On this day in 1836, following a 13-day seige, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched a final assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas) killing all but two of the Texian defenders. The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. The Texians under General Sam Houston later defeated Santa Anna and the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto on 21 April 1836. The Texians’ battle cry that day was “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad.” The story has been made into two major motion pictures; The Alamo (1960) directed by John Wayne and The Alamo (2004) directed by John Lee Hancock. Among those killed at the Alamo;
Davy Crockett – folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, politician, “King of the Wild Frontier”. Born David Crockett on 17 August 1786 in Greene County, Tennessee. Crockett represented Tennessee in the U. S. House of Representatives. When he was narrowly defeated for re-election he said; “I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not … you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Crockett married twice; Polly Finley (1806 – 1815 her death) and Elizabeth Patton (1815 – 1836 his death). Crockett was 49 at the time of his death. Crockett was portrayed in the Alamo films by Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton.
- James “Jim” Bowie – pioneer, Texas Ranger and soldier. Born on 10 April 1796 in Logan County, Kentucky. He popularized the Bowie knife. Bowie was 39 at the time of his death. Bowie, Texas and Bowie County are named in his honor. Bowie was portrayed in the Alamo movies by Richard Widmark and Jason Patric.
William Barret Travis – lawyer and soldier. Born 9 August 1809 in Saluda County, South Carolina. Travis married once, Rosanno Cato (1828 – 1836 divorce). Travis was 26 years old when he died. Travis was portayed in the Alamo movies by Laurence Harvey and Patrick Wilson. On 24 February 1836, during the siege, Travis wrote the now famous letter addressed “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World”:
- Fellow citizens and compatriots;
- I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.
- William Barret Travis
- Lt. Col. Comdt.
- P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
The Final Footprint – the bodies of the Texians including Crockett, Bowie and Travis were stacked and burned. Juan Seguín returned to Béxar in February 1837 to examine the remains and found ashes from the funeral pyres. He had the ashes placed in a simple coffin inscribed with the names Crockett, Bowie and Travis. According to a 28 March 1837 article in the Telegraph and Texas Register, Seguín buried the coffin under a peach tree grove. The spot was not marked and cannot now be identified. However, Seguín later claimed that he had placed the coffin in front of the altar at the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. Remember the Alamo!
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