.

One other thing is that the new trunnions are not welded on to the barrel - again per the contract. The museum wasn't about to let anyone put a welding torch to that barrel, plus the fact that the originals were knocked off is part of the history of it. So Michael had to come up with saddle arrangement the barrel will rest in.

 

GunnyGene

75 Cal.
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
5,241
Reaction score
68
Location
MS Hill Country
If any of us are ever at the Alamo in the near future ,we can play "Stump-The -Tour -Guide".
Sounds like fun. Unfortunately it's a bit too far away for me. Btw, all the pics that he's been sharing are also going to the Curator at the Alamo. That was part of the deal to. They might pick a few to show how the project came together, and give Michael some credit (besides the large chunk of cash he's getting for this).
 

Artificer

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
9,634
Reaction score
970
One other thing is that the new trunnions are not welded on to the barrel - again per the contract. The museum wasn't about to let anyone put a welding torch to that barrel, plus the fact that the originals were knocked off is part of the history of it. So Michael had to come up with saddle arrangement the barrel will rest in.
I wondered about that until I read the pages in the link you provided, as I didn't think they would have allowed welding or screwing on replacement trunnions. That bolt on "saddle" was an ingenious solution.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

Semper Fi,
Gus
Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (Ret)
 
Last edited:

DaveC

32 Cal.
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
382
Reaction score
177
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Well, since you've graciously and kindly given us all these awesome details, I'll keep my out out for when it is installed... I'll see if I can't snap a few camera photos and post 'em up here as to what the "finished product" looks like at the Alamo!

Thank you very, very much for keeping us posted and for your participation in working with this priceless relic of the siege and battle.
Much obliged,
Dave C.
San Antonio, TX
 

GunnyGene

75 Cal.
Joined
Sep 22, 2009
Messages
5,241
Reaction score
68
Location
MS Hill Country
Well, since you've graciously and kindly given us all these awesome details, I'll keep my out out for when it is installed... I'll see if I can't snap a few camera photos and post 'em up here as to what the "finished product" looks like at the Alamo!

Thank you very, very much for keeping us posted and for your participation in working with this priceless relic of the siege and battle.
Much obliged,
Dave C.
San Antonio, TX
And thank you for your contribution to the history of all this. I learned quite a lot. :)

As an aside, this project wasn't his first for a museum, although it is his most ambitious. Take a look at what else he has done.

https://www.jmelledge.com/Portfolio.html
 
Last edited:

Eutycus

58 Cal.
Joined
Nov 10, 2018
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
792
Location
South Texas
I want to thank each and everyone for this lively topic. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've read more than one book on the subject the De La Pena diary and how and it disclaims the death of Davy Crockett. It still can' be proven just how Davy Crockett died. We do know it was at the Alamo. And that sounds like a heros/martyrs death to me. So he's still the "King of the Wild Frontier" to me.
 

SamTex1949

32 Cal.
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
125
Reaction score
21
Location
East Texas piney woods
DaveC:
Very good and interesting info ! You mentioned from Lt Pena's account , that the Mexican Forces did/took inventory of all the arms/supplies post battle. Was there any report as to final disposition ? Id imagine all arms , not useful to SA's forces would been destroyed, All powder/shot/flints etc would have been detailed by his supply Officers into their stores. "Maybe" officers might have acquired "mementos / prizes" ie: Bowie's knife, personal items etc. Id not think regular soldiers would been allowed to openly. Is there documentation on any of this ?

Secondly, Ive always been curious as to remains of the defenders. We are told bodies and fuel was stacked (just one or more pyres). Now such fires may not of completely consumed remains and we read later on that remains and fragments were collected to be interred but this didnt happen to maybe a year later ! So what may seen as morbid curiosity these locations of ash and remains were mostly untouched for a time. This all happening in March 1836, that common weather patterns of SATX area
would of had rains and other weather normal to area till when Juan Seguin came and found. collected and buried. Having been involved in studies of how human remains were found and identified/collected (this was in Montana) that often wild critters/birds would carry off anything they could.
Again, not wishing to sound morbid and I dont doubt the stories of history Im just curious and something mostly is not well documented anymore.
 

Eutycus

58 Cal.
Joined
Nov 10, 2018
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
792
Location
South Texas
That last reply about the pyres, bodies and ashes sparked a morbid curiosity in me too. Time to head to the library again! Alot can happen in one years time. I'm sure there were plenty of coyotes and other critters around back then. Not to mention the two legged souvenir hunter. Now that's a dreaded creature.
 

Eutycus

58 Cal.
Joined
Nov 10, 2018
Messages
2,238
Reaction score
792
Location
South Texas
I've been reading some on this de la Pena. Some call him Lt. , some refer to him as Lt. Col. From what I've read it's the latter isn't it? And didn't he do some prison time back in Mexico? I haven't been able to find out just what he supposedly did to deserve being locked up.
 

SamTex1949

32 Cal.
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
125
Reaction score
21
Location
East Texas piney woods
That last reply about the pyres, bodies and ashes sparked a morbid curiosity in me too. Time to head to the library again! Alot can happen in one years time. I'm sure there were plenty of coyotes and other critters around back then. Not to mention the two legged souvenir hunter. Now that's a dreaded creature.
My thoughts too ! having worked with the State Forensic Pathologist/ examiner in Montana, I learned many interesting things concerning remains .
 

DaveC

32 Cal.
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
382
Reaction score
177
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Lt. Col. José Enrique de la Peña was a young cavalry officer attached to the Zapadores Battalion, or "pioneer/sappers/engineers." As such, he was part of the reserves under the direct command of Antonio López de Santa Anna. He disliked Santa Anna, and in the course of the campaign against the rebellious Texians, he came to despise him. When General Vicente Filisola held a council of war after news of San Jacinto and that there were large numbers of Mexican troops held prisoner, including the Centralist dictator himself, and evaluating their prospects given how long their lines of supply were and that the cream of their forces--the grenadiers and cazadores/chausseurs had essentially been wiped out, while leaving all of the camp followers, women and children with the main force, he concluded that a retreat to Victoria would be prudent. Initially, all the other officers were in agreement, although a few entertained the idea of striking boldly against the Texians and U.S. volunteers or even "liberating" the captured Santa Anna. The retreat turned into a disaster after very heavy rains created a "mar de lodo" or sea of mud that absolutely enervated the hungry and sick soldiery and their followers, bogged down the artillery and caissons, and mired the army in a deplorable state. During the agonies of wading through the mud, reservations about Filisola's leadership came to the fore... Tuscon-born General José Urrea had defeated the rebels in every engagement he'd fought in, and in his heart of hearts was actually a Federalist opposed to the Centralists. He became a rallying figure to the disaffected junior officers critical of the upper leadership, including de la Peña. Eventually, a highly partisan and bitter dispute arose between Filisola and Urrea that culminated in Filisola's court martial, at which he was exonerated. But de la Peña's obervations and Urrea's were shared at the time, and appear almost word for word in each other's accounts.

Excuse the vulgarity, but as de la Peña described: "If my mode of feeling is not agreeable, the frankness with which I have worked will testify at least that I am honest, in that I say what I feel and I judge without dissembling and without fearing the hatred of the strong. Tornel [the minister of war, and author of the Tornel decree that any North American taken in arms would be summarily executed, providing thereby the legal justification for the massacres of Fannin's men--by Urrea's troops--and the "no quarter" to the Alamo defenders] is a p***k (un carajo), Santa Anna a very large p***k (un carajote), and Filisola an Italian."

Urrea led a Federalist revolt against the Centralists, and de la Peña supported him in that endeavor too. Arrested, he was locked up in cell No. 11 in the old Inquisition prison and held there as his health began to fail. He penned an open letter from his cell, "A Victim of Despotism" to President Bustamante asking that he be released. Eventually he was so sick he had to have someone write for him, which apparently also included portions of his memoirs based on his campaign diaries. These discrepancies were seized on by various scholars who have tried to argue that his memoir is a forgery. If one is interested in the deep history of the manuscript and the arguments about it, Dr. James E. Crisp describes them in his argument to authenticate it in Sleuthing the Alamo. Personally, I find Crisp's authentication persuasive.

As for the bodies of the Alamo defenders, there were two pyres built quite close to the Alameda south of the old Mission, near modern-day Commerce Street in downtown San Antonio. Why the bodies were dragged and carted to that locale is a bit mysterious, but it may simply be because there was more wood available from the trees that grow along the river. The bodies were thus taken to where the wood was rather than the other way around. There are claims that another pyre was built in Main Plaza, opposite the San Fernando Cathedral. Santa Anna lied about the numbers of rebels he'd killed, to the flagrant degree that his scribe and secretary initially balked at lending his name to the falsification. As folks probably know already, there were basically no medical facilities and no doctors so the wounded languished for a time before most of them too died. This was yet another source of the Lt. Colonel's growing contempt for Santa Anna.
 
2
Group Builder
Top