By Robert Hancock Hunter
Austin: The Encino Press, 1966.
Designed and edited by William D. Wittliff.
NARRATIVE OF ROBERT HANCOCK HUNTER, 1813-1902, FROM HIS ARRIVAL IN TEXAS, 1822, THROUGH THE BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO, 1836.
Hunter wrote his memoirs for his children and grandchildren, never expecting that anyone outside his immediate family would ever read them. As a result, they are unaffected, intimate, and—most of all—honest. Jenkins said of the slim volume: “This is the most vivid of all recollections of the Texas Revolution.” Dobie called it “as human a document as ever I read . . . compacted with earthy humor and graphic details. . . . Hunter has left some of the most revealing and lifelike word pictures of the revolution to be found in all Texas literature.” Like most old Texas frontiersmen, Hunter was no scholar and his spelling, grammar, and syntax will make any honest English teacher weep. Yet, editor Wittliff was wise to leave as closely as possible the old man’s prose exactly as he wrote it—warts and all. Students will have some inkling what historians endure as they attempt to decipher original holographic manuscripts. Hunter tells what occurred when, during the Battle of San Jacinto, General Sam Houston directed the vengeful Texian soldiers to take prisoners: “Capt Easlen said Boys take prisners, you know how to take prisners, take them with the but of your guns, club guns, & said remember the Alamo & remember Laberde [La Bahía], & club guns, right & left, & nocked there brains out.” Good Lord, revealing and lifelike is right! The late William Wittliff’s tasteful design and powerful introduction make the 1966 Encino Press offering the best edition. Sadly, it has become difficult to locate and expensive to purchase. Of all the volumes on this list, this one is the most ripe for a reprint.