The story behind the Scots at the Alamo
“I was fascinated with the role the Scots played in early Texas history…. I used this connection to tell a different kind of story about the sacrifices and long-term consequences of the Battle of the Alamo.”
Four Sons of Scotland: Though they are not named in the story, four sons of Scotland died in the Alamo. They were Richard W. Ballentine, age 22, John McGregor, age 28 (who had his bagpipe with him and played along with David Crockett on the fiddle), Isaac Robinson, age 28, and David L. Wilson, age 29. It is said that the Texans might have won at the Alamo if they had only had one or two more Scots.
James Bowie is another American of Scottish descent who figured large in Texas history. He came to Texas in 1830 as a fearsome fighter and married into the wealthy Veramendi family in 1831. Two years later, Bowie’s wife, her father and mother (and possibly a child) died of cholera. In 1836, Bowie became co-commander of the Alamo with William B. Travis. When the Mexican army broke through on March 6, Bowie was in his cot, a sick man, suffering either from pneumonia or tuberculosis, and that was where he was killed.
The Highland Clearances were the forced displacements of the population in the Scottish Highlands between the 18th and 19th centuries that led to mass immigration to the coast and abroad. The Clearances were notorious due to the abruptness of the change from the clan system and the brutality of many of the evictions. I alluded to one actual incident of rape in the book. The story idea actually began there, and only as I thought about it at length did the idea come to tie it to early Texas history.
Falon Macvail is representative of many of the women who arrived in Texas in its early years. She comes to a raw frontier, not of her own choice, but following the choosing of the man in her life—her father. When life knocks her down, she gathers her legs under her and gets up again. Falon does what she has to do, for herself and for the people around her, understanding that she is part of a bigger story. I believe her kind of strength and courage is still common among us.