Texas Rising Doesn’t Rise

The only thing epic about Texas Rising, the new miniseries running on History Channel, is the degree to which it does NOT depict the Texas war for independence.

The Battle of Gonzalez on October 2, 1835 marked the start of the Texas revolt against Mexico. Texans had refused to relinquish a cannon to the Mexican army at Gonzalez. Instead, they raised a homemade flag bearing an image of the cannon and the words “Come And Take It”. It’s a critical part of the story of Texas independence, and critical to understanding the mindset of the Texans. 

They’d had enough, so they flagrantly challenged the Mexican army and Mexican authority.

But this is entirely missing from the Texas Rising story. Stephen F. Austin’s declaration of war against Mexico is also missing. In fact Stephen F. Austin himself is missing!

For a production of this magnitude with many hours available to tell the story, and with such a large cast of talented people, you’d think the Texas Rising story would depict more of the prominent events and true characters of the revolution. 

Most Americans are familiar with the story of the Alamo; so not focusing on that event is a good move. Regardless, the conflict at the Alamo deserved at least another 5 minutes of coverage in Texas Rising – merely to help establish the Texans’ growing hatred of Santa Anna.

Emily West and “Lorca” have prominent roles in Texas Rising but there is no historic documentation to support the legends and hearsay surrounding Emily West, and historic documents tend to refute the existence of the Lorca character.

Many events of the war are reasonably well told in Texas Rising, but there are significant omissions. The incredible tragedy of Goliad was poorly depicted and had errors of continuity. More than 400 Texans were killed on Palm Sunday, 1836 in a massacre staged along roads leading out of Goliad, but Texas Rising only shows a handful shot to death in a pit surrounded by Mexican soldiers.  In truth, Goliad was the worst massacre in US history. 

Texas Rising relies on dramatic fiction to convey Texans’ motivation to drive the Mexican army back across the Rio Bravo – when simply telling the truth would have worked better!

The biggest annoyance of Texas Rising, though, is the radical misportrayal of Texas geography and landscape. It’s really hard to endure images of mountains, pine trees and deserts in what’s supposed to be Southeast Texas (at least 300 miles from the nearest mountains and further from any deserts). I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if many Texans are downright offended to learn the production was shot in Mexico! Don’t get me wrong. That region in Mexico is spectacular and it stars in many many American westerns; but I suspect most Texans would agree that if you’re going to make a film about Texas, then shoot it in Texas.

Using make-believe characters, omitting or misrepresenting significant people and events of the war, and a painful misrepresentation of what the Texas landscape looked like, all establish that Texas Rising is a work of fiction. In fact, it’s so far from the truth you can hardly call it historic fiction. It’s nothing more than an expensive production that could easily have told the remarkable story of Texas independence, but chose not to. 

Texas Rising compromises truth to increase entertainment value – when both could easily have been attained.