Friday, December 4, 2015

William B. Ward - Defender of the Alamo

Growing up in Texas, all of us are aware of the many legends of the Alamo; Davey Crockett killing enemy soldiers with the butt of his rifle. Jim Bowie brandishing his namesake knife and pistol in a last stand from his death bed, William Travis drawing a line in the sand and proclaiming, "I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line.  Who will be first?” (Lindley).

We now have one additional legend to remember: William B. Ward. Ward was born in Ireland in 1806.  He arrived in Texas by way of New Orleans around 1835. Ward had a reputation for drunkenness, but at the siege of the Alamo, he (soberly) manned an artillery position at the Alamo’s Main Gate.  It is said that as Mexican Army descended upon the fortress, and his compatriots retreated inside the main building for one last stand, Sargent Ward stood at his artillery position, calm and sober, and fired. Ward died at his post on March 6, 1836, and is buried at Presidio la Bahia in Goliad, Texas. (Potter) 

Like it or not, the stereotype of the Irish Drunkard is cast. I am reminded of this every March, when retailers across the nation fill their shelves with a multitude of ironic t-shirts, featuring cheeky humor related to an Irishman’s fondness for alcohol. Many Irish are offended by the cast, and work to dispel it. In fact, many members of the society prefer not to be photographed with a drink in their hand. However, we Irish can celebrate an Irishman who was known around San Antonio for his affection for drink, and his heroism at the Battle of the Alamo. 


Daughters of the American Revolution. The Alamo Heroes and Their Revolutionary Ancestors (San Antonio, 1976).
Reuben M. Potter. "The Fall of the Alamo," Magazine of American History, January 1878; rpt., Hillsdale, New Jersey: Otterden, 1977).
Lindley, Thomas Ricks. Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions. Lanham, Maryland: Republic of Texas Press, 2003.

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