by Paul Morantz  

   On July 26, 2021,  Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Baraback, citing the recent book, “Forget That Alamo” by 3 co-authors, suggested the legend of the Alamo may be more myth than reality. In support he cited the authors stating: 

 “Bowie was a murderer, slaver and con man; Travis was a pompous, racist agitator and syphilitic lech; and Crockett was a self-promoting old fool.”   

  And while there is some truth to those statements, none of that subtracts from the great degree of bravery that occurred in 1836.  It didn’t matter what had gone before, but what was fought for there and then. They could have been another version of the “Dirty Dozen.” It would not have mattered. The Alamo remains a key to Texas winning its independence and   stands as one of the great redemption stories in history, as well as one of the great fights for freedom. 

  Yes, those involved had flaws. But this was the time of their redemption. And they knew it. 

  There are those that feel the “Tejanos” bit the hand that fed them, revolting after Mexico had given them free land in order to improve the country, but the fact was that Santa Anna, the self-proclaimed “Napoleon of the West,” governed by the tyrant playbook.  A womanizer, cockfighter and opium smoker, he went up and down the countryside putting down uprisings and never taking prisoners. 

  The Alamo was a small mission built in 1793. At one time it was used as a Center for the Texas Rangers. Its only real value was an 18-pound cannon. The average height of the walls was 8 to 10 feet, the highest point being 30 feet. Out it became Santa Anna’s “Waterloo” is rightfully one of history’s most amazing feats. It should need no defending. 

  Sam Houston ran way when he was 16 and was adopted by a Cherokee family. His Indian name was Raven.   His career was up and down. His lifelong friendship with Davy Crockett began when they fought together under Andrew Jackson to end a Red Sticks uprising. Houston would later convince Davy Crockett to join him in Texas. Houston’s career was up and down. 

   Houston became Gov. of Tennessee and then resigned when his marriage fell apart and he returned to drinking and rejoining the Cherokees, marrying a mixed bride. Congress became upset with Houston for showing up in Indian dress and for canning a reporter.    

   Steve Austin was an ambassador in Mexico until Mexico Pres. Santa Anna imprisoned him for 3 months. He returned frail and ill to Texas and declared war ordering every man in Texas to take up arms. 

    For most of his life, Jim Bowie Lived on the dark side, partnering up with the Pirate Jean Laffiite. With his brother they were rich land owners in Louisiana until a court ruled their deeds were forged.  They then created the Bowie knife which was 9.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Bowie gutted a dualist with that knife while himself impaled with his opponent’s sword. He had become a heavy drinker years ago after his wife died of cholera. 

   And then, one day with a small band of 50, Bowie sought redemption and took the Alamo from the command of Santa Anna’s brother-in-law. This is why the angered Mexican Pres. assaulted the Alamo, rather than doing the wise thing which was to go after Sam Houston fledging army before it could grow. 

   William Travis was just 27 years old,  a not so successful lawyer who was appointed by the Gov. to command the Alamo while Sam Houston equally appointed Jim Bowie. Sam Houston orders were to burn the Alamo down and ride away. But both Travis and Bowie had become patriots, wanting a place in history that would override their past.  They believed if they stayed and fought, Sam Houston’s army would have to come to the rescue and they would all be heroes. If successful, Travis saw his reward would be More financial support  for life for his son, and if he failed his son would know his father died for his country. 

   Davy Crockett ran away and joined a wagon train at age 12 year. He became a famous sharp shooter,  hunter– once killing 105 bears in a season– and an Indian fighter. He became larger than life due to the wild west magazines that told tall tells about him, Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill, etc. Davy, himself, was a story teller, who entertained scared troops around evening fires. He rode those “legends” all the way to Congress where he fought unsuccessfully for Indian rights. His campaign for presidency and promoting his book while Congress was in session led to media displeasure and the end of his political career. With a wife and 7 kids and nowhere to go, Crockett, now 49 years old, told the media, “You can go to hell, I’m going to Texas.” 

     Crockett did not go to Texas to fight. He was searching for Austin with plans to join the new government given his political experience. He expected to receive free land and then send for his family. On the road to Texas, he wrote his son that men are more remembered for the way they died, rather than how they lived. 

    And then ironically his journey– after taking an oath to uphold the Texas Republic – –took Crockett to San Antonio del Bexar where his friendship with Jim Bowie led him to the Alamo.   He could have moved on to find Austin as planned, but he decided to live up to the legend he had shamelessly created.  He was captured and despite protests by the Mexican Army in respect for the way he fought, was ordered executed by Santa Anna. Not so well known, Crockett kept an Alamo diary which made it clear all knew they were going to die.  

   The rest at the Alamo consisted of only 184 farmers, ranchers, hunters, murderers, frontiersmen and mercenaries banded together, like a small cult willing to die rather surrender. No one wanted to be a coward and go, and when Travis drew the line in the sand, it was difficult for anyone to publicly not cross over. Only one did not. When help did not come, Travis tried to negotiate a surrender, but Santa Anna would only respond he would decide later at his discretion if he would kill them or not.  So they chose to fight, even though they faced an Army of over 4000. 

   The Texans held for 13 days, killing 521 Mexicans  soldiers and wounding another 1500. Santa Anna’s army was victorious, but limped off. When Sam Houston’s army caught up with what was left of them, victory only took a few hours, Houston’s army losing only 3 soldiers while killing 630. Santa Anna in return for his life surrendered Texas to Houston. 

   Crockett, Austin and Houston all have Texas cities named after them. 

   At a time when it seems like half the world, including America, would prefer living under authoritarian rule, we would do well to “Remember the Alamo” and those that died for freedom. 


Paul Morantz is an attorney/writer known for litigating against cults. He is the author of “Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults” and “Miracle to Madness (the story of Synanon),” which is being made into a four-part documentary by 7 Bucks Production.  He has ridden a screenplay on Davy Crockett and is looking for an agent. He can be contacted at