In early 1836, Mexican Army General Antonio López de Santa Anna marched a conscripted army across the Rio
Grande river through inclement weather, including a rare snowstorm in mountain passes, to suppress the new Texas rebellion.
San Antonio de Bexar (today known as San Antonio) was one of his intermediate objectives; his ultimate objective was to capture
the Texas government and restore the rule of the central Mexican government over a rebellious territory, as he had over the
State of Zacatecas the previous year.
To get to the heart of Texas and further northeast, Santa Anna and his army would have to first bypass the
village of San Antonio de Bexar and its converted missionary church known by the locals as Mision San Antonio de Valero,
later known as The Alamo. Although the Alamo was not designed for military purposes, the Texian militia and regulars fortified the post and mounted
18 cannon, including an 18-pounder. This was the greatest concentration of cannons west of the Mississippi River. The Mexican
forces would not be able to bypass the post and use the road without investing and taking the Alamo.
The defenders of the Alamo came from many places besides Texas. One group, the New Orleans Greys, came from
the city of that name to fight as infantry in the revolution. The two companies comprising The Greys participated in the Seige
of Bexar. Most Greys then left San Antonio but about two dozen remained to fight and die at the Alamo. The Mexicans captured
the company flag. It is now the property of the National Historical Museum in Mexico City.
From Tennessee, came another small group of volunteers led by former Tennessee Congressman David Crockett. The Tennessee Mounted Volunteers as they were called arrived at the Alamo on February 8, 1836.
The Mexican Army arrived on February 23, 1836 and was a mixed force of regular infantry and cavalry units
as well as activo reserve infantry battalions. They were equipped with the British Brown Bess musket and were well-drilled,
though the Mexican army discouraged individual marksmanship. The initial forces were equipped with several 6-pounder cannon.
Several of the Mexican officers were European mercenary veterans, and General Santa Anna was a veteran of the Mexican War
of Independence. The Mexican siege was scientific and professionally conducted.
The number of Mexican forces attacking the post was reported as high as 4,000 to 5,000, but only about 1,400
soldiers were used in the investment and the final assault. 6,500 soldiers did set out from San Luis de Potosi, but illness
and desertion reduced the force. After a 13-day siege, the Mexican army attacked the post in four columns, starting at 6:30
a.m. on March 6 and took the Alamo by 8 a.m. that day under hand-to-hand fighting. One of the reasons the siege took 13 days
was that the Mexican army did not have its 12-pounder cannons needed to breach the walls until late in the siege.
Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis, commander of the Texas regular army forces, was able to dispatch
riders before the battle and as late as February 25, informing the Texas provisional government of his situation and requesting
assistance. However, the Texas Army was not strong enough to fight through the Mexican Army and relieve the post. Colonel
Fannin, commander of the Texas forces at Goliad, was forced to abort his relief march because he could not take his cannon
Midway though the battle, 32 men were able to make it through Mexican lines and join the defenders.
Before the battle, Santa Anna ordered that a red flag be raised indicating to the defenders that no quarter
would be given. Several defenders who had not been killed in battle were captured and executed. Among its defenders were James Bowie (the leader of the militia forces), Crockett and Travis. About two dozen women and children and two slaves at the Alamo,
named Ben and Jim, were released.
Later in the war, General Santa Anna's army was defeated by a Texian force in the Battle of San Jacinto,
who used the now-famous battle cry, "Remember the Alamo."