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Re: Did Gringoes First Grow in Scotland?

A while back we had a discussion about the origins of the word gringo,
summarized in:


At the time I said:

>The eighty Scots mercenaries at the Alamo didn't exist,
>but there were several Scots volunteers at the Alamo,
>and the number might have grown in the telling.
>There's a link to the Alamo web page from the above,
>so you can find the list of those who died there.

Well, however, that's the Daughters of the Republic of Texas list.
As the keepers of the Alamo and its myth, namely that every man
there died fighting for Texas independence, they don't list anyone
who *didn't* die there, other than the woman and child who escaped.

The latest issue of Texas Monthly (a glossy magazine published in
Dallas) has several Alamo articles.  In them, it notes that the number
of defenders of the Alamo at the final battle is now accepted by most
historians to be more like 250, rather than 180.  What happened to the
rest of them?  They ran or they surrendered.

So it turns out there could have been a lot more people there than
has been commonly supposed.

Those who surrendered were all executed by Santa Anna; on that all the
historians seem agreed.  One thing historians don't agree on was who all
of them were.  The most contentious case is that of Davy Crockett.  Did
he die fighting to the end, as the popular story in songs and movies,
not to mention Crockett's official Congressional biography, has it?  Or
did he surrender and was executed, as was reported at the time and as
two separate historical documents report?

Why does it matter?  Well, the Alamo is to Texans and to many
Americans as Bannockburn is to Scots or Masada is to Jews:
a cornerstone of the national mythology.

Crockett himself is one of the most famous early American figures; a
backwoodsman made good, like Daniel Boone or Abraham Lincoln; primal
stuff of American self-image; so much so that John Wayne made the most
expensive movie in history (at the time) about him.  But he may not
have died the way most of us thought he did.

Now he didn't have to be there at all (he was from Tennessee,
not Texas), and he had helped to defend the place for 13 days,
until it was obvious that the Texians couldn't beat 6 to 1 odds,
so it's easy to say he was a hero anyway.  But the point is that
the facts are in dispute.

What does this have to do with Sinclairs?  If an event as recent as
1836, in the era of newspapers, involving two very historical armies
and a former U.S. Congressman, could be shrouded in such historical fog
as to what happened and what it meant, it's not surprising that events
of the much more distant past such as the battle of Bannockburn in 1314
also have mists around questions such as what role the Templars played.

And it's astonishing that Prince Henry's voyage of 1398 has as much
historical documentation as it does.

John S. Quarterman <jsq@mids.org>
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