Remember the...um....shoot! I forgot what I was supposed to remember.
Did you know that you can't rent a car at the Alamo in San Antonio?
Did you know there's a lot you don't know about the Alamo? Or, that what you know might actually be wrong?
The Alamo is considered an icon of American history. The only problem is, it's not American history. It's Mexican history.
The Alamo was occupied by 'Texians' who were trying to gain independence from Mexico in 1836. These Texians weren't American. They were Texans. At the time, Texas was a part of Mexico. Texians were the people who lived in Texas, and they adopted Texians to differentiate them from Mexicans. Even the Mexicans living in Texas didn't want to be called Mexican. So they were called Tejanos. The word Texian simply refers to a Texan during the revolution and the Republic. Once Texas gained statehood, Texians was dropped from popular usage.
But, when the rebels occupied the Alamo, and Santa Anna began the siege on February 25th 1836, Texas was a part of Mexico. So the events of the Alamo are strictly speaking, Mexican history. The leaders of the Texas rebellion didn't announce independence until March 4th, 1836. Two days before the Alamo fell.
We Americans were taught in school that William Travis was the commander of the Alamo. That's not quite accurate, though. The Alamo was commanded by Colonel James Neill. Shortly after arriving in San Antonio, Neill left on family business leaving Lt. Col. William Travis in charge. But, about half the men weren't soldiers. They were volunteers who could come and go as they pleased, and they only answered to Jim Bowie.
And Jim Bowie and William Travis did not get along at all. They continually struggled against each other for control of their group. It took Davey Crockett to keep the two from coming to blows and making them get along well enough to operate as a functional unit.
One of the things that came between Travis and Bowie was the fact that, the Alamo shouldn't have happened in the first place. The 200 men were sent to San Antonio ahead of Santa Annas forces to destroy the Alamo to prevent the Mexicans from garrisoning it and controlling San Antonio.
However, when they got there and Jim Bowie saw the walls, he decided they could hold out against the 2,000 Mexicans that were on their way. Travis disagreed. The matter was finally settled when Santa Anna and his troops appeared on the horizon on February 23rd.
Except, Santa Anna didn't start the siege. He left the exits to the Alamo and to San Antonio unguarded. He was giving the rebels a chance to leave. But, Texans are a stubborn lot. And Travis, Bowie and Crockett were three large personalities.
The siege officially started on February 25th. There was, not much in the way of fighting. In fact, by March 1st, the defenders only had 1 dead and the Mexicans had 9.
Sometime on the 24th, Jim Bowie collapsed. He was struck down by either pneumonia or tuberculosis. He was confined to his bed, delirious.
The siege drug on. On March 4th, Santa Anna decided to call his commander together to plan their assault. While they were meeting, Jim Bowies sister in law showed up to negotiate the honorable surrender of the defenders.
This was not something Santa Anna was going to allow. A bloodless victory wouldn't teach the rebels a lesson. So, while his commanders recommended waiting until the 7th when two heavy cannons were scheduled to arrive, Santa Anna decided to attack on the 6th.About 10:00 pm on the 5th, Santa Anna ceased his cannonade. This allowed the defenders the first peaceful sleep since the siege began. They soon fell into an exhausted sleep.
That's exactly what Santa Anna wanted.
About 5:30 am on the 6th, Santa Anna had his troops advance. They easily killed the three sentries, who were sleeping. And with war cries and bugle toot's, they began the assault in earnest.
The defenders woke and rushed to the walls. Travis was killed fairly early in the battle. And as for Bowie and Crockett? We know they died. But we don't know how or when. It's believed Bowie was killed in his bed, shooting the Mexicans with his pistols until they killed him. Crockett died either at the west wall, behind a wooden palisade, or after the battle.
There are reports of five to seven defenders surrendering. Some people say Crockett was one of them. Santa Anna had the prisoners immediately executed.
There are conflicting eye witness reports of where Crockett fell. Joe, who was Travis' slave said he fell at the west wall. Ben, who was Bowies said he fell by the palisade, surrounded by 16 dead Mexicans. The mayor of San Antonio said he saw Crockett lying dead in the main courtyard.
We will never know exactly how or where they died. Only that they did.
The Alamo represented a Pyrrhic victory for Mexico, though. The defenders lost 200 men. Santa Anna lost 600 of his 2,000. By the end of May, the Mexicans had to leave the Alamo as they couldn't defend it.
History tells us that there were no survivors of the Alamo. That's just not true. At least one defender survived. Brigido Guerrero survived by telling the Mexicans that he was a prisoner of the defenders.
There were also several slaves who survived the fighting, as well as a dozen or so women and children who were there with their husbands/fathers.
Now, for some of you, this post is just history. For others, it will be educational. But remember, a major piece of American history isn't actually American history.
Oh, as an extra-bonus fact, the Alamo has been occupied by five different nations: Spain, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederate States of America, and The United States of America.
Play your cards right, and I might tell you all the story of 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' sometime.
Who want's to hear about Lewis and Clark tomorrow?