Article Content for The Alamo

Did You Know?


Has The Alamo Always Been At Its Present Location?
This question is on the minds of many visitors. The source of the confusion rests with the fact that "Mission San Antonio de Valero" has not always been at this location. The original mission was founded near the headwaters of San Pedro Creek in 1718. In 1719 the mission was relocated a short distance to the south of where we are today. A 1724 storm destroyed structures at the new site, prompting Spanish officials to relocate the mission to its present spot. It was the mission compound constructed here at the 1724 location that later gained fame as the Alamo. While this is the third spot for Mission San Antonio de Valero, it is the only place the "Alamo" has ever been.
How Old Are The Two Original Buildings?

Construction of the Convento (or Long Barrack) began in 1724, shortly after the mission was relocated to this site. Records indicate it was completed in 1744. That makes it more than 250 years old. The Long Barrack has undergone several renovations and reconstructions. In 1847 the U.S. Army repaired the structure: drawings from that period show it with two full stories. By 1876 the military had relocated their facilities to what would become Fort Sam Houston. During the 1870s and 1880s, merchants used the Long Barrack as a store. A wooden framework constructed to resemble a fort covered much of the Long Barrack. The wooden framework and the second story were stripped away in 1913 in an effort to remove the "unoriginal" portions of the building, leaving only the walls standing. The walls were repaired and roofed in 1968, as part of the renovations to the Alamo for HemisFair, creating the Long Barrack Museum.

Construction on the church began in 1744. By 1756, however, the walls collapsed, prompting construction on the present church. All work ceased by 1762. Neglected, the roof arches and bell towers fell, filling the building with rubble. The church was fortified by both the Mexicans and Texians during the Texas Revolution, when the rubble was moved to the east end of the building to form a cannon platform. After the battle, the church remained in ruins until the U.S. Army began repairs in 1850. They added a gabled roof (the first time the church had a complete roof) and the "hump" to the facade. Like the Long Barrack, the church also underwent a mercantile phase following the army's departure. While the walls of the church are nearly 250 years old, the building has only had its world-famous look for 150 years.

What Is Carved On The Keystone Above The Entrance To The Church?

There are conflicting views as to what it says. According to Charles Ramsdell, an early San Antonio historian, the carving on the keystone bears the date "1758" and the monogram "Ave Maria." [1] Another early historian, Leonora Bennett, contends the monogram is composed of the letters "M.A.R." which stand for "Maria Angelorum Regina" or Mary Queen of Angels. According to Bennett, the initials "N.O.D." also appear on the keystone, signifying "Nationum Omnium Domina" or Mistress of All Nations. [2]A third explanation appears in Jacinto Quirarte’s The Art and Architecture of the Texas Missions (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002, pages 62-64). According to artist/historian Mardith Schuetz-Miller, the intertwined letters are “AVMR” and stand for Ave Maria or Hail Mary.

Footnotes

1 Charles Ramsdell, San Antonio: A Historical and Pictorial Guide (Austin: University of Texas Press), 74.

2 Leonora Bennett, Historical Sketch and Guide to the Alamo (San Antonio, Texas: n.p., 1904), 86.

What Happened At The Alamo After The Battle?

The Mexican Army maintained control of San Antonio until May 1836. That month the Mexican garrison received orders to demolish the Alamo before they withdrew. They knocked down some of the outer walls of the compound, including the log wall known as Crockett's Palisade, so it could not be easily refortified by the Texians. [3]

Many of the wounded Mexican soldiers were housed in San Antonio following the battle. Several Texian doctors captured with Fannin's command were sent to San Antonio to help tend Santa Anna's wounded, who were then evacuated in May and June during the withdrawal. [4]

Texian forces under Captain Juan N. Seguín entered San Antonio on June 4, 1836. Seguín reported that eighteen Mexican soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Don Francisco Castañada, were present when he entered the town. Relations between the two groups were peaceful and Castañada and his men withdrew two days later. The Texians evacuated the town several weeks later once it became clear that the new government was unable to send reinforcements. [5]

Footnotes

3 Roger Borroel, ed., After the Battle of the Alamo: Documents Published by General Juan José Andrade On the Evacuation of San Antonio de Bejar, Texas, May, 1836 (East Chicago, IN: La Villita Publications, 1997), 17; Hobart Hudson, ed., Dr. J. H. Barnard's Journal (U.S.A.: Hobart Huson, 1949), 43-45.

4 Borroel, ed. After the Battle of the Alamo, 10, 13; John Sutherland, The Fall of the Alamo (San Antonio: The Naylor Company, 1936), 44; Hudson, ed., Dr. Barnard's Journal, 38-39.

5 Jesús F. de la Teja, A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín (Austin: State House Press, 1991), 141.

What Happened To The Bodies?

The bodies of the Mexican soldiers were buried at the old Campo Santo near modern-day Milam Park. One source indicates that some of the Mexican bodies, contrary to orders, were thrown into the river. Some Alamo historians are skeptical of this because it seems unlikely since Santa Anna planned to reoccupy the fort. [6]

Santa Anna ordered the bodies of the Texians burned. The exact location of the funeral pyres has become hazy with the passage of time. One source indicates that a large fire was in the middle of the compound. That would place it somewhere in the modern plaza. Some Alamo historians are skeptical of this because it seems unlikely that Santa Anna planned to reoccupy the fort. At least two other bonfires were built along the old Alameda, near the intersection of modern-day Commerce and Bowie streets. [7]

It appears that one Tejano defender was buried instead of burned. Francisco Esparza, a resident of San Antonio who had fought under Cos during the Siege of Béxar, received permission to find the body of Gregorio Esparza, his brother, and have it buried in the Campo Santo. [8]

On February 25, 1837, almost a year to the day the siege began, Juan Seguín led a military procession which gathered ashes at the two smaller fires and placed them in a coffin. Seguín and his men took the coffin to the parish church [San Fernando] for a mass and then carried it back to the site of the three individual fires, with a volley of musketry fired at each spot. At the last site, Seguín addressed the assembled crowd. The coffin was then buried, but Seguín does not clearly indicate where, although he seems to indicate it was at the site of the largest fire. [9]

JUAN SEGUÍN'S ADDRESS AT THE BURIAL OF THE ALAMO DEFENDERS

Béxar, February 25, 1837

Companions in Arms!! These remains which we have the honor of carrying on our shoulders are those of the valiant heroes who died in the Alamo. Yes, my friends, they preferred to die a thousand times rather than submit themselves to the tyrant's yoke. What a brilliant example! Deserving of being noted in the pages of history. The spirit of liberty appears to be looking out from its elevated throne with its pleasing mien and pointing to us, saying "there are your brothers, Travis, Bowie, Crockett, and others whose valor places them in the rank of my heroes." Yes soldiers and fellow citizens, these are the worthy beings who, by the twists of fate, during the present campaign delivered their bodies to the ferocity of their enemies; who, barbarously treated as beasts, were bound by their feet and dragged to this spot, where they were reduced to ashes. The venerable remains of our worthy companions as witnesses, I invite you to declare to the entire world, "Texas shall be free and independent, or we shall perish in glorious combat." [10]

Footnotes

6 Francis[co] Antonio Ruiz, "Fall of the Alamo, and Massacre of Travis and His Brave Associates," in The Texas Almanac, 1857-1873 (Waco: Texian Press, 1967), 357. Ruiz' account appeared in the 1860 edition of the Texas Almanac. The account, translated by J. A. Quintero, says "[Santa Anna] directed me to call on some neighbors to come up with carts to carry the dead to the Cemetery, . . . ." Ruiz' account also states, "The dead Mexicans of Santa Anna were taken to the graveyard, but not having sufficient room for them, I ordered some of them thrown in the river, which was done on the same day."

7 Ruiz, "Fall of the Alamo," 357. The Ruiz account says, "Santa Anna, after all the Mexicans were taken out, ordered wood to be brought to burn the bodies of the Texians." For accounts of recalling the fires and their locations, see Timothy M. Matovina, The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995).

8 Matovina, The Alamo Remembered, 33-34. This information is based on a deposition given by Francisco Esparza on August 26, 1859.

9 Matovina, The Alamo Remembered, 19-20.

10 Jesús F. de la Teja, A Revolution Remembered (Austin: State House Press, 1991), 156.

Where Were Crockett, Travis, And Bowie Killed?

We are really only certain about Travis because Joe, his slave, was with him when he was killed. Travis died defending the north wall, a spot that now lies inside the Federal Building across Houston Street. Joe said Travis was shot in the head early in the battle. [11]

We know that Bowie had been ill and was confined to his room for almost the entire siege. Some accounts place him in the Low Barrack, others in the hospital on the second floor of the Long Barrack. We aren't certain, but most historians lean toward the Low Barrack. [12]

We know that Crockett had been assigned to the Palisade early during the siege, but this doesn't necessarily mean he was there on the morning of the assault. Mrs. Dickinson claimed to have seen his body in the area in front of the church; Francisco Ruiz, the alcalde or mayor of San Antonio, is reported to have seen it somewhere along the west wall. Confusing the matter are accounts stating Crockett was one of a handful of Texians taken prisoner and then executed on Santa Anna's direct orders. Although many scholars believe the story of the execution is true, we don't know where this brutal act supposedly took place. Nevertheless, Crockett's death remains somewhat of a mystery. [13]

Footnotes

11 William Fairfax Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 1835: Diary of Col. Wm. F. Gray (Houston: Fletcher Young Publishing Company, 1965), 137; Ruiz, "Fall of the Alamo," 357. Joe was interviewed by the delegates at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 20, 1836. He said Travis ran to "the wall," discharged his gun, and was shot down in an instant. The Ruiz account states, "On the north battery of the fortress lay the lifeless body of Col. Travis on the gun-carriage, shot only in the forehead."

12 Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 137. Joe said Bowie fired through the door of his room, but doesn't say where it was. Ruiz, "Fall of the Alamo," 357. The Ruiz account states, "Col. Bowie was found dead in his bed, in one of the rooms of the south side."

13 Stephen L. Hardin, Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994),130; Sutherland, The Fall of the Alamo, 20. Ruiz, "Fall of the Alamo," 357; C. Richard King, Susanna Dickinson: Messenger of the Alamo (Austin: Shoal Creek Publishers, Inc., 1976), 43; Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 137. Sutherland's, account, written in 1860 but not published until 1936, contends Crockett asked Travis on the first day of the siege to give him and his "twelve boys" a position to defend, and they were assigned to the picket wall. The Ruiz account states, "Towards the west, and in a small fort opposite the city, we found the body of Col. Crockett." Dickinson was said to have seen Crockett's body between the church and the Long Barrack. Joe didn't say where Crockett was but claimed he "and a few friends were found together, with twenty-four of the enemy dead around them."

What Is A Texian?

The word "Texian" was used throughout the period of the Texas Revolution and Texas Republic in place of the word "Texan." The following passage, taken from the November 7, 1835, edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register, investigates the matter:

"The proper name for the people of Texas seems to be a matter of doubt or contrariety: some calling them Texians, while others speak or write Texans, Texonians, Texasians, Texicans. We believe that, both by the Mexican and American residents of the country, the name commonly used is Texians . . . "[14]

The word gradually disappeared from popular use following statehood although it could still occasionally be found. Historians often use the term to describe early Texans.

Footnotes

14 Quotation from the November 7, 1835, edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register, reprinted from the New Orleans' Bee.

How Many Texians Died At The Alamo?

In the years immediately following the battle, the number of slain Texians was placed at approximately 150. This number was based on a note written by Albert Martin, an Alamo courier, on the back of William B. Travis' letter of February 24, 1836. Martin wrote "When I left there was but 150 men determined to do or die . . . ." [15] Later, historians took that figure and added the 32 known members of the Gonzales Ranging Company who arrived at the Alamo during the early morning hours of March 1st. (Supporting this number is Ramón Martínez Caro, Santa Anna's private secretary, who lists the number of slain Texians as 183. [16]) The number stood at 182 until the 1980s, when several more names were added, bringing the total to first 187, and then 189.

One of the earliest lists of Texians killed at the Alamo can be found in the March 20, 1836, entry of William Fairfax Gray's diary. Colonel Gray, a Virginian, had come to Texas as a land company agent and was present at Washington-on-the-Brazos when Travis' slave, Joe, was interviewed by Texian officials. Gray's list, described as "a list of those who fell in the Alamo, March 6, 1836, as far as they are known," contained 152 names. [17]

Another early list of slain defenders appeared in the March 24, 1836, edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register. This list only contained 115 names although the accompanying story placed the garrison at 140 men.

The current list of defenders has its origins in Amelia Williams' Ph.D. dissertation, "The Siege and Fall of the Alamo." Her chapter on Alamo defenders was published in the April 1934 edition of The Southwestern Historical Quarterly under the title "A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders." More recent scholars are investigating evidence that Williams underestimated the number of defenders by more than 50, meaning that perhaps as many as 250 Texians died defending the Alamo. The one fact that is certain is that the issue will continue to spark interest and debate. [18]

Footnotes

15 Wallace O. Chariton, 100 Days in Texas: The Alamo Letters (Plano, TX: Wordware Publishing, Inc., 1990), 269.

16 Carlos E. Castañeda, ed., The Mexican Side of the Texas Revolution (Washington, D.C.: Documentary Publications, 1971), 102.

17 William F. Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 138-141.

18Amelia Williams, "A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly(April 1934) :237-312; Stephen L. Hardin, "Alamo, Battle of the" in The New Handbook of Texas (6 vols.; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996), 1:83-87.

How Many Tejanos Died At The Alamo?

A significant number of Tejanos, or Hispanic Texans, supported the revolution and took an active part in the fight against Santa Anna's Centralist regime. San Antonio native Juan N. Seguín organized a spy company which participated in the siege and battle of Bexar. He and his company entered the Alamo on February 23rd. Shortly thereafter Travis sent Captain Seguín to Goliad with a message asking for reinforcements. Seguín's men, however, remained behind as members of the Alamo garrison. [19]

Researchers have identified the following Tejano defenders: Juan Abamillo, Juan A. Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, José María Guerrero, Damacio Jimenes (Ximenes), Toribio Losoya, and Andrés Nava

Footnotes

19 Jesús F. de la Teja, "Seguín, Juan Nepomuceno," in The New Handbook of Texas, 6:966-967.

How Many Mexican Soldiers Died At The Alamo?

Early accounts place the number of government troops killed in the assault high. For example, Henderson Yoakum's History of Texas claims 521 were killed outright and a "like number" wounded. Reuben M. Potter, in his brief study of the battle entitled The Fall of the Alamo, identified Yoakum's source as Anselmo Borgara, a Tejano who carried the news of the Alamo's fate to Sam Houston at Gonzales. Potter surmised that the figure 521 actually included all Mexican casualties, killed and wounded. This would bring the estimate in line with most Mexican accounts which place the number of dead at around 70 with several hundred wounded. Modern Alamo historians, as represented by Dr. Stephen L. Hardin in Texian Iliad, set the Mexican casualties at 600 killed and wounded.[20]

Because of the poor state of the Mexican Army's Medical Department, many of the wounded appeared to have died of wounds received during the March 6 assault. In fact, the wounded were in such need of medical attendants following the battle at least two doctors captured with Fannin's command at Goliad were spared execution and sent to San Antonio in order to staff makeshift hospitals. [21]

Footnotes

20 Henderson Yoakum, History of Texas From Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 (2 vols.; New York: Redfield, 1856), 2:81; R. M. Potter, The Fall of the Alamo (San Antonio: Printed on the Herald Steam Press, 1860), 13; Stephen L. Hardin, Texian Iliad, 155.

21 Hobart Huson, ed., Dr. J. H. Barnard's Journal (U.S.A.: Hobart Huson, 1949), 38-39.

Were There Survivors At The Alamo?

Some defenders who had relatives in San Antonio brought family members into the Alamo rather than leave them to an uncertain fate when Santa Anna's Centralist forces occupied the town. Like other aspects of the battle, the actual number and identity of all survivors will never be known. Evidence exists, however, to show that the following individuals were inside the Alamo compound during the siege and battle. [22]

Susanna Dickinson (Dickenson) 22 years old wife of Almeron Dickinson
Angelina Dickinson 15 months old daughter of the Dickinsons
Gertrudis Navarro 19 years old Daughter of José Ángel Navarro
Juana Navarro Alsbury age unknown Gertrudis' sister & wife of Dr. Horace Alsbury
Alejo Pérez, Jr. 11 months old son of Juana Navarro Alsbury and First Husband Alejo Pérez Ramigio
Ana Esparza age unknown Gergorio Esparza's wife
Enrique Esparza 8 years old son of the Esparzas
Francisco Esparza younger than 5 son of the Esparzas
Manuel Esparza 5 years old son of the Esparzas
Maria de Jesús Esparza 10 years old daughter of the Esparzas
Trinidad Saucedo 27 years old servant possibly connected to the Veramendis or Esparzas
Petra Gonzales elderly possibly related to Esparzas

Andrea Castanon de Villanueva, better known as Madam Candelaria, claimed some years after the battle to have nursed James Bowie during the siege but many historians discount her story. In 1891, however, the Texas Legislature granted her a $15 annual pension "as a reward for the service rendered by her as nurse to the sick during the siege of the Alamo" based on testimony from many prominent San Antonio residents.

Additionally, several African slaves belonging to the members of the garrison survived that battle. These included Joe , a man in his early 20s owned by William B. Travis. Another servant, Sam, has been identified as a slave belonging to James Bowie.

One member of the Alamo garrison, a former Mexican soldier named Brigido Guerrero, apparently escaped death by claiming to have been an unwilling prisoner held captive by the rebels.

Footnotes

22 Bill Groneman, "Alamo Noncombatants," in The New Handbook of Texas, 1:89; Bill Groneman, Alamo Defenders: A Genealogy—The People and Their Words (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990), various entries; Walter Lord, A Time to Stand, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961), 207-209; General Laws of the State of Texas Passed at the Regular Session of the Twenty-Second Legislature Convened at the City of Austin, January 13, 1891 and Adjourned April 13, 1891 (Austin: Henry Hutchings, State Printer, 1891), 98-99.

Who was Santa Anna?

By
David McKenzie

Most in the United States know Santa Anna as the Mexican army commander at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Few realize that he dominated Mexico’s political scene for over three decades. Some historians call the period of Mexican history from 1822-55 “The Age of Santa Anna” or “The History of the Revolutions of Santa Anna.”

Antonio López de Santa Anna Pérez de Lebrón was born in Jalapa, near the port of Vera Cruz, on February 21, 1794. Shortly before Mexico’s War of Independence, 16-year-old Santa Anna enlisted as a cadet in the Spanish Army. He rose through the ranks. In 1821, he and many other royalist officers defected to the rebels and supported Augustín Iturbide’s Plan of Iguala, which called for Mexico’s independence. After the Plan’s success, Iturbide took Santa Anna into his graces and bestowed the rank of general upon the 27-year-old. Iturbide ascended to the throne as Emperor Augustín I in 1822. However, the new emperor’s popularity quickly plummeted, and his relations with Santa Anna soured. The young general began the revolt that deposed the emperor and established a republic in 1823.

Mexico at independence was a patchwork of diverse regions, rather than a cohesive nation. Federalists suggested respecting this reality by vesting power in semi-independent, popularly elected state governments. They argued a strong national government would be ineffective and undemocratic. Centralists suggested that only a strong national government could unite the new republic and handle its many problems. The federalists succeeded in passing the 1824 constitution. Under its decentralized system, strongmen known as caudillos, including Santa Anna, came to dominate their states. Santa Anna’s home state of Vera Cruz contained Mexico’s major port, making him among Mexico’s most powerful caudillos. As Vera Cruz’s governor and military commander in 1829, Santa Anna and his army repulsed a Spanish invasion force at Tampico. The general received credit and became a national hero.

However, a centralist coup in 1830 thwarted the then-federalist Santa Anna’s ambition. Santa Anna maintained a low profile until 1832, when he led a federalist revolt that toppled the centralist president, Anastasio Bustamante. The next year, sixteen of Mexico’s eighteen state legislatures elected the 39-year-old Santa Anna president.

Rather than attend his inauguration, Santa Anna, claiming illness, received a leave of absence and remained at his hacienda most of the next year. Vice President Valentín Gómez Farias served as acting president. When Gómez Farias’ radical reforms proved unpopular, especially with Mexico’s elites, Santa Anna reassumed the presidency. Having realigned himself with the centralists, as did many of his supporters, he forcibly dismissed the national Congress. During 1835, a new Congress revoked the 1824 Constitution and dismissed the state legislatures.

In response, several parts of Mexico, including Texas, revolted. Santa Anna personally quashed Zacatecas state’s rebellion in May 1835. The next winter, he led an army to Texas. The war minister passed a decree classifying Texan rebels as pirates rather than soldiers, meaning the normal rules of war did not apply. Santa Anna’s zealous enforcement of this decree, especially at the Alamo and Goliad, outraged many Texans, Americans, and Mexicans alike. Overconfident after his victory at the Alamo, Santa Anna divided his army. This resulted in his defeat and capture at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Under agreement with the Republic of Texas, he returned to Vera Cruz in February 1837, after touring the United States. Disgraced from having lost in spite of his army’s overwhelming advantage, Santa Anna retired to his hacienda.

The next year, he regained his stature when he lost his leg to a French cannonball during a battle at Vera Cruz. In 1839, he served briefly as acting president, then toppled Bustamante again and assumed power in 1841. Three years later, a coup overthrew Santa Anna. The new government then exiled him to Cuba. However, he returned to Mexico in 1846, became president, and led the country’s forces to disaster in the U.S.-Mexican War.

Disgraced again, he spent the next six years outside of Mexico. However, the political winds again blew in Santa Anna’s favor, and he returned to lead his native country in 1853. His extravagance and corruption caused his final ouster in 1855. He returned to exile, living in Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia, the Danish Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and even New York. He tried continually to return home, and to power. Finally, Mexico’s president allowed Santa Anna’s return in 1874. He died two years later, aged 82, in Mexico City.[39]

Footnotes

39 David McKenzie, a former Alamo historical interpreter, is a graduate student attending George Washington University master’s program in museum studies and public history. The Alamo thanks him for this contribution to its web site. “Santa-Anna, Antonio López de,” Diccionario Porrúa (Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1995), 3176. Oakah L. Jones Jr., Santa Anna (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1968), 22.; Wilfrid Hardy Callcott, Santa Anna: The Story of the Enigma Who Once Was Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1936), 5. Stanley C. Green, The Mexican Republic: The First Decade (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987), p. 14.Callcott, 42-47.

What Happened To Santa Anna?

After his victory at the Alamo, Antonio López de Santa Anna accompanied a wing of his army on its march into east Texas. According to several of his officers, he seemed to be convinced that the Texians had been defeated and that the war was all but over. He planned to travel to the coast and return to Mexico by ship, leaving his second-in-command to conduct the "mop up" operation. His disdain for the Texians allowed him to be surprised, defeated, and captured at the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836. One persistent legend contends that Santa Anna was spared by Sam Houston because they both were Masons.

While many Texian soldiers demanded Santa Anna's execution, officials of the new Texas government realized that Santa Anna was worth more alive than dead. On May 14, 1836, Santa Anna signed a peace treaty negotiated with interim president David G. Burnet and other Texas officials. In the document, Santa Anna promised to end the war and order all Mexican troops in Texas to retire to the south bank of the Rio Grande. In a secret agreement, Burnet promised to return Santa Anna safely to Mexico so he could encourage his government to adopt the treaty. In June, angry Texian soldiers refused to let Santa Anna go, causing officials to remove him from the ship that was supposed to carry the captured general to the Mexican port of Vera Cruz. In late November, Santa Anna was released and accompanied by several officials of the new Texas Republic, he journeyed to Washington, D.C. where he met with President Andrew Jackson. With his freedom attained, Santa Anna boarded a ship for Vera Cruz, arriving there in February 1837. Discredited by his conduct in the Texas Campaign, he retired to his home near Jalapa.

Santa Anna's career was not over, however. In December 1838, Santa Anna left his estate to aid his countrymen in their effort to fight off an invasion by France. He was wounded by a French cannonball while leading an assault which rid Vera Cruz of the invaders. Unable to repair his mangled left leg, surgeons were forced to amputate just below the knee. His actions made him a national hero once again and he quickly made a political comeback. By March 1839, Santa Anna was president once again, an office he held six more times before finally being driven from Mexican politics in 1854. He died in Mexico City in 1876 a pauper. [23]

Footnotes

23 The most comprehensive biography of Santa Anna remains Wilfrid Hardy Callcott, Santa Anna: The Story of an Enigma who Once Was Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1936).

Who Were The Masons?

The Masons belong to a fraternal organization whose membership has included many famous founders of both the United States and Texas.

The first attempt to establish Masonry in Texas came in 1828 when Stephen F. Austin and six other Masons attempted to obtain a charter from the Grand York Lodge of Mexico. Their request was not granted. In 1835, Dr. Anson Jones and five other Masons met secretly in Brazoria to draft a request to the Grand Lodge of Louisiana for a charter. The Grand Master there, John Henry Holland, granted their request, and the lodge was named in his honor -- the Holland Lodge. The lodge was moved to Houston in 1837. Later that same year, Texas Masons formed the Grand Lodge of Texas and returned the charters of the three existing lodges to Louisiana. Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, was elected the first Grand Master.

Many Masons participated in the struggle for Texas independence. Many Texas military and political leaders were Masons, including: Stephen F. Austin, Edward Burleson, Benjamin Rush Milam, Juan Seguín, Sam Houston, David G. Burnet, Lorenzo de Zavala, Thomas Rusk, Mirabeau B. Lamar, John A. Wharton, and James W. Fannin.

The following chart, from James David Carter's Masonry in Texas: Background, History, and Influence to 1846 (p. 289), reveals the extent of Mason involvement in the battles of the Texas Revolution.

Estimated Force

Engagement Date Force Masons %
Anáhuac June 10, 1832 130 11 8.5
Velasco June 26, 1832 112 31 27.5
Nacogdoches August 2, 1832 200 22 11.0
Gonzales October 2, 1835 160 26 16.2
Goliad October 9, 1835 47 9 19.0
Concepción October 28, 1835 90 12 13.6
Lipantitlán November 5, 1835 60 4 6.6
Grass Fight November 26, 1835 100 11 11.0
Béxar December 5-10, 1835 300 64 21.3
Alamo February 23-March 6, 1836 189 6 3.1
Coleto March 19, 1836 400 10 2.5
San Jacinto April 21, 1836 850 151 17.6

Masons at the Alamo included James B. Bonham, James Bowie, David Crockett, Almeron Dickinson, and William B. Travis.

Masons continued to play a significant leadership role in the Republic of Texas. According to The New Handbook of Texas (2:1169):

"Although constituting only about 1_% of the population [of Texas], Masons filled some 80 percent of the republic's higher offices. All of the presidents, vice presidents, and secretaries of state were Masons."

Alamo Lodge No. 44, honored by a plaque on the south wall of the Long Barrack, was granted a charter from the Grand Lodge of Texas on January 15, 1848. The Master of the Lodge was Captain James H. Ralston, an Assistant Quartermaster of U.S. Volunteers. Born in Kentucky, Captain Ralston resided in Illinois at the time he received his commission, which he held from June 26, 1846 until March 3, 1849. Original members of the Lodge were mainly army officers who were already Masons. The Lodge held its meetings for several months in an upper-story room of the Long Barrack until it moved into its own hall on Alamo Plaza on June 24, 1848. [24]

Footnotes

24 Harold George Schlierer. "Alamo Lodge No. 44: Mother Lodge of the Fraternity to the West," in Transactions: Texas Lodge of Research vol. 10 (March 16, 1974 - March 15, 1975), 79-80; Kevin R. Young, "Notes and Related Correspondence Covering the United States Quartermasters' Occupation of the Alamo, 1846-1854," Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, unpublished manuscript, 6.

Who Was The Yellow Rose?

The story of the Yellow Rose of Texas is one of the most enduring myths of the Texas Revolution. According to the legend, Sam Houston sent an attractive mulatto slave named Emily Morgan into the Mexican camp prior to the Battle of San Jacinto to distract Santa Anna while the Texian Army readied its attack. Santa Anna, who was known to be fond of the company of women, supposedly took the young Emily into his tent, and thus preoccupied, let down his guard. In this version of the battle, Emily Morgan played the role of an 1830s M'atta Houri, enabling the Texians to gain victory at the expense of her virtue.

The story gained popularity in the 1950s with the revival of the song The Yellow Rose of Texas. Historians, however, doubt the facts behind the legend. Historian Margaret Swett Henson points out that Emily Morgan was actually Emily D. West, a free woman of color under contract to James Morgan. Mexican troops seized Emily along with several other servants from Morgan's warehouse at New Washington on the Brazos River. Henson contends that although Emily West was at Santa Anna's camp on the banks of the San Jacinto River, she had not gone there willingly nor had she been sent by Sam Houston. It appears that Emily West returned to New York, her permanent place of residence, shortly after the revolution. [25]

Footnotes

25 Margaret Swett Henson, "West, Emily D." in The New Handbook of Texas, 6:887-888; Clippings File for Emily Morgan, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library.

Who Owns The Alamo?

The Alamo is owned by the State of Texas and operated by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Although many believe that Alamo is only the church, or Shrine, it is actually a 4.162 acre complex composed of original structures dating back to the mission period, a gift museum, a library, meeting hall, support facilities, and gardens. [26]

Footnotes

26 Texas General Land Office Master File Report, March 18, 1998; "An Act Providing for the Purchase, Care, and Preservation of the Alamo," S. H. B. No. 1. , January 26, 1905.

Why Are Men Asked To Remove Their Hats?

This tradition at the Alamo dates to 1913 when the Daughters of the Republic of Texas first placed a sign at the entrance which read: "Gentleman on entering the Alamo will please remove their hats, and all visitors will speak in low tones, in recognition of the sacredness of this shrine." Removing one's hat is a sign of respect. [27]

Footnotes

27 Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Proceedings for the 22nd Annual Meeting of the DRT (1913), 26.

Why Are No Photographs Allowed Inside The Alamo?
The Alamo, like many other museums, asks patrons to not photograph exhibits for several reasons. Repeated exposures to camera flashes fade certain types of artifacts. Additionally, the Alamo church has been designated a shrine by the State of Texas and as such is a place of reverence and reflection.
What flag flew over the Alamo during the siege and battle?

Only one flag is known for certain to have flown over the Alamo - the flag of the New Orleans Greys. This flag, which bore the inscription "1st Company of Volunteers from New Orleans" was given to Captain Thomas H. Breece's unit when it passed through San Agustine on its way to San Antonio.[28] Captured when the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836, the flag was sent by General Santa Anna as proof that foreigners (meaning U.S. citizens) were aiding the colonists in their struggle against the Mexican government. Wrote Santa Anna to General José María Tornel, Secretary of War and the Navy, "The bearer [of this dispatch] is carrying one of the banners of the enemy taken on this day so that by that means one may better see the true designs of the traitorous colonists and their collaborators who have come from the United States of the North."[29] 

However, as Santa Anna wrote that he was sending one of the banners taken from the enemy it is clear that there were other flags captured but not sent. According to two Mexican witnesses, one of the other flags was a Mexican tricolor with two gold stars on the center stripe instead of a eagle, snake, and cactus. Colonel Juan Almonte's journal contains the following passage regarding this flag: "The enemy, as soon as the march of the division was seen, hoisted the tri-colored flag with two stars, designed to represent Coahuila and Texas. The President with all his staff advanced to Camp Santo [burying ground]. The enemy lowered the flag and fled, and possession was taken of Bexar without firing a shot."[30] Another Mexican officer present at the battle, José Sanchez-Navarro, later included a drawing of flag in an 1840 map and illustration of the Alamo.[31]

Ironically, the flag most depicted flying over the Alamo -- the Mexican tricolor emblazoned with the date "1824" may have never been at the Alamo at all. Contemporary sources speak of the revolution being carried out under "the Mexican Federal flag of 1824." This seems in part to be a literary allusion to the Texas Declaration of Causes and the assertion that the colonists were fighting to restore the Federal Constitution of 1824 that had been overturned with the rise of Centralism.

Part of the confusion over this flag may be traced back to one of the Alamo's earliest historians, Rueben M. Potter, whose study entitled The Fall of the Alamo established the basic outline of the Alamo battle for generations of Americans. Wrote Potter concerning the Alamo and its flag(s): "It is a fact not often remembered, that Travis and his men died under the Mexican Federal flag of 1824, instead of the 'Lone Star,' although the Independence of Texas, unknown to them, had been declared four days before. They died for a Republic whose existence they never knew."[32]Potter helped to foster the notion that the Alamo garrison was fighting to restore the Constitution of 1824. In reality, the garrison was pro-independence had even sent two delegates to the Constitutional Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos to insure that their vote for independence was counted. Despite the scores of artists who have subsequently painted the 1824 flag flying over the Alamo it is unlikely, documentary evidence does not exist to support the idea that this flag was used by the Alamo garrison.[33]

Footnotes

28Gary Brown, The New Orleans Greys: Volunteers in the Texas Revolution (Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, 1999), 60; Herman Ehrenberg, With Milam and Fannin (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968), 6; "NEW ORLEANS GREYS." The Handbook of Texas Online.
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/NN/qjn2.html; "FLAGS OF THE TEXAS REVOLUTION." The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/FF/msf2.html

29Don Vicente Filisola, Memoirs for the History of the War in Texas, trans. by Wallace Woolsey (2 vols.; Austin: Eakin Press, 1987), 2: 181.

30Samuel E. Asbury, "The Private Journal of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, February 1 -- April 16, 1836," Southwestern Historical Quarterly (July 1944), 16-17; Alan Huffines and Gary Zaboly, Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo Siege & Battle, An Illustrated Chronology (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999), 18-19.

31George Nelson, The Alamo: An Illustrated History (San Antonio: Aldine Books, 1999), 51.

32R.M. Potter, The Fall of the Alamo: A Reminiscence of the Revolution of Texas (San Antonio: Herald Steam Press, 1860), 11.

33See Letters from the Alamo: Wm. R. Carey http://www.thealamo.org/William_R._Carey_Letter.htm

What song did Santa Anna order played at the start of the battle?

Tradition holds that on the morning of March 6, 1836, General Santa Anna ordered his band to play a song called El Degüello during the assault on the Alamo. The song supposedly meant "throat cutting" and was played in situations where no quarter was to be given to the enemy. According to author Walter Lord, the song was "a hymn of hate and merciless death, played to spur the Mexican troops forward in their final assault on the Alamo."[34]

As in the case of many Alamo "facts," not all historians agree that El Degüello was actually played at the Alamo. Writing in 1860, early Alamo historian Rueben M. Potter contended "The guns of the fortress soon opened up on them [the Mexican soldiers], and then the bands at the South battery struck up the assassin note of degüello!"[35] But modern historians, as example by Dr. Stephen L. Hardin, omit the song from their descriptions of the battle.[36]

One possible eyewitness to the battle, Madame Candelaria, reportedly told a newspaper reporter in 1899 that she heard the call played at the battle. (See FAQ: Were There Survivors At The Alamo?) The article's author exclaimed "The degüello was sounded, and Mrs. Candelaria said that they all understood very well what it meant, and every man prepared to sell his life as dearly as possible."[37] Those who believe that Madame Candelaria was not at the Alamo place little stock in her account.

At least three versions of sheet music of El Degüello are available to researchers. See Amelia Williams, "Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders: Chapter IV," Southwestern Historical Quarterly (January 1934) : 188; Walter Lord, A Time to Stand (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961), in the illustration section between pages 112 and 113; J. Hefter, The Mexican Soldier (Mexico, 1958), Plate IV. An audio version of the call is available for sale through the Alamo Gift Museum.

Footnotes

34Walter Lord, A Time to Stand (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1961), in the illustration section between pages 112 and 113.

35R. M. Potter, Fall of the Alamo (San Antonio: Steam Herald Press, 1860), 9.

36Stephen L. Hardin, Texian Iliad (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994), 139.

37Alan C. Huffines, Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo Siege and Battle (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999), 154.

Why is the Battle of the Alamo a significant historical event?
The Alamo became a rallying cry that helped the Texans defeat the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. Texas' independence laid the ground work for Texas' admission to the Union. Texas' admission to the Union led to a war between the United States and Mexico. At the end of the war, Mexico was required by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to give the United States the area that now comprises California, Arizona, New Mexico as well as the parts of other western states. Debate over whether or not the territory gained from Mexico should be open to slavery helped divide the Union and led to the Civil War. The fact that the Union was prevented from splitting apart coupled the resources gained through the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the annexation of Texas (1845), the settlement of the Oregon question (1846), and the Mexican Cession (1848) set the United States on the path of becoming a world power.
Where can I find plans of the Alamo to help me build a scale model?
Plans to building a scale model can be found at the following link:www.thealamo.org/alamo_Model.htm
What happened to Jim Bowie's knife after the battle?
Many people want to know what happened to Bowie’s knife, Crockett’s rifle, and other items that belonged to the garrison. These items met the same fate of all objects left on a battlefield. Some were picked up as souvenirs; some were discarded because they were broken; some were placed back into service by the victors. Thus, the possessions of the men of the Alamo disappeared from history.
Is there a webcam that shows the Alamo?
Yes. The site is part of a site at http://www.visitsanantonio.com/ San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau.  The page that shows the Alamo can be found at http://www.visitsanantonio.com/film/locations/alamo-webcam/index.aspx .
Who said "Remember the Alamo" first?

It is impossible to know who first voiced the expression "Remember the Alamo!" The feeling of shock and the desire for revenge were common throughout Texas in the days immediately after the battle. It is known, however, that the words were used as a battle cry by the Texans at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. " We have read of deeds of chivalry, and perused [read] with ardor [passion] the annals of war; we have contemplated, with the highest emotion of sublimity, the loud-roaring thunder, the desolating tornado, and the withering simoom [storm] of the desert; but neither of these, nor all, inspired us with emotions like those felt on this occasion! The officers and men seemed to be actuated by a like enthusiasm. There was a general cry which pervaded the ranks--"Remember the Alamo! Remember La Bahia!" These words electrified all. "Onward!" was the cry. The unerring aim and irresistible energy of the Texan army could not be withstood. It was freemen fighting against the minions of tyranny, and the results proved the inequity of such a contest." [38]

Footnotes

38 John H. Jenkins, ed., Papers of the Texas Revolution (10 vols.; Austin: Presidial Press, 973),13.

 

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