modern times, battles begin with precision air strikes. In the 19th century, battles
began with stirring speeches.|
Sometime in the early 1900s, the Beeville
Picayune published the talk Captain Mosley Baker supposedly gave to the men
of his company at San
Jacinto on April 21, 1836. According to the newspaper, John S. Menefee, who
served in Baker's outfit, furnished the text to Col. Asa C. Hill of Live Oak County.
Hill, in turn, gave it to the Picayune.
Menefee died in 1884, but Hill
lived on into the 20th century. He was one of six veterans of the Texas Revolution
photographed on the grounds of La Bahia Mission in Goliad
on April 21, 1906 - 70 years after the defeat of Santa Anna. Hill probably embellished
the speech, but Baker definitely made a talk that spring afternoon.
Jacinto veteran Creed Taylor recalled "hearing Mosley Baker as he harangued
his men in loud, unmistakable terms. The speech attracted the attention of General
Houston as he rode up and down the lines, and he halted and sat quietly on his
horse, listening…approvingly. Captain Baker told his men neither to ask for nor
to give quarter….This met with approval and a large red handkerchief was hoisted
on a pole and carried into battle."
Capt. Robert Calder, commander of
the next company over from Baker's, later recalled: "Baker made a stirring appeal
to the patriotism of his men. Not being an orator, myself, I told my company to
avail themselves of Captain Baker's sentiments."
"You are now paraded to go in battle. For the past few weeks
our greatest desire has been to meet our foes in mortal combat, and that desire
is about to be gratified. I have confidence to believe that you will do your duty
and act like men worthy of freedom, but if there be one who is not fully satisfied
that he can face death unfalteringly he is at liberty to remain at camp, for I
do not wish my company disgraced by a single act of cowardice.
within less than a mile is the tyrant, Santa Anna, with his myrmidons, [obscure
word meaning "a loyal follower…who follows orders unquestionably or pitilessly"]
who have overrun our country, destroyed our property, put to flight our families
and butchered in cold blood many of our brave men.
that we this day fight for all that is dear to us on earth, our homes, our families
and our liberty. He who would not fight for these is not worthy of the name of
"Remember that this little army of less than 800 men is the last hope
of Texas, and with its defeat or dispersion, dies the cause of freedom here and
we will be regarded by the world as rash adventurers, but should victory crown
our efforts, of which I have but little doubt, we can anticipate a riddance to
the country of the oppressors, followed by peace and prosperity, and in the further
years when this broad, beautiful and fertile land shall be occupied by millions
of intelligent and thrifty people who can appreciate the value of liberty, we
will be honored as the founders of a republic.
"Remember that Travis,
Crockett, Bowie and their companions, numbering one hundred and eighty-three of
the bravest of brave men, stood a siege of ten days against twenty times their
number and fought till the last man was killed, not one being left to tell the
news or tell the tale.
"Remember that Fannin and four hundred volunteers
were basely murdered after they had capitulated as prisoners of war and sent to
the United States.
"Remember you fight an enemy who gives no quarter,
and regards neither age nor sex. Recollect that your homes are destroyed; imagine
your wives and daughters trudging mud and water, and your children crying for
bread, and then remember that the author of all this woe is within a short distance
of us; that the arch fiend is now within our grasp; and that the time has come
at last for us to avenge the blood of our fallen heroes and to teach the haughty
dictator that Texans can not be conquered and that they can and will be free.
Then nerve yourselves for the battle, knowing that our cause is just and we are
in the hands of an All-wise Creator and as you strike the murderous blow let your
watchwords be "Remember Goliad!
Remember the Alamo!"
knows how accurately Menefee reconstructed Baker's talk for Hill. It's mighty
eloquent for extemporaneous exposition. Not only that, Baker seems to have had
His reference to "millions of intelligent and thrifty
people" in Texas seems highly visionary. It also
seems unlikely that Baker would have known a body count for the Alamo
so soon after its fall. Too, he had the length of the siege wrong. It lasted 13
days, not 10.
Still, there's no doubt that Baker exhorted his men before
the battle. In fact, Baker just may have been the source for Texas'
most famous bumper sticker, "Remember the Alamo."
- April 11, 2006 column
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Battle of San Jacinto