The Alamo cannon

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DaveC

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I am not sure that it would have been an entire year. General Andrade destroyed the Alamo and spiked many of the guns and buried them, dumping the ammunition in the river, before he evacuated the town and joined the general Mexican retreat from Texas in May 1836.

In 1813, the single-largest battle ever fought in Texas, the Battle of the Medina, was a rout of a Criollo/Mexican, North American filibuster, and Native American "Republican Army of the North" by royalist troops supportive of the Viceroy and Spanish colonial rule. It was a young 2nd. Lt. Santa Anna's first battle. His superior, from whom he learned much, was General Joaquin de Arredondo. The royalists slaughtered the wounded and summarily executed captives on the field. Those remains were left exposed and un-buried for a very long time. I think that some large bones--skulls/craniums, femurs, etc. that the coyotes and vultures hadn't gotten to were buried finally in 1821 when Mexico gained its independence. That mass grave has never been found. I suspect and surmise that loved ones went to the battlefield--the location of which remains unknown--and interred their slain in secret.

Now that I've been poring over the rank of de la Peña, it appears that his Lieutenant Colonel rank was a "brevet" rank, and that in the cavalry he was a captain.
 

Eutycus

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Crisp's book Sleuthing the Alamo is the one I' m presently reading. Interesting reading.
 

Eutycus

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I haven't gotten around to reading Gregg Dimmick's book Sea of Mud yet. It came up in a discussion I had with a cousin several years ago. It seems another cousin found an ancient cannon on a ranch in South Texas. There is a legend of Santa Anna' mess kit on this particular creek that flows through this ranch . It was kind of assumed to have been lost in the Mexican Retreat. (Not sure how you loose a cannon?) Anyway the cannon is probably in Victoria either in a museum or the ranch owners basement. It sort of "disappeared".
 

Einsiedler

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DaveC

Have you done any sleuthing or exploring around the likly area of the Medina battlefield? I know it can cover a big area, just curious.
 

Eutycus

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I realize that last question was not addressed to me but I'm just making a comment. That comment being "The battlefield is more than likely on private property".
 

DaveC

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DaveC

Have you done any sleuthing or exploring around the likly area of the Medina battlefield? I know it can cover a big area, just curious.
It's all private property I'm afraid to say. I've volunteered at an archaeological survey of the Palo Alto battlefield north of Brownsville, so I know "the drill." Some claim that the ground is so sandy it might be hard to locate anything. As you know, there are all kinds of competing theories and so on about where it actually all went down... Until artifacts are found, there's still no battlefield. I'd be inclined to think that the royalist camp and the Republican Army of the North camp might be easier to find first. The battle must have been quite a rout, and then turned into hot pursuit of the fleeing force. As you know, refugees who'd fled ahead of the royalists were induced to turn themselves in by false offers of clemency and pardon... And then summarily executed.

Way back in 1967 or 1968 a burial of a young Hispanic male who'd been killed by a large grapeshot was excavated along Blue Wing Road in Bexar County.... It was a careful burial, so the people who'd laid him to rest had piled rocks over the body to keep it away from the 'yotes. My sense is that the man in the improvised tomb was killed earlier, during one of the Republican Army of the North vs. royalist battles, probably Rosillo Creek...
 

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I have been all over that country. Unfortunately it was 40-50 years ago and at night. (Coon hunting in the blackjacks, way before all the subdivisions). Dad’s family is from the area (Poteet-Leming). My grandmother and her siblings were all born there on one of the suspect locations. I corresponded several times with Mr. Thonhoff, the one investigator. But that’s been 20 years ago. Im sure he’s long dead by now.

Mebbe we need a seperate thread for this discussion n proper location??? Hate to hijack this awesome cannon thread. Thanks moderator for your leniency. And thanks DaveC for your response.

(Archaeologist Son worked with Dr. Doug Scott, of the little big horn forensic study, there at Palo Alto a while back).
 

Eutycus

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I wonder just where the Spanish troops involved in this battle came from? The historical marker says "Spain sent troops" but from where? Mexico City , Vera Cruz, ?? A garrison from San Antonio would be logical but that was already captured wasn't it?Plus there were a lot of troops involved. Probably more than San Antonio had to start with.
 

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Buried under an Oak tree is pretty vague. Lots of oak trees in Texas!
Former TxDOT archaeologist Al McGraw had photos of a suspect tree. Apparently someone had placed a metal fence around it for some reason. Also there was something (can’t remember now) placed/carved, scarred on the tree. All speculation.
 

Einsiedler

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I wonder just where the Spanish troops involved in this battle came from? The historical marker says "Spain sent troops" but from where? Mexico City , Vera Cruz, ?? A garrison from San Antonio would be logical but that was already captured wasn't it?Plus there were a lot of troops involved. Probably more than San Antonio had to start with.
Spain! They had earlier been after Bonie in the earlier Peninsular campaign. ( According to Thonhoff).
 

Eutycus

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Not questioning the fact that "Spanish Troops" were involved but they all couldn't have come from Spain. From what I read Santa Anna was present as a young 19 year old and he was born in Jalapa Mexico.
 

DaveC

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My understanding is that Judge Robert H. Thonhoff is still hanging in there, although he is advanced in years and somewhat housebound these days.

Most royalist troops throughout Spanish America were Criollos born in the New World, just like the Continentals vs. Tories/ Loyalists. Others would have been troops that arrived from Spain. Recall, however, that Spain had been on the losing side of almost every war--and there were many--throughout the late 18th and into the early 19th centuries... Trafalgar put paid to much of Spain's fleet. Eventually, after the end of the Peninsular War and the restoration of "El Deseado" the fickle Fernando VII/ Ferdinand VII, Spain purchased decrepit ships from Russia and sent at least enough re-inforcements to almost win in 1815. No less than José de San Martín, who led his army across the Andes from his native Argentina into Chile, defeated the royalists, liberated Chile, and then marched on Peru, had been a Spanish army officer fighting Napoleon Bonaparte until his return to his homeland in 1812.

We have strayed from the Texas Revolution and its artillery... Suffice to say that much of the artillery in New Spain/Mexico was old enough to have been in both of these conflicts!
 

Eutycus

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Got a few more "cannon questions". Earlier I mentioned about a cousin stumbling across what might have been a cannon from the Mexican Army. Would it have been Bronze or Iron?(iron as in a hunk of rust). The cannon used by that Army were fairly small weren't they? And did they really have large siege cannon or is that mostly "Hollywood"?
 

DaveC

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Most of the artillery used by the Mexican army during the disastrous for them Texas campaign consisted of 4-pounders and some "7-pulgada" 6.5-in. obúses/howitzers and some kind of outlandish odd-ball stuff like 42-pound Congreve illumination flare rockets. Urrea's column actually had convict prisoners dragging his guns! I can go back to James Woodrick tomorrow... On the road today! And check the known facts of the Centralist's artillery train.

Where the guns were sited to bombard the Alamo is also increasingly well understood these days too. Both iron and bronze cannon appear in the inventory as I recall. Because of the silver mines in Mexico, slag with a high copper content was often used to manufacture "metralla" or cannister shot and cannon balls. So Mexican artillery projectiles often oxidize to a green color. Ironically, in the early 19th century lots of people thought copper was toxic (unlike lead?!) and thus thought Mexicans were using "poison bullets!"
 

Eutycus

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Interesting ,to put it lightly. My next trip to the library will be to check out one of James Woodricks books.
 

DaveC

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OK, here it is...

The cavalry general Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma led the vanguard of the Centralists into Texas, and so these are the guns that were used during the siege and the battle of the Alamo (J.V. Woodrick, Cannons of the Texas Revolution (s.p. 2016), p. 62--citing Gen. Vicente Filisola, Memoirs of the War in Texas, pp. 149:

2 x 8-pounders
2 x 6-pounders
2 x 4-pounders
2 x 7-pulgada/6.5in. obúses/howitzers.

Juan José Andrada--who spiked all the guns before they pulled out of San Antonio in May 1836--arrived next without artillery.
General Antonio Gaona had 2 x 12-pounders, 2 x 6-pounders, and 2 x 4-pounders. General Eugenio Tolsa of the 2nd Infantry Brigade had 2 x 8s, and 2 x 4s, and 2 x howitzers. General Urrea had a single 4-pounder. Lt. Col. de la Pena arrived on March 3rd--three days before the Alamo was stormed-- along with the Sapper battalion together with Aldama and Toluca reinforcements from Gaona's forces.

All told, the Centralists in the campaign had as many guns as were at the Alamo: 21
2 x 12s
4 x 8s
4 x 6s
7 x 4s
4 x howitzers.
 

DaveC

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THanks DaveC. Glad to hear the Judge is still among us!!!
Unfortunately, the archaeologist Bob Moses died while still a pretty young man... He had some very detailed research notes and so on about his attempts to locate the battlefield, which to date remain un-published.

Somewhat ironically, I've been trying to help a young man whose WWII veteran grandfather--since passed--found what may have been a 12-pounder ball at La Villita way back in 1939 or 1940... No idea what ever became of the cannon ball. Probably in a private collection.
 

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