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Texas and the Mexican War by Charles M. Robinson III

Texas and the Mexican War by Charles M. Robinson III

In between the Texas Revolution (1835-36) and the U.S. Civil War (1861-65), there was the war between the United States and Mexico (1846-1847).

The United States fought a war with Mexico for several reasons: annexation of Texas to the United States, the American belief in Manifest Destiny, political instability in Mexico, and a desire for war in both countries.

Thus begins Charles M. Robinson III’s short (91 pages) overview, Texas and the Mexican War. Mr. Robinson reviews not only the actions of the armies of both sides, but the political activities, which echo those occurring in our own times. It focuses mainly on those events that affected or were affected by Texans. The majority of the book follows the path of General Zachary Taylor, from gathering troops in Louisiana to support Texas in anticipation of annexation through moving his troops from Corpus Christi up to the Nueces River boundary (where Mexico believed the border was) and down to the Rio Grande (where the United States wanted the border to be). (more…)

A History of the French Legation in Texas by Kenneth Hafertepe

A History of the French Legation in Texas by Kenneth Hafertepe

Driving south on I-35 through Austin, Texas, I often wonder two things:

  • why didn’t I take the tollway so I wouldn’t be stuck in traffic?
  • what is The French Legation, pointed towards by sign tempting one in the direction opposite 6th Street?

A History of the French Legation in Texas by Kenneth Hafertepe answers at least the second question, describing “the oldest remaining structure in Austin”, starting with the building of the Legation in 1840 and 1841, when Austin was a year old. This is the 4th book in TSHA’s (Texas State Historical Association) Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series (list of the series here). Early in the book, he explains what a Legation is:

Today all nations send ambassadors to each other and set up embassies, but in the nineteenth century, only the great powers sent and received ambassadors. In dealing with lesser states a great power like France would send and receive a minister, who operate a legation. Fledgling states – like Texas – were entitled to a legation, but without a minister. Instead, an officer of lower rank was left in charge – a charge d’affaires. (more…)

The Battle of San Jacinto by James W. Pohl

The Battle of San Jacinto by James W. Pohl

Every kid who has gone through elementary school in or around Houston has been to the San Jacinto Monument on a field trip (and skinned a knee going down the stairs of the Battleship Texas, the WWI and II era ship which some kids mistakenly thought helped Sam Houston win the battle of San Jacinto). This book, the 3rd book in TSHA’s (Texas State Historical Association) Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series (list of the series here), provides a concise description of the events leading to “one of the most decisive battles of the world” and the battle itself.

The book starts with colonists from America settling in Texas, content to be Mexican citizens. Changes in the Mexican government, brought about by Santa Anna as he came into power, swayed many of these settlers against Mexico, including the influential Stephen F, Austin; Austin was imprisoned under false pretenses for two years in Mexico, and upon his release, he used his influence for revolution and against Mexico.

Early victories heartened the revolutionaries, but the massacre at Goliad and defeat at the Alamo by Santa Anna’s massive army put general Sam Houston and his smaller, undisciplined force retreating towards East Texas. (more…)

The Battle of the Alamo by Ben H. Proctor

The Battle of the Alamo by Ben H. Proctor

This 2nd book in TSHA’s (Texas State Historical Association) Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series (list of the series here) starts on December 4, 1835, with Ben Milam challenging the Texas rag tag army to attack the Mexican army under General Cos that was entrenched in San Antonio. The Texans pushed the Mexican army across the San Antonio River, leading Cos to negotiate terms to leave Texas forever.

But obviously that is not the end of the story. Ben Proctor’s concise but thorough history describes the build up, the battle and the aftermath. As with the other books in this series, the included black and white images and references are superb.

The Texas revolutionaries, appealing to words and ideas that inspired Americans, spread the word of Mexican oppression, causing a flood of volunteers from all parts of the young country. Proctor gives a good background on this, including a brief bio of Jim Bowie, sent to destroy the Alamo but partnering with Col. James Neill in declaring “we would rather die in these ditches than give them to the enemy.”

The arrival of William Barret Travis on February 3 and Davy Crockett on February 8 completed the legendary triumvirate. Proctor describes each, including the rivalry between Travis and Bowie, resolved ultimately through Bowie’s ongoing illness. He then moves to describe Santa Anna, bent on making a statement after Cos’ defeat. The description of Santa Anna’s army, including Mayan conscripts who did not speak Spanish, and the harsh march from Mexico to San Antonio, is particularly well written.

The commanders of the Alamo were surprised at the size of Santa Anna’s force, and set several legendary requests for aid. But, after many days of siege, cannon fire and nightly bugle calls, on March 6 the fort was breached, it’s defenders killed.

The Battle of the Alamo has 9 excellent black and white images, and is 40 pages in the print edition. This review is of the Kindle edition.

Texas Popular History Series

We’ve been working with the good folks at the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), publishers of the Texas Almanac, to convert an excellent series of 19 popular history books. This series, the Fred Rider Cotten Popular History series, features books about different places and events in Texas’ rich history. Each book is well documented and footnoted, with great pictures. They range between 40 to 144 pages, and they are extremely affordable on the Kindle at $4.99 each. They are also available in bundles (cleverly named “Cotten Bales”, get it?) of like topics.

The series chronicles:

  • Six historical battles (Alamo, San Jacinto, Goliad, Texas/Mexican War and two books on Texas in the Civil War);
  • The history of five cities/places (Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Galveston and McKinney Falls);
  • Four historic houses and the people who occupied them;
  • Four Forts, and their impact on Texas History.

A more detailed list is in the table below. I’ll post reviews of each one (look for titles with underlines) and links to the Kindle versions via the covers (clickable) in the table below as they become available for Kindle.

COVERTitleAuthorYear PublishedPgs Print Edition
The Old Stone FortMcDonald, Archie197148
The Battle of the Alamo"Proctor, Ben H.198640
The Battle of San JacintoHarfertepe, Kenneth198964
A History of the French Legation in Texas",Pohl, James W.198956
A History of Aston VillaHarfertepe, Kenneth199168
The McFaddin-Ward HouseFoy, Jessica and Linsley, Judith Walker199272
The Samuel May Williams HomeHenson, Margaret Swett199252
Remember GoliadRoell, Craig H.1994100
Fort DavisWooster, Robert199458
Austin: A History of the Capital CityHumphrey, David C.199784

Dallas: A History of "Big D"Hazel, Michael V.199780
Fort LancasterFrancell, Lawrence J.199676
Civil War TexasWooster, Ralph A.199988
McKinney FallsHenson, Margaret Swett199964
Galveston: A History and GuideMcComb, David G.200068
", war-by-charles-m-robinson-iii/\"">Texas and the Mexican WarRobinson, Charles M. III2004117

Fort Worth: A Texas OriginalSelcer, Richard F2004144
Fort ConchoMatthews, James T.2005100

Sacred MemoriesMcMichael, Kelly2009128
Galveston History Seriescombines Galveston, Ashton Villa and Samuel May Williams Home eBooks2010
Austin History Seriescombines Austin, French Legation and McKinney Falls eBooks2010
Battles of the Texas Revolution Seriescombines The Battle of San Jacinto, Battle of the Alamo, and Remember Goliad eBooks2010
Texas Cities History Seriescombines Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Galveston eBooks2011
Texas Almanac 2010-2011

Texas Almanac 2010-2011

When I was a kid, every Christmas my mother would wrap an Almanac under the tree. This was back in the day before the Internet (yes, kids, there was such a time), so these books were treasure troves of information. I still have some old World Almanacs in my collection, but until recently have not purchased one.

After leafing through my new copy of theĀ Texas Almanac 2010-2011, I am wondering why I waited so long.

Published since 1857 (and this year by the Texas State Historical Association), this every two year compendium of Texas is a beautifully packaged collection of the obvious and the not-so-obvious.

The cornerstone of the 700+ page Almanac is the almost 200 pages with thumbnails of each of Texas 254 counties. A map for each county is shown, along with information on physical features, economy, history, ethnicity, vital stats, recreation, minerals, agriculture, information on the cities in the county and population. (more…)

Echoes of Glory by Robert Flynn

Echoes of Glory by Robert Flynn

Bob Flynn is an award winning author of novels and stories about Texas and Vietnam, two places and cultures that he is well acquainted with through personal experience. In his new novel, Echoes of Glory, he blends both the culture of small town Texas with the remembrances and misunderstandings of war, into an excellent, interesting and well-paced story on the search for ethics and right.

Sheriff Timpson Smith (Timp) is the reluctant Korean war hero for the small town of Five Mills, the only survivor of the Second Platoon made up mostly of young men from Five Mills. The town has glorified the Platoon, built a statue of Timp, and made him Sheriff; he, in return, has told the town what they needed/wanted to hear about what happened in Korea (after he tried to tell them the truth). (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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