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A Brief History of Erastus "Deaf" Smith
Erastus “Deaf” Smith began his life in New York State. He moved around a lot until he finally found himself in Texas. He quickly fell in love with the harsh yet beautiful landscape and settled down. Although many American's in Texas hated that their land belonged to Mexico Smith didn't care. He became a Mexican citizen and settled down with a Mexican woman; he even learned Spanish.
Although he had been deaf since he was a baby Smith made his way through life as a lipreader. He was notorious for only speaking with people in one-on-one conversations. He was known to American's as “Deaf Smith” and as “El Sordo” to the Mexicans.
Smith was a skilled tracker and woodsman, which was how he made his living. Unfortunately one day, while Smith was out on the trail war had begun between the Americans and Mexicans. When Smith found his way back to his town of San Antonio he found it surrounded by Americans. He begged General Stephen Austin, a friend of Smith's, to let him through to see his wife and children. Austin only asked for Smith to join his army, but eventually allowed him through.
When he reached the town he was confronted by the Mexican army and this troops leader, General Coz. Smith and Coz rode a bit away from the soldiers to speak. Soon the band of Mexican Soldiers were heading straight for Smith and he rode away expecting to be attacked. Coz was so angry they all rode after Smith; shooting at him. When Smith reached the Americans they attacked the Mexican forces and forced them back. Smith was so upset he joined the American forces and eventually saved his family in San Antonio.
Smith became one of the American forces greatest weapons against the Mexican army. Smith used his scouting skills to quickly relay information and spy. Smith was even the one to inform the troops of the specifics of the battle at the Alamo. Smith was also a key piece in the American Victory battle, in which Smith destroyed a bridge which trapped Mexican troops in a town which bordered the San Jacinto River. Because of this battle Americans gained the advantage in the war with Mexico. The next day after the battle General Santa Anna surrendered to the Americans. Smith was commemorated after the war by being placed on the new Texas five dollar bill as well as being given 2,655 acres of land. Smith died less then two years later.
I feel like Smith really is a great figure in both American, military and Deaf history. His deeds brought one of the largest pieces of land into the hands of the Americans, and his progress for deaf culture in the military is awe inspiring. Although his importance is not very widely known and though he was unable to enjoy his life for long after the war Smith is still considered a hero.