Robert Horvat’s blog always has something interesting! This time he turns his sights on American history, and an iconic structure deeply embedded in American identity: the Alamo. This curious building has endured quite a lot of history, and it’s worth looking at it for more than just the classic heroic tale of the 1836 battle that occurred there. Great stuff from Robert, and I especially like the photos comparing the fort’s past and its present.


The site of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio helped give birth to Texas. Originally it was known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero and served as a Franciscan mission and fortress compound. It was used primarily for the education of newly converted Native American Christians for some 70 years until 1793. Thereafter, the Spanish government secularised all the missions located in San Antonio including the Mission San Antonio de Valero. Spanish soldiers in the early 1800’s would later occupy the former mission, converting into a new fort called “El Alamo” after the Spanish word for cottonwood. Decades later, after Mexico’s successful war of independence, it would still continue to serve as a military outpost (and briefly as a hospital) for its new masters the Mexican army. In 1835, the Alamo changed hands again, serving as a makeshift fort for Texan revolutionaries, who had successfully ousted the Mexican forces located in San Antonio.

As part of arguably the most pivotal moment in the Texas Revolution, Mexican General Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande River to restore order and quell the rebels that had taken over the former Franciscan mission in the Mexican province of Texas. On the 23rd February, 1836, a bombardment began in an attempt to reduce Fort Alamo’s walls to rubble. By the March 6th, 1836, the impatient Santa Anna ordered a direct assault on the fort and broke through a breach in the outer wall of the courtyard in the early hours of the morning. After a fierce hand-to-hand fight, all but a handful of the Alamo’s defenders were killed.

For a little over a month following the battle, a Mexican garrison reoccupied the Alamo, but abandoned it after news broke of the defeat of General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. During their retreat they apparently knocked over several more walls and set fire to the Alamo complex.

Several drawings and paintings have shed some light on what the Alamo Mission looked like following the Battle of the Alamo…

Full Article: Past and Present: The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas.