If you study Texas history, there is no doubt that you will be learning about the Alamo. But even if you don’t live in the Lone Star State, the Alamo is an exciting event in American history and is something everyone should learn about!
What is the Alamo?
The story of the Alamo is pretty famous, but here are some interesting facts you may not know about the Alamo. The full name is the Alamo Mission or Misión de Álamo in Spanish.
It is a Hispanic mission and fortress built in the early 1800s by Roman Catholic missionaries. A missionary is a person sent on a religious mission and they are sent to promote a specific religion in a foreign land.
The Alamo plaza was very close to the Camino Real or “King’s Highway”. It connected San Antonio to the eastern part of Spanish territory in Texas. It was a central area and trading market.
The building known as the Alamo today was first built as a chapel and the walls were built with limestone blocks. The blocks are more than 3.5 feet thick. Although unknown, historians think the floor was paved with flagstones. Studies of the original part of the building show the chapel had bell towers and a dome over the top of the center of the building.
The Alamo is now a National Historic Landmark, and you can visit it! It is open from 9 am to 5 pm. You can explore the various buildings and rent an audio tour or go on a guided tour for a small fee. A visitor center at Mission San José includes a park store and an information desk. You can even become a junior ranger and pick up a special booklet!
It is one of the most famous and most visited attractions in Texas. Being one of the most visited attractions makes sense since the number one tourist attraction in terms of visitors each year is the San Antonio Riverwalk which is only three minutes away from the Alamo historical site. The coolest thing about the walk between the Riverwalk and the Alamo is the names of the roads, which are E Houston Street and Bowie Street, named after two famous Texans who have a lot to do with the Alamo battle and buildings.
The Missions and The Many Names of The Alamo
There were many missions in the United States. Missions are religious communities in North America from the 1500s to the 1800s. The goal of these missions was to convert or change American settlers’ religion.
The modern state with the most Spanish Missions was California, and they were built across the southern part of the United States from California to Florida and Georgia. The first established mission was in modern-day Saint Augustine, Florida. It was called Mission Nombre de Dios.
The San Antonio de Valero Mission was another name for The Alamo and it was sometimes written as Mission San Antonio de Valero. This mission was set up to try and convert American Indians to Christianity. It eventually became a community full of Spanish, Mexican, and Indian Catholics. Now more widely known as The Alamo or The Old Spanish Mission.
There were significant battles fought during the time of the Alamo. Two main battles led to Texas’ Independence.
The Battle of the Alamo
In December 1825, during the beginning part of the war for the independence of Texas from Mexico. A group of Texan volunteers led by George Collinsworth and Benjamin Milam took over the Alamo by overtaking the Mexican soldiers. They captured the fort and were able to seize control of the city of San Antonio.
However, in February, Mexican forces led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna began to reclaim the fort. There were only about 200 defenders of the Alamo, and Santa Anna’s army outnumbered them. The defenders held out for 13 days before the Mexican troops took over the fort.
There were heroes of the battle of the Alamo. James Bowie commanded the defenders and even the famous frontiersman (person living between settled and unsettled land) Davey Crockett.
The Battle of the Alamo became a symbol of Texas independence. The battle cry “Remember the Alamo” was popular during the Mexican-American War.
The Battle of San Jacinto
During the Texas war for independence, the Texan army was under the command of Sam Houston. There was a surprise attack against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and Mexican troops. Thousands of Mexican soldiers were captured, including the General. To be released, he signed a treaty giving Texas its independence. This was a great battle many do not know about.
Facts about The Alamo Building
The Alamo is a public monument and is one of the most iconic landmarks in Texas. It sits on about 5 acres of land. The Alamo today is a museum in the Alamo Plaza District. Located right in downtown San Antonio in the state of Texas. Since it is the site of the battle of the Alamo, you can appreciate all the history it has.
The Alamo once was part of Mexico before the fight for Texas independence from Mexico. It is named after the Spanish word for cottonwood. There was a grove of cottonwood trees right near the building. They were known to the Mexican people as “alamo.” The original Spanish settlers called it San Antonio de Valero. Although known by many different names, the Alamo was still a prominent place to many.
Important People of the Alamo
There are many influential people when it comes to the Alamo, and here are a few of them.
He was sent to the Alamo to determine if it was defensible. He was ordered to destroy it and withdraw the men and artillery if it was not.
Also known as William B. Travis, he was lieutenant colonel of the Texas Army and died at the battle of the Alamo.
Commanded the volunteer forces until he became ill and bedridden.
General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna
He led the siege on the Alamo building. He killed 189 insurgents and defeated the Texan forces at the Alamo and Goliad.
Stephen Austin led the army to San Antonio and moved the volunteers to the Alamo.
These are just a few of the people who need to be recognized for their involvement in the battle of the Alamo.
More Important People of Texas
There are many important people from modern-day Texas and Texas history. Here are just a few of them.
One important person was Susanna Dickinson. She was known as the messenger after the Battle of the Alamo, and she also gave eyewitness accounts about the battle many years later.
Another person was General Sam Houston. He wanted to abandon the Alamo. But after the battle, he led the army that defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at San Jacinto. This significant achievement made him a big part of Texas History.
Although John Wayne was not living during the Alamo battle, he was a famous actor known for Western movies. John Wayne played Davey Crockett in the movie The Alamo, filmed in 1960. He produced, directed, and acted in the film. The movie won one Academy Award and was a box office flop.
Finally, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. This group is the oldest patriotic women’s organization in Texas and one of the oldest in the nation. The group is focused on keeping the memory of the founding families and soldiers of the Republic of Texas. There is a specific application process a woman must go through to become a member of this very historical group.
Fast Facts About The Alamo
Here are some quick facts that are easy to remember about the Alamo.
Before the battle of the Alamo, there was a lot of discussion on whether the troops should just abandon the mission. Sam Houston wanted to leave and take the cannon. However, James Bowie decided to stay and defend the fort. Many Texan troops chose to stay with James Bowie and fight. Most of the battle survivors were women, children, servants, and enslaved people.
After the battle of the Alamo, the fort was used in different ways. During the Civil War the Confederate used it. During the 1870s it was a warehouse. Today it is a tourist attraction and over 2.5 million people visit it each year.
The Alamo has a ton of history, from trying to convert people to a different religion to one of the most famous battles in Texas history. The Alamo has a lot you can learn about, and it is a must-visit on many tourist lists!