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BATTLE OF THE ALAMO

This webpage provides a condensed history of the battle of the Alamo and a listing of the Alamo defenders.

William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie and other gallant men defended the Alamo against superior odds in 1836 buying General Sam Houston precious time to build and train an army to fight Santa Anna's army. This webpage provides a condensed history of that fight!


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Flag of the Alamo

Texas historian, Leonard Kubiak

THE BATTLE OF THE ALAMO




William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie and other brave and adventuresome men defended the Alamo against over whelming odds in 1836 buying General Sam Houstor time to build and train an army to fight Santa Anna's army. Santa Anna with nearly 1,800 Mexican troops far outnumbered the band of 188 men who had retreated into the Alamo. The twelve-day siege ended in a bloody battle on March 6 in which Santa Anna and his army captured the Alamo. All of the defenders were killed; the Mexican army had nearly 600 casualties.



Map of the Alamo (circa 1836)


TIMELINE OF MAJOR EVENTS AT THE ALAMO

February 3, 1836--Travis returned to Bejar in February and joined the Texas garrison at the Alamo, which at that time was under the combined leadership of Jim Bowie and Colonel James C. Neill. Neill was in charge of the regular Texas army, and Travis reported to him on February 3. Bowie commanded a group of volunteers. Shortly after this Neill left Bejar because of a family illness and Travis was left in charge of the regular army troops. At first his authority over the garrison was split with Bowie, but Bowie became ill and Travis became the main commander.

February 8, 1836--Davy Crockett arrived at the Alamo with 12 Tennessee Mounted Volunteers

February 24, 1836--Santa Anna arrived at Bejar with the first part of his army and the siege of the Alamo began.

February 24, 1836--Travis wrote his famous letter to "the people of Texas and all Americans of the world" requesting reinforcements. In the coming days, there were several more requests by Travis for reinforcements.

March 5, 1836--Travis drew a line in the sand and gave every man the choice to cross the line and join him in a fight to the death to defend the Alamo. All but one man crossed.

March 6, 1836--The battle of the Alamo. Travis died during the early part of the battle with a bullet to the head. He was observed on the ramparts firing in defiance. In a matter of hours, all the American defenders were killed and the Mexicans claimed the victory.





HISTORY OF THE BATTLE AT THE ALAMO

The Alamo was originally a Spanish Mission named Misión San Antonio de Valero. This was home to several Spanish missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the Alamo in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.

In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for "cottonwood") in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post's commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico's ten-year struggle for independence. The military continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.

The Texian militia and regulars fortified the Alamo and mounted 18 cannon, including an 18-pounder along the walls and inside the Alamo in strategic locations.

The Mexican Army arrived on February 23, 1836 and was a mixed force of regular infantry and cavalry units as well as activo reserve infantry battalions. They were equipped with the British Brown Bess musket and were well-drilled. The initial forces included several Mexican officers who were European mercenary veterans, and General Santa Anna, a veteran of the Mexican War of Independence.

The number of Mexican forces attacking the post was reported as high as 4,000 to 5,000, but may have been as few as 1,800 soldiers. 6,500 soldiers did set out from San Luis de Potosi, but illness and desertion reduced the force. After a 13-day siege, the Mexican army attacked the post in four columns, starting at 6:30 a.m. on March 6 and took the Alamo by 8 a.m. that day under hand-to-hand fighting. One of the reasons the siege took 13 days was that the Mexican army did not have its 12-pounder cannons needed to breach the walls until late in the siege.

Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis, commander of the Texas regular army forces, was able to dispatch riders before the battle and as late as February 25, informing the Texas provisional government of his situation and requesting assistance. However, the Texas Army was not strong enough to fight through the Mexican Army and relieve the post. Colonel Fannin, commander of the Texas forces at Goliad, was forced to abort his relief march because he could not take his cannon with him.

Midway though the battle, 32 men were able to make it through Mexican lines and join the defenders.

Before the battle, Santa Anna ordered that a red flag be raised indicating to the defenders that no quarter would be given. Several defenders who had not been killed in battle were captured and executed. Among its defenders were James Bowie (the leader of the militia forces), Crockett and Travis. About two dozen women and children and two slaves at the Alamo, named Ben and Jim, were released.

IMPORTANCE OF THE BATTLE OF THE ALAMO

San Antonio and the battle at the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of fighting, they forced General Marín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo, already fortified prior to the battle by Cós' men, and strengthened its defenses.

On February 23, 1836, General Antonio López de Santa Anna's army arrived outside San Antonio and positioned his troops and cannons around the Alamo just outside of range of the Alamo cannons.




Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis from South Carolina, commander of the Texas regular army forces at the Alamo




The defenders of the Alamo held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas.

This is an actual copy of the famous letter sent out by Travis asking for help in the coming battle (front of letter)

Back view of the Travis letter asking for help.

Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, Fby. 24th, 1836

To the People of Texas &
all Americans in the world
Fellow Citizens & Compatriots

I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender nor retreat.

Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & of everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am deter- mined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am deter- mined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country.

Victory or Death

William Barret Travis

Lt. Col. Comdt.

P. S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.

Travis


THE FAMOUS LINE IN THE SAND

Well into the siege by the Mexican army, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of Alamo defenders to nearly two hundred. With the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over. All except one did.

The Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and became the rallying point for the struggling Texian army being organized by General Sam Houston.



Jim Bowie, famous for his knife fighting skills with a bowie knife; died at the Alamo in 1836.




Davy Crockett, Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Trapper, Explorer, State Legislator, Congressman, Martyred at The Alamo. 1786 - 1836.


ALAMO FALLS ON MARCH 6, 1836

The final assault on the Alamo came just before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers marched toward the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small arms fire by the Texians inside the Alamo beat back several attacks by the Mexicans. Regrouping and charging again, the Mexicans eventually scaled the walls and rushed the compound. Once inside, they used captured cannons to fire on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until all defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.



DEFENDERS OF THE ALAMO

The defenders of the Alamo came from all over the U.S. and some from England. One group, the New Orleans Greys, took part in the Seige of Bexar and some 24 Greys chose to defend the Alamo.

From Tennessee, came another small group of volunteers led by former Tennessee Congressman David Crockett. The Tennessee Mounted Volunteers arrived at the Alamo on February 8, 1836.

The following is a list of men that were known to have died defending the Alamo. The actual number could have been higher.

ABAMILLO Juan - Texas,
ALLEN R. - unknown,
ANDROSS Mills DeForest - Vermont ,
AUTRY Micajah - North Carolina,
BADILLO Juan A. - Texas,
BAILEY Peter James - Kentucky,
BAKER Isaac G. - Arkansas,
BAKER William Charles M. - Missouri,
BALLENTINE John J. - unknown,
BALLENTINE Robert W. - Scotland ,
BAUGH John J. - Virginia ,
BAYLISS Joseph - Tennessee,
BLAIR John - Tennessee,
BLAIR Samuel C. - Tennessee ,
BLAZEBY William - England,
BONHAM James Butler - South Carolina,
BOURNE Daniel - England ,
BOWIE James - Tennessee,
BOWMAN Jesse B. - Arkansas,
BROWN George - England,

BROWN James - Pennsylvania , BROWN Robert - unknown ,
BUCHANAN James - Alabama ,
BURNS Samuel E. - Ireland,
BUTLER Geoge D. - Missouri ,
CAMPBELL Robert - Tennessee,
CANE John - Pennsylvania,
CAREY William R. - Virginia ,
CLARK Charles Henry - Missouri ,
CLARK M.B. - unknown ,
CLOUD Daniel William - Kentucky ,
COCHRAN Robert E. - New Jersey,
COTTLE George Washington - Tennessee,
COURTMAN Henry - Germany ,
CRAWFORD Lemuel - South Carolina,
CROCKETT David - Tennessee ,
CROSSMAN Robert - Massachussetts ,
CUMMINGS David P. - Pennsylvania ,
CUNNINGHAM Robert - New York ,
DARST Jacob C. - Kentucky ,
DAVIS John - Kentucky ,
DAY Freeman H.K. - unknown,
DAY Jerry C. - Missouri ,
DAYMON Squire - Tennessee,
DEARDUFF William - Tennessee,
DENNISON Stephen - England,
DESPALLIER Charles - Louisiana,
DICKINSON Almeron - Tennessee,
DILLARD John H. - Tennessee,
DIMPKINS James R. - England,
DUEL Lewis - New York ,
DUVALT Andrew - Ireland,
ESPALIER Carlos - Texas ,
ESPARZA Gregorio - Texas ,
EVANS Robert - Ireland ,
EVANS Samuel B. - New York ,
EWING James L. - Tennessee ,
FISHBAUGH William - Alabama,
FLANDRES John - Massachussetts ,
FLOYD Dolphin Ward - North Carolina,
FORSYTH John Hubbard - New York,
FUENTES Antonio - Texas ,
FUQUA Galba - Alabama,
FURTLEROY William H. - Kentucky ,
GARNETT William - Tennessee,
GARRAND James W. - Louisiana ,
GARRETT James Girard - Tennessee, GARVIN John E. - unknown ,
GASTON John E. - Kentucky ,
GEORGE James - unknown ,
GOODRICH John Calvin - Tennessee,
GRIMES Albert Calvin - Georgia,
GUERRERO Jose Maria - Texas,
GWYNNE James C. - England,
HANNUM James - unknown,
HARRIS John - Kentucky,
HARRISON Andrew Jackson - unknown ,
HARRISON William B. - Ohio ,
HASKELL (HEISKELL) Charles M. - Tennessee ,
HAWKINS Joseph M. - Ireland ,
HAYS John M. - Tennessee ,
HERNDON Patrick Henry - Virginia ,
HERSEE William D. - England ,
HOLLAND Tapley - Ohio ,
HOLLOWAY Samuel - Pennsylvania ,
HOWELL William D. - Massachussetts,
JACKSON William Daniel - Ireland,
JACKSON Thomas - Ireland ,
JAMESON Green B. - Kentucky,
JENNINGS Gordon C. - Connecticut,
JOHNSON Lewis - Wales ,
JOHNSON William - Pennsylvania,
JONES John - New York ,
KELLOG Johnnie - unknown ,
KENNEY James - Virginia,
KENT Andrew - Kentucky ,
KERR Joseph - Louisiana ,
KIMBALL (KIMBLE) George C. - New York ,
KING William P. - unknown ,
LEWIS William Irvine - Virginia ,
LIGHTFOOT William J. - Virginia,
LINDLEY Jonathan L. - Illinois,
LINN William - Massachussetts,
LOSOYA Toribio D. - Texas ,
MAIN George Washington - Virginia,
MALONE William T. - Virginia,
MARSHALL William - Tennessee ,
MARTIN Albert - Rhode Island ,
McCAFFERTY Edward - unknown ,
McCOY Jesse - Tennessee,
McDOWELL William - Pennsylvania,
McGEE James - Ireland ,
McGREGOR John - Scotland ,
McKINNEY Robert M. - Ireland ,
MELTON Eliel - Georgia ,
MILLER Thomas R. - Tennessee ,
MILLS William - Tennessee ,
MILLSAPS Isaac - Mississippi ,
MITCHUSSON Edward F. - Virginia ,
MITCHELL Edwin T. - Georgia ,
MITCHELL Napoleon B. - unknown ,
MOORE Robert B. - Virginia,
MOORE Willis - Mississippi,
MUSSELMAN Robert - Ohio,
NAVA Andres - Texas ,
NEGGAN George - South Carolina ,
NELSON Andrew M. - Tennessee ,
NELSON Edward - South Carolina ,
NELSON George - South Carolina ,
NORTHCROSS James - Virginia ,
NOWLAN James - Ireland ,
PAGAN George - Mississippi ,
PARKER Chistopher - Mississippi ,
PARKS William - North Carolina,
PERRY Richardson - unknown ,
POLLARD Amos - Massachussetts ,
REYNOLDS John Purdy - Pennsylvania ,
ROBERTS Thomas H. - unknown ,
ROBERTSON James - Tennessee ,
ROBINSON Isaac - Scotland ,
ROSE James M. - Virginia ,
RUSK Jackson J. - Ireland ,
RUTHERFORD Joseph - Kentucky ,
RYAN Isaac - Louisiana ,
SCURLOCK Mial - North Carolina ,
SEWELL Marcus L. - England ,
SHIED Manson - Georgia ,
SIMMONS Cleveland Kinlock - South Carolina ,
SMITH Andrew H. - Tennessee ,
SMITH Charles S. - Maryland,
SMITH Joshua G. - North Carolina ,
SMITH William H. - unknown ,
STARR Richard - England ,
STEWART James E. - England ,
STOCKTON Richard L. - Virginia ,
SUMMERLIN Spain - Tennessee ,
SUMMERS William E. - Tennessee ,
SUTHERLAND William D. - Alabama,
TAYLOR Edward - Tennessee ,
TAYLOR George - Tennessee ,
TAYLOR James - Tennessee ,
TAYLOR William - Tennessee ,
THOMAS B.Archer M. - Kentucky ,
THOMAS Henry - Germany ,
THOMPSON Jesse G. - Arkansas ,
THOMSON John W. - North Carolina ,
THRUSTON John M. - Pennsylvania,
TRAMMEL Burke - Ireland,
TRAVIS William Barret - South Carolina ,
TUMLINSON George W. - Missouri ,
TYLEE James - New York ,
WALKER Asa - Tennessee,
WALKER Jacob - Tennessee ,
WARD William B. - Ireland ,
WARNELL Henry - Arkansas,
WASHINGTON Joseph G. - Tennessee ,
WATERS Thomas - England,
WELLS William - Georgia,
WHITE Isaac - Kentucky ,
WHITE Robert - unknown ,
WILLIAMSON Hiram J. - Pennsylvania ,
WILLS William - unknown ,
WILSON Davis L. - Scotland ,
WILSON John - Pennsylvania,
WOLFE Anthony - England ,
WRIGHT Claiborne - North Carolina ,
ZANCO Charles - Denmark,
JOHN, black - unknown,
JIMINES Damacio - Texas ,




SURVIVORS OF THE BATTLE OF THE ALAMO

There were five survivors of the Alamo in March of 1836 including Mrs. Dickinson (wife of Lieutenant Dickinson, who fell in the defense) and her child, a negro-servant of Colonel Travis, and two Mexican women of Bexar.



BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Archie P. McDonald, Travis (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). William Barret Travis, Diary, ed. Robert E. Davis (Waco: Texian Press, 1966). Amelia W. Williams, A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1931; rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 [April 1933], 37 [July, October 1933, January, April 1934).








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