There is no more sacred ground in Texas than the site of an early Spanish mission, Mission San Antonio de Valero, more commonly known as The Alamo. Texans today consider it a shrine. It is an icon for the Lone Star state.
The mission might have ended its days in peaceful obscurity except for a bloody battle that took place there in 1836 during the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. It was the turning point in the revolution. While the Texans may have lost the battle of the Alamo, a few months later they won their war for independence.
Located in what today is the heart of San Antonio and surrounded by modern skyscrapers, the Alamo was built by the Franciscans in 1718. It was a combination of mission, hospital and fortress on the banks of the San Antonio River.
|A tour guide points out bullet holess|
The battle for the Alamo began on February 23, 1836, when Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna amassed 6,000 troops outside the mission. With Texas defenders numbering only around 200, the conclusion was foregone from the start. Still, the Texans held on for 13 days before being overrun and massacred by the Mexican Army.
Mexican troops had been stationed at the mission since the early 1800s, but were routed from their post by Texans in December 1835. Getting the mission back was revenge for them.
National Archives photo
Among the Texas dead were William Travis, fort commander; Jim Bowie, 40, frontiersman and inventor of the famous Bowie knife, and Davy Crockett, 49, former Congressman and famed frontiersman. You can read about how the trio ended up in Texas, far room their homes, in Three Roads to The Alamo by William C. Davis. A list of the defenders who died during the battle can be found on the Alamo's official wesite.
If you visit the Alamo today, you’d be hard pressed to imagine the bloody conflict that took place there. The setting is an oasis filled with lush vegetation and a slow moving canal filled with vibrant orange fish. Since Texans consider the Alamo a shrine, visitors are cautioned to dress and behave respectfully while they’re on the grounds.
The Alamo is open daily, except for Christmas Day, at 300 Alamo Plaza. Admission is free.
More photos of the Alamo can be found on my YouTube slideshow, Remember the Alamo!.