Eyewitness Reports in History Remember the Alamo Part 2
An eyewitness account of the siege on the Alamo in Texas by the Mexican army, an important moment in American history.
Remember the Alamo
The most famous man at the Alamo was also an outsider-former Indian fighter, congressman, and author, David Crockett. Defeated for reelection, he had told his constituents in Tennessee to go to hell and had left for Texas. With 12 men and the rank of private, Crockett had come to the Alamo at the age of 50. He, too, was tall, but unlike Travis and Bowie, he was rough-hewn in his manner and his dress. He greatly raised morale with his tall tales and his fiddle. Most of his men were professionals-doctors, lawyers, engineers-enticed by cheap lands and the chance to make a fortune. Almost to the end, Crockett kept his diary, and it shows a man full of humor and unafraid of death. He would fall near the end of the battle, along with 2 of his men and 17 Mexican soldiers, near the chapel wall.
The siege began on Feb.23, 1836, when General Santa Anna's 4,000 well-trained troops surrounded the Alamo. In answer to Travis's dispatches for reinforcements, only 32 volunteers were able slip through the Mexican lines to reach the Alamo. The last man to enter, Col. James Bonham, had traveled 350 mi. to report that military help would not arrive. The Texan forces, hard-pressed by the Mexican army and plagued by dissent and confusion, were unable to mobilize a rescue effort.
On Mar. 3, Colonel Travis told his 184 men the bad news. If they wished to leave, no Texan would interfere, and with their woodsmen's skills they might be able to slip unnoticed through the enemy lines. Louis Rose, a former mercenary for Napoleon, was the only man who opted to escape, and the only one to survive.
The next day Colonel Travis sent a woman messenger to Santa Anna, saying the Alamo would be surrendered if all lives were spared. The general refused to guarantee that.
On the night of Mar. 5, the massive attack began. The Alamo's defenders, exhausted by the long siege, nevertheless turned back the Mexicans, who incurred heavy losses. At dawn on Mar. 6, a second massive assault failed. In a third rush, the Mexican troops massed at the north wall and entered the mission grounds. By nine o'clock the fighting had ended.
Twenty-four years earlier, Santa Anna had witnessed the Mexican massacre of Spanish troops captured at the Alamo. Now, as commanding general, he entered the mission a dubious victor. Of his fine soldiers, 1,544 had been killed or wounded, and ten days had been lost in his advance into Texas. Perhaps for those reasons, he allowed the last five defenders captured alive to be slaughtered when he turned his back. And perhaps that is why he allowed the dead to be mutilated and burned, as a last degradation. Even James Bowie, whom he especially respected and first ordered decently buried, was burned. Mrs. Almeron Dicksenson, the wife of a lieutenant, and her 15-month-old child had survived the fight and were allowed to live. Santa Anna gave her a horse and sent her off to spread the news about the Alamo to all who might resist him. A few children and slaves were also spared.
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