Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Hard Passage of Secundino Alvarez

  The light fades and the pickets go over the wall to watch the night. No careless men and no fools. They take a blanket. Most go tomahawk and pistol. A few take a shotgun. Bill King goes and went last night. He wears two deerskin shirts, moccasines and carries Rutherford's double gun. He slides over the wall like a shadow and you don't hear a thing until he tosses a pebble on top to let you know he is back. Says he sits a different place so the Mexicans won't puzzle him out. Him, Milsap and Navarro trade. Last night he wasn't over the wall an hour when we heard Rutherford's shotgun. One barrel. Cu-Tonk!

  Then nothing. We ran to the wall but on top I could see Milsap motioning with his hand. Stay back. Stay down.

  A fringed deerskin rifle sock hung off the top ladder rung.

  Then it started. Wheezing. Then like a kind of a grunting. "Ump. Ump. Huh." A whispering mumble. Something. "Mio. Mio."

  The parapet filled up with low eyes watching the dark. The water was gurgling down at the river. "Mio. Dios. Aeg. Mumbling. Something....something. Dios."

  "Rutherford's double. One barrel. Best sit tight. King'll be up in a minute." Milsap was whispering.

  But he wasn't. Not that hour. Not as the stars swung around and Jupiter dipped low. I lined my rifle up on the whimpering. The corner battery bunch edged the cannon around. One of the Greys came over and checked his watchface on a blown coal off the fire now and then. Four oclock.

  "Mia. Miodios. Something something. Umph."

  A pebble bounced off the adobe with a click and King stepped out of a blue shadow passing the shotgun up. He came over the wall and flowed down the ladder. Couple people rose from around the glowing firecircle below. Milsap handed him the cup of broth he was sipping.

  "Mexican Scout." King let out a deep breath and shook himself from the chill. "Nearly stepped on me. He's done, just not quite yet. Gawd cold. I thought they might come for him, but they never. It'uz either shoot him or let him under the blanket. Knocked him off in some muddy weeds."

  Dawn began to pick out some treetrunks and King pointed out the place. You could hear him wheezing and see his leg slide up for a minute, then back down. Navarro listened with his hands behind his ears. "He's calling God and his mother."

  By the time the sun came over the East ridge half the fort had been up. Not much to see but you could make him out plain enough. He'd lie still and silent and we would decide he had travelled and then that leg would slide up and he'd start whispering again.

  The day filled with work. The Mexican batteries plonked away. Milsap and King rolled up in two blankets and slept with their faces to the wall. We would check and he would be still. Then we would check again and see that leg move. Quite a debate about putting another ball in him, but it wasn't enough to shoot at. A whole company marched around the East end of the fort past the trees. Esparza called out to the man in a voice you could hear in the downtown plaza but nobody came and never an answer.  Just two wrens in a treetop rasping back and forth.

  "I could stick him," said one of Davy's boys, but nobody moved.

  "Mio. Dios. Diodiohhh."

  We ate dinner and listened as the sun fell. Two of the Greys had bootheeled a big circle out in the plaza and were trying to get bets about how many cannonballs would be inside it by morning. Nobody was much interested.

  Milsap went up at dark out of the firelight to get his night eyes. King went with. Navarro.  King went over with his blanket under his arm. Milsap spit and said, "got dang," and went too. Navarro followed emptyhanded. Knife probably. I heard one little gravel crunch but otherwise they were smoke.

"Dio. Dios. Something. Uhh. Uhh."

  Three minutes later they came rushing back. Dang the noise. Had that man in the blanket. We reached over and hoisted him up, then Navarro. Milsap. King crouched in a shadow and when I looked a second later, the shadow was empty.

  In the room below we rolled the man out of the blanket. His right hand was mangled, gone like he put it over the muzzle and his side a bloody pulp. Smell of entrails and stale blood. Burnt mud. Lung. Maybe both. Navarro whispered to him while Enrique wiped his face. He was grinding his teeth and that leg was clenching still. Bowie's nurse Candalaria leaned into the firelight and squatted down like a man. She took a twig from the fire, popped off the flame on a rock and lifted his jacket with the glowing end.  "Muerto," she said and was gone in a swirl of skirts.

  The parson came and sponged his neck with warm water. We straightened him but he kept rolling on that side and drawing up that leg.

  An hour later Navarro came to the corner room where the fire was still glowing. "He was Secundino Alvarez of San Luis." Nav shrugged a little deeper into his coat. "He had a hard passing."

It was Monday, February 29, 1836.

When the sun came up I went back to the post. The body was rolled in the blanket with blood soaked through the middle. Two cannonballs and a big ring of shrapnel sat in the circle. King was at the cookfire. "If you think I'll say I'm sorry I shot," he said to nobody in particular, "I ain't."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day Six: Campfire Tales.

  Always a work crew going. Dig the well. Dig a trench. Shore up a platform. Carve a loophole. Stuff a hide and bulldog it into position. The pickets watch while men work.

  One of the Greys is a big man. Taller than Crockett and stout like an ox. They joke that riding out from New Orleans when his horse wore out he just carried it. He's not too smart but he's game and strong and anytime a load has to be shoved over or boosted up they call for Bull.
Of course, then its: "put a little Bull on it." A crew was trying to push a post back into place on the North wall and Esparza was chanting "listo! Bull, listo!" So now it's: "put a little listo on it." He wandered over to look at the well crew and they were saying, "Dawg it! Don't send him down her, we'll never dig him out!"

  Good bunch.

  The worst guy in the company, kind of a mean drunk from down on the coast has dried out. The one man who looks like trouble still fits in. He was sleeping down in the Long Barracks and his snoring drove out the night pickets. One of them stole his hat and when he woke up there was hell to pay. Lots of sand kicked but he when went up top to take his post looking over the cattle pen the dead Mexican leaning on the tree was waving at him. And wearing his hat. He stomped right out there cussing a blue streak. Nevermind the Mexicans shooting.

  Davy gave Bull one of the yellow cats that's always winding around the crowd at the cookfire corner and he's been carrying it around for a couple of days. The cat has taken to sleeping on him. Cottle gigs him about cooking his cat, "say Bull, let's cook that kitty!" And Crocket warns him back: "Don't let Cottle cook that cat now Bull." Bull is always watching Cottle out of the corner of his eye. "Don't cook a kitty, Wash."

  And the stories. Around the campfire day or night there are two or three going. We've heard all the famous ones: Riding a lightning bolt across the river, possum in a whiskey jug, blizzard in the bear's den, grinning the coons out of the hickory. One that really probably happened is about the dogs backing a big mama cougar into a hollow tree and one of Davy's guys saw the tail through a knothole, pulled it out and cut it off with a knife. Davy made him bow and apologize to the catamount and then they leashed the dogs and left. The boy traded it for drinks in a bar and they said for a year all they heard was stories about a mad giant mama bobcat up the country. Or it would be a drunk in a saloon with the tail talking up some wild story about how HE cut it off. On the packet boat coming up the Arkansas a card player told them their story, except this time it was HIM that treed the cat and cut the tail off. Had the very tail for a hatband. Davy kept pulling a surprised face and saying: "That so? My nevers! You ever heard such a thing Clark?" When all along Clark was the one who had to apologize to the big cat.

  The Greys have some swamp stories: one showed a scar around his wrist where he cut off his hand in a sawmill. Said a black witch doctor put it back on in trade for an alligator hide.

  The Tejanos catch most of it, everyone crowding in while someone winds the yarn. Crockett told a long story about what language horses speak. Says the Arkansaw horse he bought does everything backwards. Go forward is back up, speed up is slow down, hasn't seen a smart horse since Memphis and says the Tejano mustangs look at him funny. One of the Tejanos bunks his horse in the room under the wall where he sleeps. He gave a low whistle and that horse popped right out of that room looking at us. He made it spin, circle right, turn left, back up, with clicks and whispering and little hand signals. He floated his hat out on the ground and the horse picked it up and put it back on his head. Crockett tossed his coon hat out and the horse wrinked up his brow and just looked at it like he was worried. Blew out the whole bunch.

  Horse came up behind Mirelez in the firelight and hung his head over the man's shoulder while he talked. Sweetest love you ever saw.

  Davy can fiddle now and those boys dance. McGregor blows the pipes up and plays with a red face. Even Bull got up and struttin when one of the rancheros who doesn't speak much started whirling a loop and jumping in and out of it. After a minute he roped the coffee cup out of Bill Clark's hand, roped the shako of one of the commandantes. Somebody yelled: "Rope Bull's cat!"
Everybody kind of froze. One of the Tejanos said something in Spanish and they all started laughing, then we all did.

  "You could put a rope on Bull's kitty," said Davy, " But I doubt you could hold it." Bull just glowered at Wash like it was his fault.

  It's Sunday, February 28, 1836.

  The Parson wanted to pray over the stew, since it was Sunday. About the time we all stood up with out hats off and he started rolling we heard the North battery go. You could tell it was their big howitzer putting up a shell: Puh-bloom! The Parson, he didn't QUIT praying, no sir, he speeded up. OurGodinHeavenwhosetendermerciesdecendonallsinfulmen. All of a sudden Davy says AMEN! and everyone scattered.

  We laughed till we were crying.

  Santa Anna killed a courier from Houston and intercepted his letter. 1000 armed men and eight cannons on the way. He sent troops to guard the road, but it's empty to the horizon.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Five: Cannonball Stew

  South view over the fortified main gate.  Crockett and his men along the low palisade with treetops on the ground outside it.  18 pounder on the left lower corner.  Downtown to the left.  North wall at the top.  Chapel on the right.

  Dawn comes with the North wind still whistling at 39 degrees.  Everyone is a windburnt and strung out from waiting and watching for relief and news.  The men are stretched thin to cover the walls so sleep is only done at your post.  The Mexican artillery is lobbing shells in and pounding on the walls.  You have to watch yourself in the open plaza.   Men are digging handy trenches and policing up the scraps for anything useful.  Nearly everyone can identify various Mexican cannons by the shrapnel left behind.  The north gunners must be bored.  They shoot a brass ball, then an iron one, then another brass.  Martial arts.

  In town Santa Anna's quartermasters and cooks are hustling around trying to find supplies to feed the troops.  They packed light on the trip up, for speed and now everyone is hungry.  The town has been stripped of everything the citizens haven't hidden.  Patrols go to the local ranchos to find cattle, pigs, corn.  Anything.  Might have to eat those shoes.

  The Texicans are cooking beef and conserving firewood.  128 fighting men burn through a couple of cows a day, especially in this cold wind, plus corn and beans.  Folks are getting creative around the cookfires as the salt, peppers and vegetable remmnants run out.  Not very fancy cuisine.  Everyone is trying to find a new part of a steer to eat, but it's the same old parts.  The hides are going to make sandbags and barriers to fortify the Long Barracks rooms. 

  Quite a bit of speculation about how to defend if the Mexicans get inside.

  A few housecats lurking around the old mission.  They're eating scraps or hunting mice around the walled compound.  Couple of them are tame enough to pet.  Wash Cottle says he knows how to make cathead soup.  God help us.  Knowing Wash, he might.

  Plenty of jokes about wellwater, beans and going downtown to have a drink.  "The whiskey may be gone", quips Crockett, "but at least our bagpipe player is sober."

  When that damn Fannin rides in he better have a bottle.

  Quite a few stiff bodies on the ground outside.  The East picket searched some when he went out after midnight, passed the weapons back over the wall and then stood one up against a tree as a joke.  His arm is up and he looks like he's waving.  The Tennesseans joke about shooting the cooks first, next time.  Steal their dang spoons and salt.

  Next time.

  Several men coming back across the ditch last night with armfuls of firewood and scroungings when Green Jameson fell.  Mexican balls were popping on the wall and everyone was running hunched over but Esparza leaned back out and hissed, "Verde! Don't drop those onions!"  Cracked us up.

  Couple guys snagged Mexican Besses and shakos when they burning huts.  They insist on wearing them and being addressed as "commandante."  The muskets aren't much.  One of the hats has a .61 caliber hole in it.  They were shooting at each other in the dark.

  The Mexicans are moving batteries closer.  The sappers are digging all night.  The Generalissimo decides the La Villita battery wasn't moved enough and they have to move it up in the daylight.  The rifles pick a few and punch holes in a few more.  One guy shoots a chicken off a post in Plaza Valera and everyone gives him hell about it.  He retorts he's not going to share it when he gets it tonight.      

  The irrigation ditch is finally diverted.  It's all well water now.

  Someone counts the lead bullets and comes up with 19,000+ rounds, but the powder supply is worrisome.

  It's Saturday, February 27th, 1836.
  Night falls and the menu is seared beef and tortillas under the 18 pounder platform or two choices of stew and beans in the chapel.  You can get it to go.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

TSRA Gunshow at Mesquite Rodeo Convention Center.

Got to wander the gunshow for both days at no charge with camera casually slung around my neck. I was the "official" photographer. Did manage to pull a ladder out of the back and take some overhead "big" scene shots. Big crowd. Lots of people.

I did shoot a bajillion files of TSRA folks and events. Might post a few but ought to let my client have the first krackatoa at those. Got to actually hold four Olympic Medals, which was kind of neat. Saw Jay Novochek, the Dallas Cowboy tight end. Convention and meetings full of wonderful gun-owning people who keep the rest of us actually SAFER from oppression by...well, those folks who would oppress and deny human rights. Kind of funny. The government goes on and on about protecting and preserving the Constitution, but we have to fight them tooth and nail or they will regulate it...pretty much to where it is now. As much as we love the LEOs...basically they are muscle for the big bureaucracies. Weird. But the TSRA ACTUALLY PROTECTS AND PRESERVES GUN RIGHTS. You a member?

Tamaliscous Savage .32 from a century plus back. Not for sale, the guy was just showing it off. He wouldn't speculate as to what the price might be if he was going to sell it.

Mosin target rifle. All the normal Mosin mag and machinery are in this stock. Looks like the bolt might be modified.

Not shown, it seemed to have another handstop/possible-sling-rail on the left side of the forearm. Might have been a biathon ski gun. I've never even suspected that this gun existed and they had two of them. Can you imagine shooting 7.62X54R in a match? Real Men. Comrades!

700.00/ The rear sights looked liked commie beavers had gnawed out the stock and put them on. Surely they shot the gunsmiths and sent the assistants on Vaclav's most excellent Siberian vacation.

Only thing I bought was a 3.50 cent Apricot fried pie that was worth 2.75. I did get chased off a used book table when I got engrossed in an account of the Finns and Soviets in the snow in WWII.

If you aren't a TSRA member, just keep in mind that gun rights in Texas need your support. Put a little money where your heart is. Everything that has gotten done in the last 30 years concerning Texas gun rights has been done by the TSRA. Nobody else, not the Statehouse folks down in Austin, the vast bureaucracies, the feds, the LEOs or anyone else is doing anything except whittling away at us.

Update: Alan Wilson won a gun safe. That was kind of impressive. Katie won a 50.00 certificate to Bass Pro Shop.

Day Four: Wood, water and blood.

  128 folks left in the Alamo and one of them plays the bagpipes.  What are the odds?  Scottsman John McGregor and Crockett entertain the troops with fiddle and bags.  The Mexican Army has a bugle and drum corps as well as a band.  

  The Texicans were up until early morning hours burning huts, then trying to warm up and get some rest around campfires.  Now that the blue norther has blown in, it's 39 degrees and they realize the need for firewood.  And water.  The Mexicans are trying to divert the irrigation canal the fort has been using.  There is a well inside but the water isn't as good or reliable.  Men are digging it deeper. 

   When they sally to the northwest out of the cattle pens the soldatos maneuver against them.  Snipers with British Baker Rifles try to get position.  The Bakers are good to 270 yards or so.  Serious business.  The rebels are driven in but more Mexicans are killed and wounded than in the La Villita attack yesterday.

  After yesterday and last nights shoot and burnout the Matamoros Battalion set up an entrenched camp in La Villita and is picketing the open land East of the Alamo.  A small battery dug in overnight north across the river and is beating on a crumbly North wall. 

  The batteries have to be moved after dark to avoid Texican gunfire which is deadly out to 200 yards.  They dig all night and then keep to cover during daylight hours.  The .36 caliber long rifles from Tennessee and Kentucky are picking away at the unwary.  The South wall under the watchful eyes of Crockett's men is getting a reputation.

  Two companies of soldiers under General Castrillon are sent closer to check the ground and  Texicans catch them in the open and kill 30.  Picking.

  As darkness falls the defenders come out again, this time to the Southwest toward the river and the Potero bridge to burn houses and collect wood and water.  Col. Juan Bringas attacks, loses a man shot dead, falls off the bridge into the water and is rescued by happenstance.

  The rebels range out to the Nueva Street intersection beyond the Matamoros positions in La Villita burning houses.  The same distance would have taken them to their favorite saloons downtown.

  Overnight the North battery moves again, closer.

  The garrison is waiting on relief.  Fannin and the best Texican force are at Goliad, 90 miles east.  Houston is trying to stay sober long enough to hammer out a declaration of independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos with parts of an army.  Gonzales should be riding to the rescue.  Santa Anna was early but now everyone has the word.  All they have to do is wait.  Help has got to be just a day or two away.

  The Mexicans are getting units, supplies, people up the road every day and sorting themselves out.

  It's Friday, February 26, 1836. 

Update: Bowie had his men, Travis has a company, Crockett brought a hunting party, there are locals.  Two companies calling themselves the New Orleans Greys are in the house.  They have been here since the expulsion of Cos, Santa Anna's brother in law from the town a couple months ago.  Good folks.  Brought their own cannons.  They fly their flag over the Long Barracks.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day Three: Love and War in La Villita.

  Santa Anna wasn't wasting his ride yesterday.  By 9:30 he had 200-300 Matamoros Battalion troopers deployed and moving toward the Alamo in skirmish lines from La Villita, South of the compound.  The Mexican Artillery supported from the Potero Street battery and a new position with the troops.
  One good push and the rebels might throw down their arms and surrender.
  La Villita and Pueblo Volera were poor villager quarters.  Families and camp followers of the Mexican Army quartered at San Antonio, (before the Texican conquest of the city), lived there to be near the soldatos at the fort.  The skirmish lines broke and reformed as they moved through huts, chicken coops, gardens, outhouses and goat pens.  Surprisingly, there were many people still IN their houses.  The Texicans deployed into trenches outside the Alamo walls and along the parapets.  Crockett was everywhere encouraging men and pointing out targets as the action heated up.
  Matamoros closed to within pistol range before the line wavered and then dissolved.  Two men were shot dead.  The Mexicans broke for cover.  Six more fell wounded.  More Texicans appeared in the trenches, some darting from cover to toss torches on the huts shielding the attackers.  The officers reformed the lines for another assault but it was no use.  Tennessee lead was cracking through the roofs and walls of the houses, cutting twigs, kicking dust.
    As the Mexicans fell back they took cover behind a house with a mother and a daughter who was beautiful enough to give pause to the newcomers.  The mother scorned the soldiers.  She was the widow of a Mexican officer.  Her daughter was not to be gawked at by peasants from Matamoros.  The Mexicans fell back beyond rifle range and began to dig in.  
   Santa Anna heard about the young woman and was intrigued.  Evidently the march North had not only been long, but hard.  He was a Mason, (a step away from a Shriner) and knew the road trip rules: what happens at the Alamo STAYS at the Alamo.  Over the next few days he arranged to have introductions made and, (forgetting about Mrs. Anna and all the Annalitos back at the Presidential Palace in Mexico), proposed marriage.  One of his Colonels had a joking prankster in his unit, (never seen a brigade without one), who agreed to impersonate a priest and perform the rites.  Before the end of the week he had the young lady safely tucked away in his quarters in town.  When he left to campaign East he would send the girl back to Mexico where she gave birth to a son nine months later.  The fog of war.
  Back in La Villita the Texicans were looting huts and burning everything in rifle range of the walls.  Matamoros stayed in cover.  As darkness fell that evening the Texicans came out by horse and foot and burned houses as far as 600 yards.  The Mexicans resisted but fighting broke off at 1:00am as a cold rain began to fall.  The temperature dropped 30 degrees.  A blue norther had arrived.  
  In the rain, smoke and confusion Tejano Juan Seguin left to take the word to Houston at Washington-on-the-Brazos.   He rode Bowie's horse and bluffed his way past a roadblock speaking Spanish.
  Nine men deserted into Mexican trenchworks, bargaining for their lives with the location of a 50 rifle armory hidden in town.  One of those things.
  A Mexican reconnaisance-in-force was detected behind the East side cattlepens and fired on by cannon from the Long Barracks and Chapel.
  The stakes were being raised.  It's Thursday, February 25th, 1836.

Update:  On the yesterday's tour Santa Anna came closest along this South wall.  The main gate had been covered by an external blockhouse but the low barricade at Crockett's position must have looked likely.   Plus La Villita gave good cover until you got close.

Update II:  Is there a Mexican version of "How I Met Your Mother"?

Update III:  TWO dead?  Six wounded?  Crockett killed 108 bears in one season.  I would have thought the Tennessee boys would have stacked them up like cordwood or men who got bored watching cactus grow over the North wall gotten lucky a time or two.   Must have been awfully good cover.  Missed a real chance to take a bite.

Update IV:  Nine guys decide this is a little too intense.  Self-sorting.  Good time to peel off, while everyone is beyond the walls.  Takes the number down to 137, minus about six people that Travis has out delivering messages to Goliad, Gonzales, and Houston.
  What a company to be in! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day Two: Shoes, Cannon, Corn and a Recon.

 San Antonio held 7000 citizens in 1836.  When Mexican troops poured in the town bulged.  Houses were seized for officers and men.  Food, horses, cattle, mules, hay, corn and beans were confiscated for military use.  On the 24th the Mexican Army opened the homes and stores of missing Anglos and sympathizers and inventoried the take.  Santa Anna was out and about by 9:00 overseeing the issue of shoes to some of his lead regiments.  These may have been from stores owned by Texican settlers.
  Mexican artillerymen placed a battery 350 yards from the West, (town) side of the mission just off Potero Street and began a bombardment with two light cannons and a howitzer.  The cannons go to work on the adobe walls, the howitzer lobs grenades over it.
  In the Alamo Bowie had fallen seriously ill.  He was moved to an isolated room off the chapel, probably along the South wall and cared for by a curandero.  He passed joint command of the garrison to Travis.  The Texicans ranged outside the walls searching for supplies in nearby houses and huts.  They found 80 or more bushels of corn and beans.  They already have 30 head of cattle penned up against the east side of the compound.
  At 11:00 Santa Anna took a horseback circuit of the Alamo.  On the South side he passed within musket range of Crockett's position when he rode through La Villita, a little suburb that usually held families of Mexican soldiers assigned to the Alamo.  He sends cavalry to cut the roads leading to Gonzalez and Goliad.  Mexican units are still strung out on the road all the way to the border.
  The rebels had plenty of artillery, but not many cannonballs or powder.  Their 20 pieces were never all mounted at the same time.  They ranged from the 18 pounder down to a ship's gunade (small, short range anti-personnel piece) that had found it's way to the fort.  A Mexican shell hits the 18 pounder and wrecks the carriage.  The Texicans repair it.
  It's Wednesday, February 24, 1836.
Update:  The 18 pounder is a monster.  JC Neill and Green Jameson positioned it pointing into town off the southwest corner of the fort.  It's bigger than anything the Mexicans have.  
  It was shipped from New Orleans to Velasco, Texas in Oct, 1835.  A blacksmith mounted it there with two wagon wheels on a carriage.  It is about nine feet long and weighs two tons.

Update II: Bowie has Typhoid fever or something similar.  His wife, children and in-laws had died of a similar illness a few years before.  He's taken to the bottle more and more.  Travis and Bowie have feuded since artilleryman Col. JC Neill (sent to destroy the Alamo but who instead rebuilt it), left to check on his family on Feb 14.  Bowie realizes he is in trouble and turns his volunteers over to Travis.

Update III:  The captured Soldato is deciphering Mexican bugle signals for the Texicans.

Update IV:  Travis assigns Crockett and his Tennesee men a low wall area facing La Villita and adjoining the Chapel on the south side.  It looks like the weak point but they will hold it.  Travis has 146 men at this point, not half enough to man the cannons and the walls.

Update V: People are still moving between the Alamo and town.  The Mexican staff reports they have a spy inside the walls.  Bowie's curandero nurse, Madame Candaleria is suspected.  Travis has sent out several messengers to Houston, Fannin and others.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day One: The Mexican Army Arrives.

  Rumors had flown for weeks about when Santa Anna and the Mexican Army might arrive.  Travis and Bowie figured no earlier than mid-March.  When the Texicans struggled out of their hangovers mid-morning Tuesday they found the city streets full of activity- people were packing and leaving.
  The Mexicans were reported to be at Leon Creek, eight miles from town.  Travis still thought it unlikely but he posted a lookout in the bell tower of San Fernando Church on the main plaza.  Just after noon the bell rang but when Travis and others climbed the tower there was nothing in sight.  Travis sent John Smith and Dr. Sutherland out to investigate and they ride into mounted cavalry a mile and a half from town.  
  The Texicans, families and followers retreated to the Alamo, driving some cattle down Potero (now Commerce), street and grabbing all the provisions they could carry.  A few linger to raise a two-starred flag, (Texas and Coahilua), in the military plaza.  Beginning at about 3:00 the Mexican cavalry begins to arrive unit by unit.  They raise a blood red flag with skull and crossbones on the church bell tower and salute the arrival of Santa Anna and his guard with a cannon shot from the military plaza.  Seeing the flag and hearing the shot Travis fires the biggest cannon in the garrison, an 18 pounder.  Bowie sends Green Jameson with a letter to meet with the Mexicans.  Crockett and others come through the gates.
  The Mexican envoys demand unconditional surrender.  Travis replies with a second cannon shot from the big gun.  The Mexicans unlimber a few light artillery pieces and reply.
  Mexican Army units continue to march in and defenders filter into the fort through the night.
  It's Tuesday, February 23rd, 1836.

  Update:  Santa Anna and his army crossed the Rio Grande at Laredo in 15 inches of snow in the middle of a harsh journey.  Several troopers-recruits from tropical Yucatan, died of exposure.  Commanches raided the army all the way up scalping a number of soldiers and stealing supplies cached ahead.  The wagons were driven by contract drivers who operated independently causing many delays.  A large contingent of the soldiers families trailed the army along with various camp followers. 

  Update II:  Dr. Sutherland's horse slipped and fell on him in the mud coming back from spotting the Mexican Cavalry.  The fall injured his knee and broke his rifle in half at the breech.  Travis sends him and John Smith on to Gonzales, (90 miles East) to spread the word.

Update III:  The Esparza family decides to go into the Alamo and arrives at dark.  All the gates are barred.  The father, Enrique has brought chairs and they climb up one by one, (over a cannon) and enter through a high window in the back of the chapel.  

Update IV:  Around midnight Texicans, who know every back alley and outhouse in town, steal six mules and capture a soldato.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dog vs Gun

So the city thugs have my dog locked up until Monday. I don't say "thugs" lightly- they didn't interview us, respect due process, give information, nada. They just showed up with an order to quarantine the dog for a week. They would do it- taking Lucy to another county, or we could do it at our expense. If we DIDN'T do it, they would kill her. We couldn't see the police report of her biting someone or know who filed it. They wanted to write a citation as well but had no clue what the range of fines might be. They even insulted the Municipal Court by saying the judge could raise or lower the fine depending on how "co-operative" you were.
"Thugs" sounds about right.

So Lucy is locked up for a week. They don't even think she is dangerous. I can visit her without gloves, mask, protective clothing, et.

Lucy provided tripwire and alarm-level security from the couch at Katie's Pilates studio for day and evening classes. Police say barking dogs are a MAJOR crime deterrant. So here's the question: How much gun should it take to replace a 14lb Jack Russell? Are we talking pistols in major or minor caliber? Shotguns? AR15 w/30round mag and suppressor?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This is the way to do it. Sue 'em all.

Then name them and shame them. Given the over-reach by governing agencies and bureaucracies, I think the liberty movement should be self-financing. They may get paid with taxpayer dollars....but at least those tax dollars are going toward the cause of freedom, not slavery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

There and back again.

Jon Rhynard was going up so I thought I would take a day and go sit in a stand with a rifle as well. Frantic day on Thursday with my HP printer dying, Ebay shipping piling up and a big print to deliver. Got it nearly all done with Katie's support and hit the road to Clarksville. I set the cruise control and kept reminding myself to calm down, though I was driving slightly faster than my normal velocity. Into a stand after 5:00 and then sat for more than an hour as absolutely nothing happened. At dark two little bucks came out of the treeline and warily circled the feeder with an eye on each other. We aren't shooting little bucks.

Oak and grapevine at the old house site.

The next morning I sat in a tower new to me, watching a well-used feeder. There had been a steady overnight rain but the blind was tight and dry. Nothing showed and at 10:00 I got out and took a little stroll around the ridgeline. This must be the highest point on the property, though that's pretty subtle. Found a buck skull with empty antler sockets. RIP late April last year. The feeder had run dry, so that might have been a clue to the lack of interest. At the road something caught my eye and I got out the 5X7 Deardorff for a couple of negatives. Nice to work a real camera. Landscape and road were wet and the sky was pearly: beautiful combination for black and white film.
During the mid-day I bought three sacks of corn for the feeder, (29.00: thank you, Obama and Bush for making the ethanol producers happy instead of me), photographed an impressive old tin barn-roof next door, (from the top of my 4-runner), ate, recharged and headed back to the stand I started in. Sat through the afternoon texting and surfing via Iphone. Just about the time I was ready to quit I did a final sweep and happened to fixate on a little spot in the trees just a deer stepped into it. Odd how often that happens. First one, then three, then five or so. I put down the binocs and picked up the Remington. I had sorted out the biggest through the binocs so I followed her with the scope. They were just under 100 yards so I wanted a clean headshot to avoid tracking in the dark and a messy butchering later. I put a 130 grain Sierra GameKing under her eye and waited a few minutes for the group to clear the field. When I drove the 4-runner down a few minutes later a little six point came out of the treeline, following the earlier bunch. He crossed right in front of me and didn't seem to register the car as he strained to sort out tang of blood in the air.

Grisly business, even for the apex predators.

Rolled the doe into a cooler and got her to the house. Jon helped me get her on the rack and did the paperwork while I got the knives going in the dark. Was just going to clean-out and hang overnight but Allen called and informed us that the morning would run about 22 degrees. I weighed that against the 40-with-no-wind we were experiencing and headed back out with my blades to get her skinned and prepped to travel.

Cheap French fruit-pickers folder and a WWII vet.

Home again just before lunch, a day late. Got the new printer working on all three computers and started kicking out ebay packages. Made the mail.

Update: Absolutely stunning light yesterday and this morning. Sunlight slanted in early against a grey stormfront coming in. Quite a lightshow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Superbowl Sniper stations.

Must have been several of these stations to cover the whole crowd. Sheesh. if you are going to have to do it, (and maybe it is just being prudent), at least you ought to give away the rigs as doorprizes.

Tripod head must be like a ball video tripod head where it settles into position after you move it. Kind of strange to shoot standing, but there you go. Quickness counts. Or maybe they didn't actually count on using it.

Update: Wonder if these rifles were actually LOADED and the folks operating them were breaking safety rules #1 and #2? I'd be a little upset if I paid a lot of money to sit in a seat at the Superbowl and some professional was pointing a loaded weapon in my direction now and then. Legally upset.

No more issued ammo at the Camp Perry Garand/Springfield Matches.

I know it was a huge expense and a pain in the rear. But wow. That means Springfield and Garand are on their own. On the other hand, I can finally break into my can of NM 30-06 ammo. Was already bringing ammo for the M14 match and the K31 Vintage match.

Did I mention I won the National Vintage Rifle Match last year?

Loved that beautiful, very consistant Hornady 30-06 ammo they issued. I think I still have 10 rounds or so. Collectors item now.

600 yard groups with Berger Bullets.

600 yard plot sheet with AR15 Match rifle and Berger 80.5 Palma bullets. Not much wind, just a little drift now and then. Varget and CCI450 Magnum primers. Very irritating to shoot the last shot, #20, outside the 10-ring at 3:00 to finish the string.

Same rifle the month before. Might be a little more wind but not much. 82 grain Bergers and Varget. CCI450 Magnum primers.

Prone with a sling at Panola County Gun Club in Carthage, Texas.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Headhunters in the parking lot.

Teenagers. Go figure. Now they are going to be busted down to non-citizens for life. Seems like a good beating would be in order instead.

Smith County auctioning firearms, some of them

This is a little more like it. Auctioning by sealed bid to FFLs rather than melting all of them, though they still are going to melt some.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hefner's Tatt

I've only seen this done twice before, once on a man'a arm on Commercial Row at Camp Perry and one as a National Match walking around calf tatt. Clay says he might add a few more for President's 100 as they stack up.
I thought about getting the wind-drift chart for 69 Sierras on the back of my right hand but that's about it.

Here's me today. It didn't rain on us but was pretty muddy in spots. Wore my rubber boots the whole time. 486X13 with my match rifle.

Katye Foster with her new friend, the Robertson's Chihuahua "Smokey".

After we shot we had lunch at the excreteable Jalapeno Tree in Carthage, then went to the gunshow out on the loop. The gunshow featured a National Ordnance 1903, a sporterized SVT, TWO tanker Garands, 10 Nylon 66s and a shorty Beretta magazine-fed Garand derivative. I was expecting a LeMat next!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Holy Smokes.

After 17 years, they find the Davidian's missing front door. And the hat off a Davidian who was shot down and then killed by two close-up pistol rounds to the head. Who knows, maybe they will find the ATF video and photos as well.