If we do in fact "remember the Alamo," it is largely thanks to one person who witnessed the final assault and survived: the commanding officer's slave, a young man known simply as Joe. What Joe saw as the Alamo fell, recounted days later to the Texas Cabinet, has come down to us in records and newspaper reports. Read more...
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If we do in fact "remember the Alamo," it is largely thanks to one person who witnessed the final assault and survived: the commanding officer's slave, a young man known simply as Joe. What Joe saw as the Alamo fell, recounted days later to the Texas Cabinet, has come down to us in records and newspaper reports. But who Joe was, where he came from, and what happened to him have all remained mysterious until now. In a remarkable feat of historical detective work, authors Ron J. Jackson, Jr., and Lee Spencer White have fully restored this pivotal yet elusive figure to his place in the American story.
The twenty-year-old Joe stood with his master, Lieutenant Colonel Travis, against the Mexican army in the early hours of March 6, 1836. After Travis fell, Joe watched the battle's last moments from a hiding place. He was later taken first to Bexar and questioned by Santa Anna about the Texan army, and then to the revolutionary capitol, where he gave his testimony with evident candor.
With these few facts in hand, Jackson and White searched through plantation ledgers, journals, memoirs, slave narratives, ship logs, newspapers, letters, and court documents. Their decades-long effort has revealed the outline of Joe's biography, alongside some startling facts: most notably, that Joe was the younger brother of the famous escaped slave and abolitionist narrator William Wells Brown, as well as the grandson of legendary trailblazer Daniel Boone. This book traces Joe's story from his birth in Kentucky through his life in slavery--which, in a grotesque irony, resumed after he took part in the Texans' battle for independence--to his eventual escape and disappearance into the shadows of history.
Joe, the Slave Who Became an Alamo Legend recovers a true American character from obscurity and expands our view of events central to the emergence of Texas.
- ISBN-13: 9780806147031
- ISBN-10: 0806147032
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
- Publish Date: March 2015
- Page Count: 352
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Journalist Jackson (Alamo Legacy) and preservationist White deliver a cradle-to-grave biography that transcends its connection to the Alamo, though that connection may be the main reason most readers will reach for this book. The authors are experts on the March 1836 attack by the Mexican army on the Texan outpost, and the second half of their book is gripping and action packed. The siege at the Alamo has reached almost mythical proportions in its many retellings, but Jackson and White hew closely to documented facts. However, that the lone male survivor of the assault was a slave called Joe, owned by the Alamo’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Travis, reveals this book’s importance and the story’s central irony. Joe fought at his master’s side, but victory didn’t go to the white men of the Alamo. Jackson and White have rescued Joe from being regarded solely as a curious footnote to this event, and his life as a slave is the real story here: born in Kentucky in 1815, taken to a fledgling plantation in Missouri, and then on to Texas, none of it by choice. The authors make the most of limited evidence, presenting a vivid picture of the impact slavery had on one man’s life. Illus. (Mar.)