The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic
mission and fortress compound
and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. It is
now a museum in the Alamo Plaza District of Downtown San Antonio, Texas.
The compound, which originally comprised a sanctuary and surrounding buildings, was built by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century for the education of local Native Americans after their conversion to Christianity. In 1793, the mission was secularized and soon abandoned. Ten years later, it became a fortress housing the Mexican Army group the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, who likely gave the mission the name "Alamo."
Mexican soldiers held the mission until December 1835, when General Martin Perfecto de Cos surrendered it to the Texian Army following the siege of Bexar. A relatively small number of Texian soldiers then occupied the compound. Texian General Sam Houston believed the Texians did not have the manpower to hold the fort and ordered Colonel James Bowie to destroy it. Bowie chose to disregard those orders and instead worked with Colonel James C. Neill to fortify the mission.
On February 23, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna led a large force of Mexican soldiers into San Antonio de Bexar and promptly initiated a siege. The siege ended on March 6, when the Mexican army attacked the Alamo; by the end of the Battle of the Alamo all or almost all of the defenders were killed. When the Mexican army retreated from Texas at the end of the Texas Revolution, they tore down many of the Alamo walls and burned some of the buildings.
For the next five years, the Alamo was periodically used to garrison soldiers, both Texian and Mexican, but was ultimately abandoned. In 1849, several years after Texas was annexed to the United States, the US Army began renting the facility for use as a quartermaster's depot. The US Army abandoned the mission in 1876 after nearby Fort Sam Houston was established. The Alamo chapel was sold to the state of Texas, which conducted occasional tours but made no effort to restore it. The remaining buildings were sold to a mercantile company which operated them as a wholesale grocery store.
After forming in 1892, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) began trying to preserve the Alamo. In 1905, Adina Emilia de Zavala and Clara Driscoll successfully convinced the legislature to purchase the buildings and to name the DRT permanent custodians of the site. For the next six years, de Zavala and Driscoll quarrelled over how to best restore the mission, culminating in a court case to decide which of their competing DRT chapters controlled the Alamo. As a result of the feud, Texas governor Oscar B. Colquitt briefly took the complex under state control and began restorations in 1912; the site was given back to the DRT later that year. The legislature took steps in 1988 and again in 1994 to transfer control of the Alamo to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department but the attempt failed after then-governor George W. Bush vowed to veto any bill removing the DRT's authority.
I remember the first time I saw the Alamo. I was on a day-pass during basic training. I was somewhat taken back by the size of the building and its surroundings. You see, I had become very familiar with the Alamo because I had seen it in all of its glory on Walt Disney's Davy Crockett starring Fess Parker. From what I remembered from the show, it was a large building out in the middle of now where. Now I am seeing a small building being engulfed by buildings all around it.
Well, I have been back to the Alamo a number of times and I find something special each time I go back.
We were not able to take pictures inside the Alamo because it has been designated as a shrine.
If you plan to visit the Alamo, please take time to see the short video being shown at the Clara Driscoll Theater in the Long Barrack Museum. The video does an excellent job explaining what started the conflict that led to the Texian army initially capturing the mission from the Mexican army which then led to what we now as "The Battle of the Alamo." The Alamo became the "Shrine of Texas Liberty."