Monday, February 23, 2009

Today in History: Alamo.

On this day in 1836, Santa Ana and his Army of Operations arrived in San Antonio. Almost 2,500 Mexican troops surrounded 180 Texan defenders in the old adobe Alamo mission.

15 comments:

agg79 said...

Remember the Alamo!

Anonymous said...

Texas trivia: before Texas joined the Union, residents were referred to as "Texians."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texian

BTW, I love your blog!

Wolfwood said...

Is that why the car rental company chose it as its name? I mean, it sounds like the defenders were in one accord...

Marzine said...

Commandancy of the Alamo--
Bejar, Fby 24th 1836--
To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world--
Fellow citizens & compatriots--I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna--I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism &
& everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am deter mined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country –

Victory or Death

William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. comdt

P.S. The Lord is on our side --When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn --We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves --

Travis

MCSA said...

Though it seems that Mexico is gaining the upper hand these days...

Tam said...

Don't forget that Washington DC protects Mexico from annexation by Texas, and not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

And so began the "Thirteen days of Glory."

Robert said...

Thanks for remembering the Texans. We reserve a special place in our hearts for Kentucky and Tennessee folks down here. Many of them came to fight and settle.

The Big Guy said...

2500 Mexicans...

They arrived in two convertible '68 Impalas and a '57 Chevy Bel-Air.

Anonymous said...

Ya know what Crockett said to Travis when they saw all the Mexicans coming on the final morning?

"Are we pouring concrete today?"

Anonymous said...

..and then what happened?

--typical history major, 2009

mts1 said...

Since Santa Ana's men all had lawn mowers in the backs of their pickup trucks, the 180 Texans were unaware of an attack, right up to the first shots fired.

Of course nowadays, get 180 men defending themselves from a government attack, they wouldn't call it the Alamo Mission, it would be the Alamo Compound.

Ed Foster said...

There's a lot of political B.S. going around about the Alamo these days. Santa Anna's own memoirs admit they found only one man hiding behind some barrels, and killed him. They also spared Mrs. Dickerson, her children, and a black slave who tried to defend them.

The media would rather quote a recent and obvious forgery, supposedly written by a staff officer who wasn't even in the attack, saying Davy Crockett surrendered, blah, blah, blah. Also that the fort was taken by "only" 2,000 Mexicans. Actually, by the time of the attack, General Santa Anna had 5,000 regulars and 3,000 militia surrounding the place.

Not to rag on the Mexicans, a likeable and ballsy people I generally like much better than most liberal Americans. I would certainly rather have them as neighbors than typical New York Democrats. The Mexican army's march across the desert to Texas was a masterpiece of military discipline under obscene conditions, and those boys had big brass ones that dragged on the ground.

The Mexican Army medical reports captured after the battle of San Jacinto show more than 1,900 Mexican troops killed or wounded in the attack on the Alamo, a ratio of more than ten Mexicans lost for every American killed. Considering that the American cannons outranged their Mexican opponents and the Americans had five or more loaded rifles for each man, the losses aren't surprising.

The Pennsylvania long rifle had an effective range of well over two hundred yards, while the Brown Bess muskets carried by the Mexican soldiers were only effective at fifty yards. The fact that they made it to the walls at all speaks volumes about the courage and discipline of the Mexican regular.

Once they did, however, it was over in minutes. The long rifle was a comparatively fragile hunting weapon, and it couldn't take a bayonet.

Interestingly, the most decorated Mexican soldier of the battle, a sergeant who led the bayonet assault on the American cannons, reported a tall and pale man in a foolish looking hat who held the long eighteen pounder cannon until he died under a swarm of Mexican soldiers. He fought wildly, and seemed unkillable for a long while, until bayoneted from behind. The sergeant actually named the soldier who killed the tall man. I don't think there were any cowards in that battle, on either side.

For reference, Crockett took to Texas with him the coon-skin cap he wore when campaigning for Congress. He was also a slender man, a bit under six feet tall, which would certainly seem a giant to a mestizo soldier of probably five feet three or four inches. He had a typically pale Irish complexion, and was commander of the eighteen pounder gun in the center of the compound.

Also, the original Bowie knife was recovered in Mexico a few years ago, in the possession of descendants of the man who took it from Bowie's room. The story he told his children was that Bowie rose from his sickbed and killed four Mexican soldiers with knife and pistol before being shot and stabbed to death. It seems likely that the most historically accurate depiction of the battle was probably John Wayne's version from the early '60's, which paid full credit to the iron men of Santa Anna's army.

As a leaving point, the seventy men Crockett brought with him from the Appalachians were Irish and Scots-Irish, and they joined eighty of the mostly Scottish settlers, the majority of whom had Spanish wives. More than twenty of the men who fell at the Alamo were Mexican-Americans, fighting and dying along side their Scottish brothers-in-law to uphold the Mexican constitution of 1824 against an illegal usurper.

Everyone dies. How many of us get the chance to turn it into an immortal act? God bless them.

Anonymous said...

Here's to one of the defenders, Billy Dearduff, age 25, of Gonzales, formerly of McMinn Co Tennessee and my kinsman.

Mikee said...

I take my children back to the Alamo every few years. It has been interesting to see their understanding of the significance of that siege and the subsequent Battle of San Jacinto grow with each visit.

I also recommend the Capital Building in Austin, where the painting of the surrender of Santa Anna to Sam Houston can be seen.