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Title: Remember the Alamo!
Author: Fehrenbach, T. R., 1925-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Remember the Alamo!" ***

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                         Transcriber's Note:

 This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction December 1961.
 Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
 on this publication was renewed.


                             Remember the

                                Alamo!



                         By R. R. FEHRENBACH



       THIS IS, I THINK, ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL COMMENTS
       ON THE      MODERN SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY I HAVE SEEN--A
       REALLY BLOOD-CHILLING LITTLE TALE....



                      ILLUSTRATED BY SCHOENHERR

       *       *       *       *       *



Toward sundown, in the murky drizzle, the man who called himself Ord
brought Lieutenant colonel William Barrett Travis word that the Mexican
light cavalry had completely invested Bexar, and that some light guns were
being set up across the San Antonio River. Even as he spoke, there was a
flash and bang from the west, and a shell screamed over the old mission
walls. Travis looked worried.

[Illustration:]

"What kind of guns?" he asked.

"Nothing to worry about, sir," Ord said. "Only a few one-pounders, nothing
of respectable siege caliber. General Santa Anna has had to move too fast
for any big stuff to keep up." Ord spoke in his odd accent. After all, he
was a Britainer, or some other kind of foreigner. But he spoke good
Spanish, and he seemed to know everything. In the four or five days since
he had appeared he had become very useful to Travis.

Frowning, Travis asked, "How many Mexicans, do you think, Ord?"

"Not more than a thousand, now," the dark-haired, blue-eyed young man said
confidently. "But when the main body arrives, there'll be four, five
thousand."

Travis shook his head. "How do you get all this information, Ord? You
recite it like you had read it all some place--like it were history."

Ord merely smiled. "Oh, I don't know _everything_, colonel. That is why I
had to come here. There is so much we don't know about what happened.... I
mean, sir, what will happen--in the Alamo." His sharp eyes grew puzzled for
an instant. "And some things don't seem to match up, somehow--"

Travis looked at him sympathetically. Ord talked queerly at times, and
Travis suspected he was a bit deranged. This was understandable, for the
man was undoubtedly a Britainer aristocrat, a refugee from Napoleon's
thousand-year Empire. Travis had heard about the detention camps and the
charcoal ovens ... but once, when he had mentioned the _Empereur's_ sack of
London in '06, Ord had gotten a very queer look in his eyes, as if he had
forgotten completely.

But John Ord, or whatever his name was, seemed to be the only man in the
Texas forces who understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to do.
Now Travis looked around at the thick adobe wall surrounding the old
mission in which they stood. In the cold, yellowish twilight even the
flaring cook fires of his hundred and eighty-two men could not dispel the
ghostly air that clung to the old place. Travis shivered involuntarily. But
the walls were thick, and they could turn one-pounders. He asked, "What was
it you called this place, Ord ... the Mexican name?"

"The Alamo, sir." A slow, steady excitement seemed to burn in the
Britainer's bright eyes. "Santa Anna won't forget that name, you can be
sure. You'll want to talk to the other officers now, sir? About the message
we drew up for Sam Houston?"

"Yes, of course," Travis said absently. He watched Ord head for the walls.
No doubt about it, Ord understood what William Barrett Travis was trying to
do here. So few of the others seemed to care.

Travis was suddenly very glad that John Ord had shown up when he did.

On the walls, Ord found the man he sought, broad-shouldered and tall in a
fancy Mexican jacket. "The commandant's compliments, sir, and he desires
your presence in the chapel."

The big man put away the knife with which he had been whittling. The
switchblade snicked back and disappeared into a side pocket of the jacket,
while Ord watched it with fascinated eyes. "What's old Bill got his
britches hot about this time?" the big man asked.

"I wouldn't know, sir," Ord said stiffly and moved on.

_Bang-bang-bang_ roared the small Mexican cannon from across the river.
_Pow-pow-pow!_ The little balls only chipped dust from the thick adobe
walls. Ord smiled.

He found the second man he sought, a lean man with a weathered face,
leaning against a wall and chewing tobacco. This man wore a long, fringed,
leather lounge jacket, and he carried a guitar slung beside his Rock Island
rifle. He squinted up at Ord. "I know ... I know," he muttered. "Willy
Travis is in an uproar again. You reckon that colonel's commission that
Congress up in Washington-on-the-Brazos give him swelled his head?"

Rather stiffly, Ord said, "Colonel, the commandant desires an officers'
conference in the chapel, now." Ord was somewhat annoyed. He had not
realized he would find these Americans so--distasteful. Hardly preferable
to Mexicans, really. Not at all as he had imagined.

For an instant he wished he had chosen Drake and the Armada instead of this
pack of ruffians--but no, he had never been able to stand sea sickness. He
couldn't have taken the Channel, not even for five minutes.

And there was no changing now. He had chosen this place and time carefully,
at great expense--actually, at great risk, for the X-4-A had aborted twice,
and he had had a hard time bringing her in. But it had got him here at
last. And, because for a historian he had always been an impetuous and
daring man, he grinned now, thinking of the glory that was to come. And he
was a participant--much better than a ringside seat! Only he would have to
be careful, at the last, to slip away.

John Ord knew very well how this coming battle had ended, back here in
1836.

He marched back to William Barrett Travis, clicked heels smartly. Travis'
eyes glowed; he was the only senior officer here who loved military
punctilio. "Sir, they are on the way."

"Thank you, Ord," Travis hesitated a moment. "Look, Ord. There will be a
battle, as we know. I know so little about you. If something should happen
to you, is there anyone to write? Across the water?"

Ord grinned. "No, sir. I'm afraid my ancestor wouldn't understand."

Travis shrugged. Who was he to say that Ord was crazy? In this day and age,
any man with vision was looked on as mad. Sometimes he felt closer to Ord
than to the others.

       *       *       *       *       *

The two officers Ord had summoned entered the chapel. The big man in the
Mexican jacket tried to dominate the wood table at which they sat. He
towered over the slender, nervous Travis, but the commandant,
straight-backed and arrogant, did not give an inch. "Boys, you know Santa
Anna has invested us. We've been fired on all day--" He seemed to be
listening for something. _Wham!_ Outside, a cannon split the dusk with
flame and sound as it fired from the walls. "There is my answer!"

The man in the lounge coat shrugged. "What I want to know is what our
orders are. What does old Sam say? Sam and me were in Congress once. Sam's
got good sense; he can smell the way the wind's blowin'." He stopped
speaking and hit his guitar a few licks. He winked across the table at the
officer in the Mexican jacket who took out his knife. "Eh, Jim?"

"Right," Jim said. "Sam's a good man, although I don't think he ever met a
payroll."

"General Houston's leaving it up to me," Travis told them.

"Well, that's that," Jim said unhappily. "So what you figurin' to do,
Bill?"

Travis stood up in the weak, flickering candlelight, one hand on the
polished hilt of his saber. The other two men winced, watching him.
"Gentlemen, Houston's trying to pull his militia together while he falls
back. You know, Texas was woefully unprepared for a contest at arms. The
general's idea is to draw Santa Anna as far into Texas as he can, then hit
him when he's extended, at the right place, and right time. But Houston
needs more time--Santa Anna's moved faster than any of us anticipated.
Unless we can stop the Mexican Army and take a little steam out of them,
General Houston's in trouble."

Jim flicked the knife blade in and out. "Go on."

"This is where we come in, gentlemen. Santa Anna can't leave a force of one
hundred eighty men in his rear. If we hold fast, he must attack us. But he
has no siege equipment, not even large field cannon." Travis' eye gleamed.
"Think of it, boys! He'll have to mount a frontal attack, against protected
American riflemen. Ord, couldn't your Englishers tell him a few things
about that!"

"Whoa, now," Jim barked. "Billy, anybody tell you there's maybe four or
five thousand Mexicaners comin'?"

"Let them come. Less will leave!"

But Jim, sour-faced turned to the other man. "Davey? You got something to
say?"

"Hell, yes. How do we get out, after we done pinned Santa Anna down? You
thought of that, Billy boy?"

Travis shrugged. "There is an element of grave risk, of course. Ord,
where's the document, the message you wrote up for me? Ah, thank you."
Travis cleared his throat. "Here's what I'm sending on to general Houston."
He read, "Commandancy of the Alamo, February 24, 1836 ... are you sure of
that date, Ord?"

"Oh, I'm sure of that," Ord said.

"Never mind--if you're wrong we can change it later. 'To the People of
Texas and all Americans in the World. Fellow Freemen and Compatriots! I am
besieged with a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have
sustained a continual bombardment for many hours but have not lost a man.
The enemy has demanded surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison is
to be put to the sword, if taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon
shot, and our flag still waves proudly over the walls. I shall never
surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of
patriotism and everything dear to the American character--" He paused,
frowning, "This language seems pretty old-fashioned, Ord--"

"Oh, no, sir. That's exactly right," Ord murmured.

"'... To come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving
reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand
in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain
myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is
due his honor or that of his homeland. VICTORY OR DEATH!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Travis stopped reading, looked up. "Wonderful! Wonderful!" Ord breathed.
"The greatest words of defiance ever written in the English tongue--and so
much more literate than that chap at Bascogne."

"You mean to send that?" Jim gasped.

The man called Davey was holding his head in his hands.

"You object, Colonel Bowie?" Travis asked icily.

"Oh, cut that 'colonel' stuff, Bill," Bowie said. "It's only a National
Guard title, and I like 'Jim' better, even though I am a pretty important
man. Damn right I have an objection! Why, that message is almost
aggressive. You'd think we wanted to fight Santa Anna! You want us to be
marked down as warmongers? It'll give us trouble when we get to the
negotiation table--"

Travis' head turned. "Colonel Crockett?"

"What Jim says goes for me, too. And this: I'd change that part about all
Americans, et cetera. You don't want anybody to think we think we're better
than the Mexicans. After all, Americans are a minority in the world. Why
not make it 'all men who love security?' That'd have world-wide appeal--"

"Oh, Crockett," Travis hissed.

Crockett stood up. "Don't use that tone of voice to me, Billy Travis! That
piece of paper you got don't make you no better'n us. I ran for Congress
twice, and won. I know what the people want--"

"What the people want doesn't mean a damn right now," Travis said harshly.
"Don't you realize the tyrant is at the gates?"

Crockett rolled his eyes heavenward. "Never thought I'd hear a good
American say that! Billy, you'll never run for office--"

Bowie held up a hand, cutting into Crockett's talk. "All right, Davey. Hold
up. You ain't runnin' for Congress now. Bill, the main thing I don't like
in your whole message is that part about victory or death. That's got to
go. Don't ask us to sell that to the troops!"

Travis closed his eyes briefly. "Boys, listen. We don't have to tell the
men about this. They don't need to know the real story until it's too late
for them to get out. And then we shall cover ourselves with such glory that
none of us shall ever be forgotten. Americans are the best fighters in the
world when they are trapped. They teach this in the Foot School back on the
Chatahoochee. And if we die, to die for one's country is sweet--"

"Hell with that," Crockett drawled. "I don't mind dyin', but not for these
big landowners like Jim Bowie here. I just been thinkin'--I don't own
nothing in Texas."

"I resent that," Bowie shouted. "You know very well I volunteered, after I
sent my wife off to Acapulco to be with her family." With an effort, he
calmed himself. "Look, Travis. I have some reputation as a fighting
man--you know I lived through the gang wars back home. It's obvious this
Alamo place is indefensible, even if we had a thousand men."

"But we must delay Santa Anna at all costs--"

Bowie took out a fine, dark Mexican cigar and whittled at it with his
blade. Then he lit it, saying around it, "All right, let's all calm down.
Nothing a group of good men can't settle around a table. Now listen. I got
in with this revolution at first because I thought old Emperor Iturbide
would listen to reason and lower taxes. But nothin's worked out, because
hot-heads like you, Travis, queered the deal. All this yammerin' about
liberty! Mexico is a Republic, under an Emperor, not some kind of
democracy, and we can't change that. Let's talk some sense before it's too
late. We're all too old and too smart to be wavin' the flag like it's the
Fourth of July. Sooner or later, we're goin' to have to sit down and talk
with the Mexicans. And like Davey said, I own a million hectares, and I've
always paid minimum wage, and my wife's folks are way up there in the
Imperial Government of the Republic of Mexico. That means I got influence
in all the votin' groups, includin' the American Immigrant, since I'm a
minority group member myself. I think I can talk to Santa Anna, and even to
old Iturbide. If we sign a treaty now with Santa Anna, acknowledge the law
of the land, I think our lives and property rights will be respected--" He
cocked an eye toward Crockett.

"Makes sense, Jim. That's the way we do it in Congress. Compromise,
everybody happy. We never allowed ourselves to be led nowhere we didn't
want to go, I can tell you! And Bill, you got to admit that we're in better
bargaining position if we're out in the open, than if old Santa Anna's got
us penned up in this old Alamo."

"Ord," Travis said despairingly. "Ord, you understand. Help me! Make them
listen!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Ord moved into the candlelight, his lean face sweating. "Gentlemen, this is
all wrong! It doesn't happen this way--"

Crockett sneered, "Who asked you, Ord? I'll bet you ain't even got a poll
tax!"

Decisively, Bowie said, "We're free men, Travis, and we won't be led around
like cattle. How about it, Davey? Think you could handle the rear guard, if
we try to move out of here?"

"Hell, yes! Just so we're movin'!"

"O.K. Put it to a vote of the men outside. Do we stay, and maybe get
croaked, or do we fall back and conserve our strength until we need it?
Take care of it, eh, Davey?"

Crockett picked up his guitar and went outside.

Travis roared, "This is insubordination! Treason!" He drew his saber, but
Bowie took it from him and broke it in two. Then the big man pulled his
knife.

"Stay back, Ord. The Alamo isn't worth the bones of a Britainer, either."

"Colonel Bowie, please," Ord cried. "You don't understand! You _must_
defend the Alamo! This is the turning point in the winning of the west! If
Houston is beaten, Texas will never join the Union! There will be no
Mexican War. No California, no nation stretching from sea to shining sea!
This is the Americans' manifest destiny. You are the hope of the future ...
you will save the world from Hitler, from Bolshevism--"

"Crazy as a hoot owl," Bowie said sadly. "Ord, you and Travis got to look
at it both ways. We ain't all in the right in this war--we Americans got
our faults, too."

"But you are free men," Ord whispered. "Vulgar, opinionated, brutal--but
free! You are still better than any breed who kneels to tyranny--"

Crockett came in. "O.K., Jim."

"How'd it go?"

"Fifty-one per cent for hightailin' it right now."

Bowie smiled. "That's a flat majority. Let's make tracks."

"Comin', Bill?" Crockett asked. "You're O.K., but you just don't know how
to be one of the boys. You got to learn that no dog is better'n any other."

"No," Travis croaked hoarsely. "I stay. Stay or go, we shall all die like
dogs, anyway. Boys, for the last time! Don't reveal our weakness to the
enemy--"

"What weakness? We're stronger than them. Americans could whip the Mexicans
any day, if we wanted to. But the thing to do is make 'em talk, not fight.
So long, Bill."

The two big men stepped outside. In the night there was a sudden clatter of
hoofs as the Texans mounted and rode. From across the river came a brief
spatter of musket fire, then silence. In the dark, there had been no
difficulty in breaking through the Mexican lines.

Inside the chapel, John Ord's mouth hung slackly. He muttered, "Am I
insane? It didn't happen this way--it couldn't! The books can't be _that_
wrong--"

In the candlelight, Travis hung his head. "We tried, John. Perhaps it was a
forlorn hope at best. Even if we had defeated Santa Anna, or delayed him, I
do not think the Indian Nations would have let Houston get help from the
United States."

Ord continued his dazed muttering, hardly hearing.

"We need a contiguous frontier with Texas," Travis continued slowly, just
above a whisper. "But we Americans have never broken a treaty with the
Indians, and pray God we never shall. _We_ aren't like the Mexicans, always
pushing, always grabbing off New Mexico, Arizona, California. _We_ aren't
colonial oppressors, thank God! No, it wouldn't have worked out, even if we
American immigrants had secured our rights in Texas--" He lifted a short,
heavy, percussion pistol in his hand and cocked it. "I hate to say it, but
perhaps if we hadn't taken Payne and Jefferson so seriously--if we could
only have paid lip service, and done what we really wanted to do, in our
hearts ... no matter. I won't live to see our final disgrace."

He put the pistol to his head and blew out his brains.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ord was still gibbering when the Mexican cavalry stormed into the old
mission, pulling down the flag and seizing him, dragging him before the
resplendent little general in green and gold.

Since he was the only prisoner, Santa Anna questioned Ord carefully. When
the sharp point of a bayonet had been thrust half an inch into his stomach,
the Britainer seemed to come around. When he started speaking, and the
Mexicans realized he was English, it went better with him. Ord was
obviously mad, it seemed to Santa Anna, but since he spoke English and
seemed educated, he could be useful. Santa Anna didn't mind the raving; he
understood all about Napoleon's detention camps and what they had done to
Britainers over there. In fact, Santa Anna was thinking of setting up a
couple of those camps himself. When they had milked Ord dry, they threw him
on a horse and took him along.

Thus John Ord had an excellent view of the battlefield when Santa Anna's
cannon broke the American lines south of the Trinity. Unable to get his men
across to safety, Sam Houston died leading the last, desperate charge
against the Mexican regulars. After that, the American survivors were too
tired to run from the cavalry that pinned them against the flooding river.
Most of them died there. Santa Anna expressed complete indifference to what
happened to the Texans' women and children.

Mexican soldiers found Jim Bowie hiding in a hut, wearing a plain linen
tunic and pretending to be a civilian. They would not have discovered his
identity had not some of the Texan women cried out, "Colonel Bowie--Colonel
Bowie!" as he was led into the Mexican camp.

He was hauled before Santa Anna, and Ord was summoned to watch. "Well, don
Jaime," Santa Anna remarked, "You have been a foolish man. I promised your
wife's uncle to send you to Acapulco safely, though of course your lands
are forfeit. You understand we must have lands for the veterans' program
when this campaign is over--" Santa Anna smiled then. "Besides, since Ord
here has told me how instrumental you were in the abandonment of the Alamo,
I think the Emperor will agree to mercy in your case. You know, don Jaime,
your compatriots had me worried back there. The Alamo might have been a
tough nut to crack ... _pues_, no matter."

And since Santa Anna had always been broadminded, not objecting to light
skin or immigrant background, he invited Bowie to dinner that night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Santa Anna turned to Ord. "But if we could catch this rascally war
criminal, Crockett ... however, I fear he has escaped us. He slipped over
the river with a fake passport, and the Indians have interned him."

"Sí, _Señor Presidente_," Ord said dully.

"Please, don't call me that," Santa Anna cried, looking around. "True, many
of us officers have political ambitions, but Emperor Iturbide is old and
vain. It could mean my head--"

Suddenly, Ord's head was erect, and the old, clear light was in his blue
eyes. "Now I understand!" he shouted. "I thought Travis was raving back
there, before he shot himself--and your talk of the Emperor! American
respect for Indian rights! Jeffersonian form of government! Oh, those
ponces who peddled me that X-4-A--the _track jumper_! I'm not back in my
own past. I've jumped the time track--_I'm back in a screaming
alternate!_"

"Please, not so loud, _Señor_ Ord," Santa Anna sighed. "Now, we must shoot
a few more American officers, of course. I regret this, you understand, and
I shall no doubt be much criticized in French Canada and Russia, where
there are still civilized values. But we must establish the Republic of the
Empire once and for all upon this continent, that aristocratic tyranny
shall not perish from the earth. Of course, as an Englishman, you
understand perfectly, Señor Ord."

"Of course, excellency," Ord said.

"There are soft hearts--soft heads, I say--in Mexico who cry for civil
rights for the Americans. But I must make sure that Mexican dominance is
never again threatened north of the Rio Grande."

"_Seguro_, excellency," Ord said, suddenly. If the bloody X-4-A _had_
jumped the track, there was no getting back, none at all. He was stuck
here. Ord's blue eyes narrowed. "After all, it ... it is manifest destiny
that the Latin peoples of North America meet at the center of the
continent. Canada and Mexico shall share the Mississippi."

Santa Anna's dark eyes glowed. "You say what I have often thought. You are
a man of vision, and much sense. You realize the _Indios_ must go, whether
they were here first or not. I think I will make you my secretary, with the
rank of captain."

"_Gracias_, Excellency."

"Now, let us write my communique to the capital, _Capitán_ Ord. We must
describe how the American abandonment of the Alamo allowed me to press the
traitor Houston so closely he had no chance to maneuver his men into the
trap he sought. _Ay, Capitán_, it is a cardinal principle of the
Anglo-Saxons, to get themselves into a trap from which they must fight
their way out. This I never let them do, which is why I succeed where
others fail ... you said something, _Capitán_?"

"_Sí_, Excellency. I said, I shall title our communique: 'Remember the
Alamo,'" Ord said, standing at attention.

"_Bueno!_ You have a gift for words. Indeed, if ever we feel the _gringos_
are too much for us, your words shall once again remind us of the truth!"
Santa Anna smiled. "I think I shall make you a major. You have indeed
coined a phrase which shall live in history forever!"

       *       *       *       *       *





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