Death of Davy Crockett

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Apr 14 14:15:13 UTC 2004

In a message dated Tue, 13 Apr 2004 14:41:33 -0700,  "Peter A. McGraw"
<pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU> writes

>  > 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.
>  > I find it odd that an officer in the Mexican Army would refer to the
>  > fighting in Texas as "The Revolution".
>  Does the translation give the original Spanish title?  Translators don't
>  always use a word-for-word translation of the original title.

Contrary to popular opinion, the World Wide Web does NOT contain all human
knowledge.  Jose de la Pena manages to escape the Web almost as well as Rose
escaped the Alamo.  I could only find two Web pages discussin the history of de
la Pena's writing.

One was an book review, at URL

<quote>'s obvious that De La Pena was an observant, articulate and some would
say a compassionate individual. What many scholars are unaware of, is that De
La Pena dictated these pages while he was in prison for his opposition to the
Santanista regime. He was deathly ill at the time, and it's very likely that De
La Pena put more than a little of his anger towards "El Presidente" into the
"diary" Some have suggested that the description of Crockett's death was
exaggerated and was recorded as more fodder to use against Santa Anna. Only time
will tell

The other was from a scholarly war gamer, URL

This sort of writing, published first in 1838 in Mexican newspapers, got Jose
de la Pena jailed.  He died of illnesses contracted during his stay in prison
in the early 1840s.  Fascinating book....unbelieveably fascinating.

To answer your question, my best guess is that de la Pena's diary (or
whatever) has never been published as a book IN SPANISH and therefore the English
translator had to make up a title from scratch.

Just to confuse the issue, URL says that
the "Charles T. Beale" whom I quoted in my earlier post did not exist.

There follows a Preface, in which one Alex J. Dumas, Esq., of New Orleans
(the name itself points toward the blatant romanticizing to come) relates how the
manuscript of Crockett’s journal "from the time of his leaving Tennessee up
to the day preceding his untimely death" (Exploits, p. vi) had been
appropriated by the Mexican General Castrillón until liberated and preserved by a
fictitious Charles T. Beale following the victory at San Jacinto.


    The late Richard Penn Smith was in Carey & Hart’s one day, when Edward L.
Carey told him that they had a large number of copies of Crockett’s "Tour
Down East" which didn’t sell. Crockett had just then been executed by the Mexican
authorities at the Alamo, and Mr. Carey suggested to Mr. Smith, that if they
could get up a book of Crockett’s adventures in Texas, it would not only sell
itself, but get them clear of the other books. They secured all the works on
Texas they could lay their hands on, and Smith undertook the work. Mr. Carey
said he wanted it done in great haste, and asked him when it would be ready for
the printer; his reply was, "Tomorrow morning." Smith came up to the contract,
and never kept the printer waiting. The result was that a great many
thousands of copies of the book were sold and all the balance of the edition of the
"Tour Down East." (Shackford, p. 274)

"Shackford" is "Crockett’s definitive biographer, James Atkins Shackford".

I will not draw any conclusions.  I will however point out the possibility
that Smith, writing as "Charles T. Beale", somehow got his hands on de la Pena's
newspaper articles.

Gee, the historiography is getting to be as interesting as the actual battle!

       - James A. Landau

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