Historically Speaking

Ben Milam’s Rifle and the Atascosa County Connection


MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Historical Commission Chairman. If you have history to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.

MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Historical Commission Chairman. If you have history to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.

Happy Winter, Atascosa County! Winter has arrived in full force and Old Man Winter has been relentless. This winter has been record-setting and I wish everyone safety and warmth during this time.

We are smack dab in the middle of the 185th Anniversary of the Texas Revolution, so I will stay on that subject. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and some family friends decided it would be a great idea to visit the Buckhorn and Texas Ranger Museum in San Antonio. I received word that Ben Milam’s rifle was on display and with this landmark anniversary, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it. Plus, I’ll give you the Atascosa County connection to Ben Milam as well.

That day, I also set a memorable moment for myself. We had lunch at the Tower of the Americas, this was a first for me. As the tower spun slowly, I looked for the old landmarks and rivers that once were surrounded by nothing but vast openness. If you know your history, you can lay out the old path from The Alamo, following the San Antonio River south. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, surrounded by Joske’s, is a humorous reminder of old world values versus industrial takeover (definitely a story for another time).

Upon entering the Buckhorn Museum, it is instantly evident how this museum earned its name. My hopes were placed on spying Ben Milam’s rifle, so when we arrived to the Texas Ranger’s Museum, I was on alert. About 10 minutes into the museum visit, there it laid. It was under glass surrounded by a wooden, oak border. It appeared to have two triggers and in very fine shape. You could see the wear of a battle rifle that lead the assault on the Alamo in December of 1835 when the Mexican forces were defeated. Col. Ben Milam was killed during this engagement known as “The Siege of Bejar.” The weapon of one of the many men that sacrificed for the freedoms of a new nation, laid just inches under me and I was glad to have seen it in my lifetime.

The Atascosa County connection, a county resident, William Norwood Gates served under Col. Milam at the Siege of Bejar and was present during his death. Currently, we are awaiting the marker for Gates Valley, a community developed by William Gates and his brother. During the research for the marker last year, it was discovered that Mr. Gates signed an affidavit testifying his participation in the Siege of Bejar.

Hope you enjoyed this Texas Revolution connection to Atascosa County, until next time.

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