“Who Will Follow Old Ben Milam?”
Bad luck had followed Ben Milam most of his life. What luck he did have finally ran out when he was killed by a Mexican bullet in the Battle of San Antonio on December 8, 1835. He became the first in a long line of immortal Texas heroes.
Benjamin Rush Milam was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on October 20, 1788. He grew up in Kentucky and served in the War of 1812. In 1815, when he and two partners chartered a schooner to take a load of flour to South America, the Captain and most of the crew died of yellow fever, and the rest were nearly killed in a storm.
Milam went to Texas in 1818 to trade with the Comanche Indians. Among the tribes he met David G. Burnet who was living with the Comanche. The two men formed a friendship that lasted many years. In 1819 Milam joined the fight for Mexican Independence from Spain. Betrayed and imprisoned in Mexico City, he was released through the intervention of the American Minister in Mexico City, Joel Poinsett, who was also the man who introduced York Rite Masonry into Mexico.
By December of 1835 Milam had joined the Texas volunteers’ siege of General Cos at San Antonio. But as the weeks wore on, and the weather turned cold, many of the Texan officers and men were voting to give up and go home. Milam wasn’t about to give up. He stepped forward and shouted, “Who will follow old Ben Milam into San Antonio? Who will go with old Ben Milam to Bexar?” Three hundred men stepped forward. The assault on San Antonio was a success, and the Mexicans surrendered after five days of fighting, but Ben Milam, the old empresario, lay dead.
Colonel Edward Burleson recorded in his diary that Milam was buried with Masonic honors in the courtyard of the Veramendi Palace. He was a member of Hiram Lodge No. 4 at Frankfort, Kentucky.
* From The Texas Mason
By Pete Normand, PM
Texas Lodge of Research
* The Texas Masons
The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas
by Pete Normand, © 1986
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