The Alamo

In 1835 the supporters of the Mexican government system on the principles of federalism rose in rebellion against the dictatorship of President Antonio Lopec de Santa Anna’s regime. In October the settlers of Mexican Texas rose a revolt against the Mexican government. Santa Anna immediately began preparing to attack Texas to finish with the Texian Revolution.

While Santa Anna was assembling troops in Mexico, the Texians were routing the Mexican garrisons quarted/billeted in Texas. On December 9, Santa Anna’s son-in-law General Martin Perfecto de Kos surrendered Béxar. There were no Mexican armed forces left in Texas. Many Texian settlers deserted from the Texian army for being not ready for a long military campaign. After the surrender of Béxar the Texian Army increased in manpower mainly owing to the adventurers from the United States. Being angry with the American interference in Mexican affairs Santa Anna ordered the Mexican Congress to authorize the Army to treat any foreigners participating in military actions in Texas as if they had been brigands. That decision prohibited to take prisoners as the captured soldiers were subject to putting to death according to the law of that time. In his letter to American President Andrew Jackson Santa Anna described everything mentioned above concerning foreigners participating in military actions in Texas using impolite expressions. Most American volunteers who served in Texian Army were not aware of the letter and the decision of the Mexican Congress. When the Mexican troops under the command of General Кos left Béxar (now St.Antonio, Texas) the Texian soldiers were quartered in the Alamo Mission, the former Catholic outpost used to be a makeshift fort. The Alamo was built to defend from the raids of the Indian tribes who had no artillery. The fortress occupied the area of three acres.

Texian engineer Green B. Jameson improved the defensive system of the fortress. He constructed catwalks for the defenders to fire over the walls. The Mexican forces left behind 19 cannons. The garrison‘s material security was out of condition. There was lack of soldiers. By January 6, 1836 there were only about a hundred soldiers in the Alamo.

Colonel James C. Neill, the acting Alamo commander, wrote to the provisional government: If there has ever been a dollar here I have no knowledge of it Neill inqutered additional troops and provision. He explained that the garrison wouldn’t be able to withstand the siege if it lasted more than four days. The Texian government was in confusion.

Four different officers claimed to be in command of the Texian army. On January 14, Neill made a straight request to Sam Houston for gathering supplies, clothing, and ammunition.

Houston understood that the Texian troops were unable to hold out the Alamo. He ordered Colonel James Bowie to take the artillery away from the Mission and destroy the complex (Lon Tinkle 13 Days to Glory).

Colonel James С. Neil didn’t share Houston’s opinion. He convinced Bowie that the fort is the object of strategic importance. In a letter to Governor Henry Smith, 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. (Stephen L.)

On February 11, Neill left the Alamo, probably to commit reinforcement and provide supplies in a garrison.  He relinquished command to Travis. (He was the highest-ranking officer among them who remained in the fortress).

However  most of the soldiers hadn’t identified him with the Commander. The men elected Bowie as their leader instead. But he was in a poor health and agreed to share command with Travis.

The Mexicans were ready to advance to the attack on Travis troops but temperatures in Texas reached record lows.

Hypothermia, dysentery, and Comanche raiding parties took a heavy toll on the Mexican soldiers. On February 22, almost the whole Texian garrison joined Béxar residents who celebrated George Washington’s birthday. Santa Ana decided to take advantage of the opportunity and capture the unguarded Alamo but the heavy rain prevented to conduct the military actions. By February 23, Béxar became deserted (Thomas Ricks).

By late afternoon Béxar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican troops. They raised a blood-red flag, it signified that Santa Anna’s forces would give no quarter to anyone. Travis responded with a blast from the Alamo’s largest cannon.

It was an independent single-handed decision. 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 to ask for yielding but their request was rejected. Santa Anna said that capitulation must be unconditional.

The Mexican army had been barraging for a long period of time but they stopped their military campaign because of the strong wind.

On February, 24 the illness forced Bowie to go to bed and Travis became a single commander of a garrison.

He wrote a letter addressed To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World. 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 (John Myers).

On gaining reinforcement the Maxican troops near the Alamo increased in manpower and ran to 2,400 people.

Legend holds that at some point on March 5, Travis drew a line in the sand and asked those willing to die for the Texian cause to cross and stand alongside him; only one man was reputed to decline.

At 5:30 Santa Anna ordered to attack. Within the first minutes the Mexican columns turned out to be at a disadvantage. Only first files were able to shoot. That case gave a chance to beat off two assaults. But during the next attack the Mexican forces were succeeded in climbing the fort. They killed the artillerymen and passed inside the Alamo Mission.

A small detachment of Texians ascended over the wall and rushed to the eastern prairie but all of them were killed.

The last group which found themselves in open space were Davy Crockett and his men. They guarded the wall in front of the church. Santa Anna’s fired in volleys on them and finished off them by bayonets. A great number of Texian soldiers took cover in barracks.

The Texians hadn’t clamped their pieces of ordnance before retreating and the Mexicans turned the cannons around and took a shot at each door. All the defenders of the Alamo Mission fell in battle. The last among them were 11 American soldiers who fired their cannons from the chapel. It took the Mexicans about an hour to conquer the whole fort.

By 6:30 a.m. the battle for the Alamo was over. Mexican soldiers inspected each corpse, bayoneting any body that moved.

Santa Anna told to wipe all the dead bodies’ faces to distinguish Mexicans from Texians. The Mexicans were buried, the Texians were burnt out.

Within the last hours of the battle the newly-formed government received a dispatch from Travis dated by March 3.

The delegates at the convention didn’t know about capturing  the Alamo. One of the delegates proposed to wind up the convention immediately, march to help the Alamo defenders. Sam Houston convinced the delegates to remain in Washington-on-the-Brazos for developing a constitution.  After Houston had been appointed the commander of all Texian troop he set out to Gonzales to take command of the 400 volunteers who were ready to come to Texian soldiers’ assistance (J.R. Edmondson).

In spite of the losses the Mexican Troops surpassed the Texian in 6 times. Santa Anna observed the Texian soldiers leaving the territory. He was sure that Mexico had crushed the Texian resistance but the case was somewhat different. Hundreds of people joined Houston’s army. On the afternoon of April 21 the Texian army attacked Santa Anna’s camp by Lynchburg Ferry. The Mexican army was taken aback and the battle of San Hasinto lasted 18 minutes. Santa Anna was made to withdraw his troops out of Texian area. It signified that Mexica had lost its control of the province and given some legitimacy to the new republic.

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