Scott Reese Willey

I’ve been writing about the Texas War of Independence for several weeks now.

Well, I’ve been writing about it for years, but I generally write about that era of Texas history when March, April and May roll around because that’s when Texas won its independence from Mexico.

I typically base my columns on documents I read online or in books.

For instance, I shared the insights I gleaned after reading the book, “General Vicente Filisola’s Analysis of José Urrea’s Military Diary,” written by Dr. Greg Dimmick of Wharton.

Filisola was Santa Anna’s second in command during the generalissimo’s ill-fated attempt to crush the rebellion in Mexico’s northern most state of Tejas in 1836.

Filisola was in command of the remainder of the Mexican Army when Santa Anna was defeated at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

He and the other Mexican generals followed Santa Anna’s orders to withdraw from Tejas after the battle.

Later, Gen. José Urrea, attacked Filisola in the newspapers for the cowardly act of retreating.

Filisola defended himself in the newspapers of the day and published a lengthy defense of his actions after Urrea published a book of his war-time diary.

Dimmick, a pediatrician, had Filisola’s analysis translated into English.

Lately, I’m been basing my stories on documents I’ve found on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission website, The Portal to Texas History and on the University of Houston library’s website, specifically its special collections section.

These documents included first-hand accounts of the War for Texas independence.

Now I find out I may have been spreading false information.

At least that’s what LULAC seems to believe.

The League of United Latin American Citizens is calling for “an accurate historical account of the Alamo” and, indeed, of the founding of the Republic of Texas.

Rodolfo Rosales Jr., Texas State Director of LULAC, issued the following statement after Time Magazine published the article, “It’s Time to Correct Myths About the Battle of Alamo.”

Rosales said: “Shockwaves are reverberating throughout Texas today among some storytellers of the Battle of the Alamo, including academics, who for decades have chosen to tell a fictionalized, Anglo-glorified myth as historical truth.”

“We have been saying for years it’s been nothing more than a fable as fake as Matterhorn at Disneyland. This is a tough pill to swallow for them and their believers when now, true accounts reveal a far different narrative that doesn’t coincide with the John Wayne or Billy Bob Thornton Hollywood versions.”

Rosales continues: “For years, Adela Navarro, a descendant of the original Canary Islanders settlers of San Antonio, spoke out about the so-called ‘heroes’ of the Alamo. She labeled Davy Crockett, William Travis and other ‘defenders’ who died in the battle, pistoleros, the Spanish word for hired guns.

“Ms. Navarro stated the story was being manipulated by the Daughters of the Republic, caretakers of the historical landmark who allowed no one or nothing to question their account of the siege and its outcome.

“Finally, the San Antonio Express-News printed her story on Saturday, May 1, 1976 ‘...people pushing phony Texas history,’ a battle she kept waging right up until her passing. Sadly, Adela was ahead of her time.”

Rosales said that today, 50 years after Navarro’s death, “there can be no doubt that truth is overdue and we must correctly instruct ourselves and future generations about what happened at Misión San Antonio de Valero.

“Texas LULAC calls for public schools funded by taxpayer dollars to be required to accurately teach this period of our state’s history.

“Also, that publicly-supported landmarks reflect the facts, not perpetuate falsehoods that elevate the Caucasian side of the story and denigrate the role of Mexicans during this battle, nor the reasons that led up to the bloody confrontation to stop an insurrection.”

Am I to understand that Mr. Rosales and LULAC want Texas history books to reflect Ms. Navarro’s vision of what happened at the Alamo? Was she there? Did she base her vision on what her ancestors passed down generation to generation?

What about all the historians who have researched the epic battle over the years? Are we to discount their accounts of what took place?

Also, I don’t recall history books or any historian “denigrating” the Mexicans who fought at the Alamo.

I honestly don’t know who is correct when it comes to Texas history, but I hope a panel of experts is summoned to resolve the issue and our history books are not based on one woman’s account.

I look forward to reading LULAC’s approved account of the battle of the Alamo and “insurrection” that led to the founding of the Republic of Texas.

I suspect “The Texas War of Independence” will be replaced with something like “The Mexican battle to liberate slaves in Texas.”

Likewise, I expect to see ol’ Davy Crockett held up as a coward who surrendered rather than go down dying with his fellow defenders.

And Col. William Travis and Jim Bowie will be maligned, too, as will Gen. Sam Houston.

As a sixth-generation Texan and an Anglo, whose great-great-great grandfather lived in the area at the time, I’ll be interested in reading LULAC’s version of Texas history.

Reach Scott Reese Willey at swilley@fbherald.com.

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