According to legend, a Mexican sniper under the command of General Martin Prefecto de Cos shot Benjamin R. Milam from this towering baldcypress tree on the night of December 7, 1835.
Colonel Milam had escaped from imprisonment in Mexico early in October 1835 and joined General Edward Burleson's volunteers as a private in their fight to oust General Cos from San Antonio. From late October until early December, the Texans tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the Mexicans. Seeing that the men were becoming disillusioned and were deserting at an alarming rate, Milam rose to the occasion and called for volunteers to follow him and take the town. About 300 responded and, early the next morning, December 5, an advance began which six days later ended in victory.
During the difficult house-to-house fighting, Milam entered the backyard between the Veramendi Palace and the river to confer with Francis W. Johnson. As he crossed the high-walled courtyard, he was hit in the head by a rifleball and killed instantly.
This twin cypress tree, which was used by a Mexican sniper to kill Texans as they came to the river for water, is one of the tallest near the rear of the old Veramendi Palace. From its high elevation, a bullet could have been fired into the high protecting walls of the Veramendi courtyard.
The Ben Milam Cypress is located at the intersection of the San Antonio River and the Riverwalk in San Antonio.