Gary S. Zaboly
State House Press is proud to present to the public Gary S. Zaboly’s An Altar For Their Sons: The Alamo and the Texas Revolution in Contemporary Newspaper Accounts. This book is a collection of rare documentary materials, the great majority of them not seen or referenced since their dates of original publication.
This book has been designed to serve several audiences, among them the scholar, serious student, casual buff, and general reader, all of whom will find much that is “new” here in terms of the history of the Alamo siege and battle, of the Texas Revolution in general, and of the lives of the famous — and not so famous — people involved, not to mention the events that both preceded and followed that conflict.
The story this book tells is particularly unique because it is the very one that Americans (and now and then Mexicans) read and absorbed in that long-ago time. It plainly reveals how the epic of the Alamo was instantly transformed into an enduring symbol of heroic valor against overwhelming odds. Demonstrably evident, too, is how hyperbole and simple misinterpretation often distorted what few facts were actually reported, so that from 1836 on it became virtually impossible to separate the myths and fallacies from the reality.
Aside from the book’s primary focus, the battle of the Alamo, this collection includes on-the-spot accounts of most of the other engagements, skirmishes, and massacres; descriptions of the forts, towns, and geography; and information concerning the armies, weapons and clothing involved. There are also word sketches of the appearances of such important figures as David Crockett, James Bowie, and Santa Anna that have apparently eluded modern biographers. Included, too, are many anecdotes of their lives, both in and out of Texas, and descriptions of pieces of their personal property (among them Santa Anna’s cane-gun!) handed down in the postwar years. Newspaper accounts from later decades present interviews with survivors, or their obituaries, and descriptions of the Alamo itself as it evolved from a weed-choked ruin into an iconic shrine.
The book also contains several dozen original illustrations by the author, each one explained in-depth with a footnoted, essay-long “caption.” There is also a newly created pictorial representation of the entire Alamo compound as it looked in February and March 1836, accompanied by a lengthy analysis of the fortifications based on a re-examination of the old evidence and a dissection of newly found information.
Last but not least there are also photographs of selected Alamo- and Texas Revolution-related relics from the extraordinary collection of singer Phil Collins, accompanied by commentary written by Mr. Collins.
Gary S. Zaboly is a historical illustrator and writer. He is the author of A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers; The American Colonial Ranger: The Northern Colonies, 1724-1764; coauthor and illustrator of The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers; and illustrations and written contributions to Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo Siege and Battle: An Illustrated Chronology.
Zaboly's published articles on various aspects of US military history include: “The Battle on Snowshoes,” American History Illustrated (December 1979); “Descriptions of Military Uniforms and Equipage in North America, 1755-1765, from Deserter Reports and Other Sources,” Military Collector and Historian (Spring 1987); “A Royal Artillery Officer With Amherst: The Journal of Captain-Lieutenant Henry Skinner, 1 May - July 1759,” Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum no.15 (1993, No. 5); “Davy Crockett: A New Eyewitness Description — and More,” Alamo Journal (June 1997); “A Canadian Volunteer For Texas,” Journal of the Alamo Battlefield Association, no. 2 (1998); and “Deaf Smith in 1837: An Eyewitness Account,” Alamo Journal (December 2005).
Zaboly has received a Fellowship with the Company of Military Historians, 1989, and the Gold Award of Merit in Texas History and Preservation for a Historical or Genealogical Book from The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, 1997. He is a member of The Alamo Society, The Company of Military Historians, a Friend of Fort Ticonderoga, and a founding board member of the Alamo Battlefield Association.