What Was the Significance of the Battle of the Alamo?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 14, 2020 8:07:44 PM ET
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The battle of the Alamo is a long-recognized symbol of bravery in the face of unbeatable odds. Although the battle itself lasted only 90 minutes, it was the culmination of a 13-day siege by General Antonio López de Santa Anna's troops against the outnumbered inhabitants of the fort. It is the site where some of America's most revered legends, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, died.

The Battle of the Alamo is the most famous battle in Texas' fight for independence. Located in the capital city of San Antonio, the fort was viewed by many as key to defeating the Mexican Army, and the defenders chose to stay and fight despite certain death. At the time of the siege, the commander of the fort, Colonel David Crockett, was seriously ill. Thus, the task of leading the troops fell to Lt. Colonel William Travis, who sent for reinforcements when he became aware of Santa Anna's men circling the fort on February 23, 1836. On the eighth day of the siege, 32 men from Gonzalez, Texas, came to the Alamo's aid, bringing the total number of troops in the garrison to 200. Shortly thereafter, on March 10, Santa Anna's army received 1,100 reinforcements, and he began to plan his final assault. According to legend, on March 10, Travis gathered his men for the last time. He drew a line in the sand and asked any man who wanted to leave the fort to cross it. Only one man, Moses Rose, left. The next day Santa Anna's men invaded the fort, killing all of the remaining troops.

Now a national monument, the Alamo is revered as a symbol of American freedom and bravery under fire. These qualities are memorialized in Travis' final letter appealing for help from neighboring Texans, in which he says, "I am determined to perish in the defense of this place, and may my bones reproach my country for her neglect.” Travis died before learning that Texas declared its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, the ninth day of Santa Anna's siege.