Remember the Alamo! It’s a famous saying that was heard often in the battles that helped shape the landscape of the western United States. But what did it mean to those fighting those battles?
The Battle of the Alamo took place between February 23 and March 6, 1836. It was a crucial fight in the Texas Revolution. American settlers who moved west into the land we now call Texas wanted a republic of their own instead of being ruled by Mexico.
A few months before the Battle of the Alamo, these settlers — who were called Texians at that time — had driven out all the Mexican troops from Mexican Texas. The Mexican troops, however, would not go away quietly.
On February 23, 1836, approximately 1,500 Mexican troops led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (what is now San Antonio, Texas). The mission was defended by fewer than 300 Texians under the command of James Bowie and William B. Travis.
Despite the Mexican troops’ overwhelming advantage in numbers, the two armies fought off and on for the next 12 days with few casualties. On March 6, however, the Mexican troops advanced on the Alamo in three separate attacks. By the end of the day, nearly all of the Texian defenders had been killed.
General Santa Anna sent a few noncombatant survivors ahead to tell others about the Texians’ defeat at the Alamo. The news caused a panic, and the remaining Texian troops, most settlers and the newly-formed Republic of Texas government fled from the advancing Mexican Army.
The Texians did not give up, however. Many of them were infuriated by what they thought was Santa Anna’s overwhelming cruelty during the Battle of the Alamo. Other settlers and adventurers were soon inspired by thoughts of revenge to join the Texian Army.
The regrouped and stronger Texian Army — many of them shouting “Remember the Alamo!” — defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. This final defeat led to the end of the Texas Revolution.
In the early 1900s, the Texas Legislature bought the old Alamo Mission and made the Alamo chapel an official Texas State Shrine. Today, the Alamo is one of the most popular tourist sites in Texas.