Living history: Siege of Alamo re-enacted at Texas Independence celebration

SAN BENITO — The panicked women rushed from the Alamo, wailing loudly and sobbing over the bodies of the defenders.

“Texas Belongs to Mexico,” said one of the reenactors posing as a Mexican officer. That was the message he gave Susana Dickerson to pass on as he released her.

Actors impressed audiences with their portrayals of defenders and Mexican soldiers Saturday at the Texas Independence Celebration.

The Texas Heritage and Independence Celebration Association, Inc. presented the event at the San Benito Stock Show Fairgrounds. The event included reenactments of the Battle of San Jacinto, the Siege of Bexar and the Battle of the Alamo.

“I love the event, they do a sensational job,” said Larry Jokl, 74, after watching the Alamo defenders fight the advancing Mexican Army under the command of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

He watched as Santa Ana, dressed smartly in his blue and red uniform, rode across the field to meet with Col. William B. Travis wearing rough leather garb. After a brief conversation, both returned to their ranks.

The performance proceeded to show defenders firing cannons and muskets at the Mexican troops as they charged across the field to overtake the fortress.

The Alamo re-enactment commemorates the historic battle on March 6, 1836, in what is now San Antonio. During the early morning raid, Mexican army troops attacked and quickly overwhelmed the defenders. Those included Jim Bowie, William Barrett Travis and David Crockett. Eight Tejanos, including Gregorio Esparza, also died.

“We’re always trying to make it bigger and better and we always want to tell history completely and accurately,” said Jack Ayoub, narrator. “When we do that, when you talk about Texas history, then you have to talk about Tejano history. They both fought together and they both died together and it has to be remembered.”

Ruby Gonzales was deeply touched by the scene at the end in which the women mourned the fallen defenders.

“I think it hit me in the heart when I saw the women brought out,” said Ruby, 37. “It was their family they were losing and to even think, ‘What would’ve happened if that was us, what would we do?’ We take our liberty for granted sometimes.”

The actors seemed to enjoy themselves. Clarence Ball, dressed in buckskin, had stepped forward with the defenders at a low wall and set a cannon on fire, smoke exploding from the mouth.

“It was good,” he said afterwards. “I enjoy just shooting back and forth and running around playing.”