Beginning in the early 1800s, Spanish military troops were stationed in the abandoned chapel of a former mission. Because it stood in a forest of cottonwood trees, the soldiers called their new fort “El Alamo” from the Spanish word for cottonwood.
In December 1835, a group of Texan volunteers led by George Collinsworth and Benjamin Milam overwhelmed the Mexican troops and captured the Alamo, seizing control of San Antonio. By February 1836, Colonel James Bowie and Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis had taken command of Texan forces in San Antonio. The newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Texan forces, Sam Houston, argued that San Antonio should be abandoned, but the Alamo’s defenders prepared to protect the fort to the end. These 185 defenders included Davy Crockett, the famous frontiersman and former Tennessee congressman.
On February 23, about 4000 Mexican soldiers commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began a siege of the fort. The Texans held out for 13 days, but on the morning of March 6 Mexican forces broke through the outer wall of the courtyard and overpowered the Texans. Santa Anna ordered his men to take no prisoners.
The Mexican forces also suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of the Alamo, losing between 600 and 1,600 men.
From March to May, Mexican forces once again occupied the Alamo. For the Texans, the Battle of the Alamo became a symbol of heroic resistance and a rallying cry in their struggle for independence.
On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston and some 800 Texans defeated Santa Anna’s Mexican force of 1,500 men at San Jacinto, shouting “Remember the Alamo!” as they attacked.
Source: Battle of the Alamo
© 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.