General Sam Houston dispatched James Bowie, he of the famous knife, to San Antonio. His orders: Destroy the Alamo! James Neill stopped him.
James Neill was the original commander of the Alamo. Sam Houston gave him command soon after a rag-tag troop of Texians had ousted the Mexican General Cos and his army. Neill studied the deficiencies of the Alamo compound and set out to remedy them. Walls were repaired; defenses reorganized. When Bowie arrived, Neill soon convinced him that the Alamo was too valuable to destroy. What were they thinking? It was never designed to be a fort; it was too big. General Cos could not hold it with a thousand troops. How did the Texans propose to do so with 300?
Neill, originally from North Carolina, joined the militia when hostilities broke out. Rumor has it that Neill fired the first shot of the Revolution – at the “Come and Take It” cannon melee at Gonzales.
He left the Alamo and raised funds for its support. On the day that the Alamo fell, he was on his way back with medical supplies for the troops. He fought and was wounded in the ultimate battle at San Jacinto. He was in charge of the “Twin Sisters,” the Texas cannons.
So we are left with “what if.” What if James Bowie had followed orders and destroyed the Alamo? Then would a Texas Army coalesce? What if Santa Ana had accepted “surrender with parole” at the Alamo? Would the revolution have died right there? What if Texans from Gonzales and Goliad had arrived in time? Would a flank attack have turned Santa Ana away from the walls of the Alamo?
Where would our heroes be?
February 25, 2015.
“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” – Jawaharlal Nehru.