The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal point in the Texas Revolution. Following a twelve-day siege, Mexican troops under General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission in San Antonio de Béxar. All but two members of the small Texian garrison were killed. Santa Anna’s perceived cruelty inspired many Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians, shouting “Remember the Alamo!”, defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto several weeks later, ending the revolution.
During the first few months of the revolution, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. After their departure, a poorly provisioned group of Texians attempted to convert the Alamo into a fortress. Several small parties of reinforcements arrived over the next few months, with the two largest led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, Santa Anna led approximately 1,500 troops into Béxar as the first step in his campaign to retake Texas. The vastly outnumbered Texians asked for an honorable surrender and were denied. For the next twelve days, the two armies engaged in several small skirmishes, with minimal casualties. Reinforcements brought the Mexican army strength to 2,400 troops. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by this large a force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for reinforcements and supplies. Two groups, totalling about 100 men, sucessfully entered the Alamo. An additional 400 Texians gathered in nearby Gonzales in a futile attempt to join Texian Colonel James W. Fannin, who had already aborted his reinforcement drive.
In the early morning hours of March 6 the Mexican army advanced on the Alamo. Their first two attacks were repulsed, but the Texians were unable to fend off a third. As Mexican soldiers scaled the walls, most of the Texian soldiers withdrew into interior buildings. Several small groups who were unable to reach these points attempted to escape and were confronted outside the walls by the Mexican cavalry. After a room-to-room fight, Mexican soldiers gained control over the Alamo. Between five and seven Texians may have surrendered; if so, they were quickly executed on Santa Anna’s orders. Most eyewitness accounts reported between 182 and 257 Texian dead, while most Alamo historians agree that 400–600 Mexicans were killed or wounded. Women and children, primarily family members of the Texian soldiers, were questioned by Santa Anna and then released. On Santa Anna’s orders, three of the survivors were sent to Gonzales to spread word of the Texian defeat. The news sparked a panic known as the Runaway Scrape; the Texian army, most settlers, and the new Texas government fled east, away from the advancing army.
Within Mexico, the battle has often been overshadowed by events from the Mexican-American War in the 1840s. In 19th century Texas, the Alamo complex gradually became known as a battlesite rather than a former mission. The Texas Legislature purchased the buildings in the early part of the 20th century and designated the Alamo church building as an official Texas state shrine. It is now “the most popular tourist site in Texas”. The Alamo has been the subject of numerous non-fiction works, beginning in 1843. Most Americans, however, are more familiar with the myths spread by many of the film and television adaptations, including the 1955 miniseries Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier and John Wayne’s 1960 film The Alamo.
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