March 6, 2019
The men slept soundly, or at least as soundly as they could after almost two weeks of battle. This was the first real break the Mexicans gave them, but it was all part of the plan. As the Texans, Tejanos, and Americans slept, the Mexican's made their move. Santa Anna was determined to end this revolt here and now. While he won the battle, he discovered the American Spirit that would soon win the war.
After the American Revolution, many other countries began their own fights for territory and rights. France's Napoleon Bonaparte finally squashed the bloody French Revolution in 1799 only to begin his own Reign of Terror in 1804 as he seized emperorship. (see and ) Invading Spain in 1808, France spent six years fighting before Spain expelled them from the country and reinstated Ferdinand VII to the throne.
As Spain battled Napoleon in the Eastern Hemisphere, Mexico started their own rebellion against Spain's occupation. Father Miguel Hidalgo signaled the revolt on September 15, 1810, after ringing his church bells in Dolores. During this same time, America battled Britain in their Second War of Independence, the War of 1812. (see and ) All of Mexico, including their territory of Texas, fought Spain for independence.
The 11-year endeavor finally ended in Mexico's independence in 1821. Soon after, former Spanish general turned revolution hero, Agustin de Iturbide, crowned himself emperor on May 19, 1822. The year before, America’s Moses Austin appealed to the Spanish government to settle in Texas. Once Iturbide obtained control, he worked with Stephen F. Austin, who overtook the project following his father’s death, to allow Americans into Texas. Needing bodies in the sparsely settled territory to help the Tejanos, or Texans of Mexican and Indian descent, fight Native American invasions, Iturbide allowed the immigration. However, he required them to convert to Catholicism, Mexico’s official religion, learn Spanish, and pledge their loyalty to Mexico. Austin arrived with 300 frontiersmen who complied with Iturbide’s requirements.
The new country struggled as Centralists and Federalists fought for power, forcing Itrubide to abdicate his throne in 1823. After a time in Italy, he returned to Mexico unbeknownst that congress ordered his death. He was captured and later executed on July 19, 1824. Three months later the Mexican government set up a federal republic, similar to the United States, complete with a Constitution on October 4, 1824. This attracted settlers looking for good soil for their cotton production. As more Americans entered the territory, many with slaves, the prerequisites lost effectiveness as Mexico continued to oscillate between the two forms of government.
By 1831, American immigrants outnumbered Tejanos in Texas. Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, which became a contentious point to those who owned slaves in the territory, yet it did not hinder their arrival as it was not enforced. Therefore, the Mexican government terminated immigration. Two years later, Austin led a campaign for statehood for Texas in the Mexican federation, resulting in his imprisonment until 1835. The constitution had absorbed Texas into Coahuila and the Texans wanted their independence again. While Austin was in prison, General Antonio López de Santa Anna took over emperorship and began making fundamental changes in the Mexican government. Primarily, he redesigned it as a centralized government with him as dictator and pushed for the removal of all foreigners. Settlers were furious, wanting to return to the government outlined in the 1824 Constitution.
Santa Anna sent 1,200 forces to occupy San Antonio. On October 2, the troops were ordered to nearby Gonzales to retrieve a cannon Mexico had loaned the small town to fight against Indian attacks. The citizens responded with shouts of "Come and take it!" As a follow-up, the small cannon was loaded with scrap iron and other such items and unloaded on the troops. While only one Mexican soldier was harmed, the incident forever identified Gonzales as the "Lexington of Texas." The Texas Rebellion had begun.
Soon after, Ben Milam led 200 Texas volunteers in a hard and well-fought four-day battle against Mexico in San Antonio. Defeated, Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cós raised the white flag from the Alamo, an abandoned mission the Mexicans used as a base. After relinquishing San Antonio to the Texans, including money, property, and ammunition, Cós exited Texas territory with what was left of his troops before Christmas. The Texans only lost twenty men, a tenth of the Mexican casualties, yet Milam laid among them. Regardless, they considered it an easy victory.
Furious, Santa Anna composed an 8,000 strong army made up of Mexicans, Europeans, and Americans. He passed a resolution of “no quartering,” meaning no prisoners of war would be taken. As Santa Anna made his way north, the commander of the revolutionary troops, Sam Houston, sent Colonel Jim Bowie and a small group of men to San Antonio to gather the artillery and destroy the Alamo. Upon arrival, Colonel James C. Neill, the commander at the Alamo, and Bowie discussed the unrealistic possibility of removing the 24 cannons without animals to do so. It would also be foolish to leave such valuable equipment for the Mexicans to recapture. Therefore, the men decided to make the Alamo a stronghold to give Houston time to raise a proper army to combat Santa Anna. Meanwhile, citizens throughout the territory ran in fear of the coming Mexican army, known as the Runaway Scrape, as they packed up all their belongings and left their homes.
Within weeks, several small garrisons arrived at the Alamo to join those already there. Among them included Colonel William Travis, who assumed dual command with Bowie, of whom the Bowie knife is named, and David Crockett (see ), frontiersman, politician, and folk hero. Travis sent several pleas to America for more help, with his most famous one dated February 24. Considered one of the most soul-stirring appeals ever written, he addressed: "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World," declaring, "I shall never surrender or retreat...I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.”
The urgency in the letter and plea resulted from Santa Anna's arrival in San Antonio the day before, reclaiming it for Mexico. Flag bearers hung a blood-red "no quarter” flag from the San Fernando Church bell tower. Santa Anna's artillery began a constant 12-day bombardment on the Alamo, depriving those inside of sleep, rest, or reprieve. However, the noise also provided cover for couriers to escape the structure and reinforcements to arrive at it.
By the time Texas declared its independence on March 2, 1836, just under 200 men stood to defend the Alamo from Santa Anna, fully understanding defeat equaled certain death. Knowing no more defenders were coming, Travis assembled the men. Taking his sword in his hand, Travis drew a line in the dirt. Looking at the weary soldiers, he stated, “All those willing to defend Texas step over the line.” One by one the men passed over the line as a lone soldier stood still. Louis “Moses” Rose refused to move. A Frenchman who witnessed enough bloodshed as part of Napoleon’s Army, admitted, “I’m not ready to die.” He left the Alamo that night.
Santa Anna quieted the guns knowing the weary soldiers inside the Alamo would collapse from exhaustion. As the Americans, Texans, and Tejanos slept inside, Santa Anna advanced his army. At 4 o'clock in the morning of March 6, they stood within 200 yards of the mission. Those inside the Alamo sprung from their beds as a hair-raising bugle call sounded the charge of "no quarter."
The revolutionaries successfully defended Mexico’s first two charges. However, the third proved to be productive as the Toluca Battalion, now only a fraction of their original 800 troops, attacked and scaled a wall. The mission and church were baptized in blood as the men resorted to hand-to-hand combat. Various knives and pistols accompanied fists and knees as both sides fought to the death.
While no soldiers survived, a few citizens managed to avoid death. Santa Anna allowed Captain Almarcon Dickinson’s wife and infant daughter, Susannah and Angelina, along with Travis’ slave and a few others to go to Gonzales. His motivation was for them to inform Houston of the Battle of the Alamo and convey that he was coming for the rest of them. Angelina became known as “The Babe of the Alamo” as the story of the massacre spread throughout the continent. In addition, a few couriers were away from the mission when the siege occurred.
Legend recounts a few survivors, including Crockett, were captured but immediately executed. While possible, some argue Crockett would have never surrendered. Regardless, such details died with the Texans and the Tejanos as not one survived the 90-minute onslaught. Susannah noted in her memoirs that while being led away she saw Crockett lying among the dead. However, we will never know if this was due to battle or execution. Many also surmise Bowie was the last one killed in battle as he was forced into a sick bed in the lower barracks early on in the siege. Stories recount he too fought to the death with a knife and pistol, taking out several Mexicans before his own demise.
While the Mexicans received a proper Christian burial, Santa Anna ordered the Texan and Tejano dead to be piled and burned. Only one, Jose Gregorio Esparza, escaped the disrespectful cremation, as his brother was one of General Cós’ presidio guards.
Feeling confident, Santa Anna chased Houston to east Texas seeking blood. While on the way, the Mexicans captured the town of Goliad. Almost 350 Texans surrendered to Santa Anna’s army. On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Santa Anna ordered the execution of them all.
The massacres of prisoners infuriated the Texans, which emboldened them all the more. After splitting up his troops into several smaller groups, Santa Anna and his army of 1,500 headed towards the coast. They met Houston and his 800 Texans at San Jacinto, just outside of present-day Houston. Shouting the rally cries “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad,” the Texans charged and soundly defeated the Mexicans within 18 minutes on April 21. Santa Anna was taken prisoner, but shown much more respect than he gave. He was released after agreeing with Houston to end the war.
The Republic of Texas elected Samuel Houston president of the independent state in the fall. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren declined to annex Texas to avoid increasing tensions between the two nations, despite their embrace of manifest destiny. (see ) Other countries explored the idea of annexation, but none took action. The Texas Rangers developed to combat Indian raids as their new boundary at the Rio Grande with Mexico continued to draw strife. As a result, Texans soon preferred annexation by the United States over their independence, which was accomplished in 1845 under President James K. Polk. As predicted, this only angered Mexico. When Mexican troops fired upon a U.S. cavalry patrol at the border on April 25, 1846, Congress declared war on its southern neighbor.
After the 2-year Mexican-American War, the United States won a decisive victory. While it could have taken over all of Mexico as victors, America only required Mexico to relinquish land in what is now our southwestern states, including the rights to Texas.
Liberty, many support and encourage Mexicans infiltrating our country illegally, stating America stole the land from them. However, Native Americans fought for, killed for, stole, and traded this land for hundreds of years before the white man ever set foot on it, and it will continue until the end of time. Texas and the other southwestern states were not stolen from Mexico; they were bought with the blood of Americans and Tejanos. Progressives want us to believe this was a battle of whites versus browns. The truth is it was people fighting for a unified cause: freedom.
Many claim Mexicans are themselves Native Americans and deserve all the land, yet that is not true either. Just as Britons settled the American colonies, Spaniards occupied Mexico. Famous Native America Geronimo fought Americans, but he hated the Mexicans more as their troops ravaged his camp. Killing all the warriors there at the time, they also massacred women and children, including his mother, wife, and 3 young children. The Mexicans showed no mercy to the natives just as Santa Anna showed no mercy to the Texans and Tejanos, some of his own people.
There is a movement in the American culture right now to just gorge ourselves on our past wrongdoings, ignoring context and the times, to guilt citizens into relinquishing the rights our ancestors fought so hard to acquire. I fear our day at the Alamo is coming. A day where Patriots will have to stand their ground against socialism and communism, knowing those in power can destroy us. But as Travis declared, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country.” This is our stand, Liberty. This is our time.
Victory or Death!
That’s my 2 cents.
VICTORY OR DEATH!