Created Tuesday, 06 March 2007 23:25

The Siege and the Final Battle

Written by Randy Watson

When Santa Anna Arrived to besiege the Alamo, Lt. Col. Travis managed to send out dispatch riders with requests for assistance before but the Republicans didn't have the capacity to send a large relief force.   Among Travis\' requests included one to Col. James Fannin, commander of nearly 400 men 100 km away at Goliad. 320 Goliad men set off, but the haphazard expedition was not well organized. The Republicans at Goliad were massacred, leaving only 28 survivors.

On the 8th day of the siege, 32 Texians led by Captain George Kimbell and John W. Smith from the town of Gonzales slipped through the Mexican lines and joined the defenders inside the Alamo , bringing the number defending the Alamo to nearly two hundred. These 32 men were known as the \"Immortal 32\", and were the only ones to arrive in response to Travis requests for help. The defenders held out against the Mexican forces of Santa Anna, even though they were vastly outnumbered. They managed to defend the Alamo for thirteen days before it fell.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks.

The determination of the Alamo defenders is evident in Lt. Col. Travis dispatches, where he wrote: The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered their demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat.

Regrouping, the Mexicans managed to breach the weak north wall, where Travis was killed after being shot in the head. A column of invading Mexicans entered through the breach while the others maintained their assault. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The defenders were spread too thin as they could not push back the advancing column and defend the walls. This desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. Jim Bowie was reportedly bayoneted while he lay sick and injured in his cot. By sunrise, nearly all the defenders had been killed in hand-to-hand combat. The battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound.

15 women and children were spared by the Mexicans, along with Bowie's slave Sam and Travis\' slave Joe. Reports as to the number of casualties on both sides are contradictory.  Santa Anna reports that he had 70 men who died and 300 who were wounded, while some Texan reports claim of 1,500 Mexicans dead. Historians agree that Santa Anna's claim is unrealistic, and the Texan claim of 1,500 Mexicans who died in the final battle is also unrealistic. However it is very probable that 1,500 Mexicans died during the entire 13 day siege.   183 to 200 Texan and Tejano bodies were found after the battle, although Santa Anna claims to have found 600 bodies. Historian believe that the defenders of the Alamo really numbered around 200-250 men.