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Sketch of the Alamo from Confederate Veterans Magazine

Sketch of the Alamo

The story of the Alamo is the most awful on record, concerning the sacrifice of American soldiers. On the morning of March 6th, 1836, Santa Anna overpowered the garrison and put to death the occupants. It is briefly as follows:

"During this time Santa Anna had been extending his conquests all over Mexico, until Texas alone held out against his power, and in favor of a Republic. Texas he now determined to conquer, and at the head of his victorious army, he rapidly marched to San Antonio. A detachment of his troops reached the heights of the Alamo overlooking the city on February 22d, 1836, when Colonel W. B. Travis, with one hundred and forty-five effective men, retired to the Alamo.

Santa Anna's army arrived February 22d, and he appeared next day bearing the red flag, which he displayed from the tower of the Cathedral in plain sight of the Alamo. He then sent a summons to the Texans to surrender, but was answered by a cannon shot. Colonel Travis secured eighty bushels of corn and twenty or thirty beeves that day.

The second day was of a harmless bombardment Colonel Travis sent out couriers for reinforcements, saying, " I shall never surrender or retreat.''

On the third day Santa Anna moved his headquarters across the river, and made a personal reconnaissance. The Texans killed two of his party and wounded six others.

On the fourth day the Mexicans made an unsuccessful attempt to divert the water from the ditches which supplied the Alamo. That night the Texans burned some wooden bridges north of the garrison.

On the fifth, sixth, and seventh days the bombardment was continued without effect.

Eighth day—Thirty-two citizen soldiers from Gonzales reinforced them.

For eleven days the Mexicans continued the bombardment, but. the Texans, being short of ammunition, seldom fired. When Colonel Travis, in despair, proposed to surrender to Santa Anna, pleading only for the pledge of mercy, his answer was: "You must surrender at discretion, without any guarantee, even of life, which traitors do not deserve." Santa Anna's excuse for this course was that it accorded with the will of the Mexican Congress.

Colonel Travis then announced to his companions their desperate situation, and, after declaring his determination to sell his life as dearly as possible, drew a line with his sword, and asked all who would do likewise to form on the line. With one exception they all fell into ranks, even Colonel Bowie, who was dying, had his cot carried to the line. The man who declined made his escape to the Mexicans.

Sunday morning the Mexican bugles sounded the fatal peal. With a rush like tigers the enemy dashed forward, but the heroic Texans, roused to their last duty, did so well that twice the brutal hosts of Santa Anna were hurled back defeated, only to be again forced forward by the sabres of the Mexican cavalry. This time Santa Anna himself urged forward his troops. General Castil lion's division, after half an hour's desperate righting, and after repeated repulses and unheard of losses, effected an entrance in the upper part of the Alamo, in a sort of outwork, but the fighting had only begun. The doors and windows of the Alamo church were barricaded and guarded by bags of sand heaped up as high as a man's shoulders, and even on the roof were rows of sandbags, behind which the Texans fought as never man fought before—muzzle to muzzle, hand to hand. Each Texan rifle shot exhausted its force in successive bodies of Mexicans packed together like a wall of flesh. Muskets and rifles were clubbed, and bayonets and bowie knives never before wrought such fearful carnage.

The picture was indescribable in its sublime terrors. Each room in the building was the scene of a desperate struggle, the men driven to desperation, conscious that escape was impossible. They fought even when stricken down, and when dying still struggled to slay Mexicans. Colonel Bowie, whose name tells of his fearful knife and deeds, lay stark and stiff on a cot. One account of the death of Colonel Travis is that he was shot in the head with a rifle ball, just as he impaled on his sword a Mexican officer, who was attempting to mutilate him.

Generals Cos and Castillion united in asking Santa Anna to spare Travis' life, but the brutal Santa Anna was terribly enraged at the disobeying of his orders saying: "I want no prisoners." and turning to a file of soldiers, ordered them to shoot the heroes. Colonel Travis was first shot. He folded his arms stiffly across his breast, and stood erect until a bullet pierced his neck, when he fell headlong among the dead. David Crockett fell at the first fire, his body completely riddled with bullets. And soon all were killed.

S. A. Cunningham, Confederate Veterans, Volume 3, No. 1 (Nashville, Tenn.: January, 1895), 10-11.

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