Monday, February 21, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Susanna Dickinson, Alamo Survivor

Oh, Susanna!
For the last couple of weeks, we have been learning about the men during the siege of the Alamo, including a freed slave named Joe. At least two more people survived the onslaught of the Mexican Army during those thirteen days in Febrauary and March of 1836 - Susanna Dickinson and infant daughter, Angelina. Mrs. Dickinson was set free when she refused an offer by General Santa Anna himself to adopt Angelina and have her educated in Mexico. Upon that refusal, Susanna was given $2 and told to go forth and spread the word of the power of the Mexican Army and to tell pthers that any attempt to resist the Mexican Army would be futile. She told others what Santa Anna wanted her to. One of those she told was Sam Houston. We know what happened a few weeks later.

According to Wikipedia;
Susanna Dickinson reported, after the battle, the following had occurred during the siege and ultimate fight;
  • There were very few casualties before the final assault. She did not know the number.
  • She confirms that the legendary "line in the sand" incident, where Col. William Travis gave the defenders the choice of staying or leaving, did happen. However, she reports that it happened the day before the final assault, when it is believed to have happened on either March 3 or March 4.
  • On the morning of the assault, her husband ran in to where she'd hidden, made his final statements to her and revealing that the Mexicans were inside, then returned to his duty. She never saw him again, nor did she ever see his body.
  • She hid inside the chapel, and did not see the actual battle. One defender ran inside during the battle, attempting to hide, but was killed by Mexican soldiers.
  • When she was discovered, a Mexican officer intervened, with her saying she believed he was a British mercenary named either Black or Almonte. She was mistaken about his ethnicity, as he was Col. Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, who spoke perfect English, having been educated in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Outside there was a single survivor, found hiding, who unsuccessfully begged for mercy and was killed. Joe also reported this, claiming the man's name was Warner. However no Warner is listed as being at the Alamo. The closest name in similarity to Warner is Henry Warnell, however Warnell departed the Alamo as a courier on February 28, 1836.
  • She saw the body of Davy Crockett between the chapel and the barracks building.
  • She saw the body of Jim Bowie with two dead Mexican soldiers lying beside him.
  • She was taken to a house where she'd previously lived, and from there could see the pyres of the dead being burned.
  • The next day she was taken before Santa Anna, and Almonte, or Black, convinced Santa Anna to release her rather than imprison her.
  • At some point after the battle, she has no recollections, only that she wept for days.
Some points of Dickinson's account were confirmed by other survivors, including Enrique Esparza, the son of Alamo defender Gregorio Esparza. Joe confirmed other statements. End of Wiki info.

What a story Susanna Dickinson had to tell. You can read more on her Wikipedia page. I wish I had more time and space to dedicate to Mrs. Dickinson's incredible story. Perhaps we can re-visit this story again in the future. It really fascinates me with what the few survivors of the Battle of the Alamo had to say about what they saw and heard during those historic thirteen days in 1836.

God bless Susanna Dickinson and may God continue to bless Texas.

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