José Enrique de la Peña
Overview
 
Jose Enrique de la Peña was a colonel in the Mexican Army. Under General Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

, de la Peña participated in the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

.

In 1955, a book of his memoirs of the battle was published. The memoirs are controversial in that they said that Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett
David "Davy" Crockett was a celebrated 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S...

 did not die fighting (as is the common belief), but instead surrendered (along with his Tennessee boys) during the battle of the Alamo and was later executed.
Encyclopedia
Jose Enrique de la Peña was a colonel in the Mexican Army. Under General Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

, de la Peña participated in the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

.

In 1955, a book of his memoirs of the battle was published. The memoirs are controversial in that they said that Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett
David "Davy" Crockett was a celebrated 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S...

 did not die fighting (as is the common belief), but instead surrendered (along with his Tennessee boys) during the battle of the Alamo and was later executed. Historians disagree on whether the memoirs are accurate.

Life

De la Peña was born in Jalisco, Mexico in 1807. After training as a mining engineer, he entered the Mexican Navy
Mexican Navy
The Mexican Navy is the naval branch of the Mexican military responsible for conducting naval operations. Its stated mission is "to use the naval force of the federation for the exterior defense, and to help with internal order". The Navy consists of about 56,000 men and women plus reserves, over...

 in 1825, as a cadet first-class. Within two years he was promoted to second lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

, and in 1827 he requested an assignment as part of the Mexican Legation to a European country. The assignment was not granted. Between July and November 1828, he wrote a series of articles for El Sol. Published under the pseudonym "Lover of the Navy", the articles were highly critical of David Porter
David Porter (naval officer)
David Porter was an officer in the United States Navy in a rank of commodore and later the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy.-Life:...

, the American-born commander of the Mexican navy. Later that year, de la Peña travelled to Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

 to report for sea duty. During his journey he met Antonio López de Santa Anna, the commander of the state of Vera Cruz. De la Peña received Santa Anna's permission to remain in Jalapa
Jalapa
* Xalapa, Veracruz* Jalapa, Baja California* Jalapa, Guerrero* In the state of Oaxaca:** Santa María Jalapa del Marqués** San Felipe Jalapa de Díaz** Jalapa del Valle* Jalapa, Tabasco...

 rather than continue on to Veracruz. Under Santa Anna's command, he participated in the battle of Tampico, which drove Spanish invaders from Mexico.

In September 1829, de la Peña wrote several more articles critical of the Mexican navy. Rather than use a pseudonym, he signed the articles with his initials "JEP". At some point that year de la Peña was transferred into the service of General Melchor Múzquiz
Melchor Múzquiz
Melchor de Eca y Múzquiz was a Mexican soldier and politician. From August to December 1832 he was president of Mexico....

. Little is known of his life over the next several years. In 1830 he suffered from smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

. The following year he attended military college to study arithmetic, algebra, speculative geometry and plane trigonometry. After completing his studies, in October 1831 he was ordered to accompany students to Acapulco for shipboard duty. He did not follow the order, later explaining that he was ill. By the end of the year he reported for duty on the corvette
Corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

 Morales.

When Santa Anna assumed power in 1833 de la Peña requested a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Mexican Army. He was granted a post as captain of a cavalry unit. In May 1833, he was assigned to a legation in London. Although he had requested such assignments for seven years, de la Peña did not wish to travel to London, whose climate and language he disliked. After unsuccessful attempts to be change his assignment to France, de la Peña withdrew his request and instead asked to become a part of the Federal Division of the President. He was transferred to the Federal Division in December 1833, but in May 1834 he requested to be assigned to the Mexican Legation in the United States; this request was denied.

By the onset of the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

 in October 1835, de la Peña had been demoted to lieutenant and was a staff officer for the elite Zapadores Battalion. However, when the Mexican Army of Operations marched into Texas to subdue the revolution in January 1836, de la Peña was serving as an aide for Colonel Francisco Duque of the Toluca Battalion. The Toluca Battalion joined the rest of Santa Anna's army in San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

 on March 4, 1836, eleven days after the siege of the Texas garrison in the Alamo Mission had begun. Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo in the early hours of March 6. Duque was assigned to lead one of the four assault columns, and he requested that de la Peña accompany him. De la Peña remained at the front until Duque fell wounded and then returned to the rear to find General Manuel Fernández Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón was a major general in the Mexican army of the 19th century. He was a close friend of General and Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Early life:Manuel Fernández Castrillón was born in Cuba...

, second-in-command of that column. At least twice more de la Peña returned to the front lines to accept or deliver messages. His only wound was a serious bruise. After the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

, de la Peña saw no further action. However, he saw campaign action till the end of the Texas war, till he arrived in Matamoros, Mexico, by the beginning of June 6, 1836.
After Santa Anna was captured at the Battle of San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

, de la Peña retreated with the rest of the Mexican army back to Mexico, arriving in Matamoros on June 6, 1836. The Zapadores Battalion had an unfilled slot for a captain, and de la Peña was soon promoted to take that position. For the next few months de la Peña requested letters of combat commendations from other officers for his heroic actions during the Texas campaigns, receiving ones from Lieutenant Colonel Ampudia, Duque, Lieutenant Colonel Amat, and even from General Jose de Urrea
José de Urrea
José de Urrea was a noted general for Mexico. He fought under General Antonio López de Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. Urrea's forces were never defeated in battle during the Texas Revolution...

, who had not been part of the battle of the Alamo. And all of them testified to his brave actions in the Alamo death fight, hence they all agreed to write recommendation affidavits testifying to De la Pena's brave conduct in the Alamo battle. In December 1836 de la Peña was in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, where he testified in the inquiry into the actions of General Vicente Filisola
Vicente Filisola
Vicente Filisola was a Spanish military figure, Mexican military and political figure in the 19th century.-Life and career:...

 during the army's retreat from Texas. Filisola was accused of being a coward for ordering the Mexican army to Matamoros when there was no reason to do so. He did this on orders from Santa Anna, who was a prisoner of the Texans! This action from BOTH these men is surely unnatural, NEVER performed anywhere else in world history; a general(Filisola) in the battlefield, obeying orders from his superior, who is a prisoner of the enemy! During this time, de la Peña wrote a newspaper articles criticizing Filisola, which he signed "An Admirer of Texas". Filisola knew that de la Peña had authored the article and the following week published a counterattack, referring to de la Peña as "Peñita". De la Peña then published a very long article defending himself and further criticizing Filisola. His letters of commendation were published in conjunction with the article. The articles also mentioned that de la Peña had kept a diary during his time in Texas.

De la Peña was promoted to lieutenant colonel by April 1837. That month, he was sent to Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

, where he served under General Urrea. On January 7, 1838, de la Peña published a "fiery proclamation" exhorting his garrison in the District of Baroyecca to support liberty and Urrea. The following week he issued a similar proclamation, published in El Cosmopolita in the town of Los Alamos. De la Peña joined Urrea in an uprising to overthrow Santa Anna and restore the Constitution of 1824. While De la Pena was in Texas, fighting against the American invaders in North Mexico(Texas), he had kept a diary which was not published till 1955. It was located by J. Sanchez Garza, a fine researcher, and then presented to the world, when it was translated by DRT member, Ms. Carmen Perry. After further research by Mr. Roger Borroel, a Texas researcher, known for his many discoveries of Mexican documents on the Texas War of 1836, it was found that De la Pena was murdered by a fellow Zapadores officer, Francisco Cosio, on October 10, 1840, at about 9pm, on a street corner in Mexico City. Further research by Mr. Borroel, revealed a pardon request by De la Pena's killer, in 1842.

Alamo memoirs

While in prison, de la Peña wrote an article about some of his experiences fighting in Texas.
If those in the cultured countries name us savages and assassins, none more than general Santa Anna has given an occasion to this. In the Alamo he ordered the murder of a few unfortunates who had survived the catastrophe, and whom general Castrillón presented imploring his mercy. Among those had been a man who pertained to the natural sciences, whose love of it had conducted him to Texas, and who locked himself up in the Alamo not believing it safe by his quality of foreigner, when general Santa Anna surprised [San Antonio].

This article contained de la Peña's first mention of the execution of Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

 survivors at the Alamo, but did not mention names of any of those executed and did not claim that de la Peña was an eyewitness. The article was never published and the original copies have been lost. Although a reprint survives, because of the lack of publication it is difficult to determine the authenticity of the documents. However, it's all we have, and they are all historically, realiable for use in historic studies on the subject.

In 1955, Jesús Sanchez Garza published a book called La Rebellion de Texas—Manuscrito Inedito de 1836 por un Ofical de Santa Anna purporting to be de la Peña's memoirs. Inedito means "unpublished" in Spanish, meaning that this was the first time the memoirs were publicly available. Garza self-published the book, which included the diary, 40 pages of introductory material on de la Peña and an additional 90 pages of supporting documents, including the only known copy of the article de la Peña wrote from prison. The book had little impact on historical research into the Alamo as it had only a limited printing in Spanish in Mexico, and many researchers did not know it existed. In 1975 the Texas A&M University Press
Texas A&M University Press
Texas A&M University Press is a scholarly publishing house associated with Texas A&M University. It was founded in 1974 and is located in College Station, Texas, in the United States.-Overview:...

 published an English translation of the book, called With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution. The English publication caused a scandal within the United States as it asserted that Crockett did not die in battle. Historians disagree on whether any or all of the book has been faked. Because the original book was self-published, no editor or publisher ever vetted its authenticity. Garza never explained how he gained custody of the documents or where they were stored after de la Peña's death.

Some historians, including Bill Groneman, found it suspicious that Garza's compilation was published in 1955, at the height of interest in Crockett and the Alamo caused by Walt Disney's television series about Crockett's life. Groneman also points out that the journals are made up of several different types of paper from several different paper manufacturers, all cut down to fit. Historian Joseph Musso also questions the validity, also basing his suspicions on the timing of the diaries' release. However, James Crisp, a history professor from North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University at Raleigh is a public, coeducational, extensive research university located in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. Commonly known as NC State, the university is part of the University of North Carolina system and is a land, sea, and space grant institution...

, has studied the papers and is convinced they are genuine. In October 2001, in a Southwestern Historical Quarterly article, Dr. David B. Gracy II, and his science team, attested to the authenticity of De la Pena's work. The original manuscript, consisting of 200 loose pages, was auctioned in 1998 for $387,500. It now resides at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

.

External links

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