The Battle of the Alamo

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The Battle of the Alamo is one of the most famous battles in American military history, even moreso because it was a horrendous defeat.

The people of Texas had declared themselves independent from Mexico. The Mexican Army, under President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, were determined to bring Texas back into the fold. Santa Anna led the Army on a campaign into Texas territory.

The Alamo, originally named Mision San Antonio de Valero, was a church first and foremost. Near the city of San Antonio de Bexar, the Alamo was used as a home for Christian missionaries and the Native Americans they converted.

This church was also in a strategic location, protecting as it did the road from Mexico further northeast into what was now the Republic of Texas. Knowing this, the Texas forces lugged a bunch of weapons and men to the Alamo, aiming to keep the Mexican Army out. A total of 18 cannons were installed at the Alamo, including an 18-pounder, one of the largest at that time. The Texians (as they were known) fortified the Alamo as best they could. Then, led by the some of the most famous fighting men of the time (including William Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie), they dug in and prepared for a fight.

Santa Anna saw the need to take the Alamo, to show his military superiority. In late February 1836, the Mexican Army marched toward the Alamo. They arrived on February 23.

At that time, the Mexican force numbered 6,000. The total number of men defending the Alamo was no more than 250. (Sources still debate the exact number.) Many were from Texas; many were not. The "outsiders" came from 28 countries and U.S. states. They ranged in age from 16 to 57.

The Mexicans had brought a large number of cannons as well, but the army settled down for a siege, hoping to weaken the already outnumbered defenders. Bugles blared at all hours of the day and night. Random blasts of artillery fire punctuated the long days and nights that the defenders were having to endure.

Twelve days later, on March 6, the Mexican Army moved in. By this time, their numbers were significantly reduced because of illness or desertion. Still, the number of Mexican soldiers that stormed the Alamo on that day was close to 1,500.

The attack began at 5 a.m. Mexican soldiers advanced in four successive waves, with cavalry standing by in a ring outside the fray, waiting to round up any who attempted to escape. Three hours later, it was over. Very few Texians were spared. Those who weren't killed were either women or children. The Mexican losses exceeded the entire Texian force: about 300 dead and more than 500 wounded.

The Battle of the Alamo was definitely a victory for the Mexican Army, in that it gained a valuable landmark and defensive post in the struggle to re-assimilate Texas. The battle also served as a rallying cry for the American troops who invaded Mexico a decade later. Many were heard to be uttering the rally cry "Remember the Alamo!"

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