The Alamo is known for it’s long history, a romantic battle and as the cradle of Texas liberty. Originally built by Catholic priests, friars and monks with help from the local Indian population, the Alamo is only one of five missions in San Antonio. It is not even the most beautiful or largest, but certainly, it is the most famous. They were all built to bring Christianity to the Indians and to pacify them, turning them into farmers and teaching them the skills of Spanish, European life.
It consisted of a good sized chapel (that is the familiar Alamo building one normally sees in pictures) and several buildings used to house the missionaries, a detachment of soldiers and as many peaceful Indians as could be accommodated. One of these buildings is the re-constructed “long barracks”, where the last stand of Texian patriots was made.
The Alamo has a sanctified feeling. Walk into the darkened chapel and you can hear the ghosts of the Texicans, a collection of Mexican, Tennessean and other assorted anglos. You can imagine the heroes Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Juan Seguin and their young commander, William Barret Travis. The famous frontier Tennessean, David Crockett, was a former U.S. Congressman who heard about the plight of the Texans in their revolt against harsh treatment by the Mexican President/General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Crockett brought a small contingent of Tennesseans down to help the young Republic of Texas.
Fortification of the Alamo went on apace when it became known the Mexican Army was nearing San Antonio. It was February of 1836. Soon, over a 13 day period the surrounding of the Alamo by Santa Anna’s men took place. There came the realization by the small group of Texians assembled inside the mission that escape would be impossible, no one would come to their rescue and that a fight to the death was about to begin.
For the next two weeks the Mexican army cannonaded the defenders. Mexican snipers climbed the tall trees lining the San Antonio River and shot down on exposed men. Finally, early on the morning of March 6th the final battle began with the trumpeting of “El Deguello” – the signal for no quarter.
The Texians were besieged on all sides. Overwhelming numbers of attackers eventually poured over the weak north wall and into the inner compounds. Hand to hand fighting continued until all the defenders had been overcome. The delaying action the Alamo defenders fought enabled Sam Houston, later Texas President, to gather forces that defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto. It was a complete and overwhelming defeat of the Mexican Army and resulted in the nation of Texas being born.
So enjoy vising the Alamo in San Antonio and south Texas.
Don’t forget that there are more things to do and places to visit in San Antonio than just the Alamo. So plan on hitting the road, after you make sure your car is in tip top shape with a tune up at your local dealership, and drive the Mission Trail! Or take a charming trip down the San Antonio River on a barge presided over by a knowledgeable San Antonio guide. Go to Six Flags over Texas, Sea World, and attend “A Night in Old San Antonio” held at the Arneson River Theater during the summer. And if you go during the week long “Fiesta” in April, be prepared for the biggest party of them all!