The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Annalaunched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar, killing all of the Texian defenders. Santa Anna’s 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, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.
Several months previously, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas.
In the early morning hours of March 6, the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo. After repelling two attacks, the Texians were unable to fend off a third attack. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texian soldiers withdrew into interior buildings. Between five and seven Texians may have surrendered; if so, they were quickly executed. Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texians died, while most historians of the Alamo agree that around 600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. Several noncombatants were sent to Gonzales to spread word of the Texian defeat. The news sparked both a strong rush to join the Texian army and a panic, known as “The Runaway Scrape”, in which the Texian army, most settlers, and the new Republic of Texas government fled eastward toward the United States ahead of the advancing Mexican Army.
Within Mexico, the battle has often been overshadowed by events from the Mexican–American Warof 1846–48. In 19th-century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually became known as a battle site rather than a former mission. The Alamo is now “the most popular tourist site in Texas”
Under President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government began to shift away from a federalist model. The border region of Mexican Texas was largely populated by immigrants from the United States.
In October, Texians engaged Mexican troops in the first official battle of the Texas Revolution.
The Texians 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—surrendered on December 9 following the siege of Béxar.
When Mexican troops departed San Antonio de Béxar (now San Antonio, Texas, USA) Texian soldiers established a garrison at the Alamo Mission, a former Spanish religious outpost which had been converted to a makeshift fort by the recently expelled Mexican Army.
A large 18-pounder had arrived in Texas with the New Orleans Greys. He boasted to Texian Army commander Sam Houston that the Texians could “whip 10 to 1 with our artillery”
The Texian garrison was woefully undermanned and underprovisioned, with fewer than 100 soldiers remaining by January 6, 1836.
As the Texians struggled to find men and supplies, Santa Anna continued to gather men at San Luis Potosi; by the end of 1835 his army numbered 6,019 soldiers.
Hypothermia, dysentery, and Comanche 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, 25 milesfrom Béxar.
In the early hours of February 23, residents began fleeing Béxar, fearing the Mexican army’s imminent arrival. Several hours later, Texian scouts reported seeing Mexican troops 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the town. One group of Texians scrambled to herd cattle into the Alamo, while others scrounged for food in the recently abandoned houses.
By late afternoon Béxar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican soldiers. According to Almonte, the Texians asked for an honorable surrender but were informed that any surrender must be unconditional.
Over the next few days, Mexican soldiers established artillery batteries, initially about 1,000 feet (300 m) from the south and east walls of the Alamo. Each night the batteries inched closer to the Alamo walls. At first, the Texians matched Mexican artillery fire, often reusing the Mexican cannonballs.
The following morning, 200–300 Mexican soldiers crossed the San Antonio River and took cover in abandoned shacks near the Alamo walls. No Texians were injured.
Santa Anna posted one company east of the Alamo, on the road to Gonzales. At the end of the first day of the siege, Santa Anna’s troops were reinforced by 600 men under General Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma, bringing the Mexican army up to more than 2,000 men.
They hoped to rendezvous with Colonel James Fannin, who was expected to arrive from Goliad with his garrison.
Texians gathered in Gonzales were unaware of Fannin’s return to Goliad, and most continued to wait.A Mexican patrol attacked, driving off four of the men including Bastian. In the darkness, the Texians fired on the remaining 32 men, whom they assumed were Mexican soldiers.
On March 3, the Texians watched from the walls as approximately 1,000 Mexicans 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 had soundly defeated Texian Colonel Frank W. Johnson at the Battle of San Patricio 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 Béxar to almost 3,100.
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 from the Alamo. 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.
On March 4, the day after his reinforcements arrived, Santa Anna proposed an assault on the Alamo.That evening, a local woman, likely Bowie’s cousin-in-law Juana Navarro Alsbury, approached Santa Anna to negotiate a surrender for the Alamo defenders.
Legend holds that at some point on March 5, Travis gathered his men and explained that an attack was imminent, and that they were greatly outnumbered by the Mexican Army.
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.
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 of them had since the siege began. Just after midnight, more than 2,000 Mexican soldiers began preparing for the final assault. 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.
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. ” and music from the buglers. The noise woke the Texians. Travis rushed to his post yelling, “Come on boys, the Mexicans are upon us and we’ll give them hell!
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. Few of the Mexican ladders reached the walls. 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. 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 in the north wall, allowing Mexican soldiers to pour into the complex.
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.
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. 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. After a volley of fire and a wave of Mexican bayonets, the few remaining Texians in this group fell back towards the church. 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 was raised in that location.
The last of the Texians to die were the 11 men manning the two 12-pounder cannons in the chapel.Dickinson’s crew fired their cannon from the apse into the Mexican soldiers at the door. With no time to reload, the Texians, including Dickinson, Gregorio Esparza and James Bonham, 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.
As soldiers approached the sacristy, one of the young sons of defender Anthony Wolf stood to pull a blanket over his shoulders. 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. 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.
According to many accounts of the battle, between five and seven Texians 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”
Santa Anna reportedly told Captain Fernando Urizza that the battle “was but a small affair” In his initial report Santa Anna claimed that 600 Texians had been killed, with only 70 Mexican soldiers killed and 300 wounded. Most Alamo historians place the number of Mexican casualties at 400–600. Most eyewitnesses counted between 182–257 Texians killed.
In an attempt to convince other slaves in Texas to support the Mexican government over the Texian rebellion, Santa Anna spared Travis’ slave, Joe. 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 although her son was of similar age. 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.
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. Realizing that the Mexican army would soon advance towards the Texian settlements, Houston advised all civilians in the area to evacuate and ordered his new army to retreat.
Despite their losses at the Alamo, the Mexican army in Texas still outnumbered the Texian army by almost six to one.
On the afternoon of April 21 the Texian army attacked Santa Anna’s camp near Lynchburg Ferry. The Mexican army was taken by surprise, and the Battle of San Jacinto was essentially over after 18 minutes. During the fighting, many of the Texian soldiers repeatedly cried “Remember the Alamo! ” as they slaughtered fleeing Mexican troops. Santa Anna’s life was spared, and he was forced to order his troops out of Texas, ending Mexican control of the province and bestowing some legitimacy on the new republic.
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. In Mexican history, the Texas campaign, including the Battle of the Alamo, was soon overshadowed by the Mexican–American War of 1846–48.