The Alamo was the site of a legendary battle in Texas when the Texan citizens struggled for independence from Mexico between 1835 and 1836. Texans were disenchanted with the Mexican government, which legislated against slavery, allowed the military to intrude upon civil affairs, and created an atmosphere of instability.
In December of 1835, a volunteer Texan force drove government troops out of San Antonio and settled in around the Alamo, a mission compound adapted to military purposes after the 1790s. In January of 1836, Mexico’s president, General Antonio López de Santa Anna
, concentrated his forces south of the Rio Grande River. Sam Houston
, commander of the Texan armies, ordered San Antonio abandoned, but troops under James Bowie and William B. Travis chose to remain. They were joined by others, notably the Tennessee boys
led by Davy Crockett
. William Travis
took full command when Jim Bowie became ill and when General Santa Anna’s army had reached San Antonio. From within the Alamo, Travis declared:
I shall never surrender or retreat … victory or death.
The Mexican force had an estimated strength of 2,400 to over 5,000 troops and the defenders of the Alamo only about 185. General Santa Anna gave the troops the order that no quarter be given.
On March 6th of 1835, after thirteen days of siege, the Mexicans stormed the citadel. It took three attempts of assault and close combat to overcome the small garrison. Apparently only one Texan combatant survived, José Maria Guerrero, who told his captors he had been forced to fight. Women, children and a black slave were also spared; estimated counts of Mexican troops killed in action were from 600 to nearly 1600.
The battle provided a heightened resolve to defeat the Mexican army with the battle cry of:
Remember the Alamo!
Six weeks later, Texans overwhelmed a Mexican force at San Jacinto on April 21st
, 1836. There, General Santa Anna
was captured and the independence and birth of the Texan Republic had been won.