Book Review: Texian Iliad-Stephen L. Hardin

University of Texas Press c1994


Hardin’s Texian Iliad is an essential history for any wargamer interested in the Texas War for Independence. While there are other histories of this conflict that concentrate on political or social aspects of the war, Hardin’s book is specifically concerned with the military history of the Texas Revolution. Since the war was quite brief, only about six months, and quite small, the author is able to go into quite a bit of detail in regards to the small skirmishes and battles that characterized the conflict. This detail gives interested gamers a starting point in developing challenging scenarios. If there is one drawback, only the Alamo and San Jacinto are provided with maps or diagrams of the battles. In the case of fights such as Gonzales, Concepcion, the Grass Fight, or Coleto Creek, good descriptions are provided, but for specific terrain layouts you would have to look elsewhere. That being said, the diagrams of the Alamo and San Jacinto are outstanding. Those for the Alamo consist of four detailed illustrations of the mission showing the layout of the buildings and gun positions, and a sequential breakdown of the Mexican assault on the fort. The San Jacinto diagram has the Texian and Mexican positions marked out and arrows indicating the course of the action. The only problem with the diagrams is if, like me, you are using the older version of the Kindle. The diagrams are so small I needed a magnifier to read the tiny text and number key. I’m not sure if Kindle Touch or Kindle Fire are better in this regard. I’m ordering a print copy for ease of use. 




In regards to the text, Hardin is thourough and objective in his analysis of the campaign. He compares and contrasts the strengths and weaknesses of both the Texian and Mexican sides. It is interesting that each side appears to have had more weaknesses than strengths!  The personalities of the various commanders are handled at some length and another revelation is that the most competent commander on either side was Mexican (Urrea).  Political and social dimensions of the war are handled briefly when they impact the military operations.  Weapons, equipment, and organization are all touched upon in a reasonable amount of detail,  and each chapter begins with a black and white illustration of a representative soldier with a description following. This was a rather nice addition to the text.

Overall “Texian Iliad” is a must-have volume for those interested in wargaming the Texas War for Independence.  While it is true that there are other excellent and detailed histories of the Alamo and San Jacinto, “Texian Iliad” has a comprehensive description of each skirmish and battle from the initial attempt to seize the “Come And Take It” cannon to the decisive route and capture of Santa Ana at San Jacinto. The lack of diagrams for most of these small fights are a minor omission and the nature of the terrain can be gleaned from the text.  “Texian Iliad” gets 5 out of 5 stars.



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