On this March date in 1836, after a 13 day siege, the Battle of the Alamo ended when a pre-dawn attack by the much larger Mexican force slaughtered the 200 (or more) Texan defenders, creating many legends—the line in the sand, Jim Bowie’s desperate fight from his sickbed, Davy Crockett battling on as the Mexicans poured over the walls of the fort— and an iconic symbol of American bravery, sacrifice, and resistance of tyranny. The final minutes of the defenders were spent in desperate hand-to-hand combat with knives, swords and clubs.
Thirteen days earlier, on February 23, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered a siege of the Alamo Mission, near present-day San Antonio. It was occupied by rebel Texas forces. They spent the next two week ducking shells during the night and repairing the fort during the day. On the night of the 5th, however, there was no shelling. The exhausted men of the Alamo finally had a chance to sleep, and the Mexicans were almost inside the walls before they awakened. The bloody battle was over in less than 30 minutes. Several Texans reportedly surrendered, but Santa Anna ordered all prisoners executed, as he had promised when William Barrett Travis refused to surrender at the outset of the seige. Historians estimate that the battle cost Santa Anna between 400 and 600 soldiers, a high price for a fort with little strategic value. On April 21, 1836, Texas and Mexico fought again at the Battle of San Jacinto. This time it was the Mexicans who were surprised, and the rout won independence from Mexico and brought the Texas Revolution to an end.
I’ll be watching the 1960 John Wayne movie tonight. It is historically inaccurate in almost every way, but if there was ever an event in our history when the legend was more important than the reality, it is the battle of the Alamo.
1. It’s great to see that the news media and others have adopted a more fair and forgiving sta… Oh. Oh, right. “It’s amazing. Indian-descent Americans are taking over the country: you, my vice president, my speechwriter,” President Biden told Swati Mohan, NASA’s guidance and controls operations lead for the Mars Perseverance rover landing. Imagine the reaction from Democrats and pundits had the previous President said that. It would have been a story for weeks. The episode would have been cited any time one of the Trump Deranged was asked to defend the hardy Big Lie that Trump was a racist. Now that Joe Biden is President, the office is back to having the benefit of a presumption of good will, which is necessary for any President to do his job. About the only people mentioning Joe’s latest—read his quote with Jews or “blacks” in place of “Indian-descent Americans”—are bitter conservative pundits, and people like me, who foolishly believe that the same standards should be applied regardless of race, creed, gender or political affiliation.