Battle of the Alamo
Overview
 
The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Following a 13-day siege
Siege of the Alamo
The siege of the Alamo describes the first twelve days of the Battle of the Alamo. On February 23, Mexican troops under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna entered San Antonio de Bexar, Texas and surrounded the Alamo Mission...

, Mexican troops under President
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

 General Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 launched an assault on the Alamo Mission
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas....

 near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). All but two of the Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

 defenders were killed. Santa Anna's perceived cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army.
Encyclopedia
The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Following a 13-day siege
Siege of the Alamo
The siege of the Alamo describes the first twelve days of the Battle of the Alamo. On February 23, Mexican troops under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna entered San Antonio de Bexar, Texas and surrounded the Alamo Mission...

, Mexican troops under President
President of Mexico
The President of the United Mexican States is the head of state and government of Mexico. Under the Constitution, the president is also the Supreme Commander of the Mexican armed forces...

 General Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 launched an assault on the Alamo Mission
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas....

 near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). All but two of the Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

 defenders were killed. Santa Anna's perceived cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.

Several months prior, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas
Mexican Texas
Mexican Texas is the name given by Texas history scholars to the period between 1821 and 1836, when Texas was an integral part of Mexico. The period began with Mexico's victory over Spain in its war of independence in 1821. For the first several years of its existence, Mexican Texas operated very...

. Approximately 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo
Legacy of the Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo left a substantial legacy and influence within American culture.-Perception:Within weeks of the battle, it began to be compared to the Greek stand at the Battle of Thermopylae....

. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis
William B. Travis
William Barret Travis was a 19th-century American lawyer and soldier. At the age of 26, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army...

. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexican troops marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to re-take Texas. For the next 12 days the two armies engaged in several skirmishes with minimal casualties. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by such a large force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies, but fewer than 100 reinforcements arrived.

In the early morning hours of March 6, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repulsing two attacks, Texians were unable to fend off a third attack. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texian soldiers withdrew into interior buildings. Defenders unable to reach these points were slain by the Mexican cavalry as they attempted to escape. Between five and seven Texians may have surrendered; if so, they were quickly executed. Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texians dead, while most historians of the Alamo agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. Several noncombatants were sent to Gonzales
Gonzales, Texas
Gonzales is a city in Gonzales County, Texas, United States. The population was 7,202 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Gonzales County.-Geography:Gonzales is located at...

 to spread word of the Texian defeat. The news sparked a panic, known as "The Runaway Scrape", in which the Texian army, most settlers, and the new Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

 government fled from the advancing Mexican Army.

Within Mexico, the battle has often been overshadowed by events from the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

 of 1846–48. In 19th-century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually became known as a battle site rather than a former mission. The Texas Legislature purchased the land and buildings in the early part of the 20th century and designated the Alamo chapel as an official Texas State Shrine. The Alamo
Legacy of the Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo left a substantial legacy and influence within American culture.-Perception:Within weeks of the battle, it began to be compared to the Greek stand at the Battle of Thermopylae....

 is now "the most popular tourist site in Texas". The Alamo has been the subject of numerous non-fiction works beginning in 1843. Most Americans, however, are more familiar with the myths spread by many of the movie and television adaptations, including the 1950s Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 miniseries Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett (TV miniseries)
Davy Crockett is a five part serial which aired on ABC in one-hour episodes on the Disneyland series. The series stars Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as his fictional best friend, George Russel....

and John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

's 1960 film The Alamo
The Alamo (1960 film)
The Alamo is a 1960 American historical epic released by United Artists. The film was directed by John Wayne, who also starred as Davy Crockett. The cast also includes Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie and Laurence Harvey as William B...

. The 2004 movie, The Alamo
The Alamo (2004 film)
The Alamo is a 2004 American war film about the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. The film was directed by Texan John Lee Hancock, produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Mark Johnson, and distributed by Touchstone Pictures....

presented a more balanced view of the events surrounding the siege and subsequent battle.

Background

Under President Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

, the Mexican government began to shift away from a federalist
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 model. The increasingly dictatorial policies, including the revocation of the Constitution of 1824 in early 1835, incited many federalists to revolt. The Mexican border region of Texas
Mexican Texas
Mexican Texas is the name given by Texas history scholars to the period between 1821 and 1836, when Texas was an integral part of Mexico. The period began with Mexico's victory over Spain in its war of independence in 1821. For the first several years of its existence, Mexican Texas operated very...

 was largely populated by immigrants from the United States. These were accustomed to a federalist government and to extensive individual rights, and they were quite vocal in their displeasure at Mexico's shift towards centralism. Already leery of previous American attempts to purchase Texas, Mexican authorities blamed much of the Texian unrest on American immigrants, most of whom had made little effort to adapt to the Mexican culture.

In October, Texians engaged Mexican troops in the first official battle of the Texas Revolution
Texas Revolution
The Texas Revolution or Texas War of Independence was an armed conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Texas portion of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas. The war lasted from October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836...

. Determined to quash the rebellion, Santa Anna began assembling a large force, the Army of Operations in Texas, to restore order. Most of his soldiers were raw recruits, and a large number had been forcibly conscripted.

The Texian
Texian
Texian is an archaic, mostly defunct 19th century demonym which defined a settler of current-day Texas, one of the southern states of the United States of America which borders the country of Mexico...

s systematically defeated the Mexican troops already stationed in Texas. The last group of Mexican soldiers in the region—commanded by Santa Anna's brother-in-law, General Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos was a 19th-century Mexican general. He was married to Lucinda López de Santa Anna, sister of Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Background:Cós was born in Vera Cruz in the year 1800, the son of an attorney...

—surrendered on December 9 following the siege of Béxar
Siege of Bexar
The Siege of Béxar was an early campaign of the Texas Revolution in which a volunteer Texan army successfully defeated Mexican forces at San Antonio de Béxar . Texians had become disillusioned with the Mexican government as President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's tenure became increasingly...

. By this point, the Texian Army
Texian Army
The Texian Army was a military organization consisting of volunteer and regular soldiers who fought against the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution. Approximately 3,700 men joined the army between October 2, 1835 during the Battle of Gonzales through the end of the war on April 21, 1836, at...

 was dominated by very recent arrivals to the region, primarily adventurers from the United States. Many Texas settlers, unprepared for a long campaign, had returned home. Angered by what he perceived to be American interference in Mexican affairs, Santa Anna spearheaded a resolution classifying foreigners found fighting in Texas as pirates. The resolution effectively banned the taking of prisoners of war: in this period of time, captured pirates were executed immediately. Santa Anna reiterated this message in a strongly worded letter to United States President Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. This letter was not widely distributed, and it is unlikely that most of the American recruits serving in the Texian Army were aware that there would be no prisoners of war.

When Mexican troops departed San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas) Texian soldiers established a garrison at the Alamo Mission
Alamo Mission in San Antonio
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas....

, a former Spanish religious outpost
Spanish missions in Texas
The Spanish Missions in Texas comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans, but with the added benefit of giving Spain a toehold in the frontier land. The missions...

 which had been converted to a makeshift fort. Described by Santa Anna as an "irregular fortification hardly worthy of the name", the Alamo had been designed to withstand an attack by native tribes, not an artillery-equipped army. The complex sprawled across 3 acres (1.2 ha), providing almost 1320 feet (402.3 m) of perimeter to defend. An interior plaza was bordered on the east by the chapel and to the south by a one-story building known as the Low Barracks. A wooden palisade stretched between these two buildings. The two-story Long Barracks extended north from the chapel. At the northern corner of the east wall stood a cattle pen and horse corral. The walls surrounding the complex were at least 2.75 foot (0.8382 m) thick and ranged from 9–12 ft (2.7–3.7 m) high.The plaza covered an area 75 feet (22.9 m) long and 62 feet (18.9 m) wide. The Low Barracks was 114 feet (34.7 m) long, and the Long Barracks was 186 feet (56.7 m) long and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide. (Myers (1948), pp. 180–81.)

To compensate for the lack of firing ports, Texian engineer Green B. Jameson constructed catwalks to allow defenders to fire over the walls; this method, however, left the rifleman's upper body exposed. Mexican forces had left behind 19 cannons, which Jameson installed along the walls. A large 18-pounder had arrived in Texas with the New Orleans Greys. Jameson positioned this cannon in the southwest corner of the compound. He boasted to Texian Army commander Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

 that the Texians could "whip 10 to 1 with our artillery".

The Texian garrison was woefully under-manned and under-provisioned, with fewer than 100 soldiers remaining by January 6, 1836. Colonel James C. Neill
James C. Neill
↔James Clinton Neill was a 19th-century American soldier and politician, most noted for his role in the Texas Revolution and the early defense of the Alamo. He was born in North Carolina.-Early life and career:...

, the acting Alamo commander, wrote to the provisional government: "If there has ever been a dollar here I have no knowledge of it". Neill requested additional troops and supplies, stressing that the garrison was likely unable to withstand a siege lasting longer than four days. The Texian government was in turmoil and unable to provide much assistance.A week after Neill sent his letter, the Texian provisional legislature impeached the governor
Henry Smith (Texas Governor)
Henry Smith was first American-born Governor of the Mexican territory of Texas and briefly presided over the revolution there.-Early life:...

, who in turn disbanded the legislature. The interim constitution had given neither party the authority to take these actions, and no one in Texas was entirely sure who was in charge. (Todish et al. (1998), pp. 30–31.)
Four different men claimed to have been given command over the entire army:Houston, James Fannin
James Fannin
James Walker Fannin, Jr. was a 19th-century U.S. military figure on the Texas Army and leader during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36...

, Frank W. Johnson
Frank W. Johnson
Francis White "Frank" Johnson was a co-commander of the Texian Army from December 1835 through February 1836, during the Texas Revolution. Johnson arrived in Texas in 1826 and worked as a surveyor for several empresarios, including Stephen F. Austin. One of his first activities was to plot the...

, and Dr. James Grant. (Todish et al. (1998), p. 30.)
on January 14, Neill approached one of them, Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

, for assistance in gathering supplies, clothing, and ammunition.

Prelude to battle

Houston could not spare the number of men necessary to mount a successful defense. Instead, he sent Colonel James Bowie with 30 men to remove the artillery from the Alamo and destroy the complex.Houston's orders to Bowie were vague, and historians disagree on their intent. One interpretation is that Bowie's orders were to destroy only the barricades that the Mexican Army had erected around San Antonio de Béxar, and that he should then wait in the Alamo until Governor Henry Smith decided whether the mission should be demolished and the artillery removed. Smith never gave orders on this issue. (Edmondson (2000), p. 252.) Bowie was unable to transport the artillery since the Alamo garrison lacked the necessary draft animals. Neill soon persuaded Bowie that the location held strategic importance. In a letter to Governor Henry Smith
Henry Smith (Texas Governor)
Henry Smith was first American-born Governor of the Mexican territory of Texas and briefly presided over the revolution there.-Early life:...

, Bowie argued that "the salvation of Texas depends in great measure on keeping Bexar out of the hands of the enemy. It serves as the frontier picquet guard, and if it were in the possession of Santa Anna, there is no stronghold from which to repel him in his march toward the Sabine."The Sabine River
Sabine River (Texas-Louisiana)
The Sabine River is a river, long, in the U.S. states of Texas and Louisiana. In its lower course, it forms part of the boundary between the two states and empties into Sabine Lake, an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico. The river formed part of the United States-Mexican international boundary during...

 marked the eastern border of Mexican Texas.
The letter to Smith ended, "Colonel Neill and myself have come to the solemn resolution that we will rather die in these ditches than give it up to the enemy." Bowie also wrote to the provisional government, asking for "men, money, rifles, and cannon powder". Few reinforcements were authorized; cavalry officer William B. Travis
William B. Travis
William Barret Travis was a 19th-century American lawyer and soldier. At the age of 26, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army...

 arrived in Bexar with 30 men on February 3. Five days later, a small group of volunteers, including Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett
David "Davy" Crockett was a celebrated 19th century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S...

, arrived.

On February 11, Neill left the Alamo
Legacy of the Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo left a substantial legacy and influence within American culture.-Perception:Within weeks of the battle, it began to be compared to the Greek stand at the Battle of Thermopylae....

, likely to recruit additional reinforcements and gather supplies. He transferred command to Travis, the highest-ranking regular army officer in the garrison. Volunteers comprised much of the garrison, and they were unwilling to accept Travis as their leader.Volunteers in the Texian Army asserted the right to choose their own leaders, and most of them were unwilling to serve under officers of the regular army. The men instead elected Bowie, who had a reputation as a fierce fighter, as their commander. Bowie celebrated by getting very intoxicated and creating havoc in Béxar. To mitigate the resulting ill feelings, Bowie agreed to share command with Travis.
As the Texians struggled to find men and supplies, Santa Anna continued to gather men at San Luis Potosi
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí officially Estado Libre y Soberano de San Luis Potosí is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí....

; by the end of 1835 his army numbered 6,019 soldiers. Rather than advance along the coast, where supplies and reinforcements could be easily delivered by sea, Santa Anna ordered his army inland to Béxar, the political center of Texas and the site of Cos's defeat. The army began its march north in late December. Officers used the long journey to train the men. Many of the new recruits did not know how to use the sights of their guns, and many refused to fire from the shoulder because of the large recoil.

Progress was slow. There were not enough mules to transport all of the supplies, and many of the teamsters, all civilians, quit when their pay was delayed. The large number of soldaderas
Soldaderas
Soldaderas were female soldiers who went into combat alongside men during the Mexican Revolution, which initially broke out in opposition to the conservative Díaz regime...

–women and children who followed the army–consumed the already scarce supplies. The soldiers were soon reduced to partial rations. On February 12 they crossed the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

.Although the Rio Grande now marks the border between Texas and Mexico, in this era the Nueces River
Nueces River
The Nueces River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas, approximately long. It drains a region in central and southern Texas southeastward into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the southernmost major river in Texas northeast of the Rio Grande...

, several hundred miles north, was considered the southern boundary of Mexican Texas.
Temperatures in Texas reached record lows, and by February 13 an estimated 15–16 in (38.1–40.6 cm) of snow had fallen. Hypothermia, dysentery, and Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 raiding parties took a heavy toll on the Mexican soldiers.

On February 21, Santa Anna and his vanguard reached the banks of the Medina River
Medina River
The Medina River is located in south central Texas, USA, in the Medina Valley. Named after Pedro Medina, a Spanish engineer, by Alonso de León, Spanish governor of Coahuila, New Spain in 1689. It was also known as the Rio Mariano, Rio San Jose, or Rio de Bagres...

, 25 miles (40.2 km) from Béxar. Unaware of the Mexican Army's proximity, the majority of the Alamo garrison joined Béxar residents at a fiesta.The fiesta was in celebration of the birthday of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, the first president of the United States.
After learning of the planned celebration, Santa Anna ordered General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma
Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma
Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma was a 19th-century general for the Republic of Mexico.Sesma commanded the brigade sent in advance of the main body of Antonio López de Santa Anna's main body of troops that were heading to put down the rebellion in the Mexican state of Texas. His orders were to relieve Gen...

 to immediately seize the unprotected Alamo, but sudden rains halted that raid.

Investment

In the early hours of February 23, residents began fleeing Béxar, fearing the Mexican army's imminent arrival. Although unconvinced by the reports, Travis stationed a soldier in the San Fernando church bell tower—the highest location in town—to watch for signs of an approaching force. Several hours later, Texian scouts reported seeing Mexican troops 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the town. Few arrangements had been made for a potential siege. One group of Texians scrambled to herd cattle into the Alamo, while others scrounged for food in the recently abandoned houses. Several members of the garrison who had been living in town brought their families with them when they reported to the Alamo. Among these were Almaron Dickinson
Almaron Dickinson
Almaron Dickinson was a Texan soldier and defender during the Battle of the Alamo, fought during the Texas Revolution. Dickinson is best known as having been the artillery officer of the small garrison, and for being the husband of one of the only three non-Mexican survivors to live through the...

, who brought his wife Susanna and their infant daughter Angelina; Bowie, who was accompanied by his deceased wife's cousins, Gertrudis Navarro and Juana Navarro Alsbury
Juana Navarro Alsbury
Juana Navarro Alsbury was one of the few Texian survivors of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution in 1836. As Mexican forces entered her hometown, San Antonio de Bexar, on February 23, Alsbury's cousin by marriage, James Bowie, brought her with him to the Alamo Mission so that he...

, and Alsbury's young son; and Gregorio Esparza, whose family climbed through the window of the Alamo chapel after the Mexican army arrived. Other members of the garrison failed to report for duty; most of the men working outside Béxar did not try to sneak past Mexican lines.
By late afternoon Béxar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican troops. When the Mexican troops raised a blood-red flag signifying no quarter
No quarter
A victor gives no quarter when the victor shows no clemency or mercy and refuses to spare the life in return for the surrender at discretion of a vanquished opponent....

, Travis responded with a blast from the Alamo's largest cannon. Believing that Travis had acted hastily, Bowie sent Jameson to meet with Santa Anna. Travis was angered that Bowie had acted unilaterally and sent his own representative, Albert Martin. Both emissaries met with Colonel Juan Almonte
Juan Almonte
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte was a 19th century Mexican official, soldier and diplomat. He was a veteran of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution...

 and José Bartres. According to Almonte, the Texians asked for an honorable surrender but were informed that any surrender must be unconditional. On learning this, Bowie and Travis mutually agreed to fire the cannon again.Although Santa Anna later reported that Texian cannon fire on February 23 killed two Mexican soldiers and wounded eight others, no other Mexican officer reported fatalities from that day. (Todish et al. (1998), p. 40., Edmondson (2000), p. 304.)

Skirmishes

The first night of the siege was relatively quiet. Over the next few days, Mexican soldiers established artillery batteries, initially about 1000 feet (304.8 m) from the south and east walls of the Alamo
Legacy of the Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo left a substantial legacy and influence within American culture.-Perception:Within weeks of the battle, it began to be compared to the Greek stand at the Battle of Thermopylae....

. A third battery was positioned southeast of the fort. Each night the batteries inched closer to the Alamo walls. During the first week of the siege more than 200 cannonballs landed in the Alamo plaza. At first the Texians matched Mexican artillery fire, often reusing the Mexican cannonballs. On February 26 Travis ordered the artillery to conserve powder and shot.

Two notable events occurred on Wednesday, February 24. At some point that day, Bowie collapsed from illness, leaving Travis in sole command of the garrison. Late that afternoon, a Mexican scout became the first fatality of the siege. The following morning, 200–300 Mexican soldiers crossed the San Antonio River
San Antonio River
The San Antonio River is a major waterway that originates in central Texas in a cluster of springs in north central San Antonio, approximately four miles north of downtown, and follows a roughly southeastern path through the state. It eventually feeds into the Guadalupe River about ten miles from...

 and took cover in abandoned shacks near the Alamo walls. Several Texians ventured out to burn the huts,Texians within the Alamo provided cover fire. After a two-hour skirmish the Mexican troops retreated to Béxar. Two Mexican soldiers were killed and four wounded. No Texians were injured.

A blue norther
Cold wave
A cold wave is a weather phenomenon that is distinguished by a cooling of the air. Specifically, as used by the U.S. National Weather Service, a cold wave is a rapid fall in temperature within a 24 hour period requiring substantially increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and...

 blew in on February 25, dropping the temperature to 39 °F (3.9 °C). Neither army was prepared for the cold temperatures. Texian attempts to gather firewood were thwarted by Mexican troops. On the evening of February 26 Colonel Juan Bringas engaged several Texians who were burning more huts. According to historian J.R. Edmondson, one Texian was killed.

Reinforcements

Santa Anna posted one company east of the Alamo, on the road to Gonzales. Almonte and 800 dragoon
Dragoon
The word dragoon originally meant mounted infantry, who were trained in horse riding as well as infantry fighting skills. However, usage altered over time and during the 18th century, dragoons evolved into conventional light cavalry units and personnel...

s were stationed along the road to Goliad. Throughout the siege these towns had received multiple couriers, dispatched by Travis to plead for reinforcements and supplies. The most famous of his missives, written February 24, was addressed To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World is an open letter written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo, to settlers in Mexican Texas...

. According to historian Mary Deborah Petite, the letter is "considered by many as one of the masterpieces of American patriotism". Copies of the letter were distributed across Texas, and eventually reprinted throughout the United States and much of Europe.

As news of the siege spread throughout Texas, potential reinforcements gathered in Gonzales. They hoped to rendezvous with Colonel James Fannin
James Fannin
James Walker Fannin, Jr. was a 19th-century U.S. military figure on the Texas Army and leader during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36...

, who was expected to arrive from Goliad with his garrison. On February 26, after days of indecision, Fannin ordered 320 men, four cannon, and several supply wagons to march toward the Alamo, 90 miles (144.8 km) away. This group traveled less than 1 miles (1.6 km) before turning back. Fannin blamed the retreat on his officers; the officers and enlisted men accused Fannin of aborting the mission.

Texians gathered in Gonzales were unaware of Fannin's return to Goliad, and most continued to wait. Impatient with the delay, on February 27 Travis ordered Samuel G. Bastian to go to Gonzales "to hurry up reinforcements". According to historian Thomas Ricks Lindley, Bastian encountered the Gonzales Ranging Company led by Lieutenant George C. Kimble
George C. Kimble
George C. Kimble defender and officer of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, was born in 1803 and died at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Kimble County in the hill country of Texas is named in his honor....

 and Travis' courier to Gonzales, Albert Martin, who had tired of waiting for Fannin. A Mexican patrol attacked, driving off four of the men, including Bastian.Colonel Juan Almonte's journal did not mention any skirmishes that evening. In 1837, Santa Anna's secretary Roman Martinez Caro did report "two small reinforcements from Gonzales that succeeded in breaking through our lines and entering the fort. The first consisted of four men who gained the fort one night, and the second was a party of twenty-five." (Lindley (2003), p. 131.) In the darkness, the Texians fired on the remaining 32 men, whom they assumed were Mexican soldiers. One man was wounded, and his English curses convinced the defenders to open the gates.These Texian reinforcements were later dubbed the Immortal 32.

On March 3, the Texians watched from the walls as approximately 1,000 Mexican troops marched into Béxar. The Mexican army celebrated loudly throughout the afternoon, both in honor of their reinforcements and at the news that troops under General José de Urrea
José de Urrea
José de Urrea was a noted general for Mexico. He fought under General Antonio López de Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. Urrea's forces were never defeated in battle during the Texas Revolution...

 had soundly defeated Texian Colonel Frank W. Johnson
Frank W. Johnson
Francis White "Frank" Johnson was a co-commander of the Texian Army from December 1835 through February 1836, during the Texas Revolution. Johnson arrived in Texas in 1826 and worked as a surveyor for several empresarios, including Stephen F. Austin. One of his first activities was to plot the...

 at the Battle of San Patricio
Battle of San Patricio
The Battle of San Patricio was a 19th century battle fought on February 27, 1836, between the Republic of Mexico and the rebelling Mexican state of Texas.-Background:...

 on February 27. Most of the Texians in the Alamo believed that Sesma had been leading the Mexican forces during the siege, and they mistakenly attributed the celebration to the arrival of Santa Anna. The reinforcements brought the number of Mexican soldiers in Bexar to almost 2,400.

The arrival of the Mexican reinforcements prompted Travis to send three men, including Davy Crockett, to find Fannin's force, which he still believed to be en route. The scouts discovered a large group of Texians camped 20 miles (32.2 km) from the Alamo. Lindley's research indicates that up to 50 of these men had come from Goliad after Fannin's aborted rescue mission. The others had left Gonzales several days earlier. Just before daylight on March 4, part of the Texian force broke through Mexican lines and entered the Alamo. Mexican soldiers drove a second group across the prairie.Almonte's journal reported that there was an engagement that night, but that the Mexican troops had repulsed the assault. (Lindley (2003), p. 143.)

Assault preparations

On March 4, the day after his reinforcements arrived, Santa Anna proposed an assault on the Alamo. Many of his senior officers recommended that they wait for two 12-pounder cannons anticipated to arrive on March 7. That evening, a local woman, likely Bowie's cousin-in-law Juana Navarro Alsbury
Juana Navarro Alsbury
Juana Navarro Alsbury was one of the few Texian survivors of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution in 1836. As Mexican forces entered her hometown, San Antonio de Bexar, on February 23, Alsbury's cousin by marriage, James Bowie, brought her with him to the Alamo Mission so that he...

, approached Santa Anna to negotiate a surrender for the Alamo defenders. According to many historians, this visit probably increased Santa Anna's impatience; as historian Timothy Todish noted, "there would have been little glory in a bloodless victory". The following morning, Santa Anna announced to his staff that the assault would take place early on March 6. Santa Anna arranged for troops from Béxar to be excused from the front lines, so that they would not be forced to fight their own families.

Legend holds that at some point on March 5, Travis gathered his men and explained that an attack was imminent, and that the Mexican Army would prevail. He supposedly drew a line in the sand
Line in the sand (phrase)
A line in the sand is a metaphor with two similar meanings:*The first meaning is of a point beyond which one will proceed no further...

 and asked those willing to die for the Texian cause to cross and stand alongside him; only one man was reputed to decline. Many historians disregard the story. The last Texian verified to have left the Alamo was James Allen, a courier who carried personal messages from Travis and several of the other men on March 5.

Exterior fighting

Initial Mexican troop deployment
CommanderTroopsEquipment
Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos
Martín Perfecto de Cos was a 19th-century Mexican general. He was married to Lucinda López de Santa Anna, sister of Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Background:Cós was born in Vera Cruz in the year 1800, the son of an attorney...

350 10 ladders
2 crowbars

2 axes
Duque/Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón was a major general in the Mexican army of the 19th century. He was a close friend of General and Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Early life:Manuel Fernández Castrillón was born in Cuba...

400 10 ladders
Romero 400 6 ladders
Morales 125 2 ladders
Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

400 reserves

At 10 p.m. on March 5, the Mexican artillery ceased their bombardment. As Santa Anna had anticipated, the exhausted Texians soon fell into the first uninterrupted sleep many had gotten since the siege began. Just after midnight Mexican troops began preparing for the final assault. The troops were divided into four columns
Column (formation)
A military column is a formation of soldiers marching together in one or more files in which the file is significantly longer than the width of ranks in the formation...

, commanded by Cos, Colonel Francisco Duque, Colonel José María Romero and Colonel Juan Morales. Veterans were positioned on the outside of the columns to better control the new recruits and conscripts in the middle. As a precaution, 500 Mexican cavalry were positioned around the Alamo to prevent escape of either Texian or Mexican soldiers. Santa Anna remained in camp with the 400 reserves. Despite the bitter cold, the soldiers were ordered not to wear overcoats, which could impede their movements. Clouds concealed the moon, and thus the movements of the soldiers.

At 5:30 a.m. troops silently advanced. Cos and his men approached the northwest corner of the Alamo, while Duque led his men from the northwest toward a repaired breach in the Alamo's north wall. The column commanded by Romero marched towards the east wall, and Morales's column aimed for the low parapet by the chapel.

The three Texian sentinels stationed outside the walls were killed in their sleep, allowing Mexican soldiers to approach undetected within musket range of the walls. At this point, the silence was broken by shouts of "¡Viva Santa Anna!" and music from the buglers. The noise woke the Texians. Most of the noncombatants gathered in the church sacristy
Sacristy
A sacristy is a room for keeping vestments and other church furnishings, sacred vessels, and parish records.The sacristy is usually located inside the church, but in some cases it is an annex or separate building...

 for safety. Travis rushed to his post yelling, "Come on boys, the Mexicans are upon us and we'll give them hell!" and, as he passed a group of Tejanos, "¡No rendirse, muchachos!" ("No surrender, boys").
In the initial moments of the assault Mexican troops were at a disadvantage. Their column formation allowed only the front rows of soldiers to fire safely. Unaware of the dangers, the untrained recruits in the ranks "blindly fir[ed] their guns", injuring or killing the troops in front of them. The tight concentration of troops also offered an excellent target for the Texian artillery. Lacking canister shot
Canister shot
Canister shot is a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. It was similar to the naval grapeshot, but fired smaller and more numerous balls, which did not have to punch through the wooden hull of a ship...

, Texians filled their cannon with any metal they could find, including door hinges, nails, and chopped-up horseshoes, essentially turning the cannon into giant shotguns. According to the diary of José Enrique de la Peña
José Enrique de la Peña
Jose Enrique de la Peña was a colonel in the Mexican Army. Under General Antonio López de Santa Anna, de la Peña participated in the Battle of the Alamo.In 1955, a book of his memoirs of the battle was published...

, "a single cannon volley did away with half the company of chasseurs from Toluca
Toluca
Toluca, formally known as Toluca de Lerdo, is the state capital of Mexico State as well as the seat of the Municipality of Toluca. It is the center of a rapidly growing urban area, now the fifth largest in Mexico. It is located west-southwest of Mexico City and only about 40 minutes by car to the...

". Duque fell from his horse after suffering a wound in his thigh and was almost trampled by his own men. General Manuel Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón
Manuel Fernández Castrillón was a major general in the Mexican army of the 19th century. He was a close friend of General and Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna.-Early life:Manuel Fernández Castrillón was born in Cuba...

 quickly assumed command of Duque's column.

Although some in the front of the Mexican ranks wavered, soldiers in the rear pushed them on. As the troops massed against the walls, Texians were forced to lean over the walls to shoot, leaving them exposed to Mexican fire. Travis became one of the first defenders to die, shot while firing his shotgun into the soldiers below him. Few of the Mexican ladders reached the walls. The few soldiers who were able to climb the ladders were quickly killed or beaten back. As the Texians discharged their previously loaded rifles, however, they found it increasingly difficult to reload while attempting to keep Mexican soldiers from scaling the walls.

Mexican soldiers withdrew and regrouped, but their second attack was repulsed. Fifteen minutes into the battle, they attacked a third time. During the third strike, Romero's column, aiming for the east wall, was exposed to cannon fire and shifted to the north, mingling with the second column. Cos's column, under fire from Texians on the west wall, also veered north. When Santa Anna saw that the bulk of his army was massed against the north wall, he feared a rout; "panicked", he sent the reserves into the same area. The Mexican soldiers closest to the north wall realized that the makeshift wall contained many gaps and toeholds. One of the first to scale the 12-foot (3.7 m) wall was General Juan Amador; at his challenge, his men began swarming up the wall. Amador opened the postern
Postern
A postern is a secondary door or gate, particularly in a fortification such as a city wall or castle curtain wall. Posterns were often located in a concealed location, allowing the occupants to come and go inconspicuously. In the event of a siege, a postern could act as a sally port, allowing...

 in the north wall, allowing Mexican soldiers to pour into the complex. Others climbed through gun ports in the west wall, which had few defenders. As the Texian defenders abandoned the north wall and the northern end of the west wall, Texian gunners at the south end of the mission turned their cannon toward the north and fired into the advancing Mexican soldiers. This left the south end of the mission unprotected; within minutes Mexican soldiers had climbed the walls and killed the gunners, gaining control of the Alamo's 18-pounder cannon. By this time Romero's men had taken the east wall of the compound and were pouring in through the cattle pen.

Interior fighting

As previously planned, most of the Texians fell back to the barracks and the chapel. Holes had been carved in the walls to allow the Texians to fire. Unable to reach the barracks, Texians stationed along the west wall headed west for the San Antonio River. When the cavalry charged, the Texians took cover and began firing from a ditch. Sesma was forced to send reinforcements, and the Texians were eventually killed. Sesma reported that this skirmish involved 50 Texians, but Edmondson believes that number was inflated.

The defenders in the cattle pen retreated into the horse corral. After discharging their weapons, the small band of Texians scrambled over the low wall, circled behind the church and raced on foot for the east prairie, which appeared empty. As the Mexican cavalry advanced on the group, Almaron Dickinson and his artillery crew turned a cannon around and fired into the cavalry, probably inflicting casualties. Nevertheless, all of the escaping Texians were killed.

The last Texian group to remain in the open were Crockett and his men, defending the low wall in front of the church. Unable to reload, they used their rifles as clubs and fought with knives. After a volley of fire and a wave of Mexican bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

s, the few remaining Texians in this group fell back toward the church. The Mexican army now controlled all of the outer walls and the interior of the Alamo compound except for the church and rooms along the east and west walls. Mexican soldiers turned their attention to a Texian flag waving from the roof of one building. Four Mexicans were killed before the flag of Mexico
Flag of Mexico
The flag of Mexico is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country's War...

 was raised in that location.Lieutenant José Maria Torres is credited with successfully raising the Mexican flag; he was mortally wounded in the process. (Todish et al. (1998), p. 54.)

For the next hour, the Mexican army worked to secure complete control of the Alamo. Many of the remaining defenders were ensconced in the fortified barracks rooms. In the confusion, the Texians had neglected to spike their cannon before retreating. Mexican soldiers turned the cannon toward the barracks. As each door was blown off Mexican soldiers would fire a volley of muskets into the dark room, then charge in for hand-to-hand combat.

Too sick to participate in the battle, Bowie likely died in bed. Eyewitnesses to the battle gave conflicting accounts of his death. Some witnesses maintained that they saw several Mexican soldiers enter Bowie's room, bayonet him, and carry him alive from the room. Others claimed that Bowie shot himself or was killed by soldiers while too weak to lift his head. According to historian Wallace Chariton, the "most popular, and probably the most accurate" version is that Bowie died on his cot, "back braced against the wall, and using his pistols and his famous knife
Bowie knife
A Bowie knife is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie in the early 19th Century. Since the first incarnation was created by James Black, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features, although its...

."

The last of the Texians to die were the 11 men manning the two 12-pounder cannon in the chapel. A shot from the 18-pounder cannon destroyed the barricades at the front of the church, and Mexican soldiers entered the building after firing an initial musket volley. Dickinson's crew fired their cannon from the apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 into the Mexican soldiers at the door. With no time to reload, the Texians, including Dickinson, Gregorio Esparza and James Bonham
James Bonham
James Butler Bonham was a 19th-century American soldier who died at the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution...

, grabbed rifles and fired before being bayoneted to death. Texian Robert Evans, the master of ordnance, had been tasked with keeping the gunpowder from falling into Mexican hands. Wounded, he crawled toward the powder magazine but was killed by a musket ball with his torch only inches from the powder. Had he succeeded, the blast would have destroyed the church and killed the women and children hiding in the sacristy.

As soldiers approached the sacristy, one of the young sons of defender Anthony Wolf stood to pull a blanket over his shoulders. In the dark, Mexican soldiers mistook him for an adult and killed him.According to Edmondson, Wolf then ran into the room, grabbed his remaining son, and leaped with the child from the cannon ramp at the rear of the church; both were killed by musket shots before hitting the ground. (Edmondson (2000), p. 372.) Possibly the last Texian to die in battle was Jacob Walker, who attempted to hide behind Susannah Dickinson
Susannah Dickinson
Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson was one of two American survivors of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution, where her husband, Captain Almaron Dickinson, and 182 other defenders were killed by the Mexican Army...

 and was bayoneted in front of the women. Another Texian, Brigido Guerrero, also sought refuge in the sacristy. Guerrero, who had deserted from the Mexican Army in December 1835, was spared after convincing the soldiers he was a Texian prisoner.

By 6:30 a.m. the battle for the Alamo was over. Mexican soldiers inspected each corpse, bayoneting any body that moved. Even with all of the Texians dead, Mexican soldiers continued to shoot, some killing each other in the confusion. Mexican generals were unable to stop the bloodlust and appealed to Santa Anna for help. Although the general showed himself, the violence continued and the buglers were finally ordered to sound a retreat. For 15 minutes after that, soldiers continued to fire into dead bodies.

Casualties

According to many accounts of the battle, between five and seven Texians surrendered.Edmondson speculates that these men might have been sick or wounded and were therefore unable to fight. (Edmondson (2000), p. 373) Incensed that his orders had been ignored, Santa Anna demanded the immediate execution of the survivors. Weeks after the battle, stories circulated that Crockett was among those who surrendered. However, Ben, a former American slave who cooked for one of Santa Anna's officers, maintained that Crockett's body was found surrounded by "no less than sixteen Mexican corpses". Historians disagree on which version of Crockett's death is accurate.According to Petite (1998), p. 124, "Every account of the Crockett surrender-execution story comes from an avowed antagonist (either on political or military grounds) of Santa Anna's. It is believed that many stories, such as the surrender and execution of Crockett, were created and spread in order to discredit Santa Anna and add to his role as villain."

Santa Anna reportedly told Captain Fernando Urizza that the battle "was but a small affair". Another officer then remarked that "with another such victory as this, we'll go to the devil".The identity of this officer is disputed. Edmondson (2000), p. 374 claims that this remark was made by Colonel Juan Almonte, and overheard by Almonte's cook, Ben. Todish et al. (1998), p. 55. attributes the remark to Lieutenant Colonel José Juan Sanchez Navarro. In his initial report Santa Anna claimed that 600 Texians had been killed, with only 70 Mexican soldiers killed and 300 wounded. His secretary, Ramón Martínez Caro, later repudiated the report. Other estimates of the number of Mexican soldiers killed ranged from 60–2,000, with an additional 250–300 wounded. Most Alamo historians place the number of Mexican casualties at 400–600 Mexicans. This would represent about one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault, which Todish remarks is "a tremendous casualty rate by any standards". Most eyewitnesses counted between 182–257 Texians killed. Some historians believe that at least one Texian, Henry Warnell, successfully escaped from the battle. Warnell died several months later of wounds incurred either during the final battle or during his escape as a courier.

Mexican soldiers were buried in the local cemetery, Campo Santo.According to Francisco Ruiz, possibly the alcalde
Alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

of Béxar, the graveyard was near full and that he instead threw some of the corpses in the river. (Edmondson (2000), p. 374.) However, Sam Houston reported on March 13 that all Mexicans were buried. (Lindley (2003), p. 277.)
Shortly after the battle, Colonel José Juan Sanchez Navarro proposed that a monument should be erected to the fallen Mexican soldiers. Cos rejected the idea.

The Texian bodies were stacked and burned.Cremating bodies was anathema at the time, as most Christians believed that a body could not be resurrected unless it were whole. (Petite (1998), p. 139.) The only exception was the body of Gregorio Esparza. His brother Francisco, an officer in Santa Anna's army, received permission to give Gregorio a proper burial. The ashes were left where they fell until February 1837, when Juan Seguín
Juan Seguín
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín was a 19th-century Texas Senator, Mayor, Judge, and Justice of the Peace and a prominent participant in the Texas Revolution.-Early life and family:...

 returned to Béxar to examine the remains. A simple coffin inscribed with the names Travis, Crockett, and Bowie was filled with ashes from the funeral pyres. According to a March 28, 1837, article in the Telegraph and Texas Register
Telegraph and Texas Register
Telegraph and Texas Register was the second permanent newspaper in Texas. Originally conceived as the Telegraph and Texas Planter, the newspaper was renamed shortly before it began publication, to reflect its new mission to be "a faithful register of passing events"...

, Seguín buried the coffin under a peach tree grove. The spot was not marked and cannot now be identified. Seguín later claimed that he had placed the coffin in front of the altar at the San Fernando Cathedral. In July 1936 a coffin was discovered buried in that location, but according to historian Wallace Chariton it is unlikely to actually contain the remains of the Alamo defenders. Fragments of uniforms were found in the coffin, and it is known that the Alamo defenders did not wear uniforms.

Texian survivors

In an attempt to convince other slaves in Texas to support the Mexican government over the Texian rebellion, Santa Anna spared Travis's slave, Joe. The day after the battle, he interviewed each noncombatant individually. Impressed with Susanna Dickinson, Santa Anna offered to adopt her infant daughter Angelina and have the child educated in Mexico City. Dickinson refused the offer, which was not extended to Juana Navarro Alsbury for her son who was of similar age. Each woman was given a blanket and two silver peso
Peso
The word peso was the name of a coin that originated in Spain and became of immense importance internationally...

s. Alsbury and the other Tejano women were allowed to return to their homes in Béxar; Dickinson, her daughter and Joe were sent to Gonzales, escorted by Ben. They were encouraged to relate the events of the battle, and to inform the remainder of the Texian forces that Santa Anna's army was unbeatable.

Impact on revolution

During the siege, newly elected delegates from across Texas met at the Convention of 1836
Convention of 1836
The Convention of 1836 was the meeting of elected delegates in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas in March 1836. The Texas Revolution had begun five months previously, and the interim government, known as the Consultation, had wavered over whether to declare independence from Mexico or pledge to...

. On March 2, the delegates declared independence
Texas Declaration of Independence
The Texas Declaration of Independence was the formal declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico in the Texas Revolution. It was adopted at the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, and formally signed the following day after errors were noted in the...

, forming the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

. Four days later, the delegates at the convention received a dispatch Travis had written March 3 warning of his dire situation. Unaware that the Alamo had fallen, Robert Potter called for the convention to adjourn and march immediately to relieve the Alamo. Sam Houston convinced the delegates to remain in Washington-on-the-Brazos to develop a constitution. After being appointed sole commander of all Texian troops, Houston journeyed to Gonzales to take command of the 400 volunteers who were still waiting for Fannin to lead them to the Alamo.

Within hours of Houston's arrival on March 11, Andres Barcenas and Anselmo Bergaras arrived with news that the Alamo had fallen and all Texians were slain. Hoping to halt a panic, Houston arrested the men as enemy spies. They were released hours later when Susannah Dickinson and Joe reached Gonzales and confirmed the report. Realizing that the Mexican army would soon advance toward the Texian settlements, Houston advised all civilians in the area to evacuate and ordered his new army to retreat. This sparked a mass exodus, known as the Runaway Scrape
Runaway Scrape
The Runaway Scrape was the name given to the flight and subsequent hostilities that occurred, as Texan, Tejano, and American settlers and militia encountered the pursuing Mexican army in early 1836....

, and most Texians, including members of the new government, fled east.

Despite their losses at the Alamo, the Mexican army in Texas outnumbered the Texian army by almost six to one. Santa Anna assumed that knowledge of the disparity in troop numbers and the fate of the Texian soldiers at the Alamo would quell the resistance, and that Texian soldiers would quickly leave the territory. News of the Alamo's fall had the opposite effect, and men flocked to Houston's army. The New York Post
New York Post
The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

editorialized that "had [Santa Anna] treated the vanquished with moderation and generosity, it would have been difficult if not impossible to awaken that general sympathy for the people of Texas which now impels so many adventurous and ardent spirits to throng to the aid of their brethren".

On the afternoon of April 21 the Texian army attacked Santa Anna's camp near Lynchburg Ferry
Lynchburg Ferry
The Lynchburg Ferry is a ferry across the Houston Ship Channel in the U.S. state of Texas, connecting Crosby-Lynchburg Road in Lynchburg to the north with the former State Highway 134 and San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in La Porte to the south...

. The Mexican army was taken by surprise, and the Battle of San Jacinto
Battle of San Jacinto
The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican forces in a fight that lasted just eighteen...

 was essentially over after 18 minutes. During the fighting, many of the Texian soldiers repeatedly cried "Remember the Alamo!" Santa Anna was captured the following day, and reportedly told Houston: "That man may consider himself born to no common destiny who has conquered the Napoleon of the West. And now it remains for him to be generous to the vanquished." Houston replied, "You should have remembered that at the Alamo". Santa Anna was forced to order his troops out of Texas, ending Mexican control of the province and giving some legitimacy to the new republic.

Legacy

Following the battle, Santa Anna was alternately viewed as a national hero or a pariah. Mexican perceptions of the battle often mirrored the prevailing viewpoint. Santa Anna had been disgraced following his capture at the Battle of San Jacinto, and many Mexican accounts of the battle were written by men who had been, or had become, his outspoken critics. Petite and many other historians believe that some of the stories, such as the execution of Crockett, may have been invented to further discredit Santa Anna. In Mexican history, the Texas campaign, including the Battle of the Alamo, was soon overshadowed by the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

 of 1846–48.
In San Antonio de Béxar, the largely Tejano population viewed the Alamo complex as more than just a battlesite; it represented decades of assistance—as a mission, a hospital, or a military post. As the English-speaking population increased, the complex became best known for the battle. Focus has centered primarily on the Texian defenders, with little emphasis given to the role of the Tejano soldiers who served in the Texian army or the actions of the Mexican army. In the early 20th century the Texas Legislature purchased the property and appointed the Daughters of the Republic of Texas
Daughters of the Republic of Texas
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas is a sororal association dedicated to perpetuating the memory of Texas pioneer families and soldiers of the Republic of Texas. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas is best known for its role as caretakers of The Alamo. They also operate a museum in Austin...

 as permanent caretakers of what is now an official state shrine. In front of the church, in the center of Alamo Plaza, stands a cenotaph
Cenotaph
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion...

, designed by Pompeo Coppini
Pompeo Coppini
Pompeo Luigi Coppini was an Italian sculptor who emigrated to the United States. Although his works can be found in Italy, Mexico and a number of American states, the majority of his work can be found in Texas...

, which commemorates the Texians and Tejanos who died during the battle. According to Bill Groneman's Battlefields of Texas, the Alamo has become "the most popular tourist site in Texas".
The first English-language histories of the battle were written and published by Texas Ranger
Texas Ranger Division
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas...

 and amateur historian John Henry Brown
John Henry Brown
John Henry Brown was an American historian, journalist, author, military leader, and a politician who served as a state legislator and as mayor of both Dallas and Galveston, Texas. Brown was among the first to publish scholarly histories of the state of Texas and the city of Dallas...

. The next major treatment of the battle was Reuben Potter's The Fall of the Alamo, published in The Magazine of American History in 1878. Potter based his work on interviews with many of the Mexican survivors of the battle. The first full-length, non-fiction book covering the battle, John Myers Myers
John Myers Myers
John Myers Myers was an American writer, best known for his literary fantasy novel Silverlock.-Life:Myers was born in Northport, Long Island on January 11, 1906 to John Caldwell Myers and Alice MacCorry Myers and grew up in various places in New York, including New Paltz and NYC. He knew from the...

' The Alamo, was published in 1948. In the decades since, the battle has featured prominently in many non-fiction works.

According to Todish et al., "there can be little doubt that most Americans have probably formed many of their opinions on what occurred at the Alamo not from books, but from the various movies made about the battle." The first film version of the battle appeared in 1911, when Gaston Melies
Gaston Méliès
Gaston Méliès was the brother of the more-famous French film director Georges Méliès. He also produced and directed a large number of early films in the United States....

 directed The Immortal Alamo
The Immortal Alamo
The Immortal Alamo was an American silent film produced by Star Film Company, directed by Gaston Melies, and released on May 25, 1911. The Immortal Alamo is the earliest film version of the events surrounding the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. No known copies of the film exist today, and it is...

. The battle became more widely known after it was featured in the 1950s Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 miniseries Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett (TV miniseries)
Davy Crockett is a five part serial which aired on ABC in one-hour episodes on the Disneyland series. The series stars Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as his fictional best friend, George Russel....

, which was largely based on myth. Within several years, John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 directed and starred in one of the best-known, but questionably accurate, film versions, 1960's The Alamo
The Alamo (1960 film)
The Alamo is a 1960 American historical epic released by United Artists. The film was directed by John Wayne, who also starred as Davy Crockett. The cast also includes Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie and Laurence Harvey as William B...

.Historians J. Frank Dobie and Lon Tinkle
Lon Tinkle
Julien Lon Tinkle was a historian, author, book critic, and professor who specialized in the history of Texas. Tinkle spent most of his life in Dallas, Texas , where he graduated from and later taught at Southern Methodist University. In 1942 he became a book editor and critic for the Dallas...

 requested that they not be listed as historical advisers in the credits of The Alamo because of its disjunction from recognized history.(Todish et al., p. 188.)
In 2004 another film, also called The Alamo
The Alamo (2004 film)
The Alamo is a 2004 American war film about the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. The film was directed by Texan John Lee Hancock, produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Mark Johnson, and distributed by Touchstone Pictures....

, was released. CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 described it as possibly "the most character-driven of all the movies made on the subject". It is also considered more faithful to the actual events than other movies.

A number of songwriters have been inspired by the Battle of the Alamo. Tennessee Ernie Ford
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Ernest Jennings Ford , better known as Tennessee Ernie Ford, was an American recording artist and television host who enjoyed success in the country and Western, pop, and gospel musical genres...

's "The Ballad of Davy Crockett
The Ballad of Davy Crockett
"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" is a song with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Thomas W. Blackburn.The first recording of the song was made by Fess Parker, quickly followed by versions by Bill Hayes and Tennessee Ernie Ford...

" spent 16 weeks on the country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 charts, peaking at No. 4 in 1955. Marty Robbins
Marty Robbins
Martin David Robinson , known professionally as Marty Robbins, was an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist...

 recorded a version of the song "The Ballad of the Alamo" in 1960 which spent 13 weeks on the pop charts, peaking at No. 34.

See also


External links

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