War and Conflict

Texas War of Independence

What does “Remember the Alamo” mean?

The saying was a rallying cry for Texans in their war for independence from Mexico. The movement for independence had begun in the winter of 1835–36 when the people of Texas decided to cut off relations with Mexico, and soon turned into a war when the Mexican government sent a force of some 4,000 troops, under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1794–1876), to squelch the rebellion. As the Mexican army approached, the force of about 150 men who were determined to defend the city of San Antonio retreated to the Alamo, a Spanish mission built in the previous century. There they were joined by another 50 men but were still no match for the Mexicans, who kept the Alamo under siege for 13 days—from February 23 to March 6, 1836. The Texans, low on ammunition, ceased to return fire. On the morning of March 6, Santa Anna’s troops seized the Alamo. The fierce frontiersmen, Davy Crockett (1786–1836) among them, are believed to have fought using the butts of their rifles. All the Texans who fought that day at the Alamo died.

Meantime, General Sam Houston (1793–1863) had assembled his forces, and with the rallying cry “remember the Alamo” (and their fellow Texans who had bravely fought and died there), he set out to face the Mexican army and secure independence. This he did, at San Jacinto, Texas, on April 21, 1836, in a quick and decisive battle that had caught Santa Anna’s troops by surprise. The following day the Mexican general was captured and made to sign a treaty giving Texas independence.


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