The Alamo – Cradle of Texas Freedom
One of the most important national monuments in the USA is the former Alamo mission station in San Antonio. There courageous volunteers, adventurers and colonists defended their dream of an independent Texas against the overwhelming Mexican force during the Battle of Alamo under the slogan “Victory or Death”.
A memorial column with depictions of the battle and the names of the fallen on the site of the mission station commemorates the victims of this memorable confrontation. Today, the 300 year old Spanish mission station is the most visited historic site in the state of Texas.
The creation of the mission station
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Spaniards built a number of Catholic mission stations along the San Antonio River, which were built in the form of small fortifications around churches. According to Ehuacom, the Alamo, built in 1718 as San Antonio de Valero, is the first and also the most famous of these stations, which served to ensure supremacy in this area through the missionary work of the Coahuiltec Indians. In the long run, however, these facilities could not withstand the attacks of various Indian tribes and were abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century. It did not get its name Pueblo de Alamo until 1801 when Mexican cavalry troops moved into the former mission station.
The history of the battle
After the end of the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, independent Mexico was subject to several changes of power until Antonio López de Santa Anna came to power in 1833 and only one year later he established a dictatorship in Mexico. This caused a great uproar and triggered an open rebellion in various parts of the Mexican territories, which in 1835 also broke its way completely in Texas, because Santa Anna’s approach was not approved. For example, in 1829 the Mexican government banned slave labor, which the Texan settlers wanted to continue.
Texan troops succeeded in pushing the Mexican armed forces back behind the Rio Grande and from San Antonio and Alamo and so they proclaimed their independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, which prompted Santa Anna to move into Texas with an army of about 7,000 soldiers.
The Battle of the Alamo
In the Alamo, James C. Neill took command of the garrison, but had only 80 men under him, who were supplemented by the Provisional Government by a further 30 men under the command of James Bowie. Actually, the Alamo should have been destroyed at this point and the weapons available there should have been removed, but the necessary draft animals were missing. So Bowie strengthened the fortress and received another 30 men support. More volunteers joined in, so that the defenders came to around 200 soldiers. Among them were two Germans, 28-year-old Henry Courtman and 25-year-old Henry Thomas.
On February 23, 1863, the Battle of Fort Alamo began, which is still a symbol of the Texas fight for freedom. Santa Anna’s troops besieged the mission station for thirteen days, with messengers shouting for help from and into the fort. The last support force reached the Alamo on March 2nd, four days before the Mexicans’ assault on the fortress began and finally succeeded on the third attempt and only with great losses. Most of the fort’s defenders did not survive the attack, and those who survived were subsequently executed on Santa Anna’s orders. Some civilians and children were also killed in the Mexican storm.
The courageous defenders of the fort went down in US history books and became heroes of the Texas struggle for freedom. And the battle against the overwhelming forces of Mexico became a symbol of the War of Independence, even though, strictly speaking, it was the Texans who had initially forcibly claimed Mexican territory for themselves.
From the originally built mission station, only the church building and the Long Barrack are preserved today. The church, which was built between 1755 and 1793, is today the most striking building on the site and shows traces of the epic battle of 1836. In addition, some changes point to its later role as a camp and finally as a memorial for the defenders of Alamo.
The Long Barrack used to house the accommodation and study of the Spanish missionaries. During the Battle of the Alamo, many of the defenders retired to this building for the final stand, which has seen many changes over time. The Long Barrack now houses a museum where exhibits on the history of Alamo and the Republic of Texas can be viewed. Including many photos, maps, portraits and weapons.
Over time, other buildings have been built on the site of the former mission station, such as the building built in 1937 which is now the souvenir shop, the Alamo Hall, built in 1922 as a fire station, which can be booked for events and which was built in 1950 Special Exhibition Hall, in which the visitor to the historical site will find changing exhibitions. Visiting the Alamo is free of charge.
In addition, those interested can watch the 48-minute film “Alamo The Price of Freedom” in the IMAX cinema there every hour from 11 am to 5 pm in the “Rivercenter Mall” shopping center in San Antonio. The ticket prices are currently (as of September 2017) at $ 11.49 for adults, $ 8.79 for children and $ 10.49 for seniors.
Address and opening times
- 300 Alamo Plaza
- San Antonio, Texas 78205
- Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (high season May 26th – September 4th) or 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (September 5th – May 25th)
- With the exception of Christmas Day (December 25th), the Alamo is open all year round.