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GOD & TEXAS: Bagpipes in the Alamo

Did you know that bagpipes, a fiddle and a bugle were prominent musical instruments being played during the Battle of the Alamo? David Crockett played his fiddle. And the Mexican army bugle was heard playing ElDegüello, which announced that no quarter would be given to the rebellious Texans. But what about the bagpipes?

John McGregor was a bagpiper who was born in Scotland and settled in Nacogdoches, Texas. John fought in the siege of Bexar (1835), and died in the Alamo, serving as the second sergeant of the artillery company under Capt. William R. Carey.

Following the Alamo battle, interviews with survivor Susanna Dickinson revealed that McGregor and Crockett would play their instruments when there was a pause in the fighting. Actually, they tried to outshine each other. Dickinson said, “McGregor always won so far as noise was concerned, for he made strange and dreadful sounds with his queer instrument."

Besides McGregor in the Alamo, Richard W. Ballentine, Isaac Robinson, and David L. Wilson were native-born Scotsmen. Amazingly, numerous leaders who battled for Texas’ independence were of Scottish ancestry including Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, James Bowie, David Crockett, Peter J. Bailey, Henry P. Brewster, J.A. Brooks, David Burnet, Mathew Caldwell, Capt. Ewen Cameron, S.P. Carson, and Robert Cochran.

Many counties of Texas are named for persons of Scottish ancestry like Anderson, Andrews, Armstrong, Harris, Hamilton, Kenedy, McLennan, McCulloch, Martin, Ochiltree, Robertson, Taylor, Walker, Wilson, Wood and Young. In 1882, a group of Scottish investors bought the 1.5 million acre Matador Ranch near Wichita Falls, and expanded it to over 3 million acres.

Another Scottish hero of Texas was Collin McKinney, the oldest signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Later, McKinney helped draft the Texas Constitution, and would go on to serve in the 1st, 2nd and 4th congresses of the Republic of Texas. His influence in Texas was honored by naming both a county (Collin) and a city (McKinney) named after him.

Born in 1766 to Scottish immigrant parents, McKinney was a leader in building Disciples of Christ churches. He was known as a powerful preacher who uplifted Christ through scripture and prayer. In association with traveling preachers B.F. Hall and J.B. Wilmeth, McKinney held Gospel services throughout North Texas.

In his book, “The Men Who Made Texas Free,” Samuel Houston Dixon wrote, "Mr. McKinney was a man of most admirable character. He possessed a spirit of progressiveness which dominated his life. No one of that group of pioneers exercised a more wholesome influence over those with whom he came in contact than Mr. McKinney. He lived a life worthy of emulation and was held in high esteem."

The following words are inscribed on McKinney’s tombstone in the old Van Alstyne Cemetery: “He was one of nature’s noble men, an ardent patriot and a true Christian.”

Scottish heroes like McKinney left a treasured legacy for each of us. They honored Proverbs 13:22 (NLT), “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren.” Let us follow their example.

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