Russell Sage 190 2/26/11
Lit. (801) Raul P. Mr. Rosner
There are three main characters – all of whom existed and took a very real part: ranchers John White Bower and his neighbor and business partner Carlos de la Garza, who indeed ran a ferry operation across the lower San Antonio River. Texan and Tejano, they remained friends and partners before and after the war, in which they fought as their primary sympathies inclined them – on opposite sides. In the end their loyalty is to their own Texas: to their families, their kin and their friends – no matter on what side. Then there is James Fanning – militarily skilled, but ultimately and tragically doubtful of his abilities as a commander. He is the figure most clearly and sympathetically drawn. In the scramble that was the rebellion of the Anglo-American settlers in Texas, he had all the right qualifications for command of the garrison at Goliad. He had attended West Point, and taken part in early and successful actions against the Mexican forces in San Antonio. His tragedy was to be put in a situation requiring him to be resolute and decisive – even intuitive – in a rapidly changing situation. He was overwhelmed within weeks; his self-confidence dissolved by degrees. Finally he was only able to react to a situation that he could not control. His final act in command was to surrender what was left of his men, hoping to save their lives; the ultimate tragedy was that it did not. On Palm Sunday 1836, by the direct order of Santa Anna himself, Fanning’s surviving men were slaughtered at point-blank range by their guards. James Fanning was executed last of all, knowing what happened to them.
The characters of various Mexican officers are also carefully drawn, as much from what is historically known as from imagination; General Urea, who...