Photo above: Stereograph of the Alamo Mission, 1909, Stereo-Travel Companys. Image Right: Painting by Percy Moran, 1912, reflects the intensity of the battle of the Alamo. Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress Photographs and Prints.
The history of the southwest and the great state of Texas took shape throughout the era of the Mexican War, the battle between the Texas Rangers and the Indians, as well as the constant battle with the harshness of the land. And while much of that history occurred before the embattled veterans barricaded themselves inside the Alamo mission in San Antonio, it was this battle prior to better days for the Texas ahead, at San Jacinto, that built the spirit of the nation, then state, into what it is today. An indefaticable spirit. An independent nature.
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A willingness to fight for what they believed in, even when that belief led to an untenable end. But even in that end, at the mission itself, the rallying cry for Texas commander Sam Houston one month later, "Remember the Alamo" rang true and clear across the plains of San Jacinto during the rout of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, gaining Texas its independence from Mexico.
The mission had been sited on this plot for over one hundred years before the battle took place on March 6, 1836. But those thirteen days of holding out against all odds, and the sacrifice that the defenders made, many with their lives, is still evident today. James Bowie, Davy Crockett, William B. Travis are the most well known of the Alamo fighters, but nearly one hundred and ninety brave fighters lost their lives in defense of the mission in total.
Timeline of the Alamo
October 9, 1935 - Mexican General Cos arrives in San Antonio with 1,200 soldiers
December 10, 1835 - Texas volunteers defeat Cos' troops and occupy the Alamo
January 19, 1836 - James Bowie comes to the Alamo at the request of General Sam Houston
February 8, 1836 - Davy Crockett arrives with 12 volunteers
February 23, 1836 - Santa Anna and Mexican forces attack, beginning the siege of the Alamo
March 6, 1836 - The final day in the battle of the Alamo brings defeat for the Texas
April 21, 1836 - Sam Houston shouts the Alamo call as he routs Santa Anna in the battle of San Jacinto
June 4, 1836 - Texas forces return to the city of San Antonio
Photo above: Corridor within the Alamo Mission, 1936, Historic American Buildings Survey, Arthur W. Stewart, Photographer. Courtesy Library of Congress.
The Alamo - Constructed in 1744, the mission church, as well as the Long Barrack, which began its construction in 1724, was fortified by both Mexican and Texas forces prior to the battle of the Alamo. In December of 1835, Texas volunteers took control of San Antonio from Mexican troops headquartered in San Antonio. They occupied the Alamo and strengthened the mission's defenses. Two months later, on February 23, 1836, the forces of Santa Ana returned and attacked the fortifications. For thirteen days the fighting continued, until a final assault on March 6 could not be held back, and the Alamo was lost to Santa Ana's Mexican forces. Mexican forces retained control of the Alamo until May of the same year when the majority of the forces withdrew. Texas forces reentered the city on June 4, 1836.
The Alamo Mission - Open to the public as a living history site owned by the state of Texas, and run by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas since 1905, the 4.2 acre compound, including the church, the Long Barrack, and a gift shop museum tells the story of the battle and the fight for Texas independence. The site of the Alamo is located in a highly developed area of San Antonio, but once within the walls of the mission, the visitor is transformed into the time period and history of the Alamo.
Photo above: The Alamo has remained a symbol of Texas and its fight for freedom since the battle with many Presidents and other dignitaries visiting. President Theodore Roosevelt at a gathering in front of the Alamo, 1905, in image by Henry Clogenson. Courtesy Library of Congress.
1. Take a guided tour of the Alamo and learn about the details of the individuals who fought for Texas independence.
2. Take time to wander through the Alamo Gardens and reflect of the tribulations of the men and women who took refuge behind these walls during the battle.
3. Don't forget that the Alamo mission is not the only one located within the confines of San Antonio. Visit the San Antonio Mission National Historical Park (photo below right), where four other missions tell the story of the history of San Antonio, the Republic of Texas, and the state of Texas. While less popular than the Alamo, nearly 1.1 million people visit these other sites per year.
4. Take a stroll down River Walk. Not far from the Alamo historical site, River Walk has been a centerpiece of San Antonio tourism since the days of HemisFair, the world's fair held in San Antonio in 1968. It is a popular attraction with gondola style boat rides, plenty of shops, and places to eat.
Photo above: River walk near the Rainforest Cafe. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.