The siege, fall and ensuing massacre of nearly two hundred Alamo defenders at the hands of Mexican General, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez de Lebron’s army of over five thousand was a defining moment in both Texan, and American history. For 13 days against insurmountable odds, a small, but very determined Texan garrison force fended off an equally determined Mexican Army ordered to capture it. I’ll discuss the events and political climate leading up to the siege, key historic figures involved on both sides, the siege itself, along with events immediately following the battle. The iconic phrase, “Remember the Alamo!” would later go on to become a rallying cry at the Battle of San Jacinto.
On that fateful day in March 1836, when the sounds of battle had ended, tales of fearsome fighting, cowardice and sacrifice would spread swiftly across the Republic of Texas and Mexico. Men who stood, fought, and more importantly fell on the battlefield would become legends, ostensibly for their willingness to fight even when all hope was lost. Both attacker and defender had soldiers who were hailed as heroes, as well as villains known for their cruelty.
The year was 1699, and two Spanish missionaries accompanied by a contingent of Spanish soldados were sent to northern Coahuila. Their instructions were to establish missions for the primitive tribes, hunters and nut gatherers that lived along the Rio Grande, the great river of the north. Gold, glory and God, essentially in that order, had motivated the founding of the missions. The Alamo itself was founded in 1718; however, due to disease and a reluctance of the locals to embrace Christianity the mission was abandoned in 1793. It wasn’t until 1801 that a Spanish-Mexican garrison occupied the mission.
In 1820 Moses Austin applied for a land grant in Spanish Texas, on which he agreed to settle 300 American families. Moses Austin would not live to see it come to fruition as he was attacked my highway men and died shortly thereafter. That would fall on his son, Stephen F. Austin, who is often referred to as the “Father of Texas”. Austin and the other settlers were drawn to the territory by grants and deferred taxation provided by the Spanish government; however, in 1821 Mexico declared independence from Spain. Austin was concerned that the new independent Mexican government would not recognize the previous arrangements made with his father. He would have to travel all the way to Mexico City to make his case, and in 1823 the Mexican Congress confirmed Austin’s grant.
In 1824 the Mexican government ratified the country’s first Constitution, but in doing so split the country into two diametrically opposed political ideologies. On one side you had the centralists, who favored the central government possessing much of the authority. The other was the federalists, who were in favor of states rights.
In 1834, Santa Anna emerged as a...