On this day in 1836, after 13 days of intermittent fighting, the Battle of the Alamo comes to a gruesome end, capping off a pivotal moment in the Texas Revolution. Mexican forces were victorious in recapturing the fort, and nearly all of the roughly 200 Texan defenders—including legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett—died.
Thirteen days earlier, on February 23, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered a siege of the Alamo Mission (near present-day San Antonio), which had been occupied by rebel Texas forces since December. An army of over 1,000 Mexican soldiers began descending on the makeshift fort and setting up artillery.
Over the next two weeks, the two armies traded gunfire, but there were few casualties. Despite being clearly outnumbered, Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William Travis insisted on remaining in place. The volunteer soldiers defending the Alamo included doctors and farmers, as well as Tennessee frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett, who fought in the Tennessee militia.
The final attack came before dawn on March 6. Mexican troops breached the north wall and flooded into the compound, awakening many of the Texans inside. The fighting lasted 90 minutes, some of it hand-to-hand combat. Bowie and Travis were killed, as was Crockett, although reports differ as to exactly how and when. Several Texans reportedly surrendered, but Santa Anna ordered all prisoners be executed. Only a handful survived, mostly women and children. Historians estimate several hundred Mexicans died.
After the battle, the Mexican army marched east. Meanwhile, commander of the Texas forces, Sam Houston had been building and developing his army in Harris County. “Remember the Alamo!” became their rallying cry as an urgent reminder to avenge their earlier defeat. On April 21, Texas and Mexico fought again at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas was victorious this time, and won independence from Mexico, bringing the Texas Revolution to an end.
The defense of the Alamo remains a symbol of resistance to oppression and revolutionary spirit. The battle has been immortalized in several TV series and films, including 1960’s The Alamo, starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett.