Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Were They Spared?

According to Susanna Dickinson, the wife of Captain Almeron Dickinson, the last Texan to die in the Alamo battle was Major Robert Evans, a thirty-six year old Irishman who came to Texas from New York.

Evans was Master of Ordnance and he had orders to detonate the Alamo gun-powder supply, rather than allow the enemy to capture it.  Had he succeeded, the names of as many as nine women and ten children might appear on the Alamo Cenotaph beside the one-hundred-eighty names of their husbands and fathers, there now.

Evans did not fail for lack of effort.  His body was found on the chapel floor outside the sacristy, where he had been speared by enemy bayonets.  He had poured a trail of black powder into the powder magazine, two rooms to his left, and was preparing to ignite it with a torch found in his dead hand.

Just how much powder was in the magazine is not known, but it is more than probable that, had it exploded, it would have killed Mrs. Dickinson, her daughter, and all of the other women and children huddled in the sacristy, and might even have destroyed the iconic chapel that is our focus today.

What prevented this disaster?  Did Evans look into the eyes of one of the terrified women or hear the cry of a child, and hesitate a moment too long, until the enemy was upon him?  We will never know.

But I think we can consider Robert Evans a hero of the Alamo, both for what he did and for what he did not do. 

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