The Alamo is a former Spanish mission located in downtown San Antonio, Texas, and was an abandoned ruin when it was used as a fortification in 1836 by colonists against the harsh rule of dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna; the resulting seige and massacre of the 189 men within led to Santa Anna's defeat at San Jacinto a short time later and the creation of the independent Republic of Texas.
Misión San Antonio de Valero was one of five missions constructed in the region that was later to become San Antonio; the Valero mission's foundation was laid in 1724, and served the area for some seventy years. About 1793 the missions and the land they were on were divided and given over to the control of the Indian inhabitants, who continued to be productive farmers in the small San Antonio community while the mission buildings lay abandoned.
The Valero mission was inhabited again in the early-1800's, this time by a contingent of cavalry soldiers from the Coahuila town of Alamo de Parras, who gave the old ruins its present name from the familiar cottonwood trees which had grown about the site. The commander of the unit would build and establish the first hospital in Texas in what is called the Long Barrack, a structure built in front of and to the north of the main church building. The West Wall and South Barrack structures would be built prior to 1830, as the Alamo site grew into a fortification which served the military units of Spain and Mexico.
During the Texas War of Independence, General Santa Anna's 3,000 Mexican regulars laid siege to 189 Texans at The Alamo in San Antonio on February 24, 1836. After several repulses, the Mexican troops finally overran the defenders on March 6th, massacring all within. Famous Texans who died at the Alamo included Davy Crockett, William Travis and Jim Bowie.
Only fourteen people survived the siege and final assault.
- Susanna Dickinson, wife of Capt. Almeron Dickinson;
- Angelina Dickinson, their 15-month old daughter;
- Joe, Travis' slave;
- Gertrudis Navarro;
- Juana Navarro Alsbury;
- Alijo Perez;
- Ana Esparza, (wife of Gregorio Esparza), and their four children:
- Maria de Jesus Castro;
- Trinidad Saucedo;
- Petra Gonzales;
- Brigido Guerrero, a deserter from the Mexican Army who talked his way out of being killed by claiming to be a POW.
The Mexican forces lost more than 1,500 men. The massacre at the Alamo was memorialized in the cry, "Remember the Alamo!" and helped to galvanize resistance to Santa Anna and led to Texan independence.
The Texas Declaration of Independence declared:
- General Antonio Lopez Santa Ana ... having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers, as the cruel alternative, either abandon our homes ... or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny ... He denies us the right of worshiping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Alamo Mission in San Antonio.
- The Encyclopedia of Military History, Dupuy & Dupuy, 1979