The Ides of March was a term for mid-month on the Roman calendar, which was a lunar calendar, based on moon sequences. On our current Christian-based calendar, the Ides of March is March 13-17 depending on the year. The “beware of” saying arises because Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March.
The Texians of 1836 were not unaware of this history and surely must have had second thoughts about Texas independence as events unfolded in March of that year. First came the declaration of Independence on March 2.
It had been a surprisingly easy process and was passed with unison and resolve. It passed in spite of — or perhaps because of — the fact that many Texians were in the Run-a-way Scrape, fleeing the threat of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his army.
Lt. Col. William B. Travis had written his famous “Victory or Death” letter on Feb. 24 while besieged within The Alamo by the Mexican army, and likely it did not reach the independence convention until about March 1. Travis wrote a desperate plea for help on March 3, which did not reach the delegation until March 6. Of course, no one in the delegation knew, but The Alamo had fallen the morning of March 6 and all the defenders were put to death. Mexican citizens were aware and spread the word that Santa Anna had burned the bodies of the defenders.
Since the Catholic religion (at the time the official religion of Mexico and Texas) believed that showing respect for the body as well as the spirit was important, Santa Anna’s cremation order sent a message to those that might oppose him. Perhaps Santa Anna viewed his act as prohibiting the “resurrection of the body” and he thereby damned the souls of the burned Texians. These actions by Santa Anna fueled the panic of the fleeing populace. Sam Houston, who had been appointed to head the Texian army on the 11th, must have thought of Julius Caesar when on March 16 Davis G. Burnet was appointed President of the Texian Government. Burnet would remain Houston’s staunchest critic and enemy throughout their lives.
March became worse on the 14th and 20th as Texians lost the battles of Refugio and Coleto. The captured Texians from these battles were taken to Goliad. Again Santa Anna fueled the flames of fear among Mexicans and Texans alike when he ordered the treacherous massacre of the Texian prisoners of war on Palm Sunday, March 27. Again he ordered the bodies burned. Sam Houston had been absent from all of these tragedies of March. Perhaps he knew and respected Roman history? As he regrouped his troops and moved to the Groce Plantation near present-day Hempstead for two weeks of intense training, he must have contemplated the Ides of March. After mid-April he would march his army through Cypress, camping a night near present-day Telgue Park at Cypress Creek before continuing on to San Jacinto and destiny.
If you would like to learn more about Texas or Cypress history, please visit Commissioner Steve Radack’s Cypress Top Historic Park at 26026 Old Hempstead Highway. The park is open daily from dawn to 7 p.m. The museum buildings are open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m-4 p.m. To arrange a special tour contact the park at email@example.com or 281-357-5324. The Park is home to the Cypress Historical Society. They are housed in the California Poppy yellow train depot in the back of the park. Their hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. They have genealogy and historical information for the greater Cypress area. You can contact them at 281-758-0083 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historical facts courtesy of Cypress Top Historic Park Collection & Cypress Historical Society: Preserving Cypress History for Posterity.