WHO WAS BEN MILAM?


Ben Milam carved out a storied career as a soldier, a revolutionary, an empresario and, finally, a martyr in the cause of Texas freedom. He was exactly the sort of larger-than-life character that the Lone Star State routinely produces.

Ben Milam Portrait

Born in Kentucky (the birthplace of bourbon whiskey) in 1788, Milam came to the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas and became an official empresario (a colonizer who brought Anglo settlers to Texas). As the Texas war for independence from Mexico erupted in 1835, Milam joined with an army of Texas rebels marching on the Mexican stronghold of San Antonio, where he learned the Texans were resolved to settle down in winter quarters and pause the campaign.

Milam made the impassioned plea which has resonated ever since: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?”

Three hundred men, with Milam in the forefront, attacked on December 5, 1835. Four days later, the Mexican forces surrendered the town. Roughly a year and a half later, after harrowing losses at the Alamo and Goliad, Texas forces would win their independence on April 21, 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto.

He was exactly the sort of larger-than-life character that the Lone Star State routinely produces.

Milam would not live to relish the victory. On December 7, in the midst of ferocious house-to-house fighting in San Antonio, Milam was shot and killed instantly by a Mexican sniper.

The rebellious and unquenchable spirit of Ben Milam—soldier, revolutionary, Texas hero—survives today in Ben Milam Whiskey.

Portrait of Ben Milam shown courtesy of Texas State Library and Archives Commission