The Story of the Alamo

The story of the Alamo is a tale taught to every young Texan: the account of fewer than 200 brave volunteers who faced nearly 10 times as many Mexican troops in a battle whose outcome was already determined. To further the cause of Texas independence, they gave their lives but won a place in the history of the Lone Star State.

The battle of the Alamo was preceded by battles in Gonzales, Goliad, and in San Antonio itself. Mexican troops led by General Cos had taken refuge in the Alamo and surrendered in early December. The surrender had angered Santa Anna. He vowed to get rid of the Anglos and also to punish the Tejanos, the Mexicans living in Texas who had taken part in the battle.

After the surrender by General Cos, the Texas army floundered without a leader for several months, and its numbers dwindled. Simultaneously, Santa Anna was rallying his troops for the long journey from Mexico City to San Antonio.

Texas troops still occupied the Alamo, joined by volunteers such as Davy Crockett from Tennessee. The troops felt they had time to be joined by reinforcements before Santa Anna would arrive, but they were wrong. Santa Anna's advance troops first arrived in San Antonio on February 23. The revolutionaries scrambled inside the protective walls of the mission, bringing in a sufficient amount of cattle and supplies that commander William Travis felt could sustain them until help arrived.

Travis quickly made another appeal for more troops, knowing that the brunt of Santa Anna's army was only days away. The help so desperately needed did not arrive, and on March 3 Travis allegedly drew a line in the earth with his sword. All men who wanted to stay and defend the Alamo crossed the line—exhibiting their dedication to independence even at the cost of battling an enemy that vastly outnumbered them. Only one man did not cross the line.

The battle began with bombardments from Mexican cannons, but the real surge took place at about 5:30 the morning of March 6. Perhaps as many as 1,800 Mexican soldiers stormed the mission, fighting first with guns and finally hand to hand as they progressed up the walls. By 7 a.m., the battle was over. All the Texas revolutionaries died or were executed, but Santa Anna's troops permitted several women and a slave of William Travis's to live. The most famous survivors were Suzanna Dickinson and her daughter Angelina, the family of an Alamo officer. They were left to spread the word of the Alamo defeat. And spread the word they did. "Remember the Alamo" was the battle cry in the months to come, when finally the Texans defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas finally became an independent republic.

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