Alamo, Battle of

(1836)
   The most storied battle in the Texan War of Independence, in which 189 and perhaps 250 men led by David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Travis held off Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna’s vastly superior force of 2,000 soldiers for almost two weeks.
   The Alamo was a mission turned fort near San Antonio and blocked Santa Anna’s march against the main forces of the Texas provisional government. Its 21 guns and the fervor of its defenders notwithstanding, there was no hope for success without reinforcements, which were repeatedly requested. Colonel William B. Travis arrived with only 30 cavalrymen, and Crockett arrived soon thereafter with a small group of Tennessee Volunteers. It was only a token force against the well-trained and supplied regular Mexican army. Political indecision and poor communication prevented any further aid from being sent. The Mexican heavy artillery was more than sufficient to batter down the Alamo’s walls in a siege. Once the walls were rubble, the defenders would have no choice but to surrender. But in the early hours of March 6, Santa Anna launched an attack from four sides, over the objections of his senior commanders. The Mexicans suffered heavily from the Alamo’s guns, but superior numbers soon prevailed. It was all over within 90 minutes. A handful of combatant survivors, perhaps including Crockett, were executed, but women and children were allowed to leave in safety.
   Its mythology notwithstanding, the Alamo was of little military significance. It did buy some time for the provisional government to form, but, more important, it became a symbol of resistance on par with the Spartan stand at Thermopylae, and “Remember the Alamo” remains an inspiring part of Texan and American lore.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Davis, William C. Lone Star Rising. New York: Free Press, 2004.
   J. DAVID MARKHAM

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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