Fall of the Alamo – Anniversary Reminiscences


SAN ANTONIO, March 3, 1876.

[excerpted from long article]

Forty years ago, the 6th of March, the Alamo fell, and the patriot blood of Travis and his brave companions consecrated the soil of Texas to the Goddess of Liberty. The Alamo was one of those church missions founded in Texas by the Franciscan Fathers, for the double purpose of holding the country for the King of Spain and for converting the Indians to Christianity. The corner stone of the edifice was laid May 8, 1744, though a slab in the front wall bears the date 1757.

The accompanying diagram will give our readers a tolerably fair view of the Alamo and grounds as they were in 1836…


A little after midnight, the different divisions of the Mexican army silently marched to their assigned positions. At 4 o’clock the bugle sounded, and the whole line advanced to the final assault. Santa Anna, with all the bands, was behind an adobe house, about 500 years south of the church. The Texans were ready, and, according to Fillisola, “poured upon the advancing columns a shower of grape and musket and rifle balls.” Twice the assailants re??ed and fell back in dismay. Rallied again by the heroic Castrillon (who fell at San Jacinto), they approached the walls the third time. We again quote from Fillisola: “The columns of the western and eastern attacks meeting with some difficulty in reaching the tops of the small houses forming the wall of the fort, did, by a simultaneous movement to the right and to the left, swing northward until the three columns formed one dense mass, which, under the guidance of their officers, finally succeeded in effecting an entrance into the inclosed yard.

About the same time the column on the south made a breach in the wall and captured one of the guns.” This gun, the eighteen pounder, was immediately turned upon the convent, to which some of the Texans had retreated. The carronade on the center of the west wall was still manned by the Texans, and did fearful execution upon the Mexicans who had ventured into the yard. But the feeble garrison could not long hold out against such overwhelming numbers. Travis fell early in the action, shot with a rifle ball in the head. After being shot he had sufficient strength to kill a Mexican who attempted to spear him. The bodies of most of the Texans were found in the building, where a hand-to-hand fight took place.

The body of Crockett, however, was in the yard, with a number of Mexicans lying near him. Bowie was slain in his bed, though it is said he killed two or three of the Mexicans with his pistol as they broke into his room. The church was the last place entered by the foe. It had been agreed that when further resistance seemed useless, any surviving Texan should blow up the magazine. Major Evans was applying the torch when he was killed in time to prevent the explosion. It was reported that two or three Texans, found in a room, appealed in vain for quarter. The sacrifice was complete. Every soldier had fallen in defense of the fort.

Three non-combatants were spared — a negro servant of Col. Travis, and Mrs. Alsbury and Mrs. Dickinson. Lieut. Dickinson, with a child on his back, leaped from an upper window in the east  end of the church; but their lifeless bodies fell to the ground riddled with bullets. One hundred and eighty bodies of the Texans were collected in a pile and partially burned. Well informed Texans put the loss of the Mexicans at about twice that number. The official report of the Mexican Adjutant General left in command at San Antonio, puts their loss at sixty killed and 251 wounded. On the 25th of February, 1837, the bones of their victims were collected by Col. John N. Seguin then in command at this place and decently and honorably interred.


“Rise, man the wall, our clarion’s blast
Now sounds its final reveille;
This dawning morn must be the last
Our fated band shall ever see.
To life, but not to hope, farewell.
Yon trumpet’s clang and cannon’s peal,
And storming shout and clash of steel,
Is ours, but not our country’s knell!
Welcome the Spartan’s death–
‘Tis no despairing strife—
We fall—we die!—but our expiring breath
Is freedom’s breath of life.

“Here on this new Thermopylae,
Our monument shall tower on high,
And, ‘Alamo’ hereafter be
In bloodier fields the battle cry.”
Thus Travis from the rampart cried;
And when his warriors saw the foe
Like whelming billows move below,
At once each dauntless heart replied:
“Welcome the Spartan’s death—
‘Tis no despairing strife—
We fall! –we die! — but our expiring breath
Is Freedom’s breath of life!

“They come — like autumn leaves they fall,
Yet hordes on hordes they onward rush,
With gory tramp they mount the wall,
Till numbers the defenders crush —
Till falls their flag when none remain!
Well may the ruffians quake to tell
How Travis and his hundred fell,
Amid a thousand foemen slain!
They died the Spartan’s death,
But not in hopeless strife —
Like brothers died, and their expiring breath
Was Freedom’s breath of life!”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Mar 5, 1876

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