History and culture of the United States
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

rev. 2007-02-26

Song of myself


Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth,
(I tell not the fall of Alamo,
Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)
'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and
     twelve young men.

Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their
     baggage for breastworks,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine
     times their number, was the price they took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing
     and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners
     of war.

They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second First-day morning they were brought out in
     squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,
The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by

None obey'd the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and
     dead lay together,
The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw
     them there,
Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away,
These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the
     blunts of muskets.
A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two
     more came to release him,
The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.

At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve
     young men.