How It's Built: The Alamo
What do you think of when you hear the words "The American Frontier"? Well, certainly some of these images would come to mind: cowboys riding horses, bandits in standoffs, tumbleweed blowing in the wind, and the metal spurs on the boots of brave Frontiersmen. However, the "Wild West", as some would refer to it, is much more than what Hollywood movies make it out to be. The Frontier's rich and thrilling history is just as exciting as it is valuable. Don't believe it? Then take a look at this equally monumental and interesting story that exemplifies the American Frontier; the history, construction, and battle of what is known as "The Alamo".
The Alamo, which is now a historical site for both locals and tourists to visit, was a Catholic mission-turned-Military Fortress that became a significant symbol of American patriotism and Texan pride. The interesting pre-history of the Alamo, the site's complicated construction, and the raging battles that took place there are all a testament to the thrilling experience of the wild American Frontier.
Building The Alamo
As mentioned above, the land where the Alamo is located was first established as a Catholic community called "Mission San Antonio de Valero" by Spanish missionaries in 1718. The Alamo is in the modern-day city of San Antonio, Texas, which is on the Southern Gulf Coast of the State. The actual construction of the Alamo, which was led by the Franciscan Fray Antonio de Olivares, originally began as a chapel complex. It is widely considered that the Alamo was built in 1744, seeing that this is when the community of missionaries first began construction of the famous chapel itself, along with some other small buildings in its 4-acre area.
The construction of the chapel took a lot longer to complete than expected as it had many setbacks due to poor construction and a collapse caused by harsh weather. The walls were constructed using limestone blocks and most likely had flagstone as the floor. The architecture of the building was modeled after the usual Cruciform shape of catholic buildings, in that it is literally shaped like a cross. It was also planned to have two tall bell towers on either side of the building, as well as a dome for the roof, but those never ended up being built.
The entirety of the complex was never technically completed during the mission's relatively short-lived time there. The Alamo was eventually converted into a walled-in military fortress that changed owners plenty of times due to the different wars and battles that centered around it. The complex was fortified using a large wooden palisade, as well as parapet walls that allowed different military troops to use cannons for defense.
Battles and Patriotism
In December 1835, after being converted into a fortress by driving out Mexican troops, the Alamo was occupied by Texan soldiers who were taking part in the Texas Revolution; a movement that saw the people of Texas trying to become an independent state from Mexico, the country that owned the land at this time. Soon after Texan troops gained control of the Alamo, Mexican President Santa Anna sent out an army of Mexican soldiers to reclaim the fortress from the Texans. The Mexican army consisted of anywhere between 1,800 to 6,000 soldiers, whereas the outnumbered Texan army only had around 200 soldiers occupying the Alamo's walls. Despite being outnumbered, the Texans were determined to stand their ground.
The siege of the Alamo began in February 1836 and lasted for 13 days. During this siege, despite being outnumbered, the Texan troops faired well against their attackers and even managed to cause significant damage to the Mexican army. However, the Mexican army eventually overwhelmed the Texans with their greater numbers and won the battle of the Alamo.
All that said, although the Texans had lost that battle, they did win the war. Before their defeat at the Alamo, Texan commander Colonel William B. Travis wrote and sent a letter to all Texans reporting the bravery of the soldiers that fought and died for their independence. This letter inspired the Texan people so much so that, soon after their defeat, another Texan army, led by General Sam Houston, stormed the Alamo and took it back. This Texan victory eventually led to the surrender of President Santa Anna and the liberation of the State of Texas. The battle cry that inspired the Texan soldiers will always be remembered as a symbol of American patriotism and Texan pride; "Remember the Alamo!"
Visiting the Alamo
Although the entirety of the Alamo fortress that once stood is no longer there, the chapel of the Alamo and other cool sites are still upright to this day. The Alamo can be visited by locals and tourists alike, but you may need to reserve a ticket to get in. The best way to get some information about visiting the Alamo and seeing this epic and historic site is through the landmark's official website.