Wednesday, March 06, 2013

06 MAR 1836

2200 hours, D-1, one hundred and seventy-seven years ago General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered that the artillery barrage which had fallen upon the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Bexar for twelve days be halted.

As he suspected, the exhausted defenders soon fell into a deep sleep, for most, the only sleep that they had managed during the course of the siege.

Just after 0000 hours, 06 MAR 1836, 1800 hundred Mexican infantry troops formed into four columns. 500 Mexican cavalry rode into position around the besieged mission, to prevent the escape of, well, anyone -- be they Texan defenders, or Mexican troopies.

At about 0530 hours, the three Texan sentries posted outside of the walls were silently killed, followed by the music of the Mexican bugles sounding the charge. This woke the defenders, and for the next fifteen minutes it really sucked to be a Mexican soldier. The columns they were arranged in only allowed the front line of troops to fire safely. Those firing muskets from any position behind the front line, often as not fired through the front line of Mexican soldiers. Their own artillery behind them inflicted massive blue-on-blue casualties, while the defenders opened up with their own cannon -- loaded with nails, chopped horse-shoes and even the hinges from the doors of the building.

Not to say that they were all ineffective. Colonel William B. Travis was killed during this time by a lucky shot to the head as he stood on top of the wall to get a better shot into the massed formation below him with his shotgun.

Pushed on by their reinforcing elements, the Mexicans mounted three different assaults, finally getting General Juan Amador over the wall, where he got a postern door open, which allowed the attackers to swarm the Mission.

One band of defenders -- Davy Crockett for certain, and probably his frontiersmen volunteers -- took up a position behind a low wall in front of the chapel, and made the Valkyries earn their overtime pay. When the Mexicans pressed too close to reload, the frontiersmen swung their rifles as clubs or switched to tomahawks and knives and exacted a terrible toll before being overrun.

An American slave named Ben, who was a cook for the Mexican army during the attack, states that Crockett went down swinging his rifle and was found surrounded by sixteen dead Mexican soldiers.

For the next hour or so, the Mexican army discovered exactly how bad Military Operations in Interior Urban Environments sucks, as they fought room-to-room in the Alamo. Just the attempt to replace the Texas flag on the roof of one building cost four Mexicans the ferryman's fee, before the fifth finally managed to replace the flag of Texas with the flag of Mexico.

Room by room, in the dark and confusion, the Mexicans died, but replacements kept coming, sparing no defenders. Colonel Jim Bowie, too sick to rise from his bed, still managed to kill three or four Mexican troops with his pistols and famous knife, before being shot and bayoneted.

At about 0630 hours 06 MAR 1836, the last 11 defenders of the Alamo were killed manning the pair of 12-pounder cannon stationed in the chapel.

Surveying the scene after the bullets stopped banging and the bodies quit bouncing, General Santa Anna remarked, "It is but a small affair." Hearing this, a staff officer stated, "Another victory like this, and we'll go to the devil."

When Jim Bowie's mother was informed of his death, she very calmly announced: "I'll wager no wounds were found in his back."

Indeed.

189 defenders of the Alamo died this day 177 years ago. They took a full third of the attacking force with them.

When news of the Alamo got out, men flocked to the Texas army, and on the afternoon of 21 APR 1836, Texas remembered the Alamo, and took a full 18 minutes to toad-stomp the crap out of  the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, taking General Santa Anna prisoner in the process.

We still remember the Alamo.

LawDog

28 comments:

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I took Texas history as a school child. I've been to the Alamo and walked around reading the placards. Your account brings the battle to life in a way nothing else has.

God bless Texas.

armedandsafe said...

Freedom is not free.

Aesop said...

Ah, what a heart-warming tale.

One deduces that you're fine with the John Wayne version of events, rather than the Billy Bob Thornton School of Historical Revisionism currently in vogue.

Old NFO said...

Yep, and it's STILL remembered...

Anonymous said...

I once took a history class entitled the "Young Republic", in which the Texas War of Independence was discussed. Another student asked how Davy Crockett died, the professor not knowing for certain, inquired if I knew. Not being able to resist the force of snark, I replied that he was killed blowing the powder magazine so the Mexicans wouldn't have it. Only the Professor got the reference. Great writing, LD

Jess said...

Another two dozen Texans and the Mexican Army wouldn't have had a chance.

Travis said...

It's stories like this that make me proud to live in a country founded upon killing the inhabitants and stealing their land.

mustanger said...

"Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!"

Shortly before the Alamo siege, Col. James W. Fannin and his 350 Georgia Volunteers were captured and basically executed at Goliad. I understood Fannin's outfit was to have reinforced the Alamo. If I got that right, had the Goliad massacre not happened, the Mexicans would have been facing over 500 Texans in the Alamo battle.

Either way, a good many people don't realize how Texas, Georgia, and some other southern states are bonded together. In front of the courthouse in Blue Ridge, GA, there's a historical marker regarding Col. Fannin and his men... the county's named for him.

Jeff Gauch said...

Travis, to which country are you referring? Your description isn't exactly restrictive.

Anonymous said...

Texas has the Alamo, the Other Lone Star State has Masada..

Both stand for the same thing

rremington said...

Awesome telling LawDog! i especially liked the last part!

Drang said...

Thank you for the reminder, sir.

Ted said...

Have you ever read "The Ballad of Bowie Gizzardsbane"

From "Silverlock" by John Myers Myers.

http://anitra.net/commonwealth/alamo.html

Will get you the Ballad

jimbob86 said...

"Shortly before the Alamo siege, Col. James W. Fannin and his 350 Georgia Volunteers were captured and basically executed at Goliad. I understood Fannin's outfit was to have reinforced the Alamo. If I got that right, had the Goliad massacre not happened, the Mexicans would have been facing over 500 Texans in the Alamo battle."

The massacre at Goliad happened about 2 weeks after the fall of the Alamo, IIRC ..... Fannin and his men surrendered to a vastly superior force (1400 vs. around 350) and were held prisoner for a week...... then were marched out and shot.

armedlaughing said...

As well we should!

gfa

Roger said...

And those fools in washington think that they can co-opt and defeat American Patriots with gun control and thought control through the media?!?!
It's my opinion that a whole lot of folks from other states will become "Honorary Texans" when the time and need arrive. I might be old, but I still know how to march and shoot.

Norfolk Boy said...

Took me a long while to realise that the old British Sea Shanty 'Santy Ano' who gained a day (away Santy Ano), is the self same Gen. from the Alamo.

Greg Tag said...

Lawdog:

Came a bit late. Thanks for the remembrance.

I am a graduate of Texas A & M and the US Army Infantry School.

Not much brings tears to my eyes; walking the Alamo and remembering those brave Texian patriots does.

Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad and remember that the whole thing started with the Goliad militia telling the Mexican Lancers " Come and Take it".

God Bless Texas

Anonymous said...

Awesome account Dog. Well said sir. My greatest fear is that men the caliber of those men, proud of country and fiercely independent, do not exist in great enough numbers anymore.

I fear that there will be no one willing to stand, when stand they should. That most in this great country would roll over and die without so much as a whimper of protest. I pray God I'm wrong...

mustanger said...

Regarding my previous post and jimbob86's response, this sometimes happens when I've been away from some reference material or other for a while. That said...

189 men KIA at the Alamo.
350 POW/executed at Goliad.
That's 530 men lost in operations prior to San Jacinto. That's not counting casualties incurred taking the Alamo from Mexican Gen. Coz.

The Texas Army's troop strength... again, if I recall right... wasn't that big. 530 men sounds like heavy losses.

The part about Santa Anna's aid saying they'd go to hell with another victory like that... Cornwallis' superiors said Britain couldn't afford another victory like Guilford Courthouse. In the past I've drawn a parallel between San Jacinto and Horseshoe Bend... Sam Houston took part in both battles, btw. Lately, I've drawn a parallel between San Jacinto and Yorktown.

mustanger said...

539... typo.

Anonymous said...

Travis,

I'm fairly certain that EVERY country in the world fits your description.

If you can find one that doesn't please point it out.

Bill

Rick Street said...

Thanks for posting this

KJR said...

For a little more background I suggest reading Eric Flint's "Rivers of War" and "Arkansas War". These are Alternate History but He is working his way up to The Alamo.
Well worth the read.

K. J. Ratliff

Anonymous said...

Wow, LD, seems the spambots are out for blood.
March 6th is my Birthday, it's rather humbling. It is also humbling to share a first and middle name with various people of the time, even if they were not involved with either occurrence.
I want to visit the Alamo someday, but I barely get any time off as is, and I tend to spend that with my family. If I'm going to be spending $1500 on plane tickets, I might as well go HOME for once in a year or more.

Travis said...

Ah yes, the "everyone else was doing it" defense.

I'm sorry, I hadn't realized. In that case I guess it's okay.

J.R.Shirley said...

Thought I'd already commented on this post. Ah, well.

Evidently, the defenders tried to blow the magazine when they ran out of bullets, but the men sent were shot down. Mexican casualties could have been a hell of a lot worse.

Banshee said...

So what we've got here is a man calling himself Travis, while claiming that the historical Travis at the Alamo was basically an evil murdering thieving bastid who died a deserved death.

Well, I don't know if that's fair to the historical Travis, but I guess we ought to respect any commenter's judgment of himself.