Home>>Collection>>Reading Program>>The American West>>The Battle of the Alamo



The Battle of the Alamo (Cornerstones of Freedom)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. In what city is the Alamo located?

San Antonio. The Alamo is a Spanish mission located in San Antonio, Texas. In 1836, Texas was a part of Mexico, and the American settlers of Texas were fighting for Texas' independence. The battle of the Alamo was fought on March 6, 1836, between the Mexican army and the American settlers living in Texas.

The American settlers were led by William Travis, and the Mexican army was led by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. For almost two weeks, the Mexican army consisting of thousands of troops surrounded the 184 American settlers who defended the Alamo.

Top of Page

2. True or False: The original name of the Alamo is San Antonio de Valero.
True. Between 1716 and 1718, Franciscan friars founded a mission called San Antonio de Valero. The purpose of the mission was to bring Christianity to American Indians. Did you know a Franciscan friar is a friar associated with St. Francis of Assisi? In 1793, the mission was abandoned.

In the early 1800's, Spanish troops occupied the mission and renamed it the Alamo. Did you know the name Alamo came from the cottonwood trees growing in the area? The Spanish used the Alamo and other missions to maintain Spain's claim to land in North America. When the American colonies gained their independence in 1783, Spain thought the United States may try to expand its western borders.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. The deal was called the Louisiana Purchase. The territory which became part of the United States stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.

There was no boundaries dividing Texas and the Louisiana Territory just north of Texas. This posed a problem. The United States claimed Texas as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and Spain claimed Texas as its territory. This area remained in dispute.

Top of Page

3. What year did Mexico win its independence from Spain?
1821. From 1810 to 1821, Mexico fought Spain for its independence. Only three towns emerged from the Spanish colonial era. They were San Antonio de Béxar (later called San Antonio), La Bahia del Espiritu Santo (Goliad), and Nacogdoches.

In the eastern part of Texas, American settlers contracted with Spain and then Mexico to settle a colony. They were led by Stephen F. Austin. Other settlers came to Texas and squatted (or settled) on public land they did not own.

In 1824, Mexico's constitution made Texas a part of the state of Coahuila y Texas. This state provided people good land at affordable prices. Americans were welcomed as long as they became Mexican citizens. By 1834, about nine thousand people lived in Texas.

Conflicts began to arise between the newly arrived Americans and the Mexican government. The Americans spoke a different language, came from a different culture, and belonged to different religions than the Mexicans.

In 1833, General Santa Anna was installed as Mexico's president, and he began ruling as a dictator. He restricted the immigration by Americans and had the military occupy Texas.

Top of Page

4. What year did the Texas War for Independence begin?
In the summer of 1835, disputes flared between the American settlers and the Mexican government. American settler William Travis and twenty-five men drove a Mexican garrison out of Anahuac.

In September, 1835, Mexico ordered the town of Gonzales to surrender a small cannon used to defend the city. The townspeople refused, and they buried the cannon in a peach orchard. When Mexican soldiers tried to take the cannon, they were imprisoned. The Mexican cavalry with a force of 100 men approached Gonzales and were met by 160 Texas volunteers. The Texas volunteers forced the Mexican cavalry back to San Antonio which was located 50 miles to the west of Gonzales. This was the beginning of Texas War for Independence.

Did you know the Texans marched at Gonzales under a flag with a cannon and the motto "Come and Take It?"

A week later, the Texans captured a Mexican fortress at Goliad. Goliad was located 85 miles southeast of San Antonio. This fortress was unmanned, but well stocked. The Texans recovered hundreds of muskets, rifles, bayonets, and cannonballs.

In November, 1835, a group of Texans met in San Felipe, Texas, to discuss Texas' independence. They decided to publish a Declaration of Causes guaranteeing their right to live on Mexican soil. They also named General Sam Houston the commander-in-chief of the Texas army. Did you know Houston was a veteran soldier and associate of U.S. President Andrew Jackson?

On March 2, 1836, the Texas convention signed a Declaration of Independence from Mexican rule. This was four days before the battle of the Alamo, and the defenders of the Alamo never knew it had been signed.

Top of Page

5. What happened on March 6, 1836?
The battle of the Alamo.

The previous year, on December 5, 1835, the Texas forces were laying siege to the Mexican army in San Antonio. Three days later, the Mexican army withdrew into the confines of the Alamo mission. After two days, the Mexican soldiers surrendered and were allowed to return to Mexico.

Winter was approaching, and many of the Texas volunteers returned home. Fewer than 100 Texans remained in San Antonio. On January 17, 1836, General Houston sent Jim Bowie and twenty-five men to San Antonio to determine if the Alamo could continue to be defended.

Bowie decided to defend the Alamo, writing he had "come to the solemn resolution that we will rather die in these ditches than give [the Alamo] up to the enemy."

On February 2, 1836, William Travis and thirty men arrived at the Alamo. Bowie and Travis shared the command of the 140 men. They were unable to attain additional supplies, munitions, men, and money from the governor of Texas. Then Bowie fell ill, and Travis took over full command.

On February 9, 1836, Davy Crockett and fourteen volunteers from Tennessee arrived at the Alamo to provide assistance. Crockett was a legend, and his arrival boosted morale.

On February 23, 1836, General Santa Anna and 5,000 Mexican troops arrived in San Antonio. Two days later, the Mexican army attacked, and then fell back.

On March 1, 1836, thirty-two volunteers from Gonzales joined the Texans fight to defend the Alamo. This addition increased the number of defenders to 184.

On March 5, 1836, the Mexican cannons were within 200 yards of the Alamo. As these cannons bombarded the Alamo, the Texas defenders were running low on ammunition.

The next morning, March 6, the Mexican infantry, artillery, and cavalry prepared for battle. On the third charge, the Mexican troops reached the walls of the Alamo. All of the defenders of the Alamo were killed, and approximately 1,500 Mexican soldiers were killed. The Alamo belonged to Mexico.

Top of Page

6. What happened at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836?
Sam Houston's army defeated Santa Anna's army and won the Texas War for Independence.

After the Alamo, General Santa Anna continued to overrun Texan forces. On April 21, 1836, just six weeks after the Alamo, Sam Houston's army met Santa Anna's army at the Battle of San Jacinto. By this time, Houston's men had heard about the Alamo and shouted, "Remember the Alamo!" Houston's army defeated the Mexican army, captured Santa Anna, and won independence for Texas.

In 1836, Texas became an independent country and was called the Republic of Texas.

Top of Page

What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Artillery: Mounted guns, such as cannons

Garrison: Body of troops stationed in a fortified place

Louisiana Purchase: Territory purchased from France by the United States in 1803, extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada

Munitions: Materials used in war, such as weapons and ammunition

Reinforcements: Additional troops

Veteran: A person who has done long service in an occupation or activity

Top of Page

Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. What year did Texas become a state?
1845. From 1836 to 1845, Texas was an independent country called the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas joined the United States. Did you know Texas was the twenty-eighth state in the Union?

Top of Page

b. Describe ONE of the following people:
William B. Travis: He was a colonel for the American settlers at the battle of the Alamo, and he shared command with James Bowie. Travis had moved to Texas in 1831.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: He was the Mexican president and the leader of the Mexican army during the battle of the Alamo.

Davy Crockett: He was a colonel for the American settlers at the battle of the Alamo. Previously, he had been a frontiersman and U.S. Congressman.

James Bowie: He was a colonel for the American settlers at the battle of the Alamo, and he shared command with William Travis. During the battle, Bowie was ill and confined to a cot. Bowie was also an adventurer and duelist. He used a foot-long knife with a curved blade and a handle guard. Did you know this knife is called a Bowie knife?

René-Robert Sieur de La Salle: He was a French explorer who traveled up and down the Mississippi River in the late 1600's.

Stephen F. Austin: He was an American who settled a colony in Texas. He was imprisoned for two years when he traveled to Mexico City to negotiate with Santa Anna regarding Santa Anna's policies towards Texas. He was released two years later, and he believed only war would resolve the differences between the American settlers and Santa Anna.

Sam Houston: He was a veteran soldier who was named commander-in-chief of the Texas army. Did you know Houston was an associate of U.S. President Andrew Jackson?

Top of Page

c. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
I saw civil war artillery when I visited Gettysburg last summer.

The garrison at the Alamo tried to protect the mission.

The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States.

The Texans at the Battle of the Alamo ran out of munitions.

William Travis did not receive reinforcements at the Alamo.

My great-grandpa is a veteran and fought in World War II.

Top of Page

d. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

Top of Page

More Valuable Information about the Alamo:
The Alamo
San Antonio Missions National Historic Park (NPS)
Seige and Battle of the Alamo (Lone Star Junction)
Battle of San Jacinto (Lone Star Junction)
Texas Declaration of Independence (Lone Star Junction)
Sam Houston (Lone Star Junction)
Stephen F. Austin (Lone Star Junction)
James Bowie (Lone Star Junction)
William Barret Travis (Lone Star Junction)

Top of Page




Happy Learning!

Send Your Questions or Comments to info@imahero.com




Home | Collection | Who's Your Hero? | About Us | Privacy | Site Map | Online Store

©1999-2003 StarRise Creations. All rights reserved. The IMA Hero logo
and the IMA Hero bears are trademarks of StarRise Creations.