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How did the Battles of The Alamo and San Jacinto impact the fight for Texas independence?

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cleve12320010... | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:21 PM via web

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How did the Battles of The Alamo and San Jacinto impact the fight for Texas independence?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 13, 2012 at 12:10 AM (Answer #1)

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The Battles of The Alamo and San Jacinto were the two most famous altercations during the Texas war for independence from Mexico in 1836.

THE ALAMO.  The siege (February 23-March 6) and subsequent battle at the little mission near San Antonio de Bexar has become one of the most legendary events in American history. A small force of fewer than 260 Texans (or Texicans or Texians) stood their ground against a Mexican army approximately 10 times their size. Unable to reinforce their numbers substantially, the defenders of the Alamo decided to remain in the face of the approaching Mexican army led by President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in order to give Texan commander, Sam Houston, more time to assemble an army to stop the Mexican advance. Inside the Alamo were two of the most legendary characters of the American West: Colonel Jim Bowie, the highest-ranking officer and inventor of the Bowie Knife; and Davy Crockett, the famed Tennessee congressman, Indian hunter and adventurer. The garrison's commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Travis, would later join the names of Bowie and Crockett among the most revered in Texas history.

Following a 13-day siege in which there were few casualties, the Mexicans sounded the "deguello" and raised a red flag, signifying that "no quarter" would be given the men inside the Alamo. At 5:30 a.m. on March 6, the Mexicans stealthily attacked, surprising the sleeping Texans. The Texans repulsed the first two waves of attackers, who attempted to raise ladders in order to scale the mission walls. The Mexicans fiinally broke through and systematically killed each combatant inside. Travis died early, shot in the head defending the mission wall. Bowie, who had been sick, died in his bed with a brace of pistols and his trusty knife at his side. Crockett was one of the last to die, and his body was surrounded by "no less than sixteen Mexican corpses." 

Although the Mexicans had captured several prisoners, Santa Anna ordered them executed; it is believed that only one combatant escaped. Santa Anna released the women and slaves within the Alamo, and they spread news of the heroic stand and massacre to the rest of Texas. In all, nearly 600 Mexicans had been killed by the 250+ men inside the Alamo--one of the bloodiest results of any battle on North American soil.

SAN JACINTO.  The culmination of the War for Texas Independence, the Battle of San Jacinto became one of the most lopsided victories in military history. The defenders of The Alamo had bought valuable time for General Sam Houston, who managed to assemble about 900 men to face Santa Anna's army. Houston decided not to wait for Santa Anna's attack and took the daring initiative of assaulting the larger Mexican army over open ground. Houston burnt the only bridge that could have given his men a way of retreat, and during the late afternoon of April 21, he attacked. With many of the men shouting "Remember the Alamo," the assault caught the Mexican army, who was enjoying its afternoon siesta, completely by surprise. Virtually every single Mexican was either killed, wounded or captured. Suffering only 39 total casualties, Houston's army killed 630 men, capturing or wounding the remainder of the 1300 man force. Santa Anna was captured the next day, identified by his silk underwear, and Houston spared his life--instead forcing the Mexican president into signing a peace treaty.

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