The Battle of the Alamo, which took place between February 23 and March 6, 1836, accelerated the conflict between Mexico and settlers in the Tejas province that became known as the Texas Revolution. Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836 after years of confrontations between its inhabitants (including the large number of Americans who moved to Texas and outnumbered the Mexicans there) and the Mexican government. Politician-frontiersman Davy Crockett and Colonel William Travis led the fight for the rebels along with Jim Bowie. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and General Martin Perfecto de Cos laid siege to the Alamo. The battle ended in total defeat for the Texans. All 180-250 Texans were either killed during the fighting or were executed. It is not known how many Mexicans died but the number is estimated at 600. Santa Ana assumed that the defeat would compel Texans to abandon the uprising. However, the opposite occurred as the loss galvanized support among Americans, many of whom went to Texas to join the Texan army, which eventually defeated Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto. This secured, to some degree, legitimacy, and security for the Texas Republic, which was annexed by the United States in 1845. However, the tension between Mexico and the United States would not be resolved until the end of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). The Alamo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. It is also part a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the four other nearby missions.
Backstory and Context
The Alamo was originally called Mission San Antonio de Valero and was founded in 1718. The church was built between 1744-1757. The mission was one of five established by Spain along the San Antonio River in the 1700s. Its original purpose was to serve as a way station for missions in East Texas (these would eventually fail and two moved to San Antonio). The missions were part of Spain's effort to extend its empire in the Southwest and prevent France from doing the same from Louisiana.
Conflict arose as a result of Mexico encouraging Americans to move to Texas, offering acres of land on the condition that they convert to Catholicism. However, once in Texas, settlers did not follow through with this which of course angered the Mexican government. Other sources of conflict included slavery, Federalism, and immigrant rights. Texans began taking steps to declare independence in 1835 and were able to drive Mexican forces out on December 11, 1835.
To put an end to the Texas Revolution, Mexican General Santa Anna built an army of 6,000 men. Upon reaching the Alamo on the 23 of February, he asked its inhabitants to surrender. After a Texan cannon was fired in response, Santa Ana gave orders to begin the siege, which lasted two weeks. Reinforcements to the Alamo never showed up despite the many calls for help from leaders, such as William B. Travis.
"Chronology." The Alamo. Accessed February 11, 2015. http://www.thealamo.org/remember/history/chronology/index.html.
Heintzelman, Patricia. "The Alamo." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. October 15, 1966. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/6ba0f2b3-fac3-4a4e-8714-513e43431ab4.
"Texas Revolution: Battle of the Alamo." ThoughtCo. Accessed February 11, 2015. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars1800s/p/alamo.htm.
"William Barret Travis' Letter from the Alamo." Sons of Dewitt Colony. Accessed February 11, 2015. http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/history/bios/travis/travtext.html.