The Alamo Mission in San Antonio, or the Alamo, is a Spanish fortress and mission compound established in the 18th century by Roman Catholic Missionaries in San Antonio, Texas. The mixture was also the site of the Battle of Alamo in 1836. Today, the site is now a museum and a part of the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site. In this article, we will know more about the history of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio.
Origins of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio
In 1718, the Alamo was founded in Spanish-controlled Northwest Mexico. The building we see today was built in 1744, and the location and buildings were moved and rebuilt several times. The site was initially called Mission de San Antonio de Valero, which means the Mission of Saint Anthony. It was created to persuade and convert the local native tribes to Catholicism. However, it was mostly used as a protective fortification. The original planning included two bell towers as well as a dome roof. Still, everything except the outer wall collapsed towards the end of construction. That is why the plans were changed, and it was reconstructed. The plans now include a small church building as well as a few other small rooms that are all made of limestone. The structure was used as a church until it got abandoned in 1793, due to the Spanish government secularizing the local missions.
The name ‘The Alamo’ was created by a Spanish cavalry unit that was stationed at the Mission, during the early 1800s. Alamo is the Spanish word for Cottonwood, which happens to be the native tree of the area. From that point on, the structure would always be referred to as The Alamo.
The Alamo was unswervingly used as a fort during the Mexican War of Independence from 1810 until 1821. The Spanish held their troops there for several years until it was overtaken and occupied by Mexican rebels. The Mexican military then used the fort to control the northern parts of Mexico connected to the United States. The fort was one of only two that held Mexican troops at the beginning of the Texas Revolution.
The Texas Revolution began in October 1835 with the Battle of Gonzalez. And in December 1835, Ben Milam led a group of rebels against the Mexican military occupying the San Antonio town and controlling the Alamo. After five days of fighting, General Martín Perfecto de Cós decided to surrender the Alamo. The rebels then took preparations to defend themselves, which was somewhat easy since the Alamo was set up as a military fort prepared to ward off attacks.
As the rebels occupied The Alamo, they were caught off guard when General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army showed up in February 1836. They collected supplies and barricaded themselves inside The Alamo. The rebels, who were led by Colonel William Travis and James Bowie, had about 170 men. The rebels were made up of several local Mexicans, Indians, and many people from Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and other parts of the United States. The Mexican Army was well equipped, and they had several large cannons and plenty of ammunition. While the rebels inside The Alamo only had a few cannons as well as limited ammunition. General Santa Anna allowed women and children to leave The Alamo.
Small skirmishes happened each day as the Mexican Army tested the strengths of The Alamo and the rebels inside. The Alamo would take a bombardment every night from the Mexican cannons to deprive the rebels of sleep. On the eighth night, 32 riders came in for support, bringing the total rebels to about 200.
The Final Battle
Before dawn on the 13th day or war, the Mexican Army rushed toward The Alamo equipped with ladders and guns. Their plan was to get men over the wall and open the main gate, so the rest of their troops to enter. Several attempts to scale the walls were turned back by the rebels. However, each effort weakened the rebels’ ability to defend The Alamo. On March 6, 1836, several members of the Mexican Army managed to get over the wall. They quickly took control of a cannon then turned it toward the main gate, which blew it open. The fighting lasted for a few minutes after the rest of the Mexican Army rushed into The Alamo. Most rebels were killed. The few that survived were kept as prisoners or non-combatants.
Remember the Alamo
Remember The Alamo became a key phrase during the War for Texas Independence. Today, The Alamo still stands in the middle of the large city of San Antonio, Texas. There are over 2.5 million visitors to The Alamo each year. Visitors can take a tour of the chapel and the Long Barracks, where they can find a small museum filled with weapons, paintings, and other artifacts from the Texas Revolution.