A History of the Alamo Introduction Spanish Mission Mexican Revolution Texas Revolution Restoration Visit Today Other Resources Exit
Introduction The Alamo is located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. It began as a Roman Catholic mission and presidio (fortress compound), originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero. It is most famous for being the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. San Antonio
Next Spanish Mission The presidio containing the mission and surrounding buildings was built by the Spanish Empire in 1719 for the Education of local Native Americans (Coahuiltecans) after their conversion to Christianity. It was built on the west bank of the San Antonio River where it was less likely to flood. Several other missions were built going south along the San Antonio River.
Spanish Mission By 1744, over 300 Indian converts resided at San Antonio de Valero. The mission was largely self-sufficient, relying on its 2000 head of cattle and 1300 sheep for food and clothing. Each year, the mission's farmland produced up to 2000 bushels of corn and 100 bushels of beans. Cotton was also grown.
Spanish Mission The first stones were laid for a more permanent church building in 1744. The new chapel was located at the south end of the inner courtyard. It was constructed of four feet thick limestone blocks. Niches were carved on both sides of the door to hold statues.
Up to 30 adobe or mud buildings were constructed to serve as workrooms, storerooms, and homes for the Indian residents. As the presidio was always understaffed, the mission was built to withstand attacks by Apache and Comanche raiders. In 1745, 100 mission Indians successfully drove off a band of 300 Apaches who had surrounded the presidio. For additional protection, a turret housing three cannons was added near the main gate. Spanish Mission
The population of Indians fluctuated, from a high of 328 in 1756 to a low of 44 in 1777. The mission was soon abandoned. Most locals were uninterested in the buildings.
Mexican Revolution In the 19th century, the mission complex housed soldiers and became known as "the Alamo" which is Spanish for cottonwood trees. During the Mexican War of Independence, parts of the mission frequently served as a prison for those whose political beliefs did not match the current authority. Between 1806 and 1812 it also served as San Antonio's first hospital. Mexico received its independence from Spain in 1821.
Texas Revolution The Alamo was captured from General de Cos in 1835 by Texian forces during the Texas Revolution. The Alamo never was built by a military people to be a fortress.
Colonel James C. Neill commanded the 100 soldiers who remained at the Alamo. General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Bowie to take 35 to 50 men to Bexar to help Neill. In February 11, Neill went to get more help. William Travis and Bowie agreed to share command of the Alamo. Texas Revolution
Those who fought at the Alamo came from many US states and countries.
Texas Revolution In 1834, Congressman Davy Crockett was writing about moving to Texas if Van Buren were elected President. After the election results, he departure to Texas with a company of volunteers with the expectation that a revolution was imminent. By the time Crockett arrived at the Alamo on February 8, he had 65 men.
Texas Revolution On February 23 the Mexican army, under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, arrived in San Antonio de Bexar. For the next thirteen days, the Mexican Army laid siege to the Alamo, ending in a fierce battle on March 6.
Texas Revolution All or almost all of the Texian defenders were killed. Santa Anna ordered that the Texian bodies be stacked and burned. About one-third of the Mexican soldiers involved in the final assault (400–600) were killed or wounded.
Restoration After the Mexican-American War the US army, the Roman Catholic Church, and the city of San Antonio bickered over its ownership. An 1855 decision by the Texas Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Catholic Church was the rightful owner of the mission. Even while litigation was ongoing, the army rented the chapel from the Catholic Church for $150 per month. Under the army's oversight, the Alamo was greatly repaired.
Restoration After the Civil War, the Catholic Church requested that the Alamo could become a place of worship. The army refused, and the church made no further attempts at retaking the complex. In 1883, the Catholic Church sold the chapel to the State of Texas for $20,000.
The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) organized in 1892 to preserve the Alamo. In 1903 DRT purchased the Alamo for $75,000, which they did not have. Clara Driscoll was very interested in Texas history and especially the Alamo and joined the DRT. She paid most of the up front amount. They tried to get state funding but it was vetoed by the governor. Restoration
DRT tried multiple fundraisers but only raised a few thousand. Clara eventually paid off the remainder of the balance and was dubbed the "Savior of the Alamo. As news of her donation spread, many groups petitioned the legislature to reimburse Driscoll. In January 1905, de Zavala drafted a bill that was passed, and Driscoll received all of her money back. The bill also named the DRT custodian of the Alamo.
Restoration During the Great Depression, money from the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration was used to construct a wall around the Alamo, to build a museum, and to remove several old buildings that were left on the Alamo property.
Visit Today Today the site of the Alamo Mission is a museum. It welcomes millions of visitors each year, making it one of the most popular historic sites in the US. Visitors may tour the chapel and the Long Barracks, which contains a small museum with paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the era of the Texas Revolution.
Other Resources The official site for the Alamo Wikipedia: Battle of the Alamo Leonard Kubiak's Battle of the Alamo page John Wayne's the Alamo Wikipedia: The United States 1836 The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Texas Military Forces Museum: Remember The Alamo! PBS: Remember the Alamo History Channel: Alamo videos Texas A&M: Interactive model of Alamo