Death of Davy Crockett

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 13 21:02:33 UTC 2004

In a message dated Mon, 12 Apr 2004 17:09:50 -0500,  "Yerkes, Susan"
<SYerkes at EXPRESS-NEWS.NET> writes:

>  Actually, I have another question for the list, this more serious.
>  The only really big new element in the Touchstone movie of the Alamo, as
>  I understand it, is the manner of Davy Crockett's death.
>  Alamo historians are still divided over the authenticity of the De la
>  Pena diary, a fairly recently discovered journal purportedly kept by one
>  of Santa Anna's officers during the Texian revolution. In the journal,
>  De la Pena described several survivors of the dawn siege [sic - should be
"assault" ] that toppled
>  the Alamo, and claimed that Santa Anna ordered them executed. If De la
>  Pena was correct and the journal is authentic, Crockett did not die
>  swinging ol' Betsy, as John Wayne did.

Someone named Charles T. Beale added to the 1880 edition of _Davy Crockett's
Own Story, as written by himself_ the following:

...The battle was desperate until daylight, when only six men belonging to
the Texian garrison were found alive.  They were instantly surrounded, and
ordered by General Castrillon to surrender, which they did, under a promise of his
protection, finding that resistance any longer would be madness.  Colonel
Crockett was of the number.  He stood alone in an angle of the fort, the barrel of
his shattered rifle in his right hand, in his left his huge Bowie knife
dripping blood...Santa Anna looked at Castrillon fiercely, flew into a violent
rage, and replied, "Have I not told you before how of dispose of them [the
prisoners]?  Why do you bring them to me?"  At the same time his brave officers
plunged their swords into the bosoms of their defenceless prisoners.  Colonel
Crockett, seeing the act of treachery, instandly sprang like a tiger at the ruffian
chief, but before he could reach him a dozen swords were sheathed in his
indomitable heart; and he fell and died without a groan, a frown on his brow, and
a smile of scorn and defiance on his lips."

De la Pena's account, quoted in Jeff Long _Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and
U.S. Fight for the Alamo_ New York: William Morrow, 1990, ISBN 0-688-07252-6,
page 259, pretty much agrees with Beale's account.  De la Pena claims to be an
eyewitness to the killing.  If one believes Beale, then one must suspect that
Beale had access to de la Pena's account or to some other eyewitness account.

Long cites "De la Pen~a, Jose/ Enrique.  _With Santa Anna in Texas: A
Personal Narrative of the Revolution._  Edited and translated by Carmen Perry.
College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press, 1975."  No date is given for any
publication of De La Pena's in the original Spanish.

It would seem that Beale's account appeared in English 95 years before de la

I find it odd that an officer in the Mexican Army would refer to the fighting
in Texas as "The Revolution".

I have not studied the Alamo campaign sufficiently to have an opinion on the
accuracy of either De la Pena or Beale (for example, one possiblity is that De
la Pena is lying and Beale trustingly copied him).

Here's a possible discrepancy:  according to Long, General Castrillon "led
one man, a stooped "vererable-looking" _anciano_ (ancient)".  This turned out to
be Crockett.  The word "anciano" is odd, since Crockett wt the time was 50.

Both Crockett and Beale (1880?) use the word "Texian" instead of "Texan".

         - James A. Landau

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