They've made yet another movie about the Alamo. I don't know if I'll see it. I know pretty much how it's going to end.
Through the years, I've seen quite a number of Alamo movies. And no matter how many ways they tell the story, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie make this their last battle. I can't name all the actors who have played these two legendary frontiersmen.
The story has been told from several angles, sometimes from the point of Col. William Travis, sometimes from the vantage of Col. Sam Houston who eventually avenged the massacre, and of course from Bowie and Crockett's colorful entries. There have even been romantic twists.
I always get a little angry when I watch these movies. Gallantry is the theme, but I can't get past that waste of human life.
Travis, initially opposed to defending Texas with such a small, motley crew of volunteers, knew he was severely outgunned. He had less than 200 men and Santa Anna reportedly had several thousand. No algebra is required to see how this will end. And besides, it wasn't like the Alamo -- a dilapidated old mission -- could withstand much of an assault. Putting it into an engineering retrospect, it was a Sherman tank hitting an outhouse.
Now if the movies reflect somewhat accurate accounts, I think it was bad strategy and perhaps a lot of ego even above Travis that got all these good men killed.
According to Johnny Cash's big hit on this subject, there were 180 men at the Alamo. And his lyrics say that Col. Travis drew a line in the sand and said "any man who will fight 'til the death cross over, but if you want to live, you had better fly. Over the line stepped 179."
I think I saw one movie about the man who decided he would rather regroup and fight another day with better odds. But that is not considered gallantry, though very sensible, and it's not much fodder for a screenplay.
Now I know I go against the conventional grain in this writing, but there was a lot of Texas on the north side of that Alamo. Travis could have retreated with his men, regrouped with Col. Houston and likely would have caught Santa Anna and his men during siesta much like Houston eventually did at a place called San Juacinto.
Now at the Little Big Horn, Gen. George Armstrong Custer also is reported to have been riding a large ego when the Sioux took out his portion of the Seventh Calvary. But Custer was surprised. He had bad intelligence on the number of Sioux he would attack. And as Forrest Gump so aptly put it, sometimes there just aren't enough rocks. But Travis, according to recorded history, could actually see Santa Anna's mighty forces and still would not conform to the logic of pulling back and building a heavier force of his own.
Again, I don't know what twists this new movie will have. In the promo, the only actor I recognize is Billy Bob Thornton. Lordy, what are they gonna try to do with this character?
In the movie "Jaws," when the shark comes up out of the water and almost kisses Chief Brody while he's dipping chum, Brody retreats bug-eyed into the cabin and tells Captain Quint, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." I think there may be a line in the new Alamo movie where someone says, "We're gonna need more soldiers." In neither movie does the man in charge react sensibly to those suggestions. Go figure.
In the case of the Alamo, it's almost as if Bowie, Crockett and Travis got together over a few rounds of hooch and decided that if they did not stay and fight, this whole thing was going to make a lousy movie someday.
I think we are a society that has an incredible reluctance to admit when we are wrong. I think the Alamo is the epitome of what not to do in war.
(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail: email@example.com.)