Stephen F Austin and James Bowie

Portrait of Stephen F. Austin

Stephen F. Austin
Empresario Stephen F. Austin was a reluctant general. Following the Gonzales “Come-and-Take-It” fight, he found himself elected commander of the “Volunteer Army of the People of Texas.” He had always had a delicate constitution and his stint in Mexican prisons had further wrecked his health. Even so, he understood that none but he could provide moral authority and accepted the post. In addition to his enfeebled condition, the 42-year-old Virginia native found restraining inebriated recruits frustrating. During the Siege of Béxar, he implored provisional government officials — “In the name of Almighty God, send no more ardent spirits into this camp.”

Portrait of Jim Bowie

James Bowie
There was more to James Bowie than his eponymous knife. The 1827 Sand Bar Fight darkened his reputation. Despite being seriously wounded, he still killed his opponent with his large knife. He later orchestrated shady land deals and found it expedient to transfer to Texas, where he married Ursula Veramendi, the daughter of a prominent Tejano family. Losing his family to cholera in 1833, he took to the bottle. He fell ill during the Alamo siege, but died fighting from his sick bed. Learning of her son’s death, his mother reflected, “I’ll wager they found no bullets in his back.”