Battle of the Alamo: Martyrs for Texas Freedom
After a 13-day siege of the fierce Texians (American settlers in Texas) defending the Alamo, Mexican troops under General Santa Anna quietly prepared for a final assault at midnight, March 5. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, over 2,000 Mexican troops stormed the crumbling adobe mission where approximately 200 defenders awaited the attack, willing to give their lives for the cause of freedom and Texas independence. During desperate fighting two waves of attackers were beaten back, but the third assault came pouring over the walls and killed all but two of the Alamo’s defenders, including such famous figures as James Bowie, Davy Crockett and William B. Travis. Their leader, Colonel Travis, had sent out urgent letters pleading for reinforcements, but the defenders knew their situation was dire and probably hopeless.
Hopeless for them, perhaps, but not for the cause of Texas freedom. Their martyrdom inspired the fledgling Republic of Texas to “Remember the Alamo!” and defeat Santa Anna’s army the next month, securing its independence.
The Battle of the Alamo was a significant turning point in the Texas Revolution that had begun Oct. 2, 1835. While the Alamo was under siege, delegates at the Convention of 1836 declared independence and formed the Republic of Texas on March 2, 1836. After the Alamo garrison was wiped out March 6, more and more Texians and adventurers from the United States rallied to the cause of Texas independence. In a surprise attack on April 21 that lasted only 18 minutes, the ragtag Texan army defeated the Mexican troops and captured Santa Anna, victoriously ending the Texas Revolution.
These reports of the Battle of the Alamo were published by the New Orleans Bulletin and the New Orleans Bee, and reprinted by the Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland) on April 11, 1836:
(From the New Orleans Bulletin.)
Important from Texas!
Fall of San Antonio and Massacre of the Texian Troops.
The following important documents were placed in our hands by a gentleman just arrived from Texas. The news is melancholy, indeed, and here is opened another field of action for the noble hearts now returning triumphant, and covered with laurels won on the banks of the Withlacoochee, against foes less savage, perhaps, than Santa Anna’s merciless Mexican bands.
Our informant met the express bearing the news we give, and from him procured copies to be published for the information of the people on this side of the Sabine whose relations and friends, kin and countrymen, are now the victims of Mexican barbarity. Col. Bowie, it is said, shot himself, and Col. Travis stabbed himself to escape the cruelness of the enemy. Nobly they fought; dearly they sold their lives, but none escaped of the whole garrison of San Antonio.
(From the New Orleans Bee of March 28.)
Late and Important from Texas.
Between the 25th February and 2d March the Mexicans were employed in forming entrenchments around the Alamo and bombarding the place; on the 2d March Col. Travis wrote that 200 shells had been thrown into the Alamo without injuring a man. On the 1st March the Garrison of Alamo received a reinforcement of 32 Texians from Gonzales [who] forced their way thro’ the enemy’s lines making the number in the Alamo consisting of 180 men.
On the [5th] March about midnight, the Alamo was assaulted by the whole Mexican army commanded by Santa Anna in person. The battle was desperate until daylight, when only 7 men belonging to the Texian garrison were found alive, who cried for quarters, but were told that there was none for them. They then continued fighting until the whole were butchered. One woman (Mrs. Dickinson) and a negro of Col. Travis’ were the only persons whose lives were spared. We regret to say that Col. David Crockett, his companion Mr. Benton, and Col. Bonham of S.C. were among the number slain. Colonel Bowie was murdered in his bed, sick and helpless. Gen. Cos on entering the fort ordered the servant of Col. Travis to point out the body of his master; he did so, when Cos drew his sword and mangled the face and limbs with the malignant feelings of a Comanche savage. The bodies of the slain were thrown into a heap in the centre of the Alamo and burned.
…The flag used by the Mexicans was a blood-red one in place of the constitutional one. Immediately after the capture Gen. Santa Anna sent Mrs. Dickinson and the servant to Gen. Houston’s camp, accompanied by a Mexican with a flag, who was bearer of a note from Gen. Santa Anna offering the Texians peace and a general amnesty if they would lay down their arms and submit to his government. Gen. Houston’s reply was –“True, sir, you have succeeded in killing some of our brave men, but the Texians are not yet conquered.”
For more information, visit the official Battle of the Alamo website.
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