On this day in 1883, Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson, survivor of the Alamo, died in Austin. The Tennessee native married Almaron Dickinson in 1829 and moved to Gonzales, Texas, in 1831. Susanna's only child, Angelina Elizabeth Dickinson, was born in 1834. Her husband went off to serve in the Texas Revolution in October 1835. She joined him in San Antonio, probably in December, and lodged in Ramón Músquiz's home, where she opened her table to boarders (among them David Crockett). On February 23, 1836, the family moved into the Alamo. After the battle of the Alamo on March 6, Mexican soldiers found her--some accounts say in the powder magazine, others in the church--and took her and Angelina, along with the other women and children, to Músquiz's home. The women were later interviewed by Santa Anna, who gave each a blanket and two dollars in silver before releasing them. Legend says Susanna displayed her husband's Masonic apron to a Mexican general in a plea for help and that Santa Anna offered to take Angelina to Mexico. Santa Anna sent Susanna and her daughter, accompanied by Juan N. Almonte's servant Ben, to Sam Houston with a letter of warning dated March 7. On the way, the pair met Joe, William B. Travis's slave, who had been freed by Santa Anna. The party was discovered by Erastus (Deaf) Smith and Henry Wax Karnes. Smith guided them to Houston in Gonzales. After the tragic events at the Alamo, Susanna lived a long and troubled life, marrying five times and sometimes making a living as a prostitute before achieving a measure of stability and prosperity with her last husband, Joseph William Hannig.
On this day in 1759, hostile Indians lured a Spanish troop under Diego Ortiz Parilla into a battle near a fortified Taovaya village on the Red River near the site of present Spanish Fort. The Spaniards fought a four-hour battle against their numerically superior opponents, who also included Comanches, Yaceales, and Tawakonis. As darkness fell, Ortiz Parilla led an orderly withdrawal, though he was forced to leave a pair of cannons on the treacherous sandbank where the Spaniards had found themselves pinned down. The expedition thus failed in its objective, which was to punish the Indians responsible for the destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in March 1759. Though Ortiz Parilla's detractors exaggerated the extent of the Spanish defeat, he was replaced as commandant of San Luis de las Amarillas Presidio by Felipe de Rábago y Terán, who held the fort on the San Saba River as a face-saving measure for almost another decade.
On this day in 1868, Freedmen's Bureau agent William G. Kirkman was shot dead in Boston, Texas, most likely by notorious Reconstruction-era outlaw Cullen Baker. Baker became notorious in the Southwest as a violent opponent of Reconstruction. He received the nickname "Swamp Fox of the Sulphur" because of the area where he grew to manhood. Although he was not the legendary quick-draw artist some have maintained, some writers made much of his prowess with a six-gun, his harassment of the United States Army, and his defense of "Southern honor" during and after the Civil War. Others saw him as a mean, spiteful, alcoholic murderer. Baker himself was killed three months after Kirkman was assassinated.