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Alamo Defenders Call For Help

Alamo Defenders Call For Help

On February 24, 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under siege by the Mexican army.

A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1831. He soon became a leader of the growing movement to overthrow the Mexican government and establish an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie.

Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Ana’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognized his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”

Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 a.m. on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie, Davy Crockett and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Ana’s men.

The defense of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favor. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo!” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Ana himself, the general issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic. Texas joined the Union in 1845.

READ MORE: The First Shots of the Texas Revolution


15 Facts About the Battle of the Alamo

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    When events become legendary, facts tend to get forgotten. Such is the case with the fabled Battle of the Alamo.

    Fast Facts: The Battle of the Alamo

    • Short Description: The Alamo was the site of a battle that took place during Texas's bid for independence from Mexico: All defenders were killed, but within six weeks the opposition leader, Santa Anna, was captured.
    • Key Players/Participants: Santa Anna (president of Mexico), William Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie
    • Event Date: March 6, 1836
    • Location: San Antonio, Texas
    • Independence: Although the independence of a Texas republic was declared two days before the battle, the defenders did not hear of it, and it was not achieved until 1848, under the Treaty of Hidalgo Guadalupe.
    • Ethnic Makeup: Travis's forces at the Alamo comprised several different ethnicities: Texian (people born in Texas), Tejano (Mexican Americans), Europeans, African Americans, and recent newcomers from the United States.

    The basic story of the Alamo is that rebellious Texans captured the city of San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas) in a battle in December 1835. Afterward, they fortified the Alamo, a fortress-like former mission in the center of town.

    Mexican general Santa Anna appeared in short order at the head of a massive army and laid siege to the Alamo. He attacked on March 6, 1836, overrunning the approximately 200 defenders in less than two hours. None of the defenders survived. Many myths and legends have grown about the Battle of the Alamo, but the facts often give a different account.


    Contents

    Below are 256 known combatants: 212 who died during the siege, 43 survivors, and one escapee who later died of his wounds.

    Mexican Colonel Juan Almonte, Santa Anna's aide-de-camp, recorded the Texian fatality toll as 250 in his March 6 journal entry. He listed the survivors as five women, one Mexican soldier and one slave. Almonte did not record names, and his count was based solely on who was there during the final assault. [15] Santa Anna reported to Mexico's Secretary of War Tornel that Texian fatalities exceeded 600. Historians Jack Jackson and John Wheat attributed that high figure to Santa Anna's playing to his political base. [16]

    Research into the battle, and exactly who was inside the fortress, began when the Alamo fell and has continued with no signs of abatement. The first published Texian list of casualties was in the March 24, 1836 issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register. The 115 names were supplied by couriers John Smith and Gerald Navan, [17] whom historian Thomas Ricks Lindley believed likely drew from their own memories, as well as from interviews with those who might have left or tried to enter. [18] In an 1860 statement for the Texas Almanac, former San Antonio alcalde (mayor) Francisco Antonio Ruiz set the number at 182. [19]

    When the Alamo Cenotaph was created by Pompeo Coppini in 1939, the 187 defender names on the monument came from the research of Amelia Williams, [20] considered the leading Alamo authority of her day. [21] Her work is still used by some as a benchmark, although skepticism has been voiced. Lindley's 2003 Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions is the result of his 15-year study of the battle, and upended much of what was previously accepted as fact. [22] He devoted a chapter to deconstructing Williams' research as "misrepresentation, alteration, and fabrication of data", [23] criticizing her sole reliance on the military land grants without checking through the muster lists to identify the combatants. [24] In lieu of service pay, the cash-poor Republic of Texas adopted the system of military land grants. Issuance was dependent upon the military muster lists and either the veterans or their heirs filing a claim, a process that required an upfront fee to complete. Lacking a completed claim, proof of service would appear only on a muster list. [25]

    In the pursuit of uncovering every infinitesimal piece of evidence about what happened during the battle, more thorough research methods continue to evolve and Tejanos have begun to add their voices. Until recent decades, accounts of Tejano participation in the Texas revolution were notably absent, but historians such as Timothy M. Matovina [26] and Jesús F. de la Teja [27] have helped add that missing perspective to the battle's events.


    Feb 24, 1836: Alamo Defenders Call for Help

    This is a painting of William Barret Travis, who died at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.

    On this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.

    A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1831. He soon became a leader of the growing movement to overthrow the Mexican government and establish an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie.

    Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Ana’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognized his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”

    Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 a.m. on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Ana’s men.

    The brave defense of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favor. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo!” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Ana himself, the general issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic.


    February 24 1836 Alamo Defenders Call For Help

    On February 24th 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issued a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.

    A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1831. He soon became a leader of the growing movement to overthrow the Mexican government and establish an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie. The famous frontiersman, folk hero, politician and soldier Davy Crockett also answered the call.

    Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Anna’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognised his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”

    Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 am on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie, Crockett and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Anna’s men.

    The brave defence of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favour. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo.” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Anna himself, the General issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic.


    About the Letter

    At the Alamo in San Antonio, then called Bejar, 150 Texas rebels led by William Barret Travis made their stand against Santa Anna's vastly superior Mexican army. On the second day of the siege, February 24, 1836, Travis called for reinforcements with this heroic message:

    I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. . VICTORY OR DEATH.

    Little help came. Santa Anna's troops broke through on March 6. All of the defenders of the Alamo died.

    This historic letter was carried from the Alamo by 30-year-old Captain Albert Martin of Gonzales, a native of Rhode Island. The next day, en route to his hometown, Martin heard the distant rumble of artillery fire. At the first opportunity he stopped and added a postscript:

    Since the above was written I heard a very heavy Cannonade during the whole day. think there must have been an attack made upon the alamo. We were short of Ammunition when I left Hurry on all the men you can in haste.

    When I left there was but 150 determined to do or die tomorrow I leave for Bejar with what men I can raise & will be there Monday [a?] at all events - -

    Col Almonte is there the troops are under the Command of Gen. Seisma.

    Martin arrived at Gonzales on the afternoon of the 25th. He passed the dispatch to Lancelot Smither, who had arrived from the Alamo the day before with an estimate of Mexican troop strength. Smither felt obliged to add his own emphatic note to the back of Travis' letter:

    N. [B ?] I hope Every One will Rendevu at gonzales as soon as poseble as the Brave Solders are suffereing do not deglect the powder. is very scarce and should not be delad one moment

    There is evidence that Smither extracted the essence of the letter and deposited this copy with Judge Andrew Ponton before he departed Gonzales. Ponton prepared other copies and forwarded these to Nacogdoches and other population centers in the province. One such copy existed in the C.H. Raguet Papers in Marshall and was reproduced in full by Amelia Williams in her "Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo."

    Smither left that evening, heeding the admonition to forward the dispatch to San Felipe "by express day and night." Fighting an icy north wind, he covered the distance in less than 40 hours and delivered the appeal to the citizens' committee in that town. The proceedings of the citizens' meeting and a reasonably accurate printing of Travis' message are preserved ina broadsheet printed by Joseph Baker and Gail and Thomas Borden entitled "MEETING OF THE CITIZENS OF SAN FELIPE." Two hundred copies of this broadsheet were printed order of the committee, and at least three other preproductions of the letter were completed by Baker and Borden. One was a separate printing of the letter exhibiting further variations from the original holograph, another printing of 200 copies with "THE LATEST NEWS" appended, and a third printing of 300 copies with a proclamation of Provisional Governor Henry Smith. Although there were five distinct printings of the Travis letter by Baker and Borden, there were only two versions, and neither provided an accurate transcription of the famous appeal.

    The Texas Republican was the first newspaper to carry Travis' letter in the March 2 issue the Telegraph & Texas Register printed the letter on March 5. Both of these printings drew on the variant copies produced by Baker and Borden, not the original letter. The same is true of a dozen or more reproductions of the Travis message appearing in various Texas histories, published between 1836 and 1891. This supports the contention that the original holograph was returned to the Travis family shortly after the Revolution.

    According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1891, the February 24 appeal came into the possession of Travis' daughter, Susan Isabella Travis, who was less than five years old at the time of her father's death. The letter passed to her daughter, Mary Jan Grissette, and hence to great grandson John G. Davidson.

    On February 16, 1891, Davisdon forwarded the heirloom to L.L. Foster, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History, to be placed on temporary loan until called for by the family. On March 23, 1893, Davidson offered to sell the letter, owing to personal hardship. He repeated his offer on May 8, this time specifying his desire to recover $250 and an accurate transcription of the same. Davidson pointed up that the family had once been offered twice that amount for the letter. At the time, this figure represented half of the Department's entire appropriation for the collection of historical manuscripts, and acquisition would be impossible without an additional appropriation from the legislature. Davidson contacted the Department again on may 16, offering to "sell it to the state $25.00 cheaper than to any society or individual as I know it would be safe."

    Commissioner John E. Hollingsworth replied on May 17 that he wanted Davidson's "very best terms." On May 24, Davidson reduced the price to $85.00 and a warrant was issued five days later to purchase the document.

    The acquisition of this famous document is memorialized in the Museum accession log (accession #39) of the Texas State Library and Eighteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History (1892). It was exhibited in a "locked glass showcase" with other manuscripts, artifacts, and rare books, according to another accession log, which also documents the loan and final acquisition of the letter along with the family Bible and a copy of Colonel Travis' last will and testament. The exhibit was apparently permanent as the Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Insurance, Statistics, and History (1903) mentioned that the letter is on exhibition in the main room of the State Library, along with other relics, including the San Jacinto battle flag and President Lamar's pistols.

    Custody of the letter devolved upon the Texas State Library and Historical Commission on March 19, 1909, and only once left the protective environment of that agency. On June 22, 1936, the Texas State Library and Historical Commission approved the temporary loan of 143 documents, including the Travis letter and the Texas Declaration of Independence, to the Committee on Historical Exhibits, Texas Centennial Central Exposition.


    Texas State Historical Assn’s Chief Historian Says the Alamo Was an ‘Insignificant’ Battle and Represents ‘Whiteness.’ What Do Texas History Experts and the Facts Say?

    This past week, Texas State Historical Association chief historian Walter Buenger made two controversial assertions regarding the Alamo in a story published by USA Today .

    Although the battle has become a symbol of patriotism and freedom for many Texans and Americans, like the Confederate monuments erected after the Civil War, the myth of the Alamo has been used to “commemorate whiteness,” according to Walter L Buenger, Texas State Historical Association chair.

    The battle itself was relatively insignificant tactically speaking, but it gained recognition decades later in the 1890s as backlash to African Americans gaining more political power and Mexican immigration increasing, Buenger said. In 1915, “Birth of a Nation” director D.W. Griffith produced “Martyrs of the Alamo,” which solidified the myth further by pitting white virtuous Texans against racist caricatures of Mexicans on screen.

    “It became in some ways a sort of symbol of Anglo-Saxon preeminence,” he said. “The Alamo became this symbol of what it meant to be white.”

    Buenger is currently the Texas State Historical Association’s chief historian as well as holding a major post at the University of Texas at Austin. The TSHA is not a state agency, it’s a nonprofit, but it plays a key role in history education in Texas schools, and of being an authoritative repository of the state’s history through its online Handbook of Texas . As Michelle Haas, editor of the Copano Bay Press, notes , Buenger’s role lends him a great deal of influence and power over how Texas history is recorded and taught.

    In the article, Buenger asserts that the Battle of the Alamo was “tactically insignificant” and that it wasn’t recognized as important until decades after the battle, and then only as a “backlash to African Americans gaining more political power.” Both of these assertions, if true, undermine the common understanding of the Alamo battle as one of, if not the most important, turning points in Texas history and suggests Texas is and always was racist.

    Are Buenger’s Claims True?

    The Alamo had nothing to do with the Confederacy or the Civil War, which occurred 25 years after the famous Texas battle. None of its defenders can be held responsible for its misuse by anyone, including 20th century filmmakers or 21st century historians. Buenger’s attempt to connect the Alamo to misuses long after the battle is misguided at best, and unfair. But what about his factual claims: that it was strategically unimportant at the time, and that it was only recognized as important in the context of a racial backlash?

    Let’s take the first claim, that the battle itself was “tactically insignificant.” I reached out to Texas historian Dr. Stephen Hardin. Hardin is professor of history at McMurray University and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent Texas historians. He has authored numerous books on Texas history including Texian Iliad , which chronicles the Texas Revolution. Hardin wrote the TSHA’s Handbook of Texas entry about the Battle of the Alamo.

    Hardin referred me to an article he wrote, titled “Lines in the Sand, Lines on the Soul: Myths, Fallacies, and Canards That Obscure the Battle of the Alamo.” In that article, which first appeared Texan Identities: Moving Beyond Myth, Memory and Fallacy in Texas History (2016, University of North Texas Press), Hardin tackles the assertion that the Battle of the Alamo was not significant in military terms. Hardin calls this claim a “myth.”

    Hardin notes that the Alamo sat on one of the two roads into Texas from Mexico. One of these was the Atascosito Road, which led to the south toward Goliad and Presidio La Bahia, which had been converted into a revolutionary fortress and renamed Fort Defiance. About 400 revolutionaries under the command of Col. James Fannin occupied that fort. The other road was the El Camino Real, or the King’s Highway, which led toward the north and San Antonio, which was the capital of Texas at the time. Both of these facts lent the Alamo strategic importance in 1836. Whoever controlled the Alamo could more easily control the capital city and the key road into Texas. Additionally, Texian and Tejano forces had captured the Alamo from Mexican forces in late 1835, which lent it symbolic and strategic importance for both sides.

    Dictator Santa Anna apparently viewed the Alamo as important. At the beginning of 1836, he faced rebellion not just in Texas but also in several other provinces concurrently. The rebellion had nothing to do with “whiteness,” which is a politically-charged 21st century term. Santa Anna had done away with local power and declared himself a Centralist — and dictator. He had done away with the 1824 Constitution, which granted great power to the provinces in a federalist system (Texas was part of the combined Texas y Coahuila province at the time, with San Antonio as its capital). In the 1835 Tormel Declaration he had declared that Anglos who sided with the Federalists would be given no quarter. He had declared his intent to drive all Anglos out of Texas — which we might call ethnic cleansing today. Santa Anna also faced the defection of officials including diplomat and physician Lorenzo de Zavala, a Federalist, after he declared himself a Centralist.

    De Zavala would later serve as Texas’ first vice president. If “whiteness” lay at the heart of the revolution, de Zavala would never have been elected to any office. “Whiteness” would also fail to explain why the Esparza brothers, Damacio Jimenez (sometimes spelled Ximenez), Carlos Espalier , and other Tejanos fought and died at the Alamo, and why Jose Torbio Losoya was possibly the last defender alive. His body was recovered just inside the doorway at the Alamo church. Was he fighting for “whiteness” in an “insignificant” military engagement? Losoya wasn’t white, and he was a professional soldier who began his service in the Mexican army. Why did he join the revolution and defend the Alamo to the end?

    Another fact runs against the “whiteness” theory. A slightly greater percentage of Tejanos than Anglos fought for Texas’ independence from Mexico, according to Dr. Jody Edward Ginn. Ginn wrote the 2014 Standing Their Ground: Tejanos at the Alamo exhibit at the Alamo. An expert in Texas history and executive director of the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, Ginn studied under Frank de la Teja , Texas’ premier Tejano history expert. Ginn also served as a consultant on Netflix’s The Highwaymen and is the author of the great East Texas Troubles: The Allred Rangers Cleanup of San Augustine .

    Santa Anna’s Objectives

    The argument over governance, contested by Federalists on one side and Centralists on the other, and Santa Anna’s related abrogation of the 1824 Constitution, was the primary cause of the Texas Revolution. Federalists sought a system similar to that of the United States. Centralists sought a much stronger central national government with little power afforded the provinces. Race was a factor in the war, but not likely in the way Buenger probably sees it: Santa Anna sought to drive all “perfidious foreigners” — American and European Anglos — out of Texas. As noted above, such designs in the 21st century might be viewed as ethnic cleansing.

    When he marched into Texas, Santa Anna sought to crush the rebellion swiftly. He divided his forces into two divisions, one to march north to recapture the Alamo and the other to move south and attack Fannin’s forces at Goliad. Santa Anna placed the Goliad column under the command of the highly competent Gen. Jose de Urrea. Santa Anna himself led the force to attack the Alamo, which would suggest to anyone who knows their military history and Santa Anna’s character that he regarded this effort as the most important. Facing widespread rebellion and defections and with the choice of which column to lead in his hands, Santa Anna personally prioritized capturing the Alamo. Was the “Napoleon of the West” mistaken in his military priorities?

    Adding to its symbolic and strategic importance due to its geography is the fact that some of the most famous and feared Texas revolutionaries were present at the Alamo: David Crockett, James Bowie, William Barret Travis, and Juan Seguin. Tejano leader Seguin was present leading the Tejano defenders when the siege began. He rode out through enemy lines, on Bowie’s horse, during the siege with a call for reinforcements. Colonists from Gonzales, numbering about 32, were the only ones to answer Travis’ call through Seguin. Santa Anna’s tactical objectives at the Alamo were to recapture the fortress and the capital city, control the road, and eliminate some of his most dangerous foes at once. The Alamo alone offered this opportunity.

    The Alamo Battle and the Texas Revolution

    When he encircled the Alamo, Santa Anna might have been wise to follow Sun Tzu’s advice to leave a surrounded enemy a path to retreat. Had he done so, their retreat may have let much of the air out of the resistance. It certainly would not have created 189 immortal martyrs.

    Santa Anna left no such path. He intended to intimidate the revolutionaries into submission by crushing the garrison, sparing no quarter, and burning the bodies of the defenders on pyres alongside the road into and out of San Antonio. His actions instead enraged and galvanized the revolutionaries. They knew from that point forward they must fight for their very lives or Santa Anna would hunt them down, kill them, and deny them even a proper burial. He proved his intentions at the Alamo and Goliad.

    The strategic importance of the fall of the fortress on March 6, 1836 was immediately understood. Santa Anna controlled the capital and the El Camino Real. He could move virtually unopposed. Once Urrea took the Goliad forces out, Santa Anna could then combine his forces to pursue and destroy the final Texian force, commanded by Sam Houston. Texian and Tejano families, fearing the worst, began to flee to the south and east in the Runaway Scrape .

    Newspapers reported the fall within days to weeks, and as Hardin notes in his article, word spread beyond Texas quickly. U.S. President Andrew Jackson reacted in a letter to his nephew on April 22, 1836. He told his young nephew that his reaction to the “death of those brave men who fell in defense of the Alamo displays a proper feeling of patriotism and sympathy for the gallant defenders of the rights of freemen.” News had spread far and wide within weeks, all the way to the White House.

    One day prior to the date of Jackson’s letter, the Texians and Tejanos defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto, shouting “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” as they surprised and routed the dictator’s forces. Seguin was there, leading the Tejanos providing rearguard security for the Texians under Sam Houston.

    The San Jacinto battle cry leads to another key point: context. Warfare includes both strategic and propaganda or symbolic importance. The fall of the Alamo, and Santa Anna’s brutal treatment of the fallen, affected the thinking and the morale of both sides. It all happened in context: Santa Anna’s betrayal of the Federalist colonists when he switched to the Centralist side the Tornel Decree which offered no quarter for Anglos supporting the Federalists the former American colonists’ role as children and grandchildren of the American Revolution Santa Anna’s ambition and his abrogation of the 1824 federalist Constitution and many Tejano Federalists’ choice to side with the Anglos against Santa Anna.

    For many Mexican soldiers and officers, Santa Anna’s conduct caused them to question and later repudiate him. His brutality at the Alamo and his order to massacre about 400 captured revolutionaries at Goliad and burn their bodies horrified many of his officers and conscripts alike. He had ordered his own soldiers to commit what today would be considered war crimes in the context of an ethnic cleansing campaign. Mexico’s officers were moral Catholics. Gen. Vicente Filisola , an Italian who was Santa Anna’s overall second in command at the time, denounced Santa Anna’s brutal actions at the Alamo in his 1848 memoir as “atrocious authorized acts unworthy of the valor of and resolve with which the operation was carried out.” Filisola added that Santa Anna’s actions helped ignite the rebellion ( Sea of Mud: The Retreat of the Mexican Army after San Jacinto, An Archeological Investigation , Dr. Gregg Dimmick).

    Filisola was attempting to rehabilitate his own reputation but he was right about the effect of Santa Anna’s actions they backfired and ignited rebellion. Santa Anna’s actions removed any possibility of reconciliation with the revolutionaries — Anglo or Tejano.

    Newspaper reports of the time capture the battle’s importance. On March 24, 1836, The Telegraph and Texas Register of San Felipe de Austin declared “Spirits of the mighty, though fallen! Honors and rest are with ye: the spark of immortality which animated your forms, shall brighten into a flame, and Texas, the whole world, shall hail ye like the demi-gods of old, as founders of new actions and as patterns of imitation!” Less than three weeks after its fall, the Alamo was already seen as lending its fallen defenders “immortality.” Some might call that wartime propaganda. That’s right, which only reinforces the view that the Alamo was important at the time, not just decades later. This report became the template other newspapers used to report the battle, according to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

    Writing in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1988, the late Michael P. Costletoe, professor of Hispanic and Latin American studies at the University of Bristol (England), noted that Mexican newspapers including the country’s official newspaper reported the Alamo’s fall jubilantly within 10 days of the event. Why would they do this if the battle was insignificant?

    I produced and co-wrote the Bowie: Man – Life – Legend exhibit at the Alamo. Jim Bowie’s famous knife was widely popular before the battle, but after he perished as a hero at the Alamo, its popularity immediately skyrocketed. Manufacturers across the United States and England flooded the market with variations on the Bowie Knife. Bowie’s legend from the Alamo lent the knife a mystique as it became the frontier weapon of choice after the Alamo’s fall until the Colt revolver replaced it.

    Claiming the Alamo was insignificant to the war and only became otherwise in a racial backlash is simply seeing 19th century history through a fashionable 21st century lens and minimizing the beliefs and actions of people who do not fit into narrow modern academic or political templates. Buenger may view history through this lens due to his specialization in early 20th century history, not the Texas Revolution.

    The Alamo structures that survived the battle were left as a ruin for a decade and then converted into an arsenal by the U.S. Army. It was used as such until 1876, and bought by the State of Texas in 1883 for preservation. These facts might make it seem that the Alamo was forgotten. But the Alamo story resonated immediately. Juan Sequin, the Tejano leader, returned to the scene a few months after the war concluded, gathered what he could of the defenders’ ashes and bones from the pyres, and held a solemn funerary march through San Antonio to honor his friends and compatriots. Seguin, I might add, was the appointed mayor of San Antonio when he returned and was later reelected. The Republic of Texas used muster rolls of that battle and others to determine who would be granted land in the cash poor but land rich country. Thus, the battle turned the war and affected the growth of farms, ranches, and towns for decades.

    In 1840, A.B. Lawrence visited the young republic to write a travel guide. Upon seeing the Alamo ruins, he wrote: “Will not in future days Bexar be classic ground? Is it not by victory and the blood of heroes, consecrated to liberty, and sacred to the fame of patriots who there repose upon the very ground they defended with their last breath and last drop of generous blood? Will Texians ever forget them? Or cease to prize the boon for which these patriots bled? Forbid it honor, virtue, patriotism. Let every Texian bosom be the monument sacred to their fame, and every Texian freeman be emulous of their virtues.” That’s strong language for a mere travel guide.

    The first known photograph ever taken in Texas is this daguerreotype of the Alamo , taken in 1849. If the Alamo was unimportant, why was it likely the first subject of any photo ever taken in Texas? Sam Houston was still alive. There were numerous other notable people and sites around Texas. Why the Alamo?

    Dr. Sharon Skrobarcek is a member of the Alamo Missions Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who also serves on San Antonio’s Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee. She told me “ Any way you slice it, the defenders of the Alamo, who were all Mexicans at the time, went into a battle knowing they would not survive and they did it for the higher value of freedom for their families and friends. It is important that the true story be told so that every child of Texas understands the sacrifice and heroism of that time and sees their own family contributions to what makes our state great. To even suggest that it was about ‘whiteness’ is untrue and does our children a huge disservice. The true story of the Alamo and the fight for Texas Independence gives all of our children — Hispanic and Anglo — an understanding of the heroism of their ancestors for which they can be proud. It speaks to each child’s sense of self worth and understanding of his/her own value to our community.”

    Ironically, one of the first if not the first figure to claim that the Alamo was unimportant was Santa Anna himself. In his after action report, he noted that he had eliminated Bowie, Crockett, and Travis in “a small affair.” Perhaps the myth of the Alamo’s insignificance comes directly from the conniving, brutal dictator who ordered atrocities there and sought to minimize his actions — and whose actions at the Alamo and at Goliad cost him Texas itself.

    So what are we to make of Walter Buenger’s claims? They don’t stand up to scrutiny. People of the time, from a wide variety of backgrounds, recognized the Alamo’s tactical and symbolic significance. You may have noticed that I linked to TSHA resources throughout this piece. At this point, those resources tend to be reliable. But how long will this remain the case if the TSHA continues to drift toward politics and away from the facts and people of history? How long will the Alamo remain Texas’ most important historical site if few will stand up for it?


    Alamo Defenders

    new

    stuart
    Charter Member

    Post by stuart on May 5, 2007 9:20:47 GMT -5

    I’d like to propose that as this board was set up as a forum for Alamo studies that we might take on a project to usefully focus some of our energy and expertise. On the other site we did from time to time look at the Alamo garrison, its initial composition and its evolution. I know that there was some private discussion (now lost) on the question of numbers which could be resurrected on an open forum now we’ve lost the rowdy lot, and I also think that in parallel we also have sufficient interest and ability between us to take a serious look at defender identification. To that end I’ve posted a link to Amelia Williams work and attach below an intriguing document which really does have to form the starting point for any discussion:

    "RETURN, made by Col. J.C. Neil, of the men remaining in the
    garrison of Bexar when he left." [Feb 14, 1836]
    Neil, J.C. (Lt. Col.) Field and Staff, Garrison of Bexar
    [Feb 14, 1836] [A3 T1 p40-42]
    Jamison, J.B. (Maj.)
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Anderson, A. (Q.M. Sgt)
    Baugh, J. (Adjt)
    Blair, S.C. (Asst)
    Evans, George (Mast Ord)
    Fetch (Fitch), J. (Art Insr)
    Floddens (Floeder), _____ (Capt)
    Hart, W.H.W. (Asst Surg)
    Jamison, J.B. (Maj)
    Lance, Charles (Asst)
    Melton, E. (Q.M.)
    Neil, J.C. (Lt Col)
    Nolan, James
    Pagans, George
    Peacock, _____ (Capt)
    Pollard, Amos (Asst Surg)
    Ward, T.W. (Capt)
    Williams, H.J. (Sgt Maj)

    Carey, W.R. Artillery, Garrison of Bexar
    [Feb 14, 1836] [A3 T1 p41]
    Atkinson, M.B.
    Balentine, J.
    Bartlett, J.
    Boatwright, S.(L.)
    Bowe, D.
    Byrnes, J.
    Cain, John
    Carey, W.R. (Capt)
    Cockran, R.
    Connell, S.C.
    Conrad, P.
    Cunningham, R.W.
    Damon, S.
    Dust, S.(L.)
    Edwards, Wm.
    Ewing, J.S.(L.)
    Fry, B.F. (2 Lt)
    Grymes, C.
    Haskill, C.
    Heallie, J.W. (3 Sgt)
    Herser, Wm. (Sgt)
    Holland, T.
    Howard, W.
    Ingram, I.(J.)
    Jackson, F.W. (1 Lt)
    Jennings, C.J. (P.W.) (1 Cpl)
    Johnston, H.
    Johnston, S.
    Kinney, J.
    Lewis, J.
    Lightfoot, Wm. (3 Cpl)
    Lindley, P.
    Lurdoff, Wm.
    Malerie (Maleree), W.T.
    McGregor, J. (2 Sgt)
    Mitchell, A.B.
    Naraw (Naran), G.
    Northcross, J.
    Perry, R.
    Preehouse, J.
    Preehouse, P.
    Robertson, J. (4 Sgt)
    Russell, R.W.
    Rutherford, J.
    Ryan, T.
    Shudd, J.
    Smith, C.S.
    Smith, William
    Taylor, F.
    Tomlinson, G.
    Tommel (Tommell), R.
    Walker, J.
    Walters, Thomas
    Warnull, J.
    Wolf, A.
    Wyatt, G.

    Blazeley, Wm Infantry, Garrison of Bexar
    [Feb 14, 1836] [A3 T1 p41-42]
    Fassitt (Feassitt), G.A. (Capt.)
    Ward, T.W. (Capt. Artillery)
    Peacock, _____ (Capt. Artillery)
    Floddens (Floeder), _____ (Capt. Artillery)

    Andross, Mills D.
    Bell, William
    Blazeley, Wm. (Capt)
    Crassen (Crasseer), Robt
    Davis, David
    Day, H.K.(R.)
    Dennison, Stephen
    Devault, A.
    Dockon, James (Sgt)
    Edwards, S.W.
    Erwin, Wm. A. (Sgt)
    Fassitt (Feassitt), G.A. (Capt)
    Garrand, J.W.
    Goodrich, T.C.
    Gorbit (Gorbet), Chester
    Harris, T.
    Haze (Hage), W.
    Hendrick, Thos.
    Hobbs, Jona. T.
    Holloway, Saml.
    Howell, Wm.
    Jones, John (1 Lt)
    Lynn, Wm.
    Main, S.W.
    Marshall, Wm.
    McGee, James
    Mitchell, _____
    Moore, R.B.
    Moran, John
    Musselman (Mussellman), B.F. (Sgt)
    Nelson, H.J.
    Parks, Wm.
    Pickering, John
    Ryan, Isaac
    Sewell, S.
    Spratt, Wm.
    Starr, Richard
    Summerlin, A.S.
    Thomas, Wm.
    Walker, W.
    Washington, G.
    White, Robt. (Lt)

    Its been argued that this list actually dates from some time in December 1835, and it is true that at least one of the men on Blazeby’s list Stephen Dennison, was actually with Grant, and left Bexar with him on January 1 1836. However there are also a considerable number of others who marched with Grant and who are conspicuous by their absence. William Langenheim for instance served at the siege of Bexar, stayed on afterwards, enlisted under Grant and went south with him at the beginning of January, yet he’s not on the list. So does it pre-date or post-date the Alamo voting list reproduced in TRL’s “Alamo Traces”?

    TRK
    Global Moderator

    Post by TRK on May 5, 2007 12:26:42 GMT -5

    To get the ball rolling, I've taken the Neill list and am checking off names that appear on the Feb. 1, 1836, "Alamo voting list." I should have the results ready to post here later today, or tomorrow.

    Off the bat, the names of Travis, Bowie, Crockett, and Dickinson are conspicuous for their absence from the Neill list.

    stuart
    Charter Member

    Post by stuart on May 5, 2007 13:31:46 GMT -5

    TRK
    Global Moderator

    Post by TRK on May 5, 2007 14:46:27 GMT -5

    FWIW, I took the list Stuart posted and inserted * symbols if that name (or a close facsmile) appeared in the Alamo voting list of Feb. 1, 1836 (published in Lindley, Alamo Traces, 319-322), and a > symbol if the name appears in Amelia Williams' Alamo roster. There are also some comments by me within brackets.

    If nothing else, I guess this exercise will show how some persons were present for the Feb. 1 election and not for the circa-Feb. 14 Neill muster roll. or present for the Neill muster roll and not present on Amelia Williams' listing. (And I'm one of those persons who tips his hat to Ms. Williams for her work in compiling the list and writing her thesis on the Alamo, but doubts that her list of the Alamo dead is anything like the final word on the subject.)

    Feel free to critique or add to what I have added to the list there are bound to be mistakes or omissions in my insertions. Understand that whoever originally transcribed both the Neill muster roll and the Alamo voting list may have mistaken certain handwritten letters for others (a capital S sometimes being confused for J, T for F, etc.), so some of the names as transcribed may be off base.

    [Neill list, supposedly as of
    Feb. 14, 1836]

    * = on Alamo voting list of Feb. 1, 1836 (*? means possible match)

    > = listed in Amelia Williams’ list of the Alamo defenders

    * Anderson, A. (Q.M. Sgt)
    * > Baugh, J. (Adjt)
    *? > Blair, S.C. (Asst) [voting list Jno. Blair?]
    * Evans, George (Mast Ord) [Note: Williams lists Robert Evans as master of ordnance]
    * Fetch (Fitch), J. (Art Insr)
    Floddens (Floeder), _____ (Capt)
    Hart, W.H.W. (Asst Surg)
    > Jamison, J.B. (Maj) [Green B. Jameson]
    Lance, Charles (Asst)
    * > Melton, E. (Q.M.)
    * Neil, J.C. (Lt Col) [did not die at Alamo]
    > Nolan, James [Williams’ James Nowlan]
    * > Pagans, George [Alamo voting list = Geo. M. f*gam Williams = Pagan]
    Peacock, _____ (Capt)
    > Pollard, Amos (Asst Surg)
    Ward, T.W. (Capt)
    > Williams, H.J. (Sgt Maj) [Prob. Amelia Williams’ Hiram J. Williamson]

    * Atkinson, M.B.
    * > Balentine, J. [voting list = James J. Valentine Amelia Williams = John J. Ballentine]
    Bartlett, J.
    * Boatwright, S.(L.) [voting list: L. Bateright]
    >? Bowe, D. [Daniel Bourne?]
    Byrnes, J. [Possibly > Samuel E. Burns, “S” mistaken for “J”?]
    > Cain, John
    * > Carey, W.R. (Capt)
    > Cockran, R. [Williams = Cochran(e), Robert]
    Connell, S.C.
    Conrad, P.
    * > Cunningham, R.W. [voting list = R. M.]
    > Damon, S.
    > Dust, S.(L.) [prob. Jacob C. Darst/Durst/Dust]
    Edwards, Wm.
    > Ewing, J.S.(L.)
    Fry, B.F. (2 Lt)
    > Grymes, C. [prob. Albert (Alfred?) Calvin Grimes]
    > Haskill, C.
    Heallie, J.W. (3 Sgt)
    *? > Herser, Wm. (Sgt) [voting list = Wm. Hersy?]
    * > Holland, T[apley].
    Howard, W.
    * > Ingram, I.(J.) [James Ingraham according to voting list Williams lists ___ Ingram as a “possible” Alamo death]
    *? >? Jackson, F.W. (1 Lt) [Voting list: J. Jackson Williams lists Thomas Jackson T mistaken for F?]
    Jennings, C.J. (P.W.) (1 Cpl)
    * Johnston, H. [Johnston on voting list]
    *? Johnston, S. [Voting list, Lewis Johnson (“L” mistaken for “S”?)]
    >? Kinney, J. [Amelia Williams’ James Kenney?]
    * Lewis, J. [James Lewis on voting list]
    * > Lightfoot, Wm. (3 Cpl)
    *? >? Lindley, P. [Alamo list = Jonathan Lindley]
    Lurdoff, Wm.
    *? Malerie (Maleree), W.T. [voting list Wm. T. Malon and Williams’ William T. Malone?]
    * > McGregor, J. (2 Sgt)
    Mitchell, A.B.
    Naraw (Naran), G. [Gerald Navin?]
    > Northcross, J.
    * > Perry, R.
    Preehouse, J.
    * Preehouse, P. [P. Pevyhouse on voting list]
    > Robertson, J. (4 Sgt)
    * Russell, R.W. [R.M. Russell on voting list]
    * > Rutherford, J.
    * Ryan, T. [Isaac Ryan?]
    Shudd, J.
    > Smith, C.S.
    x > Smith, William
    Taylor, F. [Amelia Williams’ George or James Taylor?]
    > Tomlinson, G. [Tumlinson]
    >? Tommel (Tommell), R. [Burke Trammel?]
    > Walker, J. [Jacob Walker?]
    Walters, Thomas
    >? Warnull, J. [probably Henry Warnell]
    * > Wolf, A.
    *? Wyatt, G. [Alamo voting list = C. C. Wyatt]

    Ward, T.W. (Capt. Artillery) [Michael W. Ward?]
    Peacock, _____ (Capt. Artillery)
    Floddens (Floeder), _____ (Capt. Artillery)

    > Andross, Mills D. [Miles DeForest Andross]
    * Bell, William
    * > Blazeley, Wm. (Capt)
    Crassen (Crasseer), Robt
    Davis, David
    >?Day, H.K.(R.) [same as Freeman H. R. Day?]
    > Dennison, Stephen
    > Devault, A.
    Dockon, James (Sgt)
    Edwards, S.W.
    Erwin, Wm. A. (Sgt)
    Fassitt (Feassitt), G.A. (Capt)
    * > Garrand, J.W.
    > Goodrich, T.C. [prob. John Calvin Goodrich]
    Gorbit (Gorbet), Chester
    *? >? Harris, T. [J. Harris on voting list Williams’ John Harris?]
    Haze (Hage), W.
    Hendrick, Thos.
    Hobbs, Jona. T.
    * > Holloway, Saml.
    > Howell, Wm.
    > Jones, John (1 Lt)
    * > Lynn, Wm. [Linn]
    * Main, S.W. [Alamo voting list = G. W. Maine Williams = George Washington Main]
    * > Marshall, Wm.
    * > McGee, James
    *? >? Mitchell, _____ [voting list has N. D. Mitchell? Williams has Edwin T. and Napoleon B. Mitchell]
    > Moore, R.B.
    Moran, John
    > Musselman (Mussellman), B.F. (Sgt) [T. Mussulman in voting list Williams lists him as Sgt. Robert Musselman]
    * Nelson, H.J. [Alamo voting list = H. G. Nelson]
    > Parks, Wm.
    Pickering, John
    > Ryan, Isaac
    >? Sewell, S. [Williams’ Marcus L. Sewell?]
    * Spratt, Wm.
    * > Starr, Richard
    > Summerlin, A.S.
    * Thomas, Wm.
    Walker, W.
    * > Washington, G. [Williams: Joseph G. Washington]
    > White, Robt. (Lt)
    _____________

    Names on Feb. 1 voting list NOT on Neill’s list:

    Jn. James
    J.B. McManemy
    James Dickins
    >? M. Shidal [Williams’ Manson Shied?]
    Jn. Burns
    J. H. Nash
    >? M. Hawkins [Williams’ Joseph M. Hawkins?]
    Thos. Ryan
    C. Grimes [Albert Calvin Grimes?]
    > Square Dayman
    M. R. Wood
    > C. C. Hieskell [Williams’ Charles M. Haskell (Heiskell?)]
    C.C. Wyatt
    M. Heter
    J. Duff
    C. Lanco
    > J. M. Hays [John M. Hays]
    G. Gemmys
    Jesse B. Badgett [representative to convention didn’t die at Alamo]
    Char. Asner
    > James Bowie
    > Parker, C.
    Jacob Roth
    Gregoine
    Jn. Ballard
    > Lewis Duel
    Cap Flowers ?
    > Henry Warnell
    > Jn. E. Garven [Garvin]
    James T. Garner
    > A[lmeron]. Dickenson
    S. A. Maverick [elected to convention did not die at Alamo]
    > P. H. Herndon
    > W. C. M. Baker
    L. Bateright
    Smith, L. M.
    > Nelson, E.
    A. Hilegor
    H. Johnson
    > Evans, S. B.
    > Wilson, D.
    Jno. Johnson
    H. Lebarb
    Robt. Grossen
    Jno. Morcan
    Hasey Mana Garcia [Jesus Maria Garcia?]
    > Thos. Waters
    Wm. Heagl
    Mills Andrews
    Robt. Moon
    M. Rusk [Williams has Jackson J. Rusk]

    stuart
    Charter Member


    Categories:

    The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

    Jesús "Frank" de la Teja, &ldquoTejanos and the Siege and Battle of the Alamo,&rdquo Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/tejanos-and-the-siege-and-battle-of-the-alamo.

    Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

    All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and &ldquoFair Use&rdquo for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

    If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


    Slavery and the Myth of the Alamo

    James W. Russell, University Professor of Sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University, is the author most recently of Escape from Texas: A Novel of Slavery and the Texas War of Independence. More information is available at http://escapefromtexas.com.

    Two and a half million people visit the Alamo each year where, according to its website, “men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom,” making it “hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.”

    There can be no doubt that the symbolism of the Alamo is at the center of the creation myth of Texas: that the state was forged out of a heroic struggle for freedom against a cruel Mexican dictator, Santa Ana. It represents to the Southwest what the Statue of Liberty represents to the Northeast: a satisfying confirmation of what we are supposedly about as a people.

    But if Northeasterners can be excused for embracing a somewhat fuzzy notion of abstract liberty, the symbolism of the Alamo has always been built upon historical myth.

    As the defenders of the Alamo were about to sacrifice their lives, other Texans were making clear the goals of the sacrifice at a constitutional convention for the new republic they hoped to create. In Section 9 of the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, it is stated how the new republic would resolve their greatest problem under Mexican rule: “All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude . Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from bringing their slaves into the republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States nor shall congress have power to emancipate slaves.”

    Mexico had in fact abolished slavery in 1829, causing panic among the Texas slaveholders, overwhelmingly immigrants from the south of the United States. They in turn sent Stephen Austin to Mexico City to complain. Austin was able to wrest from the Mexican authorities an exemption for the department -- Texas was technically a department of the state of Coahuila y Tejas -- that would allow the vile institution to continue. But it was an exemption reluctantly given, mainly because the authorities wanted to avoid rebellion in Texas when they already had problems in Yucatán and Guatemala. All of the leaders of Mexico, in itself only an independent country since 1821, were personally opposed to slavery, in part because of the influence of emissaries from the freed slave republic of Haiti. The exemption was, in their minds, a temporary measure and Texas slaveholders knew that.

    The legality of slavery had thus been at best tenuous and uncertain at a time when demand for cotton -- the main slave-produced export -- was accelerating on the international market. A central goal of independence would be to remove that uncertainty.

    The Mexican armies that entered the department to put down the rebellion had explicit orders to free any slaves that they encountered, and so they did. The only person spared in the retaking of the Alamo was Joe, the personal slave of William Travis.

    Once the rebels succeeded in breaking Texas away from Mexico and establishing an independent republic, slavery took off as an institution. Between 1836 and 1840, the slave population doubled it doubled again by 1845 and it doubled still again by 1850 after annexation by the United States. On the eve of the Civil War, which Texas would enter as a part of the Confederacy, there were 182,566 slaves, nearly one-third of the state’s population.

    As more slaves came into the Republic of Texas, more escaped to Mexico. Matamoros in the 1840s had a large and flourishing colony of ex-slaves from Texas and the United States. Though exact numbers do not exist, as many slaves may have escaped to Mexico as escaped through the more famous underground railway to Canada. The Mexican government, for its part, encouraged the slave runaways, often with offers of land as well as freedom.

    The defenders of the Alamo, as brave as they may have been, were martyrs to the cause of the freedom of slaveholders, with the Texas War of Independence having been the first of their nineteenth-century revolts, with the American Civil War the second.


    Rescue of Texas's famous Alamo is stalled over fight to tell history of slavery, Indigenous land

    Texas lawmakers want to heed the call to “Remember the Alamo,” but they’re stuck on exactly how to remember the history of the 300-year-old former Spanish mission that today stands nearly in ruins.

    Before it was the site of a 13-day siege by the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution, Misión San Antonio de Valero was built as part of the Spanish Catholic mission to convert and re-educate Indigenous peoples. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has since recognized that “there were hundreds of individuals buried in and around Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) during the Spanish-colonial era,” and the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation is fighting to be heard in plans to renovate and redevelop the area.

    READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

    "Since 1994 the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation has fought for the return of ancestral remains around San Antonio and we will not give up our fight to ensure all repatriations are honored and we are able to rebury our ancestral remains if human remains are discovered at the Mission San Antonio de Valero. We hope that the City of San Antonio as land owners move forward to ensure our history is never forgotten," says a petition with more than 2,000 signatures asking for a third party archival study of the site .

    Meanwhile, the THC was fighting to keep the Alamo Cenotaph, a monument to the battle, in the city plaza where it was erected, despite the city council's plans to move it 500 feet to the south in front of a historic hotel.

    “Cenotaph ain’t moving," General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush pronounced last month. They won — but the future of the $450-million plan to renovate the Alamo Mission is still uncertain as revisionists challenge the history of the Texas Revolution, fought in part to preserve the state’s right to enslave people — a fact that public schools in the Lone Star State only began to teach in 2018 .

    America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

    “If they want to bring up that it was about slavery, or say that the Alamo defenders were racist, or anything like that, they need to take their rear ends over the state border and get the hell out of Texas,” president of the This is Freedom Texas Force, a conservative group that held an armed protest last year in Alamo Plaza, Brandon Burkhart told the Washington Post .

    City council member Roberto Treviño, who was behind the push to move the Cenotaph, also supported carving the names of enslaved people and native Texans of Mexican descent that were present at the battle into the monument.

    “The issue for the project has been that there’s a lot of moving parts, and a lot of people who have tried to insert their version of history,” he told the Post. “You have to remember that this city is predominantly Hispanic. And for many years, it has not felt like it’s seen itself in that story.”


    Watch the video: How Did the Defenders Die? (January 2022).