We will from time to time include a short "feature" of an interesting Rose person or event.

Louis Moses Rose of the Alamo

Did Col. Travis, in those last days of the Alamo, actually give the moving speech which is attributed to him? Did he in fact draw a line, asking those who were willing to die to cross it? Yes, according to the survivor of the Alamo, Louis Moses Rose. It was he who related the infamous speech made by Travis in those final days of the siege.

Considerable has been written about Louis Moses Rose, known as Moses Rose. One interesting article by L. P. Teer, "Was There a Coward in the Alamo?" was published in the Frontier Times, Nov. 1965, Vol. 39 No. 6 pp. 14-16, 54-55. Though for many years there was controversy about the facts, an excellent article by R. B. Blake put the matter to rest. Titled "A Vindication of Rose and His Story," it appeared in the Shadow of History, Texas Folk-Lore Society Publications No. XV, J. Frank Dobie et al editors, (Austin: Texas Folk-Lore Society, 1939), pp. 39-41. It included accepted court testimony by Rose given in the settlement of the estates of others who had been at the Alamo.

According to Teer's account, Louis Moses Rose, was born in France in 1785. He served in Napoleon's army, and was later involved in a plot to restore Napoleon. The plot having failed, he was expelled from France and emigrated to the United States. He made his way to Texas, and in 1826 was a part of a company commanded by Hayden Edwards, who wrested the town of Nacogdoches from Mexican control. Rose decided to stay in Nacogdoches, and carried mail on a private contract between there and Natchitoches, Louisiana. Being of an adventureous nature, in 1832 he joined another Texas revolutionary army and was placed under the command of Colonel James Bowie. He again marched to capture Nacogdoches from the Mexicans. After the victory, the town was wild with joy and admiration, and Moses Rose found himself now a prominent citizen of the town, as well as a close friend of Jim Bowie. This friendship is what would later bring him to the Alamo.

Rose then returned to domestic life, and remained a bachelor. He acquired land in 1834 but was not destined to enjoy it for more than a brief time.

In 1835, when the call was made for Texans to enlist in an army to drive the Mexican army from San Antonio, Rose made plans to join the action. He left his belongings, and joined his old commander, James Bowie, marching with him to the Alamo.

The account of the Alamo, and of Travis' speech with the subsequent drawing of the line, are well-known. Less known is that Rose was the only one to remain on the other side of the line. Seeing him still standing, Bowie asked his old friend, "'You seem not to be willing to die with us, Rose.' " '' 'No,' " stumbled Rose, 'I'm not ready to die and will not if I can avoid it.' '' To this Davey Crockett replied, " 'You may as well conclude to die with us, old man, for escape is impossible.' " But escape he did, in the darkness of the night, over the wall and into the prickly pear from which effects he never did fully recover. For the next few days he stayed in various deserted cabins, and finally made his way to one that was inhabited. There he told his story, and was invited to stay, though they were unable to assist with the wounds he had received from the thorns. He finally made his way to the home of an old friend, Abraham Zuber, and there he received his first real care. And it was to this family that he first related all the details of the last days of the Alamo. They were fascinated, and months Šlater when their son William returned from the Army, he was told and recorded it, leaving the first written record.

Rose stayed with the Zubers for a short time, and then returned to Nacogdoches. He found he was not welcome. "Remember the Alamo" rung in everyone's ears, and when they recalled their dead, Rose was remembered as a betrayer for not sticking with those brave men during their final days.

The last few years of Rose's life were spent with the lingering contempt of those who knew him. Some referred to him as "Luesa," for his supposed lack of courage. Within a few years he died. The question was never resolved: was Louis Moses Rose really a coward? Or, did this man who had served with Napoleon, entered the service in the United States to serve not once but three times for Texas, simply decide to take his chances rather than die a certain death.

The first published account of Rose's story appears in the Texas Almanac for 1873, written by W. P. Zuber, a member of the family who had befriended Rose after the Alamo. He gives the text of Travis' speech, as verbally given to Abraham Zuber by Moses Rose. For many years there was doubt about the veracity of the story, particularly since the first published account was not for many years after the death of Moses Rose. But subsequent research by R. B. Blake, published first in an article "The Escape of Rose from the Alamo," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 1 (July 1901): 1-11, concluded that Rose did indeed escape. This was followed in 1939 by R. B. Blake's "A Vindication of Rose and His Story," as previously mentioned. His research proved that Rose gave testimony in several court cases in which Rose confirms that he was unmarried, and in which he gave testimony to establish the death of a number of those who were at the Alamo in the final days of the siege. This testimony was accepted unchallenged.

For an account of James Madison Rose who did not survive the Alamo, see Feature 2 below.


Feature No. 2
The Rose Who Lost his Life at the Alamo
James Madison Rose, nephew of President James Madison

In Feature No. 1 on Louis Moses Rose, it is recounted how this Frenchman survived the Alamo by escaping over the wall during the final days of the siege. But there was another Rose there, son of Dr. Robert Henry and Frances (Madison) Rose, and nephew of President James Madison. His mother was the president's sister. The young James was a great-grandson of Rev. Robert Rose, the noted clergyman of Morayshire, Scotland and Essex and Albemarle Counties, Virginia who arrived in Virginia in the 1720s.

Because of his presence at the Alamo in the final days, James Madison Rose unwittingly became entangled in a controversy that was to last over a half of a century. He did serve, and died with the others in the final days of the siege. The monument erected later correctly identifies him among the dead, listing him as J. M. Rose. However, before court testimony proved that the Frenchman Louis Moses Rose escaped, there were disbelievers who claimed that the monument had been incorrectly inscribed, and that it should have read ''L. M. Rose`` for Louis Moses Rose, instead of J. M. Rose.

Years later, (as the Feature No. 1 above described), court testimony proved that Louis Moses Rose did indeed survive. And, a remarkable document signed by his brothers in 1853, prove that the president's young nephew lost his life with Bowie, Crockett and the other brave men in the fall of the Alamo.

We do hereby Certify that Our Brother James M Rose at the time he left Lake Providence in the winter of 1835 - by the Way of Alexandria Louisiana on his route to Nacogdoches Texas where he joined the Company of David Crocket in the Military service of Texas and was afterwards killed at the fall of the Alamo according to the best of our recollection was a man of Sangam--? temperment about thirty years of age but under--? sallow by Continual attacks of Chill & fever before he went to Texas, was partially bald on the loss of the head, had Sandy Eyes light Blue or Grey, Broad shouldered inclined to round and would weigh when in flesh about One hundred & sixty pounds - was apt to stammer when at all Confused with Eye Brows heavy and light Coloured - and course features - In Testimony whereof we have here unto set our hands & seals this 24th day of October 1853

Hugh F. Rose Erasmus T. Rose Samuel J. Rose

State of Tennessee Tipton County Personally appeared before me William B. Russell an acting justice of the peace in & for said County Hugh F. Rose Erasmus T. Rose and Saml J Rose with whom I am personally acquainted and made oath that the facts set forth in the above Certificate are true to the best of their knowledge and recollection. W. B. Russell (JP) Sworn to and Subscribed before me this Oct 24th 1853

The above affidavit was made to establish land bounty claims. A series of these claims granted to heirs of James M. Rose large amounts of land in Montgomery County, Gray County, and other Texas counties. The grants were recorded as late as 1936.

[References: General Land Office, Austin, Texas, R. No. 8 Reg. No. 39819. A detailed genealogy of the Rev. Robert Rose family of Scotland and Virginia, from which James Madison Rose descended, The Brothers Rev. Robert Rose and Rev. Charles Rose of Colonial Virginia and Wester Alves, Morayshire, Scotland, by Christine Rose, (San Jose: Braun-Brumfield, 1985), pp. 177-180)

See the Rose book page for details.


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