History, Patriotic, War

We Remember The Alamo

Click to see original imageThe Alamo at San Antonio Tex.,. ancient mission-fort now a historic shrine, was in the news last week when three self-styled “revolutionaries” scaled its walls and hauled- down American and Texas flags. The incident ended as police arrested the trio while an angry crowd of 200 shouted “Get them down!”
You couldn’l blame Texans (or Americana anywhere) for being upset. The Alamo, called the “cradle of Texas liberty”, is one of the most revered landmarks in the country.
It was here, 144 years ago during the Texas revolution against Mexico, that less than 200 persons – including such figures as Lt. Col. Wllllam B. Travis, James Bowie, andDavid Crockett-held of Santa Anna’s 5,000-man Mexican force during a 12-day siege before dying . . to the last man.
“Remember the Alamo!” became the inspired battle cry of Texas forces at the subsequent battle of San Jacinto which brought independence to Texas.
The Alamo originally was the Mission San Antonio de Valero, founded in 1718. It ceased to function as a church institution in 1798. At the time of the siege in 1836, the mission chapel was a roofless ruin, but a high rock wall about three feet thick enclosed an area around the chapel large enough to accommodate 1,000 men. Within that enclosure, the ultimate battle of the Alamo was fought, with a last stand in the chapel.
Today, the Alamo is preserved by Texans as a state park. Located in front of the old fort is a monument to the heroes who died there.
Texas was growing with the westward push in the early 1830s. Settlers desired a government separate from that of Coahuila, to which it was joined politically in a union that gave Mexicans control of its affairs. A proposed state constitution emerged from conventions in San Felipe in 1832 and 1833. Stephen Austin, Texas colonizer, went to Mexico to present the document and the settlers’ grievances. He was imprisoned and held for almost two years.
Meantime, according to “Texas, a Guide to the Lone Star State,” published by Hastings House, New York, Samuel Houston, destined for an outstanding leadership role, had come to Texas. A veteran of Andrew Jackson’s Indian wars, he had been governor of Tennessee and a U. S. congressman.
“A young lawyer from South Carolina, William B. Travis, and James Bowie, for whom the “bowie knife” was named, were gaining reputations as liberty firebrands in Texas country. Throughout the area, men like these were holding meetings.
in Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had risen to power and planned a swift subjection of the Texas rebels as dictator under the title of El Presidente. Stephen Austin, now back in Texas, opposed the santa Anna regime and therefore abetted the revolution.
Santa Anna dissolved the legislature of Coahuila and Texas in 1835 and sent troops northward. A series of clashes followed. San Antonio was captured by Texans after a siege. On October 9, about 50 Texas volunteers took the vital fort of Goliad.
Houston, a member of a convention which set up a provisional Texas government, and was named commander in chief of revolutionary troops.
Travis was ordered to the Alamo in charge of a Texas unit. Meantime, Santa Anna was assembling a large force. On February 23, 1836, he and his legions (reported at 5,000) men) arrived at San Antonio.
Travis and Bowie were convinced the Alamo  had to be held in order that Santa Anna’s march into the interior might be blocked. Among the defenders were David Crockett, noted frontiersman of Tennessee, and James Butler Bonham, lifelong friend of Travis who had borrowed money to come to Texas to fight for its freedom.
Santa Arma hoisted the red flag of “no quarter.” This and his demand for an unconditional surrender were answered by the Texans with a cannon shot. Travis’ appeals for aid went unanswered except by 32 brave men from Bonzales, who marched in even after the doom of the fort seemed certain.
(Says the Guide Series: 37 years later a story was published that Travis, when hope for further aid had been abandoned, drew a line with his sword and asked all who would stay and die with him to cross it. Historians tend to regard this as legend – “the heroism of the men of the Alamo needs no garnishing. They were there of their own choice. They remained when they could have fled. They died.”)
At daybreak March 6,1836, nearly 3,000 of Saints Anna’s troops were unleashed against the Alamo. The Texans twice repulsed the invaders, taking a “dreadful toll.” Travis fell as the third attack of the Mexicana succeeded in gaining a breach in the walls. The Mexicans now penetrated into the interior of the fortress as the defenders fought them “muzzle to muzzle, hand to hand”
There were 187 known victims among the Texans; no male defender survived. The 15 or more who were spared were women and children. Mexican losses were estimated by the Guide Series at 600 to 800. Other sources put the figure as high as 1600.
On March 2 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted by a convention of colonists. A constitution was framed and adopted March 17, and an interim government named.
Santa Anna moved to complete the conquest of Texas. The massacre of 330 men March 27 at Goliad served to heighten Texas resolve.
Days passed while Houston maneuvered against Santa Anna, always keeping out of reach. Finally, in the bayou country near the present city of Houston, “0ld Sam,” gave his men a slogan which was to help win a decisive battle: “Victory is certain; trust in God and fear not; and remember the Alamo!”
With these words, and the added slogan, “Remember Goliad,” the Texans marched to meet the Mexican Army. The two forces met at the junction of Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River. There was skirmishing April 20. The next day at 3:30 p.m. when many Mexicans were enjoying a siesta, Houston gave the command to fall in. The Texans, weaving unseen along the long grass, were within point-blank range of the enemy lines when  Houston gave the signal.
Texans, shouting “Remember the Alamo!” stormed through the Mexican barricade. The bottle quickly became a rout. Santa Anna, himself, was taken prisoner. Houston, wounded in the fight, reported that nearly 1,400 Mexicans opposed him. Texas had nearly 1,000. About 630 Mexicans were listed killed; 730 taken prisoner. The Texans lost 9 dead; 34 were wounded.
Later that year, Houston was elected first president of the new Republic of Texas. The United States admitted Texas to the Unim in 1845.