Alamo

Texas Standard: October 15, 2020

Theres the vote, and there’s that other count that will determine representation in the Lone Star State. And the deadline is tonight. Have you been counted? Although the Census Bureau says 99.9% of households are accounted for, only 62 percent of Texans have completed the census. We’ll hear about the potential impact and how to get counted before the deadline. Also, An inter party tiff turns into a potential tipping point in the U.S. Senate race in Texas. And when you wish upon a star, you turn into a streaming service? Tech expert Omar Gallaga tells us why Disney’s making a major shift amid a pandemic. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Jim Bowie: Timeless Influencer

A relatively new phenomenon in modern society is the rise of the influencer, a person on social media who is skilled at persuading followers to buy things. Some are influencers by design and some are accidental influencers, finding without trying that they have attracted an army of imitators. I wondered how many of these now popular influencers, like Kylie Jenner or Selena Gomez, will have any influential prowess in 200 years? How many will have the lasting magic of Jim Bowie?

Many people think that Jim Bowie was made famous by defending the Alamo. He was, in truth, already quite famous nearly ten years before he gave his life for Texas freedom. He was famous as a knife-fighter, knife-designer, frontiersman, and all-round, world-class badass. He was truly a man’s man by any standard.

His world-renowned Bowie knife was probably first made at the direction of his own brother, Rezin. But the classic design came from Jim in subsequent versions that had his modifications.

Jim used his brother’s version in a bloody skirmish called the Sandbar Fight. Jim was nearly killed by two assailants who both shot him. One endeavored to finish him off by stabbing him with a cane sword, but the sword bent when it hit Jim’s sternum, and so it gave Jim a moment to spring upon his attacker with his huge knife. He killed him instantly. He then badly wounded the second assailant who only survived by fleeing as fast as his injuries allowed him to run.

You see, in those days you wanted to take a knife to a gun fight because guns were notoriously unreliable. Bowie miraculously survived and the account of the Sandbar Fight, thanks to a journalist who witnessed it, went viral in national papers – even making it to Europe. Jim Bowie and his knife were thus immediately immortalized.

What made the knife different was its size. The original was almost a foot long. But the next model, Bowie Knife 2.o, was even longer, and razor sharp on the bottom AND the top. About a third of the top of the knife, the clip point,  was honed to a fine edge – so it cut both ways. Its lethality became legendary. The Red River Herald of Natchitoches, Louisiana, would one day write, no doubt hyperbolically, that after the Sandbar Fight, “all the steel in the country, it seemed, was being converted into Bowie knives.” That’s influence!

Some later models had false edges on the clip point, which made them look sharp, though they weren’t. This provided advantages in strength to the blade.

When Bowie arrived at the Alamo, nine years later, with his notoriety on the rise and his famous knife at his side, even Davy Crockett was impressed. He said the sight of it, “makes you queasy… especially before breakfast.”

Bowie’s last stand at the Alamo elevated his fame to the level of a demigod. It was widely claimed, at least what I heard as a kid, that he took out ten Mexican soldiers with his knife in close quarters combat. This is improbable given that Bowie was critically ill from typhoid fever or pneumonia at the time, but a good legend will kill probability any day of the week. Of course, no one can say for certain what happened in those last minutes, and given his reputation for cat-like reflexes mixed with the adrenalin of battle, who can say? I do like what Bowie’s mama said when she learned of his death: “I’ll wager no wounds were found in his back.”

After his death, the Bowie knife, in various versions, began to be made by blacksmiths, from the American Southwest to Sheffield, England, where the finest ones were made and exported to America. Texas Rangers carried them. The U.S. Marines had their own version. In popular films, Rambo never left home without his, and neither did Crocodile Dundee. It’s the one he’s holding when he says, “That’s a knife.” And Brad Pitt does some fancy swastika carving with his Bowie Knife in Inglorious Bastards.

It’s as famous as the Swiss Army Knife or the Buck Knife. Given the ubiquity of his knife in the world today, nearly 184 years after his death, I’d say Jim Bowie is a greater influencer than any social media star you can name.

 

Three Texas Myths That Won’t Die

In my travels around the state I run into people now and then who have deeply held convictions about Texas that are simply untrue. They hold to myths that have been nurtured by well-intentioned souls since San Jacinto days, and it breaks my heart to tell them they are mistaken, but not for long. I soon realize, you see, that they are not saddened by their error, but by mine. As one man told me, “Son, you need to get out more. Try reading a book or two.”

With that caveat staring me icily in the face like Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone, I will forge ahead and tell you about three such myths that just won’t die.

First up is the widely held belief that Texas is the only state in the union that was its own country first. This is not so. Four years before California became a state it was the California Republic, for about 3 weeks. True, there was no armed revolution—no Alamo—no grand battle, like San Jacinto, where they defeated a maniacal dictator, but nonetheless, it was a bonafide republic for an ever so brief time. It didn’t have a constitution, but it did have a flag, and according to Eddie Izzard’s law of nation building, the flag is more important. The flag showed a grizzly bear and a lone red star, influenced by the white lone star on the Texas flag. The Republic didn’t survive, but the flag did. It became the basis of California’s modern state flag.

Hawaii was both a kingdom and a republic before becoming a state, though Hawaiians were not as enthusiastic about statehood as were Texans and Californians. For four years, Florida was an independent country called Muskogee, and Vermont, for 14 years, was an independent republic as well, beating Texas’ record by four years.

Another widespread myth is that Texas can, by law, divorce herself from the U.S. anytime she wants. Many insist that this is in the Texas Constitution or in what some call the “Treaty of Annexation” papers. But it’s not there. I’ve looked, with a magnifying glass and searched the marginalia of both documents. I’ve searched for the smallest of print. It’s not there. No hint of such an idea. But, we can divide ourselves into up to five states if we wish. We would get ten senators that way. Wonder what we’d name those five states were we to do it? Probably just North, South, East, West, and Central Texas. Though we could get creative? I’m against doing it, but I’ll take hypothetical suggestions?

A third myth I hear about quite often is that Texas should have kept her wealth and remained an independent country. Well, it’s a romantic idea that I’ve often longed for myself, but it wasn’t practical. First, in the 1840s, we were poor, dirt poor—better known as land poor. Sure we had oil and gas, but nobody knew about that yet and there was no market for it anyway. All we had was vast amounts of land to manage—300 thousand square miles—and a population of 50,000 people to try to protect it. No money, no treasury, no military to speak of. The Republic could barely pay the Texas Rangers, and was often quite late in paying them. Mexico regularly sent armies into the state to rattle their sabers and terrorize the citizens, making them feel that Mexico could retake Texas at any moment. The Comanches and Apaches were often on the warpath across the Western frontier. Texans wanted security and investment and jobs and capital. The fastest way to get it was to join the United States. So they did, with 94 percent of Texans voting in favor of it. Ultimately, we became rich by virtue of joining the union. And so did the U.S.

One other widely held belief is that a real Texan doesn’t put beans in chili. This one is actually absolutely correct. You can put beans in chili if you want to, but you cannot then legitimately call it Texas chili. You don’t mess with Texas and you don’t mess with Texas chili.

Texas Standard: October 24, 2019

A former Texas governor makes his first public comments on his role in the issue at the center of the impeachment investigation. We’ll have more of Rick Perry and the growing scandal surrpundo9ng President Trump. Plus, more fallout from the so-called Bonnen tape: what’s behind the animus between state GOP lawmakers and local government in Texas? And is it really possible to be addicted to video games? The World Health Organization weighs in, and so does our tech expert Omar Gallaga. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: August 15, 2019

After the mass shooting in El Paso, the governor announces a Domestic Terrorism Task Force. But what will they be doing and who will they target? We’ll explore. Plus how facebook may be snooping on our conversations. And get out of prison early? The story of the con man called the King of Dreams. Also, a major new dig at the Alamo, the shifting political geography of Texas and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Teddy Roosevelt’s Texas Campaign

By W. F. Strong

The Menger Hotel in San Antonio may boast of hosting more U.S. Presidents than any other hotel in Texas. George H. W. Bush stayed there. Clinton stayed there, as did Reagan. Nixon stayed there. So did Truman and Taft and McKinley. Even Ulysses S. Grant slept there.

The most important name not yet mentioned, and if you know your Texas history you’re already writing a letter to remind me, but don’t hit send just yet because I’m coming to him: Teddy Roosevelt. He rates as the most important of the lot because the others just slept and left. Teddy did far more. He left a bar behind, or at least a bar named for him, and you can still get a drink at the Roosevelt bar to this day, 120 years later.

How did that happen you may wonder? Well, you know all about the USS Maine getting blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898. At the time it was blamed on Spain with battle cries like “Remember the Maine; to hell with Spain.” The loss of some 260 sailors in that blast marked the beginning of the
Spanish American War.

This is where Teddy Roosevelt enters. He was not yet President, but would be in three years. At this time he was 40 and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He asked for and was given permission to put together a cavalry unit of 1000 men, cowboy soldiers he called them, to help push Spain out of Cuba. He didn’t name them the Rough Riders, though, That was a name their public admirers gave them and they resisted it at first, but finally adopted it themselves.

So where could Teddy recruit 1000 rough riders. Well in Texas of course. So he went to the Menger Hotel, right across from the Alamo, and recruited great horseman from across the Southwest – from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. Roosevelt said these were a “splendid set of men . . . tall and sinewy with weather beaten faces, and eyes that looked a man straight in the face without flinching.” He said that in all the world there were no better men for this cavalry than “these grim hunters of the mountains, these wild rough riders of the plains.”

His challenge was to take these fiercely independent men and teach them military discipline. That’s why he had a preference for ex Texas Rangers. He said, “we got our highest average of recruits from Texas because many had served in that famous body of frontier fighters, the Texas Rangers. Of course these rangers needed no teaching. They were already trained to obey and take responsibility. They were splendid horsemen, shots and trackers. They were accustomed to living in the open . . . enduring hardship . . . and encountering all kinds of danger.” Native Americans too, such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creeks were also Rough Riders.

He did convert these independent men, with the help of General Wood, into a disciplined cavalry unit within a month. He even got most of the men horses from Texas, some of them unbroken, but that was no problem for these expert horsemen. Roosevelt named his own horse “Texas.”

As Roosevelt was always a showman, he had his commander’s uniform made by Brooks Brothers in New York. He also introduced his men to the blue bandana with white polka dots, which became the distinguishing feature of the Rough Rider’s uniform. To this day, in black and white photographs, the
Rough Riders look impressively stylish in their khaki pants, blue flannel shirts, trademark bandanas, and slouch hats.

The rest of the Rough Riders story is well known, but perhaps erroneously visualized. Most think of it as 1000 horses thundering majestically up San Juan Hill like a scene from War Horse. They did in fact charge up San Juan Hill and route the Spanish forces, but delete the horses from your mind. There were none. They did it on foot and on their bellies. Roosevelt was on horseback part of the time, shouting commands as they fought inch by inch through tropical brush and oppressive heat, dodging torrents of bullets to take the hill, but they did it as infantrymen.

Despite all their cavalry training in San Antonio, they weren’t able to get their horses to Cuba. Why? When they were ready to depart from Tampa to Cuba, the navy didn’t have enough ships for the horses, so they were left behind. Those with military experience will just shake their heads at this nature of monumental snafu.

Nonetheless, the Rough Riders and other U.S. forces pushed the Spanish out of Cuba and liberated the island. Teddy Roosevelt wrote the primary history of the campaign which launched him into national fame and a good way toward the Presidency. The road to the White House, for Teddy, started in Texas at the Menger Hotel, in the shadow of the Alamo.

Texas Standard: May 13, 2019

Tick tock… the clock is winding down on the Texas Legislative session. But there’s a lot left to be done. We’ll have the latest on what affects you from under the dome. Also, the big business of toy guns. So realistic, police can’t tell the difference. And that’s had deadly consequences. And if you take the back roads through rural parts of Texas, you’ll see towns dotted with dance halls. Many have been shuttered or lost to time, but there’s a renewed effort to get them swinging again. Plus, efforts to highlight and reframe the story of the Alamo keep bumping up against other important parts of Texas history. We’ll have the latest on that and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 10, 2019

It’s a new rule designed to answer concerns about sex abuse in the Catholic church, although some victims say it’s nowhere near enough. We’ll have the latest. And do you remember acid rain? Problems in the Permian with a new warning from a national environmental group says recent reports by the energy industry itself indicate dangerous and illegal amounts of sulphur dioxide in west Texas, we’ll take a look. And so so-called good samaritans at the border with Mexico arrested. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: March 6, 2019

The senate approves pay raises for Texas teachers. The House has a bill of its own. What does it add up to for school reform in a larger sense? We’ll try to reconcile the differences between two approaches for fixing Texas public schools. Also, here’s a sentence some thought they’d never hear: the push to decriminalize marijuana gains momentum in Texas. We’ll get the how and why. And after a wicked cold snap, your forecast for bluebonnets. All those stories and then some today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 19, 2018

As Midterms approach, so do thousands of migrants from Honduras and Guatemala en route to the U.S. We’ll have the latest on not one but now two caravans of Central Americans headed north. Mexico sends its military to stop them, as many in the U.S. ponder the political implications in a heated election year. Also the Khashoggi affair hits home for a Texas based journalist and author. Lawrence wright on the death of a friend and the threat to freedom. Plus the week in politics with the Texas Tribune and much more on today’s Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 18, 2018

It started with a few hundred headed for the U.S. border, now 4 thousand strong: the Honduran caravan en route for the U.S. border, we’ll have the latest. Also, days away from the start of early voting, and a once reliably Republican congressional district now one of the most closely watched of the election season. Why the Texas 32nd matters. And they’re the fastest growing demographic in Texas and politicians are eager to court them. But how much do the political parties really understand about what makes young Latinos and Latinas tick? A new survey offers some answers. All that and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Out-Texas Me This!

About a month ago, my son went off to college with my Jeep, and I needed to get another vehicle. I had been truckless for a few years – a rare condition in my life – and I decided I wanted to fix that right away. For a long time, I had wanted a King Ranch Edition Ford pickup, with those fine leather seats, carrying the classic brand of the ranch I hunted on as boy. So now, I had the chance – and the reason – to buy one.

With two kids in college, it was no time to splurge on a new one, but I thought I might find a previously-owned truck that would satisfy my longing. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to search for just what I wanted: a one-owner vehicle in near-mint condition being sold by an owner who had elaborate maintenance records and a pristine Carfax report. I found what I was looking for in San Antonio, 300 miles from where I live down in the Valley.

So I contacted the owner and we made a gentleman’s agreement as to price over the phone, and I headed up to look at it. I loved it – beautiful truck, dark brown with tan trim. Meticulously maintained. I said, “Let’s do it.” So, he pulled out the title to begin the paperwork and I was surprised to see that his name was William B. Travis.

I said, “I guess you know, you’re kind of famous.”

He said, “Yes, I do have a famous name. And I have the whole name, too. I’m William Barrett Travis and I’m also a descendant.”

I was astounded by the coincidence. I thought, “Here I am, a specialist in Texas lore and legend, about to buy a King Ranch pickup from a descendant of the commander of the Alamo, and he still lives in San Antonio. How cool is that?” In the favorite word of my teenage son, “Awesome!”

We finished up the paperwork and payment, and he walked me out and gave me a detailed tour of all the unique features of the truck and directions on how to get back to the expressway to head home. I could tell he was a little sad to let go of the pickup. They’d had many good years together. I said, “I promise I’ll take good care of her.”

So, I drove my new truck (new to me, anyway) back to the Valley. It was good to be riding high in the saddle once more, driving into a blustery coastal wind without breaking a sweat.

In fact, I drove my King Ranch Edition pickup with its Alamo lineage, back through the actual King Ranch, while eating a Whataburger and listening to Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.”

I have just have one thing to say: “Out-Texas Me That!”

The only thing that would have made it better is if a Southwest Airlines jet had done a flyby at 200 feet and given me a wing salute.

Texas Standard: September 12, 2018

This time, it’s for real: the National GOP worried that Beto O’Rourke has a real shot at tipping the balance on Capitol Hill. We’ll take a look at the details. Also, Bob Woodward’s book just out this week details chaos in the Trump Administration, but there’s nothing chaotic about the systematic dismantling of environmental regulations. What’s happening, and what it means for Texas. And Harvey dumped 127 billion tons of water on Texas last year: help from FEMA? A mere trickle so far. What’s holding things up? Plus kids at the center of a culture war over remembering the Alamo and so much more, today on the Texas Standard:

Defenders Of The Alamo

They other day I was looking over a list of those who died at the Alamo. The one thing that struck me about the list was that the men who gave their lives there were, collectively, incredibly young.

I saw John Wayne’s film, “The Alamo,” when I was a kid and for years I had in my mind that the men who fought there were mostly in their 40s and 50s. Legends like Crockett and Bowie who dominated the film, and dominated the actual siege, too, were rightfully played by actors who were about their age. Crockett was 50 in his last days at the Alamo and John Wayne was 52 when he played him. Bowie was 39 and Richard Widmark was 46. And many of the other actors who surrounded them on screen were also over 40.

But the reality was something quite different. Well over half of the defenders of the Alamo were under 30. Fourteen were teenagers. 14! Two 16-year-olds died for Texas’ liberty there. The typical Alamo fighter was 26 years old, which was the age of their commander. That’s right, William Barret Travis was just 26 years old and the sole commander of the Alamo, at least in the last days. Bowie was originally a co-commander but he was so very sick – bedridden from typhoid or pneumonia – and that left Travis fully in charge.

Eighty percent of the men at the Alamo were 34 and under. Today we would consider folks their age millennials. And the gift they gave was all the more precious because they knew in the last days, when Santa Anna raised the pirate flag, that no surrender would be accepted. They had to win or die. And as they looked across the prairie at a force ten times their size, they knew these were likely their last days. They could have left. There were chances to get out under the cover of darkness. But they stayed, knowing that they were giving up not just their lives, but all the long years that generally awaited young men. There were even men from Gonzales who actually fought through the Mexican lines to join their brothers in arms in the Alamo. Astonishing.

And the Alamo men came from all over. Numbers can be tricky with this history, but here’s what we know based on the Alamo’s official website, 32 were from Tennessee, 15 each came from Pennsylvania and Virginia, and 14 were from Kentucky. Eight were Hispanic -– born in Mexican Texas. And Europe was involved, too: ten came from England, ten from Ireland, four from Scotland, two from Germany.

Santa Anna was enraged that the Texans were rebelling. His plan was to launch a massive military campaign to crush the rebellion and make the Texans pay for it. I’m not making this up. The great historian T. R. Fehrenbach pointed out that Santa Anna planned to make the Texans pay for the military operation they caused by taking all of their lands and giving it to his soldiers and other Santanistas.

Meanwhile, William Barret Travis, though very young, wrote the most famous letters of the revolution. One letter, addressed ‘To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” asked for immediate reinforcements. He specified that his situation was dire. If they were not victorious, they would all be “put to the sword.” But he vowed he would “never surrender or retreat.” The letter was signed, “Victory or Death.”

Another that Travis wrote to the Texas government, which was more significant for what it prophesied, said this: “the victory will cost the enemy so dear, that it will be worse for him than a defeat.” And indeed, Santa Anna lost a third of his troops, about 600, which greatly demoralized the rest. This was followed by a forced march of 300 miles to San Jacinto, which so exhausted Mexican soldiers that they were actually caught napping when General Sam Houston attacked.

The Texans’ victory over Santa Anna after the fall of the Alamo and Goliad was so unlikely that it was similar to the odds of a baseball game in which the home team is down 29 runs to nothing. It’s the bottom of the 9th. Two outs. It’s a full count. Houston at bat.

Against those kinds of odds, the Texans rallied and crushed Santa Anna’s forces so decisively that it was all over in 18 minutes. Some say ten.

Without the men at the Alamo softening up, demoralizing and exhausting Santa Anna’s forces, it is unlikely that Houston’s army would have enjoyed such a resounding victory at San Jacinto. That is why we should always “Remember the Alamo,” and the mostly very young men who gave their lives for Texas’ freedom.

Texas Standard: September 5, 2018

A Texas federal courtroom is once again the stage for a legal challenge that could have enormous, nationwide impact. We’ll explain. Also this week marks a full year since Amazon started the search for a second headquarters. Dallas and Austin are on the shortlist, but what’s next? We’ll check in. And a woman held in slavery makes a new life for herself by posing as a man and signing up to be a soldier. The true story behind a new novel. Plus it’s campaign season and politicians are making claims about their opponents. We’ll fact-check one about holding town hall meetings. And Texans have long been taught to remember the Alamo, but what do we know about the defenders in that battle? We’ll dig in to some demographics. Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: April 20, 2018

Look! In the skies over Galveston. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… No, it’s a plane. And it just might be the next Concorde. NASA’s mission- today on the Standard.

There’s a new policy for meetings at city hall in Amarillo. If you’re caught clapping you might get thrown out. An unusual policy to be sure—but is it constitutional? An SMU legal scholar raises a red flag.

Remember the Alamo? Sure you do. But never like this. Virtual reality comes to the cradle of Texas liberty.

Also why a Texas city ranks #1 for black homeownership. You might be surprised which city it is. Plus the week in Texas politics and more.

Samuel Walker: The Real Walker, Texas Ranger

One of the most fascinating Texas Rangers of all time was Samuel Hamilton Walker — no relation, we should say right off the bat, to Chuck Norris’ fictional character Cordell Walker. Many Ranger aficionados rate Sam Walker the second-most-important Texas Ranger of all time, behind Jack Coffee Hays, with whom Walker rangered. Now that’s a dream team.

Samuel Walker arrived in Texas six years after Texas had won its independence. In five more years, in 1847, he would be dead. But in those five years he would defend San Antonio from Mexican forces, invade Mexico four times, escape from a Mexican prison and help design one of the most famous guns in history, the Colt Walker six-shooter.

Walker’s first foray into Mexico was part of the ill-fated Mier expedition, which was for the purpose of punishing Mexico for its illegal incursions into San Antonio. Walker was not yet a Texas Ranger. He was with a group of men who believed they would repay Mexico for their illegal incursions into Texas. His group was attacked by a much larger army of Mexican troops who engaged them in defense of the Mier. 180 Texans were taken as prisoners.

Santa Anna ordered them all shot, but cooler heads in the Mexican government prevailed and a decimation instead: one in 10 would die. The Texans were ordered to draw a bean from a pot. Among the 159 white beans were 17 black ones. Those who got a black bean would be executed on the spot; those who drew white beans would live. Sam Walker got a white bean.

The prisoners were marched 800 miles across Mexico’s brutal deserts. Walker mentioned in his journal of the Mier Expedition that he would not trade Texas for 100 Mexicos. He was however, impressed with the fine architecture he encountered in the churches of San Miguel de Allende, which remains true for the many expatriate Texans who live there today.

Once in the capital, some of the prisoners, including Walker, was imprisoned at Tacubaya, suburb of Mexico City, and some were marched another 100 miles and incarcerated in the infamous Perote Prison.
Walker’s group was forced to do road work, including building a road from Mexico City to Santa Anna´s summer villa, which further enraged Walker. This amounted to a lot of salt in a deep wound, and he nurtured his loathing for Santa Anna — indeed, for all Mexicans — all his life, so much so that his friends called him “mad Walker.”

There is a much-shared myth about Walker’s time imprisoned in Mexico. The story goes that he was ordered to dig a hole for a flagpole and raise the Mexican flag. According to one version of the legend, he put a dime at the bottom of the hole and vowed to return one day, reclaim the dime, and raise the Texas flag. Several years later, the story goes, he retrieved his dime when he returned with American forces to occupy Mexico City. It’s a good story, but probably not true. Walker never mentioned it in his journals. Also, the flagpole in the various versions of the myth is always in Perote Prison, in the state of Vera Cruz, and Walker was never incarcerated there. He was, however, part of Winfield Scott’s invasion force that sacked the prison in 1847, and that may well be where the legend has its origins.

Walker eventually escaped from the Tacubaya prison — a story that would make a good novel in itself — and made it back to Texas. He joined up with Jack Hays and the Texas Rangers in 1844 and fought in many of the most famous Indian battles.

When General Zachary Taylor sent out a call in 1845 for volunteers to scout for his federal troops, Walker immediately signed up. He ran messages through the Mexican lines to keep Fort Texas (soon to be Fort Brown) aware of Taylor´s plans for invading Mexico. Walker led the charge in the battle for Monterrey.
It was after Taylor’s forces had secured Monterrey, in 1846, that Walker took a brief furlough and traveled back east. There he gave Samuel Colt some ideas for improving Colt’s earlier model of his revolver called the Paterson pistol. Colt, in gratitude, named a special, very heavy model of his new six-shooter after Walker.

Walker next joined up with General Winfield Scott’s campaign to pacify Mexico City. Though he was officially made a U.S. soldier, everybody still thought of him as a Texas Ranger and called him Ranger Walker. Scott’s army invaded Mexico at Vera Cruz and advanced from there toward Mexico City. On the way, they sacked Perot Prison, released the prisoners and turned it into a fort for the American forces.

But Walker would not live to make it back to Texas. He was to die a few months later, fighting the army of his old nemesis, Santa Anna, at the town of Huamantla, where Santa Anna had positioned his forces to stop the U.S. troops’ march to rescue the American garrison under siege at Puebla. Walker led his company, which was ahead of the main U.S. force, into battle there. His men fought fiercely until the main force arrived to defeat Santa Anna, but Walker didn´t get to enjoy the victory. He lay dead; his prized Colt Walkers at his side. He was 32. In retaliation, his men went on a wild rampage, sacking, looting and pillaging the town.

Walker’s body was returned to San Antonio; eventually it was interred in the Odd Fellows Cemetery next to the unidentified remains of the defenders of the Alamo.

It’s said that Walker was not a man you would much notice in everyday life. He was of average size, and quiet. But in battle he was a lion. In his Notes of the Mexican War 1846-1848, J. Jacob Oswandel observed of Walker that ‘’war was his element, the bivouac his delight, and the battlefield his playground.”

Walker lived more in his short life than your average ten men live in their long lives combined. He is the Walker, Texas Ranger, that should be most remembered.

Texas Standard: January 30, 2018

He hasn’t said anything yet, but everyone has something to say about President Trump’s first State of the Union. We’ll get some insight. Plus, if dreamers become citizens there will be many fees involved. Could that pay for a border wall? We’ll check the math. Also, unpacking some headlines that caught our attention: are millennials really stowing away as much as $100,000 dollars in savings? And what do we mean when we say a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is headed in the general direction of earth? And what restoration experts have found as they give the cannons from the Alamo a facelift. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 16, 2017

Once the bete noire of Texas Republicans, the EPA is in regulatory rollback mode. What does this mean for Texans? We’ll explore. Also, sometimes what regulations won’t do, economics will: as folks living near two coal fired power plants are discovering. The small town of Rockdale reckons with its future. And while another, in far west Texas, continues to transform into something few locals would have ever expected: Marfa, reconsidered. Those stories and lots more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: October 9, 2017

The Trump Administration released a wish list, or perhaps a demand sheet, for any deal to protect young undocumented immigrants. We’ll have the latest. Also at the top of the list in Trump’s seven page memo? The Border Wall. Plus, we invited the former US Surgeon General on to talk about an American epidemic…the affliction? Loneliness. And another, largely invisible dilemma…up to half the people killed by police in the U.S. have a disability. We look at the growing demand for police training in Texas. All that and more today on the Texas Standard: