Francisco Antonio Ruiz

Francisco Antonio Ruiz (ca. 1804–October 18, 1876) was the alcade of San Antonio during the Texas Revolution and was responsible for identifying the bodies of those killed at the Battle of the Alamo.

Ruiz was born between 1804 and 1811 in San Antonio, then part of the Mexican province of Coahuila y Tejas. He was the eldest son of Jose Francisco Ruiz and Josefa Hernandex.citation|last=Gomez|first=Maria O.|title=Francisco Antonio Ruiz|publisher=Handbook of Texas|url=http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/RR/fru31.html|accessdate=10-9-2007]

Ruiz supported the Texian cause during the Texas Revolution, when he was the alcade of San Antonio. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna did not trust Ruiz, and when the Mexican army entered San Antonio to begin the siege of the Alamo, Santa Anna placed Ruiz under house arrest. At the conclusion of the battle, Santa Anna ordered Ruiz to identify the bodies of Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis and to dispose of the dead. [Hopewell (1994), p. 124.] He later "left one of the most vivid eyewitness accounts of the fall of the Alamo." Ruiz stated that Crockett's body was found on the west side of the garrison, supporting Susannah Dickinson's claim as to where he lay. Ruiz stated that Travis' body was found on a gun carriage on the north wall, with a single bullet wound to the forehead, and that Bowie's body was found in one of the rooms on the south side, on a bed.

Account of the Battle of the Alamo

Ruiz gave possibly the most accurate accounts of the battle, from the perspective of an observer. Ruiz stated that the Mexican Army advanced against the Alamo in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, utilizing 4,000 troops, although all did not take part in the assault. According to Ruiz, the Mexican's were repulsed twice, and he commented that the cannon fired from the Alamo resembled a constant thunder. The third wave that attacked the Alamo consisted, according to Ruiz, of 800 Mexican troops, of which only an estimated 130 survived. However, they breeched the Alamo walls on this last assault, and were supported by other Mexican units. Ruiz stated that when the Mexicans entered the walls, he and Political Chief Don Ramon Musquiz accompanied Don Refugio de la Garza across the bridge on Commerce Street, so that they might get a better view. However, Mexican Dragoons fired on them, forcing them to withdraw. After a half an hour, Santa Anna sent for Ruiz, and ordered him to join him in the Alamo, to locate and identify the bodies of Travis, Crockett and Bowie. After locating the bodies and with Ruiz identifying them, Ruiz was then instructed to help dispose of the dead Mexican soldiers. [http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/newsarch/ruizart.html]

It was through the accounts by Ruiz that most historians base the number of confirmed defenders of the Alamo. The number of defenders has varied through history, with some indicating 180, while others indicate they believed the number to have been as high as 250, the latter of which is generally not accepted. However, Ruiz stated that the Mexican Army burned 182 defender bodies after the battle. Gregorio Esparza, a Mexican defender, is known to have had his body claimed for proper buriel by two uncles, who received permission from Santa Anna to do so. Taking in accounts of others who claimed that their loved ones of Mexican descent were properly buried, the number of defenders is believed to have been between 182 and 189.

Historians have also pondered over the number of troops lost by Santa Anna's forces. Most have agreed that the Mexican losses stood somewhere around 500. Mexican officers both overstated the Alamo defender losses, setting those above 600, and understated their own losses, placing them around 200. Ruiz stated that the Mexican Army lost an estimated 1,600 troops during the battle, and was ordered to have those bodies buried or otherwise disposed of. Due to there being insufficient room in the cemetery, Ruiz had many of the bodies thrown into the river. [http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/newsarch/ruizart.html] Some have questioned Ruiz estimating the Mexican losses at 1,600, while others have completely dismissed that estimate. However, Ruiz did dispose of the bodies, and it is likely that while his estimate could be too high, the Mexican losses were most probably at least half that number.

Later life

From 1837 until 1841 Ruiz served as an alderman in San Antonio. He strongly opposed Texas's annexation to the United States and believed that only those who had served during the Texas Revolution should be able to participate in making that decision. After the annexation was complete, Ruiz left San Antonio and lived for several years amongst the Indians. He later returned to San Antonio. After his death on October 18, 1876, he was buried in the Ruiz-Herrara family cemetery in Bexar County.

Footnotes

References

*
* [http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/newsarch/ruizart.html Francisco Antonio Ruiz]
* [http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/RR/fru31.html Handbook of Texas]


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