Originally Posted by johnincornwall
I think if you are going to base childrens' education on John Wayne films rather than reading a book, disillusionment is going to come sooner or later.
However I regard holding a fortress against silly odds, for little purpose, to the death, as pretty heroic, whatever.
You can't grow up in Texas and not be steeped in the Battle of the Alamo. As I live in San Antonio just a few miles from the Alamo, it's even more immediate as the Alamo Mission is smack dab in the heart of downtown.
A lot of the BS surrounding this fight has gradually been stripped away in favor of authenticity. One of the reasons for this is that a diary written by one of Santa Ana's officers who was at the battle gave a very good accounting of the battle as it unfolded. It confirmed the long standing rumor that Davy Crockett survived the fight along with a number of others. They were all executed the next day on Santa Ana's order.
One of the reasons the Mexicans were held at bay was probably due to the fact that most of the defenders were equipped with Kentucky long rifles which had nearly double the range of the Mexican smooth bore muskets. We know this because of an archaeological dig conducted on the site where they displayed the different bullets and musket balls.
The flag that flew over the Alamo was the Mexican flag with the date "1824" written in the middle. The Texicans at that time were not seeking independence from Mexico but were seeking the return of the 1824 Mexican constitution that Santa Ana had discarded.
The women, children and a number of slaves were not killed in the battle and were allowed to leave after the fight.
The run-up to the battle took about 13 days as Santa Ana gathered his army outside of the walls of the Alamo. Eventually, there were about 3,000 or so Mexican soldiers facing the mission's walls. During that 13 day period, riders came and went from the Alamo bearing messages or fighters who decided this fight was not for them and a few others who joined them..
I've never read any confirmation that Col Travis (the rank was made up) ever drew a line in the sand asking those who wished to stay to step over it. Could have happened, or not.
I wondered about why they stayed. One reason was that they were expecting the arrival of reinforcements from the Spanish fort at Goliad where a force of Anglos were located. This force had a couple of cannons. When the soldiers set out for the Alamo, the wiley Mexicans attacked them outside of the protection of the fort, surrounded them and took them prisoner. Santa Ana ordered them all executed, whence the cry "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad!"
By this time the ring around the Alamo had tightened and further escape was not possible.
The actual attack took place in the early morning hours at night. It lasted all of fifteen or twenty minutes. "Col." William Barret Travis, leader of the defenders, was killed in the first several minutes of the fight. Jim Bowie - inventor of the Bowie knife - was in bed, seriously ill with appendicitis and was killed there.
Santa Ana, feeling his oats and convinced that he was the "Napoleon of the West", split his forces and pursued the fleeing Texicans during the Runaway Scrape to the marshland near present day Houston in an area known as San Jacinto. He camped there and took a siesta.
Sam Houston's ragtag and barely-trained little army paid no attention to the Mexican habit of taking siestas and brought up two cannons - thebTwin Sisters - and attacked. His army had grown very impatient with Sam Houston for not being aggressive enough and were vary happy to strike the Mexican Army. This fight too only lasted for fifteen or twenty minutes, during which Houston was wounded in the foot. Santa Ana was captured and brought before Houston. Santa Ana surrendered the remnants of his army and negotiated his personal release on condition that all Mexican forces leave Texas to below the Rio Grande (he later disputed this) and that he surrender Texas to the Texicans. Santa Ana signed the instrument of surrender and took his surviving soldiers back to Mexico. This was not the end of Santa Ana who had nine lives but for the purpose of this narrative it was the end.
Sam Houston was born in Lexington Virginia. If I remember correctly, he was a US Senator from Kentucky (I think). He was an honorary member of the Cherokee Nation. He was a personal friend of President Andrew Jackson, but this notwithstanding, Jackson refused the Texans' entreaties to annex Texas because the US had a treaty with Mexico at the time.
Thus, in 1836, Texas gained its independence from Mexico (and became its own country) in spite of Santa Ana's later attempts to refute this. The Battle of the Alamo's logical conclusion took place at San Jacinto where a gigantic monument and museum is located and where the world's last surviving dreadnaught, the Battleship Texas, is berthed.
Call them heroes or not. It very much depends on whose horse is being gored. Fewer than 200 defenders versus 3000 Mexican regulars are, in any event, rather daunting odds.