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The Battle of the Alamo

Battle of the Alamo

The Battle of the Alamo. The battle was fought between Mexican troops and Texans in 1836 and has been immortalized in a number of films plays and novels.

The Battle of the Alamo was fought between Mexican troops and Texans in 1836 in today’s San Antonio, Texas. The now legendary battle has been immortalized in a number of films plays and novels. Myths about the event abound, as do glorified tales of its most famous participants Davy Crocket, Jim Bowie and General Santa Anna.

The source of the conflict began in 1821, the same year the Mexican war of independence ended. After the war, a newly independant Mexico invited anyone, regardless of nationality, to claim land on Texan soil, an area belonging to Mexico at the time. Anglo Americans soon began arriving and settling here. Problems between local populations arose based on a series of factors. Most of these new Mexican residents made no attempt to integrate. Also, they flatly ignored slavery reform requiring them to free slaves. Finally, a sense of entitlement to the region quickly started growing among Anglo American communities. American newspapers also began running stories on the annexation of Texas. Conservative Mexican observers concerned about losing the large region convinced then Mexican president Santa Anna to introduce a centralist government which would abandon the constitution. They believed that a centralized government power could keep growing tensions in Texas under control. By 1836, an army of these Anglo Americans, known as Texians, along with Mexicans displeased with Santa Anna’s growing dictatorial tendencies, had driven out Mexican forces and declared Texan independence.

The Alamo, originally designed as a mission, sat on a strategic location as it blocked one of two main roads into Texas from Mexico. Also, San Antonio, known as Bejar at the time, was an important political center in Texas. After having captured the town and ousted Mexican officials, the army of Texians had returned to their homes and families convinced that they had already achieved secure independence for their new homeland. Shortly afterward, Santa Anna and his army entered San Antonio and demanded that the 100 or so Texians still posted at the Alamo, surrender the mission turned fort. Despite impossible odds of successfully defending the Alamo due to lack of ammunition, food and troops, the Texians, under Colonel William Travis, refused. The battle of the Alamo erupted.

Travis managed to send out a letter requesting help. It explained that he was under siege by over a thousand Mexican soldiers constantly bombarding the fort and receiving reinforcement. That letter reached Colonel Fannin in the town of Goliad 5 days later. Fanin began marching toward the Alamo with 300 soldiers to relieve their fellow Texians, but having only marched 200 yards, a wagon broke down. After reassessing their own poor supply of provisions, they promptly returned to Goliad. On March 3rd, after 10 days under siege in the Alamo, Colonel Travis sent another letter requesting relief stating that he was still in fine spirits and had 145 men. He estimated the Mexican army to be between 1500 to 6000 troops. He also stated that a constant shower of bombs and cannon balls had somehow not killed one of those holding the Alamo.

On March 6th Santa Anna had more than 4000 troops. Just after midnight, they surrounded the Alamo and spent the night moving closer to the fort and coming under heavy fire from the Texians. By morning, they’d reached the fort walls with ladders and began climbing the walls and entering the fort. The Mexican army received heavy casualties as Texans fired on them while scaling the fort walls. Once the Mexican troops made it inside the Alamo, a brutal hand to hand battle ensued leaving nearly all the Texians dead. By Texian estimates, Mexican forces suffered 3 times as many casualties.

Today, Texans celebrate the history of the battle of the Alamo as a reminder and a source of encouragement to always fight for freedom even in the face of impossible odds.