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A History of the Alamo Jay Crook ETEC 5303. A History of the Alamo. Introduction Spanish Mission Mexican Revolution Texas Revolution Restoration Visit Today Other Resources Exit. Introduction.

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A History of the Alamo

Jay Crook

ETEC 5303


A History of the Alamo

  • Introduction
  • Spanish Mission
  • Mexican Revolution
  • Texas Revolution
  • Restoration
  • Visit Today
  • Other Resources
  • Exit

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


San Antonio

spanish mission
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 mission1
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 mission2
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.

spanish mission3
Spanish Mission

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 mission4
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


mexican revolution
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
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.

texas revolution1
Texas Revolution

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 revolution2
Texas Revolution

Those who fought at the Alamo came from many US states and countries.

texas revolution3
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 revolution4
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 revolution5
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.


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.


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


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



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.


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
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
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