Saturday, December 20, 2014

Remember the Alamo, Two more Before/After Pictures and a Selfie

Location: Blanco State Park; Blanco, Texas
(click pictures to enlarge)

I drove into San Antonio yesterday to explore the Alamo. It is about an hour from the campground and traffic was light. The weather was cloudy and cool with the temperature in the low 60's. It was a nice day for exploring.

The Battle of the Alamo was taught to every school child in the country up to at least my generation. I hope it continues, but have my doubts. Although Texas was not yet a state, the battle echoed the thoughts and values of the Americans. Without getting real deep into the historical events, here is a brief summary:

Year 1808: Spain wins its country back from Napoleon and France. 

Year 1810 to 1821: Mexico revolts against Spain, eventually winning it's independence in 1821. 

Year 1824: The first Mexican President General Guadalupe Victoria enacts the first constitution. One of the main principles is to guarantee the rights of everyone living on Mexican soil, not just Mexicans. Remember, Texas was a province/state of Mexico at the time. Stephen F. Austin had a thriving colony in what is now south-east Texas. Austin and his colonists considered themselves citizens of Mexico.

Year 1833: General Santa Anna comes to power in Mexico and voids major parts of the constitution of 1824. His goal is to rid the country of non-Mexicans and establish himself as Emperor. This made the Texans mad and they sent Stephen F. Austin to Mexico City to plead the case for the Texans. He is arrested and thrown in jail.

Summer of 1835: Stephen F. Austin is released from prison. During his imprisonment, he comes to realize the Mexican government will never treat the Texans as equal citizens of Mexico and revolution may be inevitable.

October 1835: General Santa Anna sends his brother-in-law, General Cos, along with 1,200 Mexican troops to Texas to disarm the Texans. He sets up headquarters in San Antonio and sends some of his troops to Gonzales to take back a cannon that was given to the Texans to help defend themselves from Indians. The Texans refused to give up the cannon, a fight broke out, the Texans won and they kept the cannon. This is considered the beginning of the Texas Revolution.

December 5th to 9th, 1835: Ben Milam and 200 Texans attack General Cos in San Antonio. They force Cos to surrender and he signs papers giving the Texans everything (property, supplies, etc). It was an unconditional surrender. General Cos and his remaining troops are allowed to retreat back to Mexico. 

Late December 1935: General Santa Anna is mad that General Cos lost San Antonio so he gathers an army of 8,000 men and head north. His plan is to crush the Texans totally. He gives orders to all of his generals that in this war, there will be no prisoners. That meant any Texans that resisted were to be killed, even if they surrendered.

January 17, 1836: General Sam Houston, high commander of the Texas Army, sends Colonel Jim Bowie (famous for the Bowie knife and other things) along with 25 men to San Antonio. His orders are to destroy the fortifications and transport the 24 larger cannons that were taken from General Cos back to the east where the main Texan army was located. After arriving in San Antonio, Bowie realized he did not have enough oxen and mules to transport the large cannons. He decides to keep the cannons in San Antonio and begins to fortify the Alamo against the Mexican army that was heading his way. This would also give Sam Houston more time to build the Texan Army up in size to meet Santa Anna's army.

February 2, 1836: Colonel William Travis and a small company of men arrive at the Alamo. Travis is only 27 years old and considers himself the senior officer in charge. Colonel Bowie doesn't agree and thinks he should be in charge. They compromise by placing the volunteers under Bowie's command and the regular army under Travis's command. The total size of the defenders is now about 130.

February 9, 1836: Davy Crockett and 14 men from the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers arrive at the Alamo. This is one of the reasons why Tennessee is considered the volunteer state. Crockett was already famous throughout the country. Besides his many exploits in the wilderness and the war of 1812 he had been elected twice to the U.S. Congress from the State of Tennessee. He lost his third run for office and in his last speech to his constituents he told them, "they could go to hell, he was going to Texas".

February 23, 1836: General Santa Anna and his army arrive in San Antonio and take charge of the city thereby surrounding the Alamo. He orders a red flag to be flown from a tower signifying that no quarter would be given to the defenders meaning they were all going to be killed even if they surrendered. Santa Anna begins an artillery barrage against the Alamo. The barrage goes on day and night for 12 days. During the barrage, the only reinforcements from the surrounding towns was able to sneak into the Alamo. They are volunteers from the town of Gonzales. The same town which refused to give up the cannon. The total number of defenders is now about 190. 

March 6, 1836 (Dawn): General Santa Anna begins the assault on the Alamo with a bugle call of the Dequello. The few Mexicans who sided with the Texans inside the Alamo tells the Texans that the meaning of the bugle call is to tell the Mexican troops that no one is to survive, no prisoners. After 3 attempts, the walls of the Alamo are breached and the Mexican army pours through killing all defenders. The losses on the Mexican side is 1,544 killed and 500 wounded. Santa Anna orders the Mexican bodies to be buried but the bodies of the Alamo defenders are to be piled up and burned.

April 21, 1836: Under the battle cry of "Remember the Alamo", General Sam Houston and the Texas Army defeats General Santa Anna at San Jacinto. The 18 minute battle is one of the most lop-sided wins in history. Mexicans killed, 630; wounded, 208; captured, 730. Texans killed, 9; wounded, 30. 

Santa Anna is captured and forced to surrender his remaining armies in Texas. 

Texas wins their independence.

I had some more old pictures with me. I knew one was of the Alamo but I didn't recognize the other one and hoped I would see it. I found both locations and stood close to the same spot my parents stood to take their old pictures. 
Before (about 50 years ago)

After (12/19/2014)

Before (about 50 years ago)
A memorial to the defenders of the
Alamo. It is located along the street
in front of the Alamo.

After (12/19/2014)

I bought a new hat from the Alamo gift shop.
I figure I'll need it as I travel out west to
help with the desert sun.

I took this picture to not only show the front of
the Alamo but also to show the sign for the
Crockett Hotel in the upper right corner. 

Nice tree in the courtyard of the Alamo

Another, even larger tree in the courtyard.

It was a good visit. There is no charge to enter the Alamo, but I had to pay $10.00 to park so I guess it evens out. It would have been nice to know the $10.00 was going to help preserve the Alamo, but I'm pretty sure the parking lot was a private company.

I need to be doing some serious planning as to my next move. My time here at Blanco is up next Thursday. I had thought about going to the coast for a couple weeks but am beginning to reconsider and may head west to New Mexico and Arizona. The weather in both places may end up being the deciding factor. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. Nice little history lesson there--well done! If you have a reason to go back to San Antonio I think you might enjoy seeing San Jose Mission. I'm sure you already know that the Alamo was one of five missions established in early half of 1700s in the area. The other 4 are still operating as parish churches. San Jose is also operated by the Park Service and is an excellent representation on missions on the Texas plains. I get a real feeling of peace when I go there--absolutely love it. They have reestablished the grist mill there. San Jose was the only mission to have one. On some days, volunteers actually run the mill and you can watch flour being made. Also, if you like tamales, I have to recommend Mi Casa tamale house. It is located on IH 10, actually in Boerne. My favorite is the chicken jalapeno. Not hot but nicely spicy. I'm so sorry the weather has been so nasty lately. It is unusual for us to have so many dreary days in a row. Yck. Hope you continue to have some fun excursions... Happy trails...

  2. Cat,
    Thanks for the information. I'm not sure if I'll be going back into the big city or not. It was a nice trip with light traffic, but I sure am glad I don't have to drive in that every day. There are two other museums I'm going to check out. One in Kerrville and the other in Fredricksburg. I do like tamales, if they are good. I may stop and find that place in Boerne on my way to or back from Kerrville. Cya