By returning to a besieged Alamo with the grim news that no help could be expected, Jim Bonham knowingly chose to stand with his comrades and die defending the Alamo. This act of loyalty and courage became symbolic of the actions of all of the defenders. It was for this that he is singularly remembered. But other than bringing back the dismal news that defeat was imminent, what is known of him? Was he more than just an extraordinarily brave messenger? Indeed he was, and this story chronicles the events that inevitably led him to that cold morning on the sixth of March in 1836.
Finding Jim Bonham: Some Historical Notes
“Jim Bonham’s significance as an historical figure may be measured by the historical importance of the Alamo epic itself. His actions gave life to the ringing words of Travis and embodied the spirit of the defenders who stood in the face of an overwhelming enemy.
“One of my earliest recollections is as a schoolboy studying Texas history. I remember the textbook: it was gray, something less than an inch thick, and the inscription in the front consisted of a single quotation: “Thermopylae had its messenger of defeat, the Alamo had none.” This puzzled me, because I knew that James Butler Bonham had returned to the Alamo with a message that defeat was imminent. Of course, I didn’t know what or where Thermopylae was, and I had never heard of Leonidas, so it seemed logical that the recipients of such a message be those who were about to be defeated.
“Telling the story necessarily involved what I believe to be a logical development and reconciliation of known facts. Although dialogues were invented, attitudes and even some situations projected, they are a faithful reflection of Jim Bonham and his life, as I believe I have come to know it. No known historical facts or dates were altered for the sake of the story, and wherever possible, the names of the people are real. A summary of most of my principal sources of information follows….