Alamo Briefs, December 2002

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Alamo Briefs - December 2002

The Alamo Cowards Final Resting Place

For nearly 150 years, the grave of an Alamo soldier who lived a life of disgrace following the 1836 fall of the Texas fortress has been unknown to historians. Now, through the efforts of Louisiana historians, the forgotten grave of Louis (Moses) Rose has been found in a pine forest near Logansport, Louisiana, and finally marked with a headstone. Rose's story was one of the strangest to emerge from the Alamo's fall. Tradition says he was the only soldier who refused to cross William B. Travis' line at the Alamo. For his indiscretion, Texans ignobly labeled him as "the coward of the Alamo." Rose, a swarthy Frenchman who supposedly fought with Napoleon and made his stand with the Little General at Waterloo, came to Texas in 1835, where he met Jim Bowie in East Texas. They formed a friendship and Rose mortgaged his personal property and marched off to Bexar. For nine days in 1836, Rose fought beside Bowie, Travis and Crockett.

Then, on March 3, Travis grimly told the Alamo's defenders their position was hopeless and drew a line in the sand, urging those who wanted to remain with him to step across. Rose alone held back. Perhaps it was his French way of soldiering. Perhaps he had seen too many battles. Perhaps he simply did not want to die. With nightfall, Rose gathered his belongings, scaled the Alamo's walls, and fell to the ground on the outside. Days later, he reportedly crawled to the door of a Grimes county rancher, suffering from deep wounds caused by cactus and thorns after wandering 200 miles over strange country. The rancher's family nursed him back to health and he eventually returned to East Texas. But his life was never the same. His retreat from the Alamo became common knowledge. Friends abandoned him, jobs became scarce, and he turned to drink. Old records from a Nacogdoches store show he once bought three gallons of whiskey in one week. At least one attempt was made on his life, an incident that left Rose with knife wounds in his back. The assailant was never prosecuted. Because he was illiterate and spoke only a smattering of English, Rose was never able to explain what had happened at the Alamo. But he always left the impression, so the legends go, that he would have gladly died if he had been fighting for Napoleon and France.

In the 1840s, Rose turned to stock work and wagon driving in Texas and Louisiana. He eventually drifted to the Aaron Ferguson farm near Logansport, where he spent his last years. Historian R.B. Blake of Nacogdoches, who rescued Rose's life, said, "The old man was a great deal of trouble during the later years of his life because of chronic sores caused by the cactus thorns in his legs picked up during his flight from the Alamo." Around 1850, at the age of 64, Rose was bedridden. He died unmarried and, as far as anyone knows, left no relatives in Texas. Even today, Rose's life remains an enigma. His burial site was in dispute until Louisiana researchers found it on lands owned by International Paper Company. Blake, who sought to vindicate Rose's actions at the Alamo, wrote of the old soldier: "He passed his last days dreaming of the days when he followed the conquering Napoleon; forgotten by the world, and not even a bounty or donation warrant from the Republic of Texas for his services."

The Child Ghost of the Alamo

Perhaps one of the saddest stories of Alamo ghosts is that of the little boy who has been seen for many years wandering the grounds around the old mission. It is said that each February a small blond boy, with a lonely and forlorn look, is seen at one of the windows of the chapel areas of the mission. The window where the child is seen has no ledge and is far too high for him to climb onto. According to legend, the young boy is one of the children evacuated from the mission before its fall in 1836, and returns each February to search for his father, who was lost in the battle.

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