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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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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Those who fought at the Alamo came from many US states and countries.
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.
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.
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
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
and other artifacts
from the era of the
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