- General Vicente Filisola's Analysis of José Urrea's Military Diary: A Forgotten 1838 Publication by an Eyewitness to the Texas Revolution (review)
- Southwestern Historical Quarterly
- Texas State Historical Association
- Volume 113, Number 2, October 2009
- pp. 259-260
- View Citation
- Additional Information
2009Book Reviews259 also clearly reveals the intense pressures diat mounted on Indian societies in the South, forcing them into the West, and how the Alabama and Coushatta managed to hold onto a small parcel of land in Texas when so many other native societies were driven out. University ofOklahomaGary Clayton Anderson General VicenteFilisola'sAnalysis ofJosé Urrea's Military Diary: A Forgotten 1838 Publication by anEyewitness to theTexasRevolution. Edited by GreggJ. Dimmick.Translated byJohn R. Wheat. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 2007. Pp. 350. photographs, maps, appendixes, bibliography, index. ISBN 9780876112243, $29.95 cloth.) "Success has a thousand fathers,"John F. Kennedy succinctly observed, "failure is an orphan." The aftermath of the Texas War for Independence forcefully demonstrated the wisdom ofthat adage. During the 1836 campaign, General Vicente Filisola was Generalissimo Antonio López de Santa Anna's second in command. Following Santa Anna's defeat and capture at SanJacinto, command of the Mexican army transferred to Filisola. He ordered a strategic withdrawal that, for reasons documented in GreggJ. Dimmick's book Sea OfMud: The Retreat oftfoMexican Army afterSanfacinto, An ArcheologicalInvestigation (2004), degenerated into a rout. Almost as soon as the smoke of batde cleared, a war of words began. Brigadier General José de Urrea argued against the retreat and insisted that the Mexicans might have won the war had the Italian-born Filisola shown more fiber. In 1838, Urrea published Diario de las operaciones militares de la división que al mando del GeneralJos é Urrea hizo la campaña de Tejas; Publícalo su autor con algunas observaciones para vindicarse ante sus conciudadanos in which he excoriated Filisola as a spineless incompetent. Later that year, Filisola fired back with his own book, Análisis del diario military del General D. José Urréa durante la primera campaña de Tejas, in which he attempted to refute Urrea's accusations. In 1928, Professor Carlos E. Castañeda translated Urrea's Diario and included it in The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution, and in 1983 John H.Jenkins listed Diario in Basic Texas Books. Consequentiy, American students of the Texas Revolution are familiar with Urrea's accusations. Without a translation, General Filisola's rejoinder went unnoticed—until now. The editor and translator deserve thanks and commendation. GreggJ. Dimmick is the dean of Mexican army scholars and his prologue and conclusion provide valuable context and comment. John Wheat provides a clear and crisp translation , but one would expect nothing less from he who, along with the late Jack Jackson, gave us Almonte's Texas (2003). The book's troubles stem from Filisola himself. He was no literary stylist. Indeed, his narrative reads like a quarterly report as written by Detective Adrian Monk. Filisola had cause to be indignant, but his compulsive attempt to embellish Urrea's flaws while ignoring his own make him appear petulant, petty, and, at times, puerile. As Dimmick admits, "It is true diat 'very biased' is understating the outrageous rants that Filisola used to fill his text, but too much of a warning 26oSouthwestern Historical QuarterlyOctober would have spoiled the fun ofdiscovering the extent ofhis animosity on your own" (26g). If reading more than two hundred pages of a screaming hissy fit matches one's notion of fun, I recommend Filisola's narrative without reservation. Most readers, however, will discover that Filisola's "analysis" provides more heat than light. Readers will close the book thinking considerably less of both generals. If Filisola wished to secure his place in history, a stately silence would have served him better. Even so, this translation makes a constructive contribution to die historical record. Dr. Dimmick is correct when he notes, "Even though very biased, to the point of absurdity at times, Filisola does make a convincing argument that Urrea was not necessarily die 'Golden Boy' of the Mexican army in Texas" (xxii). While not recommended as anyone's first book on the Texas War for Independence, serious scholars will welcome the volume as one that provides a "glimpse into the hearts and minds of the Mexican generals" (xxiv). McMurry UniversityStephen L. Hardin Texian Macabre: TheMelancholy Tale ofa HanginginEarly Houston. By Stephen L. Hardin . Illustrated by Gary S. Zaboly. (Abilene: State House Press...