The Alamo

Green Grow the Rushes O

The end was near for the Alamo and its defenders, many of them Scots decent. The attackers could hear them rowdily sing Green Grow the Rasher O, a version written by Robert Burns

The Alamo at night
The Alamo
Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O,

There's nought but care on ev'ry han',
In every hour that passes, O
What signifies the life o' man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, O.


Green grow the rashes, O
Green grow the rashes, O
The sweetest hours that e'er I spend,
Are spent among the lasses, O,

The Mexicans hearing this crescendo of defiance called them Gringos.

The Alamo originally named the Mission San Antonio de Velero had for some seventy years been the home of catholic missionaries. There they convert the indigenous Indian and taught them to farm the temperate land. Spanish officials decided in 1793 the missions land of San Antonio's was to distribute to the Indians. The area was beginning to attract more settlers including a unit of Spanish Calvary. In the missions Long Barracks the commander opened the first hospital in that part of the country.

During the long troubles in Mexico and the emerging Texas the Alamo had been a place of refuge to either side in progressing wars. In 1835 Ben Milan and his Texians and Tejano set up camp after days of fighting and final defeat of General Perfecto de Co's. They were now the sole occupants of the Alamo. It was inevitable there would be a powerful Mexican response. Milan set out to strengthen the meager mission defenses.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna

In February of 1836 General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna who after he defeating the Spanish declared himself 'The Napoleon of the West' was on the move.

Santa Anna in 1833 had become President of Mexico in a democratic election.

However he decided Mexico was not ready for democracy and pronounced himself dictator.

Sam Houston

Sam Houston of Ulster Scot descent on hearing of Santa Anna's advance accepted the offer of James Bowie and his 30 men to defend the Alamo.

Bowie, of Loan County Kentucky had a formidable reputation as a knife fighter and was a descendant of the Maryland Line of Bowies who originated in Stirlingshire Scotland.


(right) arrived at the Alamo in January 19th finding 140 others poorly armed and supplied.

On hearing that state of affairs Sam Houston ordered Bowie to blow up fort Alamo.

He was also ordered to take the few cannon to a safer place and distance.

However Bowie and Captain James Clinton Neill found there was not enough oxen to carry out the charge.

James Bonham had some time before received a letter from William Travis "These are stirring times in Texas; come take a part in it..." He had heeded the call of the Alamo. Unsure of the responses to Santa Anna he arranged a resolution to hold on to the Alamo.

The second signature of the vote was that Bowie who could speak fluent Spanish allowing the indigenous Mexicans to give him intelligence of Santa Anna's progress. Bowie heard that the General had 4,500 troops with him. He decided to send a letter

Asking for more men, money, cannon powder and rifles. He outlined the necessity to hold the Alamo as a paramount frontier guard to Texas. In a letter to Governor Smith he stated Neill and himself would rather die than give in to the enemy.

William B Travis William B Travis (left) was ordered by Governor Smith to the Alamo in January 21st. Travis was not especially keen and wrote to Smith to recall the order to command the Republic of Texas forces which in his opinion were so few. On the 3rd of February he arrived at the Alamo with an extra 30 troops.

Some days later Davy Crockett (right) of Scots ancestry and 29 man from Tennessee arrived. Crockett a backwoodsman, hunter, soldier, trapper and Congressman. He had been narrowly defeated for another re-election and in 1835 he had told the people of his district if defeated, you may go to hell and I will go to Texas.
Davy Crockett

There was some question of who outranked who and Travis asked the men to chose for themselves. They chose Bowie but days later it was decided Bowie would command the volunteers and Travis the regulars and volunteer cavalry.

With Santa Anna's force outside Travis as commander sent out for local help and later 32 volunteers arrived from Gonzales

Led by Captain George Kimbell and John W. Smith. It was at this point Travis drew a line with his sabre asking for those willing to fight to step over. Bowie stricken by pneumonia and requested to be carried over the line. Only one man refused.

James Bonham was sent to Colonel James Fannin for help. Fannin responded by a march with 350 men but was defeated at the Battle of Colerto Creek. After surrender many of the men were shot including Fannin who was shot in the head.

John McGregor born in Scotland in 1808 served as a second Sergeant to Captain William Carey's the first commander of the Alamo. McGregor served in Carney's artillery company dueled with his bagpipes against Crocket on the fiddle. The musical duel lasted for some time but no one knows who won.

Also serving with Carey was Isaac Robinson as 4th Sergeant a Scot. David Wilson born in Scotland in 1807 a volunteer staying after his commander Captain Dimmitt.

Richard Ballentine, a Scot born in 1814 who was one of the signatories a statement declaring "we have left every endearment at our respective places of abode in the United States of America, to maintain and defend our brethren, at the peril of our lives, liberties and fortunes." There were 30 of Scots descent in the Alamo."

The siege of the Alamo was directed in Napoleonic style and intended to ware down the defenders. Mexican bands blared throughout the night and included the El Deguello the slit throat song. Spasmodic artillery fire heralded the ever closing ring. The final dispatch from Travis read, 'The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered their demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat.'

Santa Anna gave the sign of no quarters as he raised the red flag just before the break of day on March 6th 1836. The Mexican soldiers came out of the darkness and bravely moved to the walls of the Alamo. They were met with withering rifle and cannon and were forced to retreat. In the next attempt they scaled the walls and poured into the compound. Then the Mexican troops blasted the doors of the Long Barracks to set amongst the valiant defenders.

By the time the morning sun rose it was over and Santa Anna declared the victory. The main battle had lasted approximately an hour and a half. The Alamo north wall had been made of wood and had been breached quickly. William Travis was said to have been killed on the spot with a bullet to the head. Bowie bayoneted and shot in his sick bed. Some say Crocket and a few of his men tried to leave and fight out in the country, while others say he was taken prisoner and shot. Both of those versions are unlikely, it is probable he died with his compatriots in the ensuing slaughter.

James Bonham apparently a second cousin of Travis was killed while working a cannon in the interior of the chapel.

Benjamin Briggs Goodrich's last letter closed,
P.S. News has just reached that the enemy are on the march to this place and we know not at what moment we shall be compelled to move our women and children beyond their reach. Their mode of warfare is strictly savage; they fight under a Red Banner,  and we ask nor expect no quarter in the future,--I will advise you from time to time (if alive) and would highly appreciate hearing from you.-- Direct your letters to Cantonment Jessup, pay postage and I will be sure to get them.
Sincerely your brother

Captain Carey had written to his family closing, 'This should not come from me but as I am writing to Brothers and sister I think you ought to know something about these matters-I must close by saying that if I live, as soon as the war is over I will endeavor to see you all.'

Crockett had written to his family closing'I have not wrote to William but have requested John to direct him what to do I hope you will show him this letter and also Brother John as it is not convenient at this time for me to write to them I hope you will all do the best you can and I will do the same Do not be uneasy about me I am among my friends I must close with great respects, Your affectionate father Farewell David Crockett.'

Major Robert Williamson knew Travis and wrote to him in an encouraging fashion with the promise of help. The letter ended, P.S. For God's sake hold out until we can assist you--I remit to you with Major Bonham communication from the interim government. Best wishes to all your people and tell them to hold on firmly by their "wills" until I go there. - Williamson. - Write us very soon.'

Mrs. Dickinson wife of Captain Almeron Dickinson evidently conveyed the last word of the Captain, 'Great God, Sue, the Mexicans are inside our walls! All is lost! If they spare you, save my child.' She had been wounded in the leg during the battle. General Juan Almonte had said to her, "If you wish to save your life, follow me." She was escorted from her hiding place in the chapel.

That evening the Mexicans brought wood from the neighboring forest and burned the bodies of all the Texans.

Santa Anna was defeated by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto 21st April 1836 with the Texan army shouting "Remember the Alamo!" He was allowed to return to Mexico where he participated in the Mexican War and in 1853 sold territory to the United States including that area known as the Gadsden Purchase. He was later exiled from Mexico, but allowed to return a few years before his death in 1876.

Texas on the 14th in 1836 was granted under the Treaty of Velasco its independence 8 years after Robert Owen had written

A memorial asking the Mexicans to grant to him the State of Coahuila and Texas.

Edward Burleson wrote in 1842,

'Citizens, the feelings inspired by events within these consecrated walls, of so recent date fills my bosom with emotions. This sacred spot, and those crumbling remains, the desecrated temple of Texian liberty will teach a lesson which freeman can never forget. And, while we mourn the unhappy fate of Travis, Crockett, Bowie, and their brave compatriots let it be the boast of Texians that though Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, the Alamo had none.'

What about the one man who refused to cross Colonel Travis's sabre line in the sand? He is recognized as Louise Moses Rose a French soldier who had fought under Napoleon in his Russian Campaign. Rose allegedly slipped out of the Alamo. He evaded the Mexican forces by moving at night, Rose is said to have taken shelter with the family of William P. Zuber and told the tale of his escape.

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