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Montgomery County and The Battle of San Jacinto: First Casualty, Last Survivor


A re-enactment of the Battle of San Jacinto showing the Texas Militia shelling Santa Anna's forces with cannon fire.

A re-enactment of the Battle of San Jacinto showing the Texas Militia shelling Santa Anna’s forces with cannon fire.

At San Jacinto, the pivotal battle for Texas Independence, Colonel Sidney Sherman’s second regiment engaged the initial charge. Among Sherman’s men on that fateful day of April 21, 1836 were the battle’s first casualty, George Lamb, and the last survivor, Alfonso Steele. Both of these men were residents of what would soon become the original Montgomery County.

In Colonel Sherman’s regiment, Lamb, for whom Lamb County, Texas would take its name, was second lieutenant in Captain William Ware’s second company. Ware was a resident of Old Danville, just north of present Willis. James Winters, another member of Ware’s company who was a resident of the area of Montgomery County, wrote that on the order to charge, “Captain Ware was like a wild mustang, leaping to his place at the head of his company shouting ‘Come on Boys.’ ”

Lamb, orphaned as a child in South Carolina, found a home with a family named Bankhead. It was with a member of that family, Richard Bankhead, with his wife and three daughters, that Lamb came to Texas in 1834 to settle in the western area of later Montgomery County. In October of that year, Bankhead died, leaving Lamb in charge of his family. In that role, on the frequent occasions when he had to leave home in response to Indian raids, Lamb hid the women in a swamp nearby, stocked with ample provisions pending his return. Within a year after the demise of her husband, the widow Bankhead and Lamb were married.

Alfonso Steele, the last survivor of the Alamo, came to Texas as a 19-year-old with a company of Kentucky Volunteers to arrive in Washington on the Brazos on New Year’s Day, 1836. There the young man awaited his chance to join the Texas freedom fighters. His opportunity arrived in March 1836 when Captain Joseph Bennett, later a congressman of Montgomery County, formed a company at the home of A.D. Kennard, east of present Anderson. With the intention of joining William Travis at the Alamo, Bennett’s company recruited Steele as it passed through Washington. On reaching the Colorado River, the company learned of the Alamo’s fall and of Sam Houston’s plan to reorganize his Army.

Accordingly, Bennett rose to lieutenant colonel under Sidney Sherman while Bennett’s sixth company came under the command of a new captain, James Gillespie. Like Ware’s second company, Gillespie’s sixth company was essentially an all-Montgomery County group.

During the Battle of San Jacinto, Steele suffered a debilitating wound, prompting General Houston to commandeer his gray horse. The horse gained historical immortality when the enemy shot it from under the general.

George Lamb, Alfonso Steele and many others from later Montgomery County served well in one of the pivotal battles in the annals of warfare, a point of pride for all Montgomery Countians.

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Author Robin Navarro Montgomery, Ph.D., is a member of the Montgomery and Walker County Historical Commissions, chair of the latter and author of numerous books and articles.

Contact him at zippoboo@aol.com.

 


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