Artifact Spotlight — Ben Milam Calling for Volunteers

December 1, 2023
Credit: The Alamo Collection

This painting entitled “Ben Milam Calling for Volunteers” was done by Henry Arthur McArdle, and is currently on display at the Alamo Exhibit in the Ralston Family Collections Center. Originally born in Ireland, McArdle immigrated to the United States at around the age of 15. He studied art at the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of Mechanic Arts. Following the Civil War, McArdle moved to Texas where his career as an artist thrived.   

“Ben Milam Calling for Volunteers” was commissioned by early Texas Historian James T. DeShields for one of his many historical publications. McArdle did extensive research for his many commissions and this one is no different. He corresponded with Milam’s son in order to capture his likeness accurately, as well as using Creed Taylor’s eyewitness account of Milam’s recruitment efforts for the battle of Bejar.

This painting depicting Benjamin Rush Milam calling for volunteers is an important piece in the history of Texas. It gives the viewer a glimpse into the Battle of Bejar, the first battle for the town, which would eventually lead the more famous Battle of the Alamo. This painting was completed in 1901 and was later donated by members of Milam’s family. It was restored in 2015 with a grant from the Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation of 1992.

Donor: 22 Great Nieces and Nephews of Colonel Benjamin Milam