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Friday
Nov112011

A Letter to Martha

Image from www.sonofthesouth.net

Today I diverge. I am not sharing a recipe, but rather a letter from a devoted husband, father and countryman to his wife, Martha.

A couple of years ago, leafing through the "Wars and Battles" chapter of our family history book, I came across the name and story of a man that has never left me.

The name was Micajah Autry and this letter reveals some of his story.

Micajah is among the innumerable men and women who have fought for and served this country in the name of liberty. I am honored to claim him as kin. Each time I read his letter I am touched. It is one of love, of hope, of opportunity, of seeking for a better country. Something we all can have, something we all can do.

Today being Veteran's Day, join me in remembering, honoring and thanking those who have served and sacrificed to ensure the liberty that we know. This thing of freedom and the cost paid to preserve it brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. Today my heart thanks all who have served. In my family I thank my brother, my father, my grandfathers, and the 14-plus generations of men on my father's side who have defended and fought for our country—on this soil and abroad.

A Letter to Martha

Born in North Carolina in 1794, Micajah Autry served in the War of 1812 as a young man.
He moved to Tennessee in 1823 and was admitted to the bar several years later. A resident of Jackson, Tennessee, at the time of his death in the Battle of the Alamo, Autry came to Texas in search of opportunities offered by the changing events there. This letter is one in a series he sent to his wife Martha on his journey to San Antonio, Texas.

___________________________________________________________________________________ 

Mrs. Martha W. Autry
Middleburg
Hardeman Cty.

Nacogdoches, Jany. 13th, 1836

My Dear Martha,

I have reached this point after many hardships and privations but thank God in most excellent health. The very great fatigue I have suffered has in a degree stifled reflection and has been an advantage to me. I walked from Nachitoches whence I wrote you last to this place 115 miles through torrents of rain, mud and water. I remained a few days in St. Augustine when Capt. Kimble from Clarksvelle, Ten, a lawyer of whom you may recollect to have heard me speak arrived with a small company of select men, 4 of them lawyers. I joined them and find them perfect gentlemen. We are waiting for a company daily expected from Columbia, Ten. under Col. Hill with whom we expect to march to head quarters (Washington) 125 miles from here, where we shall join Houston the commander in chief and receive our destination. I may or may not receive promotion as there are many very meritorious men seeking the same. I have become one of the most thorough going men you ever heard of. I go whole hog in the cause of Texas. I expect to help them gain their independence and also to form their civil government, for it is worth risking many lives for. From what I have seen and learned from others there is not so fair a portion of the earth's surface warmed by the sun.

Be of good cheer Martha I will provide you a sweet home. I shall be entitled to 640 acres of land for my services in the army and 444 acres upon condition of settling my family here. Whether I shall be able to move you here next fall or not will depend upon the termination of the present contest. Some say Santa Anna is in the field with an immense army and near the confines of Texas, others say since the conquest of St. Antonio by the Texans and the imprisonment of Genl. Cos and 1100 men of which you have no doubt heard, that Santa Ana has become intimidated for fear that the Texans will drive the war into his dominions and is now holding himself in readiness to fly to Europe which latter report I am inclined to discredit, what is the truth of the matter no one knows or pretends to know.

Tell Mr. Smith not to think of remaining where he is but to be ready to come to this county at the very moment the government shall be settled, as for a trifle he may procure a possession of land that will make a fortune for himself, his children and his children's children of its own increase in value and such a cotton country is not under the sun. I have just been introduced to Mr. McNeil a nephew of Mr. S. who is now in this place and appears to be much of a gentlemen. Give my most kind affection to Amelia and Mr. Smith and to my own Dear Mary and James give a thousand tender embraces and for you my Dearest Martha may the smile of heaven keep you as happy as possible till we meet.

                                                                                                             M. Autry

P.S. We stand guard of nights and night before last was mine to stand two hours during which the moon rose in all her mildness but splendor and majesty. With what pleasure did I contemplate that lovely orb chiefly because I recollected how often I had taken pleasure in standing in the door and contemplating her together. Indeed I imagined that you might be looking at her at the same time. Farewell Dear Martha.

P.S. Col. Crockett has joined our company.

Reader Comments (4)

How touching! Over here it's Remembrance Day, there it's Veteran's Day. . . either way, we owe them a huge amount.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Thank you for posting. That was so beautiful and so well written. I had to read it twice. It touched my heart. From the foreword it sounds like he died before he was ever reunited with his wife. You have peaked my curiosity. Post more letters if you have them. He was such a gentle spirited man. I would be very proud, too, if I were you to have a man of such high moral character and one who thought so highly of his loved ones.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTessa

Tessa ... I so agree, so well written, genuine and deep. That's the only letter I have found. I can only imagine how disheartened he must have felt when his shot missed. And no, he did not make it home to Martha and their children.

Here is a little bit more for those interested:

http://www.texasescapes.com/DEPARTMENTS/Guest_Columnists/East_Texas_all_things_historical/AlamoMarksman1BB201.htm

"If an East Texas volunteer's rifle shot had hit its mark, the Alamo battle might have taken a different turn.

Early in the March, 1836, siege of the Alamo, Micajah Autry, an expert marksman, was chosen by his company to eliminate Santa Anna, who often sauntered across the ground just beyond the Alamo wall. Autry raised his long rifle, took careful aim as his breathless companions watched, and fired.

In that moment, the history of Texas might have been changed, but in the nervous tension and great hope of killing Santa Anna, Autry's bullet went wild and Santa Anna, who for once lost his dignity, scampered to cover.

Autry lived through the 13 days of the Alamo siege, the prowess of his marksmanship adding to the numbers of Santa Ann's dead. He fell with his comrades at the stockade, overwhelmed by the Mexican troops, determined and courageous to the end."

November 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterLexie

Hi! Visit me at http://raisingdieter.blogspot.com/ for allergy friendly recipes and a giveaway!

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShay

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