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Santa Anna answered Castrillón's intervention in Crockett's behalf with a gesture of indignation and, addressing himself to the sappers, the troops closest to him, ordered his execution. The commanders and officers were outraged at this action and did not support the order, hoping that once the fury of the moment had blown over these men would be spared; but several officers who were around the president and who, perhaps, had not been present during the danger, became noteworthy by an infamous deed, surpassing the solders in cruelty. They thrust themselves forward, in order to flatter their commander, and with swords in hand, fell upon these unfortunate, defenseless men just as a tiger leaps upon his prey. Though tortured before they were killed, these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves before their torturers."
At the same time I could distinguish the heads of some of the men through the boughs of some peach-trees, and could hear their screams. It was then, for the first time, the awful conviction seized upon our minds that treachery and murder had begun their work ! Shortly afterward, Colonel Guerrier appeared at the mouth of the tent. I asked him if it could be possible they were murdering our men. He replied that ' it was so ; but he had not given the order, neither had he executed it.' "
Brought before Houston, Santa Anna is said to have given the secret distress signal of the Master Mason. He denied having done anything wrong at the Alamo or Goliad -- but offered to make an example of Gen. Urrea, who carried out the executions. (Two years later, Urrea would launch a coup against Santa Anna, briefly controlling two states in nothern Mexico.)
Feeling edgy, Santa Anna asked for -- and got -- some of that familar pain-killer he saw being administered to the wounded Houston. And so they had a mellow conversation for the rest of the afternoon, the two men basically dividing up North America while stoned on opium. Santa Anna agreed to have the Mexican army retreat, and recognize an independent Texas with its border at the Rio Grande. (The Nueces River would have been more logical, having long been the Mexican state border for Coahuila y Texas. It may simply have been harder to find on a map.) Finding him so useful, Houston defied popular opinion, complied with his Masonic oath, and let Santa Anna live.
"... met Houston with a hand clasp reputed to have been that of a Mason..."
"...filled the air with Masonic distress signals, and well he might have, as many Texans demanded his life without formalities..."
"... to a place of safety under a guard which included five Masons, and later freed..."
The self-styled "Napoleon of the West" received from a generous foe the mercy he had denied Travis, Crockett and Bowie at the Alamo and Fannin at Goliad. Sam Houston dictated to him the terms of Texas Independence.
One of his captors, Freemason James Sylvester claimed that Santa Anna had given the masonic sign of grief and distress directly to him and then later to Sam Houston. This story is also related by another mason. John Stiles, a soldier from Red River, who was also guarding Santa Anna. Allegedly, Santa Anna later presented his masonic apron to Stiles in gratitude for interceding on his behalf.
Or at least would be turned over to face a military trial, where according to American Military Law, he would have undoubtably been found guilty of his atrocious crimes.
Maybe he would have faced a trial or worse had he not met Houston with an innocent seeming handshake and some odd gestures that, to the uninitiated, would have made no sense.
but Masons had been well known to help fellow Masons regardless of political loyalties. A conspiracy? No.. its recognizing a commonality that unless your a Mason, may be hard to understand.
It is difficult to envision ...
Assuming that the sign was given, the question still remains...
Turning from conjecture to fact...