Name: _____________________
The following packet contains a secondary source describing the events of the Alamo, a primary
source from the Mexican perspective of the Alamo, and a primary source from the American
perspective of the Alamo. Read the excerpts and answer the questions that follow in complete
"Remember the Alamo!" 1836
In 1835, a general uprising throughout Mexico sought to overthrow the dictatorial reign of President
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. American citizens who had settled in the Mexican province of Texas
joined the uprising and successfully forced the Mexican military across the Rio Grande River. The
objective of these Texan revolutionaries soon changed from modifying the dictatorial rule of General
Santa Anna to establishing an independent state of Texas.
In response, General Santa Anna led his re-organized army back across the Rio Grande River to
subdue the insurgents. He instructed his troops to immediately execute any foreign fighters they
encountered. Santa Anna marched his force to the Alamo, an abandoned Spanish mission, located in
what is now San Antonio. It had been established in 1724 to convert the local natives to Christianity.
Here, a defending force estimated at between 180 and 260 awaited their arrival. Led by William B.
Travis their number included two legendary figures in American history, Davy Crockett and James
Bowie. The men within the Alamo were under no illusion. They knew that their defense could not
succeed without the quick appearance of reinforcements.
Arriving on February 23, 1836, Santa Anna’s troops surrounded the Alamo, laying siege to its
defenders. The Mexican Army began to bombard the former mission with cannon shot in an effort to
systematically reduce its protective walls to rubble. The assault began in earnest during the early
morning hours of March 6 as Mexican soldiers swarmed the walls of the fortress. The Alamo
defenders successfully repulsed two attacks but were overwhelmed by the third. The combat was
characterized by room-to-room fighting in which all but a handful of the defenders were killed. The
ferocity of their defense is underscored by the fact that it resulted in the death of an estimated 600
"Remember the Alamo!" became a rallying cry that swelled the ranks of the Texian Army led by
General Sam Houston. On April 21, this force attacked the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto,
captured General Santa Anna and forced him to lead his troops back across the Rio Grande. The
independence of Texas was assured.
1. What happened throughout Mexico in 1835?
2. How did the goals of the Texan revolutionaries change by 1836?
3. Who was the leader of Mexico and the Mexican military forces that fought the Texan
4. What city was the Alamo located in?
5. About how many Texans were defending the Alamo? What fate awaited the Texans if they were
captured by the Mexican military forces?
6. What famous Americans fought at the Battle of the Alamo?
7. About how many Mexican soldiers were killed while defeating the Texan forces within the Alamo?
8. At what battle was the Mexican Army defeated in Texas and the independence of Texas was
Primary Source: Mexican Perspective:
The following account is provided by a member of Santa Anna's army that besieged the Alamo. We
join his story on the evening just before the attack:
"On this same evening, a little before nightfall, it is said that Barret Travis, commander of the enemy,
had offered to the general-in-chief, by a woman messenger, to surrender his arms and the fort with all
the materials upon the sole condition that his own life and the lives of his men be spared. But the
answer was that they must surrender at discretion, without any guarantee, even of life, which traitors
did not deserve. It is evident, that after such an answer, they all prepared to sell their lives as dearly as
possible. Consequently, they exercised the greatest vigilance day and night to avoid surprise.
On the morning of March 6, the Mexican troops were stationed at 4 o'clock, A.M., in accord with Santa
Anna's instructions. The artillery, as appears from these same instructions, was to remain inactive, as
it received no order; and furthermore, darkness and the disposition made of the troops which were to
attack the four fronts at the same time, prevented its firing without mowing down our own ranks.
Thus the enemy was not to suffer from our artillery during the attack. Their own artillery was in
readiness. At the sound of the bugle they could no longer doubt that the time had come for them to
conquer or to die. Had they still doubted, the imprudent shouts for Santa Anna given by our columns
of attack must have opened their eyes.
As soon as our troops were in sight, a shower of grape and musket balls was poured upon them from
the fort, the garrison of which at the sound of the bugle, had rushed to arms and to their posts. The
three columns that attacked the west, the north, and the east fronts, fell back, or rather, wavered at the
first discharge from the enemy, but the example and the efforts of the officers soon caused them to
return to the attack. The columns of the western and eastern attacks, meeting with some difficulties in
reaching the tops of the small houses which formed the walls of the fort, did, by a simultaneous
movement to the right and to left, swing northward till the three columns formed one dense mass,
which under the guidance of their officers, endeavored to climb the parapet on that side.
This obstacle was at length overcome, the gallant General Juan V Amador being among the foremost.
Meantime the column attacking the southern front under Colonels Jose Vicente Minon and Jose
Morales, availing themselves of a shelter, formed by some stone houses near the western salient of
that front, boldly took the guns defending it, and penetrated through the embrasures into the square
formed by the barracks. There they assisted General Amador, who having captured the enemy's pieces
turned them against the doors of the interior houses where the rebels had sought shelter, and from
which they fired upon our men in the act of jumping down onto the square or court of the fort. At last
they were all destroyed by grape, musket shot and the bayonet.
Our loss was very heavy. Colonel Francisco Duque was mortally wounded at the very beginning, as he
lay dying on the ground where he was being trampled by his own men, he still ordered them on to the
slaughter. This attack was extremely injudicious and in opposition to military rules, for our own men
were exposed not only to the fire of the enemy but also to that of our own columns attacking the other
fronts; and our soldiers being formed in close columns, all shots that were aimed too low, struck the
backs of our foremost men. The greatest number of our casualties took place in that manner; it may
even be affirmed that not one fourth of our wounded were struck by the enemy's fire, because their
cannon, owing to their elevated position, could not be sufficiently lowered to injure our troops after
they had reached the foot of the walls. Nor could the defenders use their muskets with accuracy,
because the wall having no inner banquette, they had, in order to deliver their fire, to stand on top
where they could not live one second.
The official list of casualties, made by General Juan de Andrade, shows: officers 8 killed, 18 wounded;
enlisted men 52 killed, 233 wounded. Total 311 killed and wounded. A great many of the wounded
died for want of medical attention, beds, shelter, and surgical instruments.
The whole garrison were [sic] killed except an old woman and a negro slave for whom the soldiers felt
compassion, knowing that they had remained from compulsion alone. There were 150 volunteers, 32
citizens of Gonzales who had introduced themselves into the fort the night previous to the storming,
and about 20 citizens or merchants of Bexar."
9. What was the commander of the Alamo, Barret Travis, ready to do if the Mexican Army spared the
lives of the Texan soldiers within the Alamo?
10. At about what time on March 6, 1836 did the final attack happen on the Alamo?
11. What problems did the Mexican Army overcome in capturing the Alamo on March 6, 1836?
12. According to this primary source who were the only people spared by the Mexican Army once they
entered the Alamo?
William Barret Travis and the Alamo Primary Source
To The People of Texas and
All Americans In The World
February 24, 1836
Fellow citizens & compatriots -I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna -- I have sustained a continual
Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at
discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the
demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or
retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character,
to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to
three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long
as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country --
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.
P.S. The Lord is on our side -- When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn -- We have
since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves --
13. To whom is William Barret Travis writing his letter to?
14. How big is the Mexican Army outside of the Alamo according to William Barret Travis?
15. Who is the leader of the Mexican Army?
16. What do you think “Put to the sword” means?
17. What are the two promises William Barret Travis states in this letter?
18. What is William Barret Travis trying to persuade people to do?
19. What does William Barret Travis believe will happen to himself and his fellow soldiers in the
Alamo if they do not receive help?
20. What does William Barret Travis believe that all soldiers fight for?