Mr. Robert de Zavala in his letter on Sept. 11 asked about honoring Juan Seguin. He sees Seguin as a traitor. To answer this, one needs to know more about the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and Juan Seguin.
Juan Seguin was at the Alamo when Santa Anna and the Mexican Army arrived in San Antonio on Feb. 23, 1836. A tri-color red, white, and green flag with two gold stars representing Coahuila and Texas, was also called the "Seguin Flag," and flew over San Antonio and with other flags at the Alamo. Seguin had seven of his men with him.
On the night of Feb. 25, when the Alamo had been surrounded by thousands of Mexican troops, Col. William Travis drafted an urgent plea for aid addressed to the Texas commander at Gonzales, 70 miles away. Because Seguin spoke Spanish, knew the terrain, could slip through enemy lines, and was the best horseman in the fort, Seguin was chosen by Travis to carry the message through enemy lines.
Seguin was on his way back, on March 6, when the Alamo fell. Seguin had over 100 men in Gonzales which had been reduced to 22. They had been divided to protect ranches from Indians; used as scouts, spies, and messengers for Deaf Smith; used as escorts to protect American families in the Runaway Scrape; and to take care of horses left behind.
When the Texas Army left Harrisburg, General Sam Houston unintentionally insulted Seguin by asking his company to stay and guard the sick and baggage.
Seguin protested, and told Houston, “If we wanted to be camp guards, we would have stayed with our old people and our women and children, who are out now driving their sheep and cattle toward the United States border. We men from Bexar have more grievances to settle with Santa Anna and the Santanistas than anyone else. We WANT to fight!"
Houston rescinded the order, but was concerned about "Friendly Fire" at Seguin's men. So that they would not be accidentally harmed, Houston would have each of Seguin's men pin a squared white cloth on their backs, and put a playing card on the front of their hats, before the coming battle.
When the Texas Army charged, Tony Menchaca, Seguin's second sergeant, took up the war cry in Spanish, "Recuerden el Alamo! Recuerden La Bahia!" shouting even louder than the impassioned men around him.
Probably it was Menchaca's savage roar in Spanish that struck the greatest terror into the Mexican Army, because they understood what he was yelling. Frank Tolbert writes that the sudden, thunderous war cry, "coming after perfect silence" may have had a more demoralizing effect on the Mexican Army than did the gunfire.
Mexican resistance lasted about 18 minutes. Seguin and his men were the first to offer mercy to the Mexican troops and began taking prisoners. (They may have saved as many as they killed). One can imagine hundreds of Mexican soldiers sitting down in a group being guarded by Seguin and 22 of his men while killing was still taking place. When it was over, 630 Santanistas were killed and 208 wounded. Prisoners numbered 730, including the wounded. Two Texans were killed, and six more died of wounds.
Twenty-four Texans were wounded, including Houston. None of Seguin's men were injured or killed. In 1837, Juan Seguin gathered up the remains of the Alamo victims and properly buried them. He was elected as a Republic of Texas Senator from 1837 to 1840.
He is responsible for all legal documents to be in both English and Spanish. In 1840, he resigned his congressional seat in order to join a controversial campaign against the Centralist government of Santa Anna in Mexico City. He became mayor of San Antonio in 1841.
Some Anglo land speculators stole his home and land near Floresville and put a price on his head. Seguin fled to Mexico, was arrested, and brought to Santa Anna. Santa Anna gave Seguin a choice: to rot in prison for the rest of his life (and possible execution) or to take a Mexican command. (What would you have done?)
Seguin reluctantly took a Mexican command, but he made sure his Mexican troop would never win against any Texans or Americans. (In the movie "Schlindler's List" the Jews in concentration camps were forced to make ammunition for the Nazis, but made sure each was a "dud").
In 1848, Seguin came back to Texas. As governor of Texas and a personal friend, Sam Houston gave Seguin a full pardon. He built a new home in Floresville. He was elected to two terms as Justice of the Peace of Bexar County in 1852 and 1854. He served as county judge in Wilson County in 1869. In 1883, he settled in Nuevo Laredo where his son Santiago Seguin was mayor. He was making plans to come back to Texas when he died in 1890.
His contemporaries considered him a hero and patriot. Only a few "Elder Brothers" of today see him as a traitor.
I Invite Robert de Zavala to join the Alamo Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. Any male, 18 years or older who is a direct descendant of a person who was a resident of the Republic of Texas prior to Feb. 19, 1846, is eligible for membership. Contact them at alamosrt.com. (I have been their historian for 20 years).