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THE ALAMO

The True Story
It has long been recognized as the most celebrated military engagement in Texas history. Some historians have called the Alamo the "cradle of Texas liberty,” but its origins were that of a Franciscan mission of San Antonio de Valero. The mission was founded on May 1, 1718 by Gov. Martin de Alarcon in San Antonio (then the northern-most area of the Spanish territory known as Mexico) to help Spain Christianize the native population.

The mission fell into disrepair and ruin in the latter part of the century, and was secularized in 1793. In 1801, a Spanish cavalry unit known as Alamo de Parras occupied the buildings (which consisted of a series of conventual structures, a large, roofless church and semi-fortified walls that enveloped the mission) and converted the edifice into a fort and military barracks in defense against the French from the Louisiana territory and gave the building its new name. Mexican troops subsequently settled into the fort around 1821, when Mexico seceded from Spain.

From the late 1600s, Spanish colonial authorities had made attempts to settle the area known as the province of Tejas, a name coined by a tribe of Caddoan Indians from the word teychas, meaning ‘friends'. As the Spanish administration waned, they offered land grants to encourage people to settle the environs now known as Texas.

In 1821, Gen. Augustin de Iturbide led Mexico in its war of independence from Spain – and crowned himself Emperor the next year, and was ousted in 1823 by a liberal Mexican faction whose participants included a ruthless politician and soldier, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Perez de Lebron. The secession included the vast land holdings which encompassed the northernmost state of Coahuila-y-Tejas.

In an effort to promote economic growth and civilize this frontier territory, Mexico formed a constitutional government in 1824 and granted land and tax advantages to Anglos, encouraging their move to the state. The only proviso: become Mexican citizens and Roman Catholics. Many came and accepted those terms. And, while Santa Anna boosted his influence (he was elected President in 1833), it became evident that his true goal was to become dictator. He closed the borders, sent occupational troops into the state, and dismantled the Mexican Congress of 1824, which had been patterned after that in Washington, D.C.

In an effort to enforce their rights as subjects of Mexico to form their own republic, the citizens of Coahuila-y-Tejas – Anglo and Tejano – began to organize a provisional government.

Sensing turmoil, discontent and a potential violent uprising (initiated by a deadly skirmish in the town of Gonzales between the Mexican army and local settlers), the citizens prepared for war. The first command – attack Gen. Martin Perfect de Cos (Santa Anna's brother-in-law) and his troops and oust them from Bexar and the Alamo, which Cos had fortified with the addition of some cannon emplacements. Cos ultimately surrendered in December, 1835, at the Battle of Bexar, and the Texians secured the town and the fort. After Santa Anna learned that Texian forces had defeated the Mexican troops at San Antonio, he personally commanded an army against the rebels, marching 360 miles through ravaging winter weather in just thirty days.

Gen. Sam Houston (commander-in-chief of the Texian army), although admiring the victory staged by the Texian settlers at Bexar and the Alamo, had no intention of sacrificing more troops to the savage Santa Anna. Houston, knowing that the dictator was planning an invasion of Texas, questioned the wisdom of maintaining the garrison at the Alamo, and informed his officers to abandon the mission, feeling it was impossible to defend against such formidable forces. Lt. Col. James C. Neill, part of the effort to rid Bexar of Gen. Co

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