Thursday, April 21, 2011
Remember the Alamo.
Clark and I walked out of the oaks to stand in the road. Simpson led Dutch Boy through the trees to the right. He came out on the road where the cavalry was beginning to muster. Dutch Boy shook his mane and I quit watching. Burleson walked out backwards and his men emerged in one big line on our left. Nobody talked. Houston walked out of the grove leading Sarecen, a big white he favors and swung into the saddle. He stood up in the stirrups, looked up and down the line, sat back with a squeak of leather and simply said, "let's go."
The line stepped off. Hockley and his men manhandled the Twins over the mounds and the rest of us walked quickly through the tall grass. I noticed a bloodstain, then some paper. About 200 yards out we skirted the little copse of trees and the spot where the Mexicans had the cannon yesterday afternoon. There was a glove and a shako left behind. The copse of trees looked worse for cannon fire than I imagined. Another 100 yards there were six buzzards sitting on a stripped corpse. They flapped away. We dressed the line. Dick was clicking along on his drum, then the fife man O'Toole started playing a little marching tune. Ahead I could see the Mexican Flags and a line of baggage coming into view. Clark unwrapped the rag from around his lockworks so I did the same. All I could hear was crackling grass.
We walked nearly up to their wall. I could see boxes piled around a wagon, some leather trunks. Can't they SEE us? We are standing in the wide open sunlight. it was a shock to see their stuff. Close enough to touch. I smelled cooking.
Houston pointed at the Twins with his sword and Hockley's men swung them around. Houston said "fire!" so loudly that I jumped and Clark and I looked wildly around. Have the Mexicans left? One twin went off and the second echoed. The wagon axle jumped five feet in the air and I could see into the camp. We ran to the wall and looked over. I heard rifles crackle up and down the line. I leaned over a leather trunk and aimed at a man in a white shirt standing in front of a tent. Before my lock fell he was down. I aimed at another but Clark jumped over the wall and I pushed aside the trunk and followed. Our army began to scream like a panther, men yelling and screeching up and down the line. A soldier threw back the flap on a tent just a few feet in front of me and I shot him without aiming. He fell back inside and the flap jerked like he was hooked. To the left I saw cavalrymen jumping their mounts over the barricade. Men screamed in spanish and english and the air was full of gunsmoke and dust. Clark had disappeared and I pulled my pistol and shot at three men in a group a moment before a horseman sent them all sprawling. I put my rifle down so carefully beside a tent that it made me laugh, then tossed the pistol, jerked out my hatchet and split the head of a man who was backing into me. I'd never hit a man with a hatchet, never thought of it. The hatchet went into his head like a green gourd. Hung up. He went down in a heap and started running on the ground. I was shocked. Never killed a man before...then I thought of the one I shot just a few seconds ago. Funny how your mind races. A Mexican tackled me around the knees and I thought I was gone but he was begging, crying. I shoved him away and he grabbed me again. I pushed him off a third time and glanced back just as Clark shot him from behind and kicked the body aside before it could fall. I had to get out of those tents. Balls were snapping through the canvas like sparrows. We ran around the line of tents and one was burning in a way that seemed wrong. In the open Mexicans were standing to their guns around the cannon. They were falling like flies and then one man ran and the rest followed. Some of our boys jumped on the crawling wounded and began to hack. I ran back for my rifle and pistol and Clark followed. We looked at each others faces. A scalped Mexican holding his head shoved blindly between us and we both frantically started reloading, digging for the balls and jerking out the ramrods.
"This way," I told Clark, and just ran. Smith and Lebel came out of the smoke, so red that I thought they were dead men until I noticed their blood-soaked Bowies and tomahawks. They gave us a look and ran back the way we had just came. A cavalryman thundered past. Three Mexicans, hatless with white shirts on appeared out of the smoke. One had a musket with bayonet. Clark and I pointed our rifles just as he threw it down. I shot the closest on my side and Clark shot another. The middle man looked at us with wide eyes and then ran. Ahead by a wagon a woman was crying and two of our guys were killing Mexicans with axes. Never seen that one. Sounded like chopping wet logs. Hockley was waving men into a line. We joined just as the line broke off in different directions chasing soldatos. One man ripped through the contents of a trunk. Clark and I ducked through a fly hung as shade that had a dead man in a chair under it. There was a fancy knife on the table and I grabbed it. We both skidded to a halt to reload. Clark finished first and sighted in on a limping man being helped along by a fellow in a blue tunic. It was the first careful aimed shot I had seen, like shooting a doe out of the pea patch. The lock flashed, blue tunic threw up his hands and the other man tumbled. I pulled my ramrod, took a deep breath, sighted the rifle and shot him through the shoulderblade. We calmed down and actually started shooting. A group of Mexicans with rifles backed past. We picked at them and shot three. A blue tunic ran by while we were reloading and we ignored him. I shot a man off an bareback horse. Clark shot one who was crawling on all fours. One of our cavalrymen was sabering with a dragoon and we shot the horse from under him. He was being beaten to death before he hit the ground and I could hear the man yelling, "Remember the Alamo! Remember the Alamo!". Clark and I left the fly and followed some of our men into the trees. I put the fancy knife through my belt. Clark picked up a dropped Mexican carbine and then leaned it against a tree. A line of our boys ahead was standing on the shore of a lake shooting into the water at floundering Mexicans. The smoke was so thick you could hardly see out of it. Clark and I couldn't find a spot and just about the time we noticed that we noticed it was over. Rifles quit rattling and just were popping now and then. The yelling stopped. We walked back around toward the right and there was Simpson standing by Dutch Boy.