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">"I have come to aid you all that I can,in your noble cause". With these words, David Crockett, having recently arrived in the Mexican province of Texas, casts his lot with the small band of volunteers, who were holding the former provisional capitol and now frontier post of San Antonio De Bejar, and it's adjacent mission turned fortress, the former San Antonio De Valero, now simply called, The Alamo.
The promise of free land, no taxes, and the chance to start life anew, brought Crockett and thousands like him from the United States, Europe and the Mexican Republic itself to the as yet tamed frontier of Texas. Between 1820 and 1835, thousands of immigrants, both legal and illegal flocked to Texas. However, a combination of social, political, and cultural differences with the young Mexican government started the Province towards civil unrest. Then open conflict ensued when the President of the Mexican Republic, General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, assumed dictatorial powers and vowed to crush any opposition to his rule.
So it was, that in October of 1835, unrest turned to civil war, then to a move for independence from Mexico. Following a series of stinging but relatively minor defeats in the winter of 1835, Santa Anna personally assembled, then marched north through the interior, with an army estimated at over 4 or 5 thousand, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Defending The Alamo!
The first objective for the Army of Operations against Texas was the recapture of the largest city in the province, San Antonio De Bejar. It was here, on February 23, 1836, that the tiny garrison was surprised by Santa Anna's forward elements, and immediately beat a hasty retreat into the dubious protection of the Alamo, located across east of the town and across the San Antonio River.
Under the nominal command of James Bowie & William B. Travis, the fort's under-strengthened garrison held out for almost two weeks as the siege works of the Mexican Army slowly moved their way around the mission. Throughout the thirteen-day siege, couriers were sentout in desperate appeals for reinforcements. These reinforcements, with one notable exception, were never to come.
Having grown impatient with the progress of the siege, Santa Anna decided to assault the mission on the morning of March 6, 1836, the 13th day of the siege. At approximately 5:30 am, four columns of infantry, coming from the north, south, east, and west, rushed the walls screaming "Viva Santa Anna! Viva La Republica!" Having almost been caught totally unaware, the defenders on the walls rallied quickly and sent a veritable shower of shot and shell into the massed columns.
Defending the earthen and log palisade that connected the Church with the south wall, David Crockett and his companions pour well-aimed rifle and musket fire into the column assaulting the southern defenses. This 100-man force under the command of Colonel Juan Morales has the mission of trying to find a weak spot in the Alamo's southern defenses and at the same time, keeping the defenders here from reinforcing their comrades to the north, from where the main effort is taking place. Although well armed with English made Baker rifles, the Cazadores (Light Infantry) under Colonel Morales command, are stopped dead in their tracks by the murderous combination of the fort's cannon firing from the palisade and lunette covering the gate, and the rifles and muskets of the defenders along the southern wall.
Last Stand for Davy Crockett
It's at this time that we see Crockett and his companions quickly taking stock of the situation. Unaware that the defenders at the north wall are about to be overrun, Crockett takes time to carefully load each shot before selecting a target. Despite the depictions of Crockett dressed head to tow in buckskins, the former congressman is practically attired against the bitter cold Texas winter. The only piece of frontier garb he wears is a cap made of either fox or raccoon skin.
As the Texan Army was that in name only, the rest of the defenders are attired in civilian clothing normal for the 1830's in the southern and eastern United States. Tophats being 'en vogue' at the time, and many of the Alamo's garrison being professional men, not the rough and tumble frontiersmen, as depicted in books and movies. Behind Crockett, along the palisade, one of the fort's cannons lets loose with a blast against the massed formations, assaulting the south wall. Inside the church, women and children huddle together nervously awaiting the outcome, as the first glimmer of sunrise begins to show in the Texas sky.
First using their slower loading, but more accurate hunting rifles, Crockett and his men keep the Mexican infantry at bay, forcing them to shift their attack further south to the fort's southwest corner. Later as the walls are overrun, the defenders will use the stores of English made Brown Bess muskets captured from the Mexican Army the previous December, against the attackers as they fall back to the barracks buildings to make a final stand.
Remember The Alamo!
By sun up, the battle is over and all the defenders lie dead within the walls of the Alamo with almost a thousand Mexican casualties incurred by their Army of Operations. From here on, the legend of the Alamo begins to grow and eventually overshadow the real story of its defense as well as the ongoing debate on the manner of Crockett's death. How he died is really immaterial. David Crockett and the rest of the defenders of the Alamo stayed and fought to the bitter end, and by dying, helped give life to a new republic.
Text By Richard Crawford
DAVID CROCKETT'S LAST SUNRISE! - The Battle of The Alamo and the liberation of Texas, San Antonio, 1836 A.D.