Yesterday we hopped in our little Fiat and drove an hour south to San Antonio. We wanted to visit the Alamo and explore the famous River Walk area.
The Alamo was very interesting and we recommend it to anyone who goes to San Antonio. The Alamo was the former Spanish mission which was the site of the Battle of the Alamo. This was a 13-day siege that was fought between February 23, 1836 – March 6, 1836 by Mexican forces of about 4000, under President General Santa Anna, against 180 American rebels fighting for Texan independence from Mexico. There were only a few of people who survived the bloody siege. Civilian non-combatants such as women, children and servants were spared including Susannah Dickinson, the wife of Captain Almaron Dickinson and her baby daughter Angelina. A handful of Texans were also spared. General Santa Anna sent these men to Sam Houston’s camp at San Jacinto as a warning that a similar fate awaited the rest of the Texans if they continued their rebellion against Mexico. While the battle was won by the Mexicans it gave General Sam Houston time to build and develop his Texan Army at San Jacinto where he eventually defeated and captured Santa Ana. As a result, the Republic of Texas came into being on April 21, 1836.
While visiting the historic site, we learned a number of interesting facts which I present below:
- 1718: The Alamo was originally built as a Roman Catholic Franciscan mission and later, after being abandoned, was used as a garrison for the Mexican army;
- The Texas Revolution began in October 1835 with the Battle of Gonzales;
- November 1835: Sam Houston was selected as Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army;
- December 21, 1835, Sam Houston requested that James Neill, now a lieutenant colonel of an artillery company, take command of the Texian and Tejano garrison stationed at the Alamo Mission;
- January 17, 1836: Jim Bowie arrives at the garrison to evaluate the situation – Sam Houston had suggested he remove the artillery and blow up the Alamo. The decision is made to defend the garrison;
- February 3, 1836: Colonel William B. Travis arrives at the garrison;
- February 8, 1836: Davy Crocket arrives at the garrison with a group of Tennessee volunteers;
- February 11, 1836: Neill, after becoming ill, transfers command to William B. Travis, the highest-ranking regular army officer and leaves the garrison;
- February 12, 1836: William Travis and Jim Bowie argue over who has command of the garrison and finally agree on a joint command;
- February 22, 1836: Santa Anna reaches San Antonio with generals Sesma, Amador and Castrillón. He demands surrender and states that no one will be spared if this is not done. The Texans refuse to surrender;
- February 23, 1836: Santa Ana begins what is to become a 13-day siege as the fort comes under artillery fire from Mexican troops;
- February 24, 1836: Jim Bowie becomes ill and William B. Travis assumes full command;
- February 24, 1836: William B. Travis writes his Victory or Death Letter and sends it to the closest town of Gonzales. He vows “I shall never surrender or retreat.” Other letters requesting help are sent to Gonzales, Goliad, San Felipe, Nacogdoches and Washington-on-the-Brazos
- 24, 1836: James Fannin attempts his relief march to the fort but is forced to turn back; however, 32 men of the Gonzales Ranging Company arrive at the fort on March 1 in response to the Victory or Death letter;
- March 2, 1836: The Texas Declaration of Independence is signed and the Republic of Texas is declared although the men fighting the Battle of the Alamo are unaware of these momentous events;
- March 3, 1836: James B. Bonham arrives at the garrison and tells Travis that James Fannin and his troops were not coming; William Travis tells all the troops that they are free to leave – the brave men choose to stay and fight at the Battle of the Alamo and the Mexican battalions Aldama, Toluca and Zapadores arrive in San Antonio;
- March 5, 1836: The Mexican artillery stop shelling the fort, the defenses have been weakened to such an extent that plans are made to assault the garrison;
- March 6, 1836: The final attack begins in the dark with hand-to-hand combat. The battle only lasts about 90 minutes. All but a few defenders are either killed during the battle or are quickly put to death once the battle is over. The bodies end up being in priers in three separate locations;
- Only a few survive the bloody siege of the Battle of the Alamo. These are civilian non-combatants such as women, children and servants. Over 600 Mexicans were killed during the Battle of the Alamo and countless injured. A handful of Texans were also spared who were sent Sam Houston’s camp at San Jacinto as a warning that a similar fate awaited the rest of the Texans if they continued their rebellion against Mexico.
After a brief late lunch, we walked over to the River Walk only to discover that we would have to wait over 2.5 hours to be able to take a boat ride down the river. Thus, we decided to just walk along the beautiful walks that lines the river. The area is remarkable with such a beautiful setting that is hard to described. Thus, here are the photos that tried to capture what we saw.
This coming Saturday we leave Kerrville and drive all day to get to the extreme eastern side of Texas, just north of Beaumont. There, we will be staying at the Village River State Park for 5 days.