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The Battle of The Alamo

A research report by Harvey Medina

The battle of the Alamo was a slaughter of about on hundred and eighty so Texans
led by thousands of Mexican soldiers. This battle was one of the main causes for the
Texas Revolution as they signed a declaration of independence from Mexico about a
month after the battle. Most importantly it showed the pride and loyalty the Texans had to
the Revolution against Mexico. The Alamo, a church thought by both sides capturing it
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would be crucial to the wars victory. Is this maybe why the Texans where willing to die
for it. For the Texans it was something like thermopile to the brave three hundred
Spartans, a fight they were destined to lose but one that would strengthen Texas in the
long run. One thing held true from both The Mexican side and Texans the men who
fought for the Alamo did so with such bravery an commitment that showed their loyalty
to their cause for independence. It was a victory or death attitude set by the Texans
Leader Travis B. Williams set in his letter asking for help that made these heros for
independence famous. Did anyone respond to this letter and what where they doing in the
Alamo in the first place? What can the few Texans that survived this massacre tell us
about the event they witnessed first hand? They pretty much wrote their death certificates
for themselves, as they wouldn't surrender to Santa Anna which they did in an insulting
manner as was stated in a letter he wrote.
The Battle of the Alamo was lost long before Santa Anna even arrived with his
Mexican troops but for the men inside fighting they displayed true patriotism. In a letter
to Governor Henry Smith, on January 17, 1836 Sam Houston wrote an order of the
destruction of the Church month before the battle he had. His letter reading I have
ordered the fortifications in the town of Bexar to be demolished, and if you should think
well of it, I will remove all the cannon and other munitions of war to Gonzales and
Copano, blow up the Alamo and abandon the place, as it will be impossible to keep up
the Station with volunteers, the sooner I can be authorized the better it will be for the
country1 Obviously Sam Houstons wishes to abandon the church were not granted
and the battle of the Alamo started on February 23, 1836. Led by Santa Anna the
1 Houston, Sam. "Sam Houston to Governor Henry Smith." Sam Houston to Governor
Henry Smith. January 17, 1836. Accessed April 22, 2015.
http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/documents/houstonltr.html.
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Mexicans surrounded the fort and demanded the surrender of all within the Alamo or they
will be put to the sword. Travis answered this demand with a cannon shot. What
followed next was 24 hours of continuous bombardment of cannon fire from the Mexican
troops to the Alamo. Despite this constant fire the Texans had not lost a single man as
proudly written in a letter by William B. Travis to all Texas citizens requesting help in the
name of liberty. The following are key parts of his letter written on the 24th of February,
the second day of the thirteen-day siege. I am besieged by a thousandor more of the
Mexicans underSanta Anna. I have sustained acontinual bombardment &cannonade for
24 hours & havenot lost a man. The enemyhas demanded a surrender atdiscretion,
otherwise the garrisonare to be put to the sword ifthe fort is taken. I have answered the
demand with a cannonshot, and our flag still wavesproudly from the walls. Ishall never
surrender nor retreat. Then, I call on you in thename of Liberty, of patriotism, &of
everything dear to the Americancharacter, to come to our aid with all dispatch. The
enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & 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 & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor &
that of his country. Victory or Death William Barret Travis2 The letter shows a great deal
in pride for Travis as he says he has not lost a single man. Also for him to say he will
never surrender or retreat is brave, noble and shows how far the Texans were willing to
go in true American fashion victory or death. The only report of reinforcements in
response to the letter were thirty-two men from Gonzales on the first inst. at three

2 William, Travis. "Travis' Appeal for Aid at the Alamo." Travis' Appeal for Aid at the
Alamo. February 24, 1836. Accessed April 22, 2015.
http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/appeal.htm.
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oclock3 as stated by the last letter from Travis written on March 3, 1836. Also on the
letter Travis stated that they were completely surrounded and low on ammunition. He
proudly states that on this tenth day of battle he has not lost a single man but he also
speaks of the Mexicans still gaining reinforcements and that it is crucial for a Texas
victory to be possible that he receives reinforcements as well. The morals of his mind are
high and they are willing to die for their cause. His men despite surrender or die threats
from the Mexicans whos numbers grow larger by the day are unshaken with their flag
flying high and fighting with an attitude that in Traviss letter he puts that as, the victory
will cost the enemy so dear, that it will be worse to him than a defeat.3 Travis and his
men are willing to fight under any circumstances against the Mexicans, down to the last
man they will fight and die for independence, liberty and patriotism and they will take as
many Mexicans as they can down with them on their dying breath.
The Texans for thirteen days fought bravely, desperately, and valiantly for thirteen days.
For thirteen days they held off thousands of Mexican soldiers while waiting for
reinforcements that they asked for but that had not been responded to. On the thirteen day
according to one unnamed Mexican soldier went like this, The attack was made in four
columns, led by General Cos, General Morales, Duque de Estrada, and Romero. I
marched under the immediate command of General Cos and tell you what I saw. After a
long wait we took our places at 3 o'clock A.M. on the south side, a distance of 300 feet
from the fort of the enemy. Here we remained flat on our stomachs until 5:30 (Whew! it
was cold) when the signal to march was given by the President from the battery between
the north and east Immediately, General Cos cried "Forward" and placing himself at the
3 William, Travis. "Travis' Report and Appeal for Aid, March 3, 1836." Travis' Report
and Appeal for Aid, March 3, 1836. March 3, 1836. Accessed April 22, 2015.
http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/history/bios/travis/travis_appeal.html.
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head of the attack, we ran to the assault, carrying scaling ladders, picks and spikes.
Although the distance was short the fire from the enemy's cannon was fearful; we fell
back; more than forty men fell around me in a few moments. One can but admire the
stubborn resistance of our enemy, and the constant bravery of all our troops. It seemed
every cannon ball or pistol shot of the enemy embedded itself in the breasts of our men
who without stopping cried: "Long live the Mexican Republic! Long live Santa Anna!" I
can tell you the whole scene was one of extreme terror ... After some three quarters of an
hour of the most horrible fire, there followed the most awful attack with hand arms ...
Poor things - no longer do they live - all of them died, and even now I am watching them
burn - to free us from their putrification - 257 corpses without counting those who fell in
the previous thirteen days, or those who vainly sought safety in flight. Their leader named
Travis, died like a brave man with his rifle in his hand at the back of a cannon, but that
perverse and haughty James Bowie died like a woman, in bed, almost hidden by the
covers. Our loss was terrible in both officers and men.4 What is different from his and
Travis and Houstons letters is that his soldier is of the Mexican side, and is unnamed.
What is similar is the pride both sides have for their respective side of the conflict.
Shown by the Mexicans while being shot and hit by the Texans they scream, "Long live
the Mexican Republic! Long live Santa Anna!" seemingly without skipping a beat. His
letter however does describe more emotion than just pride or trying to show bravery as he
does admit that he was terrified and he shows sympathy for seeing all the Texans die,
perhaps maybe because they stood no chance once the walls were breached. For the
exception his depiction of James Bowies death the Mexican soldier confirms what Travis
4 Montgomry, Murray. "Eyewitness to the Battle of the Alamo An Unidentified Mexican
Soldier's Personal Account of the Historic Struggle." Alamo Battle, a Mexican Soldier's
Eyewitness Account. March 6, 1836.Accessed April 24, 2015.
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wrote in his letters, victory or death. More so he says how Travis died like a hero with a
rifle in arm. Like his troops Travis died fighting and in the words of this soldier, One can
but admire the stubborn resistance of our enemy and Travis, died like a brave man with
his rifle in his hand at the back of a cannon5. It showed that the Mexicans also saw the
Texans as brave, patriotic men who would never surrender. Another account from the
personal journal of Mexican Army Officer by the name of Jos Enrique de la Pea
described the death of both William B. Travis and David Crockett as he witnessed it. He
describes the Death of Travis as a true soldier and behaved as a hero according to
Pea. The way he described Traviss death and some of the soldiers around him can be
tied to Traviss letter, of February 24th as he wrote Ishall never surrender nor retreat.2
and he did not. Travis also wrote in that same letter that he would, die like a soldier who
never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country2 and Pea describes his
death as such. In Peas journal is the death of another Texas hero one by the name of
David Crockett. The following is from the Journal describing Crockets death: "Some
seven men survived the general carnage and, under the protection of General Castrilln,
they were brought before Santa Anna. Among them was one of great stature, well
proportioned, with regular features, in whose face there was the imprint of adversity, but
in whom one also noticed a degree of resignation and nobility that did him honor. He was
the naturalist David Crockett, well known in North America for his unusual adventures,
who had undertaken to explore the country and who, finding himself in Bjar at the very
moment of surprise, had taken refuge in the Alamo, fearing that his status as a foreigner
might not be respected. Santa Anna answered Castrilln's intervention in Crockett's
5 De La Pea, Jos Enrique. "Battle of the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas." Battle of the
Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. January 1, 1836. Accessed April 25, 2015. http://www.lonestar.net/mall/texasinfo/alamo-battle.htm.
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behalf with a gesture of indignation and, addressing himself to the sappers, the troops
closest to him, ordered his execution. The commanders and officers were outraged at this
action and did not support the order, hoping that once the fury of the moment had blown
over these men would be spared; but several officers who were around the president and
who, perhaps, had not been present during the danger, became noteworthy by an
infamous deed, surpassing the soldiers in cruelty. They thrust themselves forward, in
order to flatter their commander, and with swords in hand, fell upon these unfortunate,
defenseless men just as a tiger leaps upon his prey. Though tortured before they were
killed, these unfortunates died without complaining and without humiliating themselves
before their torturers."5 The account of David Crockett and how other survivors were
executed showed that some of the Mexicans did not want to kill unarmed men. It also
showed that the Texans again were true soldiers that died without showing fear. Lastly in
Traviss letter of February where he said they were asked to surrender or they will be put
to the sword, that Santa Anna meant that literally.

Santa Anna saw the death of every Texas soldier in the Alamo as necessity. He viewed
Travis response of cannon fire to the demand of the Texans surrender as a spit in the face
of all of Mexico that cannot go unpunished. In a response letter years latter about the
battle of the Alamo Santa Ana had this to say, Mexico March 19, 1874 Mr. H.A.
McArdle Independence, Texas Dear Sir: In response to your favor of the 4th of January, I
have to say that in regard to the restitution or restoration of the fortress of the Alamo, in
April 1836 there is but little I can add to what was said in my official dispatches, and
what was notorious. Notwithstanding, for your satisfaction, I will add that, that conflict of
arms was bloody, because the chief Travis, who commanded the forces of the Alamo,

would not enter into any capitulation, and his responses were insulting, which made it
imperative to assault the fort before it could be reinforced by Samuel Houston who was
marching to its succor with respectable forces. The obstinacy of Travis and his soldiers
was the cause of the death of the whole of them, for not one would surrender. The
struggle lasted more than two hours, and until the ramparts were resolutely scaled by
Mexican soldiers.6 This letter can be tied to both Traviss first and last letter asking for
aid for his troops within the Alamo and Peas personal journal on the Death of David
Crockett and the few survivors execution during the aftermath of the final battle. What
ties it to Travis letter is that Santa Anna says The obstinacy of Travis and his soldiers
was the cause of the death of the whole of them, for not one would surrender.6 Travis
and his men where never going to surrender as Travis said so himself in a his fist letter
asking for help reading, Ishall never surrender nor retreat.2 When Santa Anna says, I
can add to what was said in my official dispatches, and what was notorious6 one can
infer he is talking about the execution of the survivors as Pea tells us that, The
commanders and officers were outraged at this action and did not support the order,
hoping that once the fury of the moment had blown over these men would be spared; but
several officers who were around the president and who, perhaps, had not been present
during the danger, became noteworthy by an infamous deed, surpassing the soldiers in
cruelty.5 Those men were unarmed and did not deserve to be put to death as understood
by the commanders and officers that were angry at Santa Anna for giving such an order
but they also knew that Santa Anna felt that they insulted him with that first cannon was
6 Anna, Santa. "Santa Anna to McArdle, March 16, 1874 Letter Explaining Why the
Alamo Defenders Had to Be Killed." Santa Anna to McArdle, March 16, 1874 Letter
Explaining Why the Alamo Defenders Had to Be Killed. March 16, 1874. Accessed April
25, 2015. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/alamo/santa-anna-letter-01.html.
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fired in response to their order to surrender to Mexico as supported when Santa Anna
says, because the chief Travis, who commanded the forces of the Alamo, would not
enter into any capitulation, and his responses were insulting.6 Santa Anna leds me to
believe although I could not find that Sam Houston was on his way to help Travis and
fight off the Mexicans as Santa Anna states in his letter, which made it imperative to
assault the fort before it could be reinforced by Samuel Houston who was marching to its
succor with respectable forces.6 The way Santa Anna ended this battle helped unite the
Texans for their cause of liberation from Mexico and independence for a new country as
supported by Sam Houstons Report of the Battle of San Jacinto where on page five it not
only says they sung the war cry "Remember the Alamo"7 but in his report Remember
the Alamo is actually underlined.

In remembering the Alamo some compare it to Thermopylae and the brave 300 Spartans
"Santa Anna is like that old XerxesThe Alamo was our Thermopylae and Goliad was
the sack and burning of Athens. References to Thermopylae are so pervasive that it
almost seems a law that each novel, drama, or poem must contain its own Thermopylaen
echo. Thermopylae had one messenger of defeat, but the Alamo had none8 Comparisons
of the Alamo could be made to the brave 300 Spartans but it is interesting to say that the
7 Houston, Sam. "Sam Houston's Copy of His Official Report of the Battle of San
Jacinto." Sam Houston's Copy of His Official Report of the Battle of San Jacinto. April
25, 1836. Accessed April 27, 2015. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/sanjacinto/report-04.html.
8 Graham, Don. "Salt Lake Community College." Salt Lake Community College. July 1, 1985. Accessed
April 26, 2015. http://www.jstor.org.dbprox.slcc.edu/stable/30236993?
Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoAdvancedSearch%3Fc4%3DAND
%26amp%3Bq1%3D%26amp%3Bisbn%3D%26amp%3Bq5%3D%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bla
%3D%26amp%3Bq0%3Dalamo%26amp%3Bpt%3D%26amp%3Bq3%3D%26amp%3Bacc%3Don
%26amp%3Bc1%3DAND%26amp%3Bf1%3Dall%26amp%3Bf6%3Dall%26amp%3Bq6%3D%26amp
%3Bq4%3D%26amp%3Bq2%3D%26amp%3Bf0%3Dall%26amp%3Bbk%3Don%26amp
%3Bc3%3DAND%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone%26amp%3Bed%3D%26amp%3Bf3%3Dall%26amp
%3Bar%3Don%26amp%3Bc2%3DAND%26amp%3Bf2%3&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

Alamo could have been avoided all together if Sam Houstons request to blow up and
abandon the Church was made. Perhaps if Santa Annas demand for surrender wasnt met
with a Cannon shot some would have been spared as described in Traviss letter and
maybe if Traviss letter was responded to by reinforcements much sooner the war may
have been deferent. Remember the Alamo wouldnt have carried the same depth in its
meaning or brung the Texans together like it did if it werent for the slaughter of all that
fought for Texas inside those walls as described by the Mexican soldiers. One thing for
sure that Traviss letters, the Mexican soldier and even Santa Anna knew and said about
the Texans of the Alamo, they fought and died like soldier they never retreated or
surrender, they fought to the last man, and they all were willing to die for their cause as
victory or death seamed like lifes purpose for those Texans.

Primary Sources:
Houston, Sam. "Sam Houston to Governor Henry Smith." Sam Houston
to Governor Henry Smith. January 17, 1836. Accessed April 22, 2015.
William, Travis. "Travis' Appeal for Aid at the Alamo." Travis' Appeal for
Aid at the Alamo. February 24, 1836. Accessed April 22, 2015.
http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/appeal.htm.
William, Travis. "Travis' Report and Appeal for Aid, March 3, 1836."
Travis' Report and Appeal for Aid, March 3, 1836. March 3, 1836.
Accessed April 22, 2015.
http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/history/bios/travis/travis_appeal.html.http://
www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/archives/documents/houstonltr.html.
Montgomry, Murray. "Eyewitness to the Battle of the Alamo An
Unidentified Mexican Soldier's Personal Account of the Historic
Struggle." Alamo Battle, a Mexican Soldier's Eyewitness Account.
March 6, 1836.Accessed April 24, 2015.
De La Pea, Jos Enrique. "Battle of the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas."
Battle of the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. January 1, 1836. Accessed
April 25, 2015. http://www.lone-star.net/mall/texasinfo/alamo-battle.htm.

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Anna, Santa. "Santa Anna to McArdle, March 16, 1874 Letter Explaining
Why the Alamo Defenders Had to Be Killed." Santa Anna to McArdle,
March 16, 1874 Letter Explaining Why the Alamo Defenders Had to Be
Killed. March 16, 1874. Accessed April 25, 2015.
https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/alamo/santa-anna-letter-01.html.
Houston, Sam. "Sam Houston's Copy of His Official Report of the Battle
of San Jacinto." Sam Houston's Copy of His Official Report of the Battle
of San Jacinto. April 25, 1836. Accessed April 27, 2015.
https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/san-jacinto/report-04.html.
Secondary source:
Graham, Don. "Salt Lake Community College." Salt Lake Community
College. July 1, 1985. Accessed April 26, 2015.
http://www.jstor.org.dbprox.slcc.edu/stable/30236993?
Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&&searchUri=%2Faction
%2FdoAdvancedSearch%3Fc4%3DAND%26amp%3Bq1%3D%26amp
%3Bisbn%3D%26amp%3Bq5%3D%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp
%3Bla%3D%26amp%3Bq0%3Dalamo%26amp%3Bpt%3D%26amp
%3Bq3%3D%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bc1%3DAND%26amp
%3Bf1%3Dall%26amp%3Bf6%3Dall%26amp%3Bq6%3D%26amp
%3Bq4%3D%26amp%3Bq2%3D%26amp%3Bf0%3Dall%26amp%3Bbk
%3Don%26amp%3Bc3%3DAND%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone%26amp
%3Bed%3D%26amp%3Bf3%3Dall%26amp%3Bar%3Don%26amp
%3Bc2%3DAND%26amp%3Bf2%3&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

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