In honor of black history month, Texas history has long forgotten Joe, Lt Col. William Travis’s slave, at the Battle of the Alamo, and one of the few survivors after the battle.
On March 6, 1836, in the early hours about 5 a.m., Mexican General Santa Ana’s soldiers attacked the Alamo.
According to Joe, he followed Travis to the top of the North wall and fired his gun once at the attackers.
Soon afterwards, Travis fell dead after being struck by the Mexican soldiers in the forehead, still clutching his shotgun in his hands. Joe retreated back to Travis’s quarters and shot several more times.
After the battle, Mexican officers searched the Alamo for any blacks and other survivors to reveal themselves.
Joe quickly did so, but was struck by a pistol shot and a flesh wound by a bayonet before a Mexican official saved his life.
According to Joe, he saw a dead black woman laying next to one of the cannon, probably caught in the cross fire Sam, Col James Bowie’s slave, was reported to have survived the battle.
He probably left during the 3-day armistice from Santa Ana.
After the battle, General Santa Ana gave a grand review of the Mexican Army to Joe, so he could spread the rumors of the superior fighting force that awaited Texas General Sam Houston.
Joe would later join the only Anglo survivors, Susanna Dickinson and her 15 month daughter, with her escort, Ben, Mexican Col. Juan Alamonte’s black cook, on their way to the Texas camp at Gonzalez.
The members of the Texas cabinet at Groce’s Retreat were very impressed with his clarity and candor of his recollections of what happened at the Alamo.
After the war, Joe was returned to Travis’s estate near Columbia, where he remained as a slave until April 21, the first year anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.
On that day, he was accompanied by an unidentified Tejano with two fully equipped horses with him to help with his escape from slavery.
There was a reward of $50 in the newspaper for his return, but after three months, before it was discontinued.
Joe was last reported in Austin in 1875, and still a free man.
On Saturday, March 11, San Benito will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Texas Independence Day Celebration at the San Benito Fair Grounds, and everyone is invited to come and watch one of our history re-enactors who will be representing and honoring the courage of Joe, fighting along side of Lt. Col Travis, at the Battle of the Alamo.
Jack Ayoub Harlingen