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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Siege and Battle of the Alamo

The Siege and Battle of the Alamo

Were it not for the bloodthirsty bent of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the siege and battle of the Alamo wouldn’t be immortalized today with the defiant cries “Remember the Alamo” and “Victory or Death.”

Had Santa Anna not overruled his advisors by storming the well-fortified, besieged Alamo on March 6, 1836, and massacred about 200 fighters for Texas independence--when those holed up in the converted mission were near starvation--history would have looked at the event differently.

Some pertinent dates, events, and personalities associated with the Battle of the Alamo include:

* 1830 U.S. settlers far outnumber Mexicans in Texas

* October 2, 1835 Texans win first battle of Texas Revolution, at Gonzales

* December 5-9 300 Texans conquer 1,200 Mexicans at Siege of Bexar, in San Antonio; majority of Texan volunteers head home

* January 19, 1836 Famous frontiersman James Bowie and company of volunteers arrive at well-fortified Alamo

* February 2 Bowie and beloved fort commander James Clinton Neill inform governor by mail, “We’ll die in these ditches” before surrendering

* February 8 Tennessee’s Davie Crockett and U.S. volunteers arrive at Alamo

* February 14 Neill leaves Alamo due to family emergency; replaced by 26-year-old Lt. Col. William B. Travis

* Immediate dissention about who’s in charge: resolution leaves Bowie in charge of volunteers, Travis in charge of regular army

* February 23 13-day siege begins when Santa Anna’s troops reach Alamo

* Santa Anna sends courier to demand surrender; Travis responds with cannon blast

* Mexican artillery batters walls of Alamo, but cannons remain intact

* February 24 Travis assumes full command when Bowie is bedridden by pneumonia, pleas for reinforcements in famous “Victory or Death” letter

* Mexican troops continue to arrive; 32 U.S. troops sneak into Alamo, upping Texan contingent to about 200

* March 2 Declaration of Independence from Mexico signed in city of Washington, about 100 miles NE of Alamo

* March 6 Santa Anna, now 2000 strong, storms Alamo … less than two hours later, all 200 Texas fighters, including seven initial survivors (possibly including Crockett,) are killed … estimates of Mexican deaths vary greatly, though about 600 seems likely

* April 21 Texas wins independence at Battle of San Jacinto

* 1845 Republic of Texas becomes 28th state

Many serious historians refute the claim that the victims at the Alamo were living without hope on a suicide mission. Those fighters knew their only realistic hope was the arrival of reinforcements, and Travis sent out letters daily pleading for help. Exasperated by the lack of support, Travis wrote in one letter, “If my countrymen do not rally to my relief, I am determined to perish in the defense of this place, and my bones shall reproach my country for her neglect.”

Traditionally considered a symbol of patriotic sacrifice, the siege and Battle of the Alamo helped deter Mexican General Santa Anna long enough for Texans to regroup, then win their independence 46 days later.

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