The Midnight Ride of Trinidad Coy
Had it not been for a pile of dried locoweed and a forgetful farmer’s boy, the midnight ride of Trinidad Coy might have changed the fate of the Alamo, perhaps the United States.
Like most, I’d never heard the name Trinidad Coy, nor much less assumed that the Texican patriot of Mexican heritage played a role in the saga of the Alamo.
He did, and in both ‘the Handbook of Texas’ and Timothy Matovina’s fine little book, ‘The Alamo Remembered’, I ran across one of those quirks of fate that sometimes alters the destiny of states and nations.
According to the San Antonio Light, 26 November, 1911, Coy was one of several scouts sent from the Alamo to learn the intentions of Santa Anna’s army.
Travis, Bowie, and Crockett had heard the rumors that Santa Anna had entered Texas. Travis was skeptical, refusing to believe Santa Anna would stage an offensive at that time of the year.
Still, there was a possibility. If so, where was he headed? Crockett pointed out that whatever plans they made depended on whether the Mexican dictator was coming to San Antonio or going around.
According to Matovina, scouts were sent out, among them Trinidad Coy, who headed south. For days he rode, exploring rumors, gossip, speculations. A brave man, he preferred being back with Travis where he could defend the country he loved. But, he suppressed the desire to return and continued searching the vast mesquite prairies and rolling hills for any sign of Santa Anna and his army.
He knew Travis did not have the strength to hold off a large force, and that he would need every rifle available. But, what if at this very time the old church was besieged? Every mile Trinidad rode, he fought the urge to turn and race back to the Alamo.
Then the trail grew warm. Rumors surfaced. Peons gossiped. He searched harder, but swtill he found no solid evidence of the Mexican dictator.
He decided to return, putting up for the night with a poor family on their little farm. After supper, a neighbor dropped by, informing them that Santa Anna’s army was camped only a few miles distant.
Coy leaped to his feet and ordered the farmer’s son to bring him his horse. Minutes later, the lithe Tejano swung into the saddle. To his astonishment, his game little cow pony refused to move. After a few moments it sank to its knees.
Without thinking, the boy had placed the horse in the corral into which they had thrown locoweed earlier in the day. Saddling one of the farmer’s horses, Coy raced into the night, only to be challenged by Mexican guards a few miles down the road.
Had he been astride his own little pony, he wouldn’t have worried. The brave horse had great stamina and heart. Once the sturdy mustang gained a lead, nothing could catch him. Coy hoped the farmer’s horse possessed the same qualities.
Leaning low over the neck of his pony, he burst through the guards, racing up the winding road for the Alamo with the news of Santa Anna. Now, the defenders would have time to make plans for the oncoming force.
The farmer’s game little pony soon gave out. Coy scrabbled into the thick briars and spiny underbrush. The sentries searched for him. Just as he thought he was free, they pounced on him.
He explained he was going to visit a sick sister, but the Mexican officer doubted him, and placed him under arrest.
Taken back to San Antonio with the army, he was confined to a secluded room in a chapel for several days.
Outside, he heard the gunfire, the cannons roar.
One morning well before sunrise, everyone was gone, watching the battle. He freed himself and slipped from the chapel to a familiar trail that would lead him around to the rear of the Alamo.
At the end of the trail, he pulled up in a stand of cottonwoods. Beyond lay the Alamo. All was silent.
He peered through the trees, then closed his eyes in pain when he saw the flaming pyre consuming the bodies of the defenders of the Alamo. He was too late.
Trinidad Coy died in 1888 and is buried in San Fernando Cemetery No. 1 in San Antonio.
Could events have turned out differently if Travis, Bowie, and Crockett had a few days notice? We’ll never know. But, still, one can wonder.