The Battle of the Alamo, which took place in Texas between 1835 and 1836, is an event that most people have heard of.
Many volunteers joined the Texan army due to the Battle of the Alamo, a crucial moment in the Texas Revolution. One of the most well-known in Texas history, it has appeared in many works of fiction and non-fiction.
But how many people do you know that could share exciting information about this conflict? Not many, probably!
It might be time to read up on some intriguing facts about the Alamo if you still need to learn something interesting to say about it. So here are 21 facts about the Alamo, the battle and the fortress itself.
21 Interesting Facts About the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo has given rise to many tales and stories, but the facts frequently paint a different picture. Learn about the Battle of the Alamo through these 21 fascinating facts about its causes, events, significance, and casualties.
Tip: Read this guide to learn some exciting facts about Mexico, which was a main part of this battle.
1. Texan Independence Was Not the Focus of the Alamo Battle
The primary cause of the unrest in Texas — rather than independence — was that some Texans and Tejanos wanted the federalist constitution back. In contrast, others wanted the centralist government to be headquartered in Mexico.
Texas proclaimed its independence as a republic in 1836, but the Mexican state would not acknowledge Texas as a sovereign nation until the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified in 1848.
The Alamo was under siege for days before it was attacked and surrendered early on 6 March. The defenders were utterly unaware that independence had been legally declared a few days earlier.
2. The Alamo Has the Spanish Word for “Cottonwood” As Its Name
The Alamo Mission, or the “Alamo,” is situated in modern-day San Antonio in Texas, United States. It was established around 1718 as a Spanish mission to teach Native Americans who had embraced Christianity.
The word “álamo” is Spanish for “cottonwood,” and the Alamo Mission was located close to a region with many cottonwood trees.
3. The Battle of the Alamo Site Is Currently Texas’ Most Popular Tourist Destination
Because of the war, the region became more well-known as the location of the battle than the mission itself, which had been established more than a century earlier.
It is not just the most visited tourist destination in Texas, but also one of the most visited destinations nationwide.
4. Before the Battle, the Alamo Was About to Be Abandoned
In December 1835, Texans in rebellion took control of San Antonio in the Battle of Bexar.
General Sam Houston, the Texas Army’s commander-in-chief, believed that maintaining San Antonio was both difficult and unnecessary.
He dispatched Colonel James Bowie and 30 other men to disarm the Alamo by removing its guns. Colonel James C. Neill persuaded Bowie of the necessity of defending the city once he viewed the fort’s defenses, and Bowie decided to defy Houston’s orders.
5. The Battle Has Been Extensively Documented in Both Fiction and Non-fiction Books and Films
The Battle of the Alamo has been covered in non-fiction literature since 1843.
More fictional works became accessible at the start of the 20th century, including Disney’s Davy Crockett and the 1960 western film, The Alamo, starring John Wayne, a well-known Western actor.
6. Santa Anna Led the Mexican Army to Retake the Alamo
In February 1836, only a small number of reinforcements arrived at the Alamo, including cavalry officer William B. Travis and his 30 men.
Colonel Neill transferred command to Travis before departing Alamo to find more troops and gather supplies. However, due to the need for volunteers, Travis shared command with Colonel James Bowie.
The Mexican army invaded Texas in mid-February. It was commanded by Santa Anna, a well-known general and statesman from Mexico who was dubbed “The Napoleon of the West.” Santa Anna had sworn to conquer Texas to restore Mexico’s honor.
7. If They Had Wanted to, They Could Have Escaped
In the latter part of February 1836, Santa Anna’s army reached San Antonio. The Texan defenders immediately retired to the heavily reinforced Alamo when they saw a vast Mexican army at their front door.
The defenders could have easily fled in the night if they had wished, as Santa Anna did not attempt to block the Alamo’s and the town’s exits during the first few days.
8. Nearly Half of the Men Fighting Were Volunteers
James Neill was the battle’s official commander, but Colonel William Travis replaced him after Neill experienced family issues.
They didn’t listen to Travis since so many of the men were volunteers who could quit at any time; instead, they opted to obey Jim Bowie, who wasn’t the leader.
Many problems arose from this circumstance. But when the Mexican army and Davy Crockett intervened, everyone was obliged to defuse the tense circumstances and focus on the combat.
9. The Defenders Passed Away Anticipating Reinforcements
Lieutenant Travis repeatedly asked Col. James Fannin for reinforcements in Goliad (about 90 miles to the east), and he never had any reason to believe that Fannin would refuse. The Alamo’s guardians searched for Fannin and his men daily during the siege, but they never showed up.
Fannin had concluded that it was logistically impossible to arrive at the Alamo in time and that his 300 or so men would be ineffective against the 2,000 soldiers of the Mexican army.
10. William B. Travis Wrote a Letter to the Citizens of Texas
Colonel Bowie passed away on 24 February due to illness, leaving Travis as the only commander of the Texan force.
Travis penned the renowned letter “To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World” on the same day. “In the name of Liberty, of patriotism, and everything important to the American character,” he pleaded for assistance.
The letter circulated widely throughout the country and encouraged people to donate their time to the Texas cause.
11. The Defenders Included a Large Number of Mexicans
It’s a frequent myth that all of the settlers from the United States who opted for independence from Mexico were the Texans who rose against it.
Many native Texans, sometimes known as Tejanos (Mexican nationals), joined the cause and fought just as bravely as their Anglo comrades. Prominent Mexican citizens were on both sides.
Travis’s army lost 187 soldiers, 13 of whom were native Texans and 11 of Mexican heritage. In addition to the two African Americans, there were 41 Europeans and other Americans from various U.S. states.
12. The Mexican Army Managed to Get Within the Walls of the Alamo Without the Texans Knowing
Around 5:30 a.m. on 6 March, the Mexican forces moved in preparation for their decisive assault in the stillness of the night. Three Texans working outside the wall were accidentally killed.
Before the Texans were awakened, this breach allowed the Mexicans to get within firing distance of the walls. Travis yelled to his troops to “give them hell” as he sprinted to his station. He was among the first of the defense to pass away.
13. Nobody Is Aware of What Happened to Davy Crockett
Many people have heard of Davy Crockett through tales of myths or fables, but he was a frontiersman who arrived with a few Tennessee volunteers. His adventures and stories from his previous life as a hunter and scout are now legendary.
Crockett and a few other volunteers landed at Alamo in February. He and his troops were the last remaining unit in operation to engage in open combat during the conflict. He would even play his violin for the volunteers and soldiers during the battle.
What happened next to Crockett is not definitive. One of Santa Anna’s officers, Jose Enrique de la Pefia, said that a few prisoners, including Crockett, were taken and executed after the battle. The mayor of San Antonio claimed to have seen Crockett dead with the other defenders, but there is no proof.
14. Not Everyone Perished at the Alamo
Not every person in the fort died. Most survivors were women, kids, domestic workers, and enslaved people.
The battle’s 182 – 257 Texan fighters all perished. Although the exact number of deaths and injuries in Mexico is debatable, it was around 600.
Only a few Texans managed to survive at the Alamo. Santa Anna warned the remaining Texans that if they persisted in the uprising, they would suffer the same fate. He then transported the survivors, who included Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson, the widow of Capt. Almeron Dickinson, and her daughter to Major General Sam Houston’s army.
15. Travis May Have Drawn a Line in the Dirt
The fort’s commander, William Travis, allegedly took his sword and drew a line in the sand. He then ordered all of the defenders who were prepared to die fighting to cross it.
Due to a crippling ailment, renowned frontiersman Jim Bowie requested to be carried across the line. Only one man objected, Moses Rose. He later gained notoriety for leaving the Alamo that night.
This well-known tale demonstrates the Texans’ commitment to the cause of freedom. However, this most likely didn’t occur.
The tale originally appeared in print in 1888 in “New History for Texas Schools” by Anna Pennybackers. A subsequent statement by Travis was inserted by Pennybacker, along with a notation stating, “Some unknown source has produced the following hypothetical speech of Travis.”
16. The Texans Were Motivated by the Alamo to Win the Next Battle of San Jacinto
Two significant effects of the Alamo Battle occurred.
The first is referred to as the Runaway Scrape. It took place when the army, the provisional government of the fledgling Republic of Texas, and a large portion of the civilian population fled eastward to evade the Mexican soldiers.
The second was that many Texans were motivated to enlist by Santa Anna’s brutality and the courageous resistance of the Texan forces. General Sam Houston’s 900-man Texas army, fighting at San Jacinto on 21 April 1836, humiliated Santa Anna’s 1,300-man Mexican army. The Alamo was their rallying cry.
Santa Anna was taken as a prisoner of war and detained. Later, he ratified a peace agreement that ordered Mexican troops to leave Texas. Thus, winning the Battle of San Jacinto guaranteed the Texas Revolution’s success.
17. To Commemorate Its 100th Anniversary, a Stamp Was Released
The U.S. Post Office published a stamp in 1936 to mark the Battle of the Alamo’s 100th anniversary.
18. Rebels Managed to Sneak Into the Alamo
In the days preceding the conflict, some men allegedly escaped from the Alamo. Desertions were expected, given that the Texans were up against the Mexican army.
What is astonishing is that some men managed to enter the Alamo before the deadly onslaught. On 1 March, 32 valiant citizens of Gonzales broke through enemy lines to add to the Alamo’s defenses.
Travis had ordered James Butler Bonham out to call for reinforcements, and two days later, on 3 March, he returned to the Alamo with his message successfully delivered. All of the Gonzales men and Bonham perished in the conflict.
19. Where “Remember the Alamo!” Came From
After the Alamo conflict, Santa Anna’s attempt to reintegrate Texas into Mexico was thwarted only by the soldiers under Sam Houston’s command.
On 21 April, by chance or design, Houston encountered Santa Anna at San Jacinto, overpowering his forces and taking him prisoner as he fled toward the south. The first to shout were Houston’s men. “Remember the Alamo!”
20. The Alamo Was Not Kept Intact
Santa Anna set the Alamo’s structural components on fire in early April 1836. The site remained in ruins for the following several decades as Texas first became a republic and then a state. Maj. E. B. Babbitt reconstructed it in 1854, but the Civil War cut his work short.
Adina De Zavala and Clara Driscoll worked together to restore the Alamo in the late 1890s. A campaign to reconstruct the monument in the manner of its 1836 design was initiated by them and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
21. For Only a Decade, the 350-Year-Old Alamo Served as a Fort
The modest adobe building known as the Alamo, which is 63 feet wide and 33 feet tall, was constructed in 1727 as a church for San Antonio de Valero, the Spanish Catholic Mission. When it was given to civil authority in 1792, the church was still unfinished. When Spanish troops arrived in 1805, it was already finished, but it was utilized as a hospital.
It briefly housed Mexican forces commanded by William Agustus Magee and Jose Bernardo Maximiliano Gutierrez in 1818 during the Mexican War of Independence. Under Anastacio Bustamante, the captain-general of the Provincias Internas, it ultimately served as the permanent home for a garrison of troops in 1825.
But the building had deteriorated by the time of the Battle of the Alamo. When Martin Perfecto de Cos from Bexar arrived in the latter part of 1835, he constructed a dirt ramp leading to the rear of the church wall and covered it with planks to transform the Alamo into “fort fashion.”