The series of fierce nineteenth-century battles between the armies of the United States and Mexico, which historians aptly call the Mexican-American War, are sometimes dated April 1846 to February 1848. However, the majority of historians who have written on the subject agree that the war between the United States and Mexico that began in April of 1846 and extended until February of 1848 actually stemmed from the Mexican army’s surrounding the fighting Texans and their Tennessee friends at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, on February 23, 1836, and launching the fierce attack on March 6.
This attack, which was led by Mexico’s president and chief military leader, Antonio López de Santa Anna, was in retaliation against the Texans for declaring themselves independent of the Mexican government.In 1835, the people of Texas had formed their own government and issued a declaration of independence from Mexico at a large meeting in Washington-on-the-Brazos in southeastern Texas.
David G. Burnet was chosen as president of the new Republic of Texas, and General Sam Houston was appointed to be its military leader. Thus, the majority of historians who have written of these events
actually date the Mexican-American War from February 23, 1836, to February 2, 1848.
A bit of history: The land known as Mexico was conquered in the 1540s by Spain. By the 1730s, Spain had sent several expeditions into the land called Texas and claimed it for their own since Mexico had claimed it before it was conquered by Spain. The city of San Antonio, Texas, which since 1758 had housed a military post and a Franciscan mission known as the Alamo, had become the administrative center.
Anglo-American colonization gained impetus in Texas when the United States government purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 and claimed title to all the land from the Sabine River as far west as the Rio Grande. All of Texas was then claimed by the Anglo-Americans.
Mexico had remained in Spain’s control until 1821, when the Mexican people rose up in determination to be free. They declared their independence from Spain and adopted a federal constitution modeled after that of the United States of America.
There was trouble between the Mexicans and the Spaniards because of this, but no blood was shed. The Spaniards quickly withdrew peaceably when a Mexican revolt in 1833 placed Antonio López de Santa Anna in power. By military might, Santa Anna became the undisputed leader of Mexico.
Thus on February 23, 1836, in retaliation against the Texans for declaring themselves free from Mexico in 1835, Santa Anna and his troops surrounded the Texans who were fortified at the Alamo defending
their freedom. On March 6, Santa Anna’s army attacked the Alamo and killed every man behind its walls. The Mexican-American War, then, actually extended from February 23, 1836, until a peace treaty was signed between the two countries on February 2, 1848.
During the twelve-year period of 1836–1848, it was never the American government’s desire to be at war with the Mexican government, but it seemed that the United States was caught in a web of destiny
that forced them to fight Mexico, no matter how hard they tried to avoid it.Prologue
In mid-1835, when the people of Texas declared themselves independent of Mexico and established their own republic, the government of Mexico was angry. As time passed the anger did not subside. On
December 4, 1835, Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos brazenly led his fourteen hundred troops into San Antonio, Texas, and occupied the old Franciscan mission known as the Alamo.
The townspeople were frightened and sent riders to the nearest Texas army outpost to inform the leading officers that General Cos and his troops had taken over the land and buildings of the Alamo. The riders made it clear that the people of San Antonio were in grave danger.
On the morning of December 5, a well-armed band of some 300 Texan soldiers surrounded Cos and his troops in the Alamo. Five days of battle ensued, and by December 10, 115 of Cos’s men had been killed and 185 had deserted him and run away. Cos and his 1,100 remaining troops threw down their weapons and surrendered to the 290 Texans who were still alive and strong.
When word of the rout reached General Antonio López de Santa Anna in Mexico City, he gathered his military leaders for a joint conference. News of the conference reached Texas with reports that Santa
Anna had declared that he would personally lead his Mexican troops on a punitive sweep across Texas. He would begin by punishing the people of San Antonio for backing the Texas troops in their attack on General Cos and his men.
At the time, Texas army headquarters under General Sam Houston were located at Washington-on-the-Brazos in southeastern Texas.
Houston received the news of Santa Anna’s threat and knew immediately that he would have to enlarge his army considerably to defeat Santa Anna’s troops when they came to punish the people of San Antonio.
Knowing they were going to San Antonio, Houston feared they would use the Alamo as a fort as General Cos had. General Houston knew it would take Santa Anna better than two months to lead his army from Mexico City to San Antonio. He sent word by Texas newspapers and by word of mouth that he needed at least five thousand volunteers to join the army by March 1 so they could meet Santa Anna and his troops head-on when they arrived at San Antonio.
Time passed, and in mid-February 1836, Houston sent Lieutenant Colonel William Travis to go into Texas towns and challenge Texas men to go with him and destroy the Alamo before Santa Anna and his troops got there. However, as related in book 1 in The Kane Legacy, A Line in the Sand,
Colonel Travis and the few men he could gather with him were forced to use the Alamo as a fort when Santa Anna and his huge number of troops surrounded them for twelve days and attacked them on the thirteenth day.
In the first book of The Kane Legacy, readers were introduced to the Kane family of Boston, Massachusetts, in early April 1834. Forty-nineyear- old Abram Kane and his four sons—Alex, twenty-eight; Abel, twenty-six; Adam, twenty-three; and Alan, twenty—were dock workers in Boston Harbor. The Kane brothers also had a sister, Angela, who was twenty-one. Abram’s wife, Kitty, the mother of his five children, was quite ill with tuberculosis.
Born the son of Abner and Elizabeth O’Kane in Ireland on February 21, 1785, Abram was brought to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1792. Neighbors in Pawtucket invited the O’Kanes to a Bible-believing church a short time later, and eight-year-old Abram found Jesus Christ as Saviour, as did his parents.
Within a year, Abram’s paternal grandparents, Alexander and Maureen O’Kane moved from Ireland to Pawtucket and soon received Christ also. Abram was brought up in that solid church, and in his Christian home was taught the value of family living and hard work.
In 1793, since they were now living in the United States, the O’Kanes decided to change their last name to Kane. In 1804, when Abram was nineteen, he married eighteen-year-old Kitty Foyle, who was also Irish and a fine, dedicated Christian who belonged to the same church in Pawtucket as the Kanes. The young couple moved to Boston shortly thereafter and found a good Bible-believing church there. Abram found employment as a dock worker in Boston Harbor.
As Abram and Kitty’s children came along, they gave them names that started with an A,
which had been a tradition in the O’Kane family in Ireland for over a hundred years. As their sons grew up, they joined their father as dock workers. In time, however, Adam and Alan decided they wanted to get into a business of their own. Alan had become well acquainted with a wealthy Texas cattle rancher who often brought cattle hides to the East Coast to sell. The rancher’s name was William Childress. A Christian himself, he offered Alan and Adam jobs as ranch hands on his large ranch in Texas.
The two brothers felt sure that if they took the jobs, one day they could have their own cattle ranch in Texas and do well. Kitty Kane died in late April 1834. As time passed, Alan went to Texas first and was soon followed by Adam. On the trip that Alan took with William Childress, he and the rancher stayed with some close Christian friends who owned a large cotton plantation just outside New Orleans, Louisiana.
Alan met their lovely daughter Julia and fell in love with her. Unaware of Alan’s feelings for her, Julia Miller showed him kindness and spoke of the two of them being very good friends. She even allowed him to call her Julie, which her close friends did. When Alan reached the big ranch in Texas and went to work, his thoughts were on Julia continuously.
Before Adam was able to make the trip to Texas, rancher William Childress died. Alan learned then that because he had saved Childress’s life a short time earlier at the risk of losing his own, Childress—who was a widower and had no children—had willed the ranch to him. Alan also came into a great deal of money, which Childress had in bank accounts.
A short time later, Adam made the trip to Texas. William Childress had told him earlier that the Millers would let him stay in their home in New Orleans while he waited for the boat that would carry him to Texas. When Adam and Julia were together those few days during his stay, they fell in love. But neither told the other how they felt. Adam went on to Texas, not knowing that his younger brother was also in love with Julia.
When Adam arrived at the ranch in Texas, he was surprised to learn of Childress’s death, that the ranch and Childress’s money had been willed to Alan, and that Alan had already legally made Adam half owner
of the ranch and was giving him half the money. During the time since Alan had left Boston, much had been in the newspapers about serious trouble between the people of Texas and the government of Mexico, which was led by dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna. It seemed that war was inevitable.
Since the ranch now belonged to Alan and Adam Kane, they sent for their father; their sister, Angela; their brothers, Alex and Abel, and their wives. They offered jobs to Alex and Abel and houses for them and their wives. The offer was gladly accepted. As time passed, Alan decided that he must go to New Orleans, tell Julia that he now was wealthy and that he loved her, and ask her to marry him.
However, Adam—who did not know how Alan felt about Julia—took time off to go to New Orleans first. There, Julia admitted that she was in love with him, and they were married. When Adam came home to the ranch with Julia and announced that he and Julia were now married, the news hit Alan with a powerful jolt. He kept his love for Julia a secret, not wanting in any way to hurt Adam or his new bride.
Time passed and in early 1836, it was certain that Santa Anna and his Mexican army were coming to Texas to take it over. Alan and Adam learned of the need for volunteers to go with Colonel William Travis of the Texas army to San Antonio. Leaving their family at the ranch, they went, and at the old Franciscan mission just outside of San Antonio, known as the Alamo, they ended up facing the fact that Santa Anna and thousands of his troops were on their way from Mexico.
In late February, the Mexican troops had the Alamo surrounded, but they were waiting for more troops to arrive before they attacked. Alan was sent by Colonel Travis to bear a message of their need of help to General Sam Houston, leader of the Texas army, who was situated on the Brazos River in east Texas. Even though Alan must ride through the camped Mexican troops at night, risking his life to do so, he willingly went.
At dawn on March 6, 1836, the 182 men in the Alamo were attacked by thousands of Mexican soldiers, led by Santa Anna. By nine o’clock that morning, every man in the Alamo had been killed. One woman had been at the Alamo, Susanna Dickinson, the wife of Captain Almeron Dickinson. She and her fifteen-month-old daughter were spared by Santa Anna and allowed to ride away on her husband’s horse.
Susanna and her baby were some five miles outside of San Antonio, on their way to Gonzales, Texas, when she came upon a camp set up by citizens of San Antonio when they had fled their homes several days earlier, in fear of the approaching Mexican troops. Moments later, Alan Kane came riding up on his way back to the Alamo. He was shocked to hear of the attack and that his brother Adam was dead, along with all the other men in the Alamo.
Susanna knew of the danger Alan had faced in order to ride through the Mexican troops at night, and in front of the crowd said she thought Alan’s name ought to be changed to Alamo because of the risk he took in going for help. The people agreed. Alan told Susanna and the people that it would give him a special closeness with his brother Adam, who had been killed.
When Alan arrived home at the ranch, he gave his family the bad news about Adam being killed, along with all the other men at the Alamo. He then explained why he had not been there and told them of Susanna Dickinson’s suggestion that he now be called Alamo Kane. The family also agreed.
Alan “Alamo” Kane still had deep love in his heart for Julia, of which she had no idea. While spending some time alone that night with the grieving, brokenhearted Julia, Alan was informed that she was
expecting a baby, which would be born in late September or early October. Alan said he wished that somehow Adam could have known about the baby. Julia said that maybe in heaven the Lord had already told Adam that his little son or daughter was on the way. Alan agreed.
Then after Julia had reminded him that they were still good friends and that she still loved him, Alan went to his room in the ranch house and knelt in prayer. Lord, You know I am still in love with Julie. The love she feels for me is a friendship love. Maybe—maybe someday, Lord, when she is over the jolt of losing Adam and becoming a widow expecting a baby…You could change that love in her heart toward me so it is like the love I have felt since I first met her. Maybe—maybe someday she could become Mrs. Alan—er—Mrs.
In book 2 of the Kane Legacy, Web of Destiny,
the Lord answered Alamo Kane’s prayer. One day in April 1838—just over two years since his brother and Julia’s husband, Adam, had been killed at the Alamo—Julia admitted to Alamo that she had fallen in love with him. Ecstatic, Alamo asked her to marry him.
On Saturday, June 16, 1838, they were married at their church in Washington-on-the-Brazos by Pastor Patrick O’Fallon, who had married Angela, making him their brother-in-law. On the following Monday, Alamo legally adopted Julia’s son, Adam, whom she had named after his father the day he was born, September 30, 1836.
As time passed and the Diamond K Ranch flourished, Julia presented Alamo with their first child, Abram—who was named after his paternal grandfather, Abram Kane—on October 7, 1840. Another son, Andrew, was born on January 16, 1842. On little Abram’s fourth birthday, October 7, 1844, Julia presented Alamo with a beautiful baby daughter, whom they named Amber. The historic relationship between the Republic of Texas and Mexico broke off completely when Texas became the twenty-eighth state of the United States on December 29, 1845.
This angered the Mexican government, and by the spring of 1846, serious trouble was brewing between the United States and Mexico. Knowing that military combat was inevitable, President James K. Polk knew he must build up the military forces, so he called for men of his country to join the U.S. Army.
Alamo, Alex, and Abel had fought with the Texas army as volunteers in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, where the Mexican forces were defeated. Because of their love for their country, the Kane brothers responded to President Polk’s request. They joined the United States army immediately, leaving the Diamond K Ranch in the care of foreman Cort Whitney.
The Kane brothers fought in the Battle of Palo Alto on May 8, 1846, and the Battle of Resaca de la Guerrero on May 9, 1846, under the leadership of General Zachary Taylor. Official word came to General Taylor on May 15, where he and his troops were stationed at Fort Polk near the border between Texas and Mexico, that President Polk and the United States Congress had officially declared war on Mexico on May 14.
When news of the declaration of war reached the Diamond K Ranch, the Kane family and the ranch hands were stunned. They learned of Private Alamo Kane’s brave deed in the Palo Alto battle when he saved the life of a fellow soldier at the risk of his own and that as a result of his deed, General Zachary Taylor had promoted him to first lieutenant.
Julia Kane’s tear-filled eyes sparkled as she said, “My darling husband just never ceases to amaze me. He is such a wonderful man! I’ll be glad when this war is over and he can come home to his wife and
Excerpted from High Is the Eagle by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Copyright © 2008 by Al and JoAnna Lacy. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.