Friday, November 11, 2011

Passport to Texas History: The Alamo

This is what we recognize as The Alamo
We’ve been to the Alamo several times in recent years, so on this trip we cheated: we entered, got our Passports stamped and skipped the tour. We do not usually travel on weekends, so we aren’t used to weekend crowds, and the Alamo was crowded! Having recently toured the site and being aware of its history, we opted to avoid the crowds today. So the photos in this post are from past visits.
This informational sign shows what the building actually looked like at the time of the battle. The facade had never been completed.

The first time we visited the Alamo, we were in for a surprise. First, the iconic shape of the Alamo? the recognizable arched shape that has come represent the Alamo? We found out that it was added later, to help it be more interesting as a tourist attraction. Second, that same building – the iconically shaped one? It was not the main site of the battle, instead it is where the survivors were found. The main part of the battle itself was fought where a busy street now exists, and a few hotels and shops are built on top of it too.
These two photos are taken from the approximate position of the original front wall. This would be the location that the soldiers held during the battle of the Alamo. The 'Alamo' that we think of (seen clearly above) would not have been visible to the attacking soldiers.

But the story of the Alamo is obviously a vital part of the Texas Revolution. Most people are familiar with the cry, “Remember the Alamo”, whereas non-Texans may not be as familiar with the other historical sites related to the Texas Revolution.  In December 1835, Texians captured the Alamo, forcing the Mexican troops occupying the fort to surrender. But in February, 1836 they were attacked by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana and history was made.
I know, it may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but we were disappointed the first time we toured the Alamo at the touristy nature of this historical site. The second time we came, we researched the battle before arriving and came armed with copies of old maps from textbooks. That visit was a lot more interesting!

The Alamo was the beginning of the end of the Revolution. Approximately 189 Texians (including 32 men from Gonzales that came as reinforcements) held off more than 1500 of Santa Ana’s soldiers for 13 days. All 189 soldiers died in the conflict, but those 13 days ignited a fire in the Texians and gave them time to gather, correct some blunders, and eventually win the Revolution. There were about 30 survivors of The Battle of the Alamo, but most if not all were non-combatants – mostly women and children.  

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