Around Louisiana: Central


He isn’t to be confused with Davy Crockett’s companion, James Rose, who, according to Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson, perished with the other American heroes in the San Antonio fort. The story of Louis Moses Rose, allegedly the only man to abandon the Alamo, is entirely different. Rose, who ended his days in Logansport, has been branded as the only coward to desert the Alamo in Texas and beyond for generations. After the Mexican army raised the “no quarter” flag that promised annihilation to all, legend has it that when Travis drew the line in the sand with his sword for his men to cross over to show they would fight against thousands of Mexican troops, Rose was the only man who didn’t cross the line. But was he even really a solider actually present at the Alamo who refused to fight in the 11th hour?

Rose was a French Jew, a former soldier of Napoleon who had served in the ill-fated invasion of Russia. His heroism serving Bonaparte named him to the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor). When Napoleon’s regime fell, Rose wandered across the ocean and wound up in the Nacogdoches area in what was then the Mexican territory of Texas. He was 51 years old when the Texas Revolution began in 1835.

Some stories say that he was a member of Jim Bowie’s group of soldiers who fought in the siege of Bexar, but Rose’s name has never appeared on any muster rolls for this siege. Neither does the name Louis Moses Rose appear on the December 1835 or February 1836 Alamo muster rolls. Alamo survivor Dickinson claims there was only one man present named Rose, James, who died with the rest. Some historians who lean toward exonerating him believe that Louis Moses Rose joined the volunteers sent to reinforce the Alamo troops in March of 1836. Only 50 were able to cut through the Mexican line and enter the fort while the rest were repelled and driven away, with Rose probably unable to enter the fort.

But the story that followed Rose around to the end of his days and beyond is that he chose not to die with his comrades, supposedly stating, “By God, I was not going to die,” when asked to cross Travis’ line. Stories say he always answered yes to questions that asked if he was indeed the coward of the Alamo. On the night that he supposedly fled the doomed fort, his decriers said he went into Grimes County, Texas, and soon after settled in Logansport, where he remained until his death. From time to time, he would testify on behalf of the estates of men who had died fighting for Texas, verifying their deaths for family members. Descendants of Rose presented his musket to the Alamo Museum in 1927.

In 1953 Hollywood produced a movie, The Man From the Alamo, starring Glenn Ford. Slightly based on Rose’s saga, it tells the story of a man who leaves the fort to help the others’ families, only to be unfairly branded a coward. The Daughters of the Texas Republic severely censured this film upon its release.

In 2003, when France refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq, Rose’s name surfaced yet again as evidence of French cowardice in the face of war. Whether he was a coward or the recipient of a bum rap, Rose’s story will always remain fodder for debate.