Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Remembering the Alamo and General Santa Anna's Leg

Several journalists recently reported on Santa Anna's leg, apparently in response to renewed interest in the General following an episode of the "King of the Hill" cartoon.

Santa Anna is most known for ordering the attack on the Alamo in which Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie died. He's also been recently cited in connection with the Benito Juarez exhibit that ends this weekend at the Chicago History Museum. Juarez was exiled during Santa Anna's dictatorship, returned after Santa Anna resigned and served as Mexico's President from 1858 until 1872.

One local connection to the Santa Anna is that Uncle Joseph Naper, from Kate's book "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," served as a quartermaster during the Mexican-American war during Santa Anna's time.

But back to Santa Anna's leg. Apparently the General lost his leg to a cannon ball during a battle with the French in 1838. He was fitted with a fake leg and continued his military career.

In 1847, during a battle with the United States, Santa Anna's camp was surprised by a squad of soldiers from the 4th Illinois Infantry. Santa Anna escaped in the nick of time, but left behind his artificial leg which was duly captured by the Illinois soldiers. The leg today is displayed at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield if you are interested in ogling it.

At the time of writing, the web site of the Illinois State Military Museum was experiencing difficulties, but you can see a photo of the leg display at RoadsideAmerica.com.

If you are not able to make it to the Chicago History Museum before the Juarez exhibit closes on April 12, you can see highlights of the exhibit online and listen to the curator commentary.

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