Battlefields of Texas, by Bill Groneman, Republic of Texas Press (an imprint of Wordware Publishing), Plano, Texas, 1998, $18.95 softcover.
The Alamo is the big one, of course, and that famous battlefield is author Bill Groneman’s specialty (Death of a Legend: The Myth and Mystery Surrounding the Death of Davy Crockett, a 1999 release, is his fifth Alamo-related book). But there are many more battles to consider and remember when it comes to Texas. San Jacinto followed on the heels of the Alamo and not only was a stunning victory for the Texas army but also became, as Groneman notes, “the fulcrum point upon which a vast area of North America turned.” Some 30 years later, the Battle of Dove Creek was considerably less satisfying. “The battle did nothing but incite the Kickapoos to vengeful raids against Texas after they crossed into Mexico,” Groneman writes. “The raids continued for eight years. It was also a useless waste of life for both sides.”
Groneman covers 68 battles in chronological order, and not all of them involve Texans’ defending their homeland. For instance, the first battle listed is Cañon de Ugalde. That conflict on January 9, 1790, pitted the Spanish Royalist army, aided by Comanches, against the Lipan Apaches and occurred in present-day Uvalde County about 50 miles west of San Antonio. Eight other battles from “Spanish/Mexican Texas” are included, as well as battles during the Texas Revolution, the Repubic of Texas period and the Civil War years.
For each battle, Groneman provides information about the opponents, the casualties, the outcome, the location and the Texas historical markers involved. The format should appeal especially to those military history buffs who plan to travel across Texas. The author admits that his battle list is not all-inclusive but says he hopes it will “renew an interest in some of the less-remembered conflicts in Texas’s past.” Battlefields of Texas includes some photographs, as well as maps and artwork produced by Rod Timanus. When you pick up the book, one thing soon becomes clear: Texas has had more than its share of violence over the years. “It is difficult to think of another state within the United States which has been fought over so jealously as Texas,” Groneman says. Well, some of us might think of Virginia first, but it certainly is not a point worth fighting over.