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Alamo Frequently Asked Questions

How old is the Alamo?

The Alamo was built in 1718 by Fray Antonio de Olivares. The present day site of the Alamo, however, was chosen in 1724 and the cornerstone laid in 1744


What does Alamo mean?

Alamo is the Spanish word for cottonwood. It was thought there were cottonwood trees that were adjacent to the mission


Has it had any other names?

It was originally called Mission San Antonio de Valero


During the years of the missions, what was more commonly referred to as San Antonio de Bexar, then it became shortened to Bexar?

San Antonio


On the floor of the Alamo chapel, there is a plaque which states bones were found under the floor. Whose bones were they?

Unfortunately, no one from the famous last siege. The bones were shown to be those of Indians who worked and lived at the mission


What is an empresario?

An empresario is a man whom settlers could obtain land from. He brought in the settlers and helped them to become established


Was the Alamo the only mission established in San Antonio?

No, it wasn’t


What were the other missions built there?

There were four other missions...Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion (also known as Concepcion, Texas’ oldest unrestored mission); San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo (San Jose which has the famous Rose Window); San Juan Capistrano; and San Francisco de la Espada


Are all the missions still in use today?

The missions with the exception of the Alamo are all parish churches holding regular masses, weddings and other activities


Who takes care of the Alamo today?

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas


How long have they had custody of the Alamo?

The DRT has looked after the Alamo since 1905


Is there an admission price at the missions?

No, but there are donation boxes at the Alamo which help the DRT preserve this important piece of Texas history as well as donation boxes at all the other missions


How many men came from Gonzales on March 1, 1836, to help with the final siege of the battle?

Thirty-two brave men


Who was in command of the Alamo?

In January 1836 Col. James Neill was in command. He left, leaving James Bowie in charge just as William B. Travis and his regiment arrived. The regular army men wanted Travis in charge, the volunteers wanted Bowie. The two men split the command until Bowie became so sick he had to leave all of it with Travis


Who was able to slip out at least twice and send messages from Col. Travis asking for help?

James Butler Bonham


How many men fought at the Alamo?

No one is sure how many. Reports vary from 182 to 189


What state did Davy Crockett come from?

Tennessee


Who did Crockett bring with him?

His Tennessee Volunteers


How many days did the final siege of the Alamo last?

13 days


How long did the final battle last?

90 minutes


What time did the final battle begin?

5:00 a.m.


When did William B. Travis arrive at the Alamo?

On or about 3 February 1836


Where did Travis die at the Alamo?

By the north wall


Were there any witnesses to his death?

Yes, his man-servant, Joe


Did Jim Bowie really design the Bowie knife?

No


Who did?

His brother Rezin


Jim Bowie was sick at the Alamo. What did he have?

Historians say Bowie had either typhoid fever or viral pneumonia


Where did Davy Crockett die?

In front of the Alamo chapel


Where did James Bonham die?

Inside the chapel


What was he doing?

He was leading ten defenders, shooting three cannons in three directions from an earthen ramp


At the time of the final siege, was there a roof on top of the chapel?

No, the roof was in rubble


Who witnessed Col. Travis drawing the line in the dirt with his sword?

Susannah Dickinson, Travis’ manservant Joe, Enrique Esparza and Louis (Moses) Rose


When did Santa Anna and his troops arrive in San Antonio?

February 23, 1836


What was one of the first things they did?

They ran a red flag from the tower of the San Fernando Cathedral, telling defenders there would be no prisoners taken


How many Mexican troops did Texas military sources estimate were there?

1,000-1,500


On February 23, 1836, where did Bowie and Travis send urgent messages for help?

Goliad and Gonzales


When did Travis pen his famous ’Victory or Death’ letter?

February 24, 1836


To whom did he address it?

’To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World - fellow citizens and compatroits’


On February 25, 1836, several hundred Mexican troops tried to erect a cannon battery within a 100 yards of the Alamo gate. They were fired upon by the defenders. How many Mexican lives were lost?

Reports varied from 8 to 50


How many Texas defenders’ lives were lost in the above scrimmage?

None


On the fourth day of the siege, February 26, Texans burned down houses that Mexican troops were taking cover in. What part of town was this?

La Villita


The Texans were also after what else?

Firewood


The Mexican troops increased that day. How many were there now?

The count grew about 3,000


How much land did the whole mission sit on?

About three acres


Two of the defenders tried to liven things up by playing musical instruments. Who were they and what did they play?

David Crockett played fiddle and John McGregor played bagpipes


What was this ’celebration’ known as?

A fandango


Who was sent out on February 29, 1836, to attempt a speed-up of the gathering of supplies and reinforcements?

Capt. Juan Seguin and an aide


What was one kind of rifle did the Texans have?

Kentucky long rifles


What artillery were the Mexicans firing?

Howitzers and cannons


How many men come from Gonzales to help at the Alamo?

Thirty-two


When did they arrive?

March 1, 1836


Who were they led by?

John W. Smith


Who was one of the few Englishmen in the Mexican Army?

Gen. Adrian Woll


Who commanded the Gonzales troops?

Capt. George Kimball and Capt. Albert Martin


What did one of the Gonzales men carry with him into the Alamo?

The flag flown in October...’Come and Take It.’


The garrison in the Alamo was out-numbered by how many?

Twenty to one


While the men at the Alamo bravely defended her, what happened at Washington-on-the-Brazos?

The General Convention declared Texas free of Mexico’s rule


What did Col. Travis send out on March 3, 1836?

One final appeal for help


Who did he send?

John W. Smith


What did Travis draw in the dirt with his sword?

A line


Why?

For the men to cross if they wanted to stay, knowing the cost was death


Who was the first across the line?

Tarpley Holland


When did the Mexican troops fall into position, awaiting orders to attack on the final siege?

About one in the morning, March 6


What song was played that morning from the Mexican camp?

’Deguello’


What does ’Deguello’ mean?

Literally ’throat cutting,’ meaning no prisoners would be taken


The first Mexican troops to storm the Alamo the morning of March 6 were greeted with what?

Twenty-one cannons loaded with chopped-up horseshoes, nails, and other home-made shrapnel


Texas sharpshooters lined the walls of the Alamo. Mexican officers said that most of their men killed outside the walls died in what way?

A bullet through the head


What was the strongest building at the Alamo?

The Chapel


Who was inside the first room to the right, the baptistery?

Mostly the women and children of the defenders


Who was in charge of the men defending the chapel?

Almeron Dickerson and James Bonham


The Texas troops were considered what in the eyes of the Mexicans?

Pirates


What was the punishment for piracy?

Death


Santa Anna sent out a false report. How many did he claim were killed at the final siege of the Alamo?

600 Texans, 70 Mexican soldiers with another 300 missing


Who did Moses Rose tell his story to after his escape?

William P. Zuber


Who supposedly wrote a diary of the Alamo siege, telling of Davy Crockett's ’surrender’?

Juan de la Pena


When did Sam Houston learn of the fall of the Alamo?

Five days after the battle


Whose mother said that she would ’Wager no wounds were found in his back’ when asked about her son's death at the Alamo?

Jim Bowie’s


Of the Alamo defenders, who kept a diary most of the time, reliving his day to day activities?

William B. Travis


Who may have been the last messenger sent from the Alamo?

James L. Allen


How old was he?

History depicts him between 16 and 21 years of age


When did Col. James Neill leave the Alamo?

Around February 10, 1836


Who took command when he left?

Col. William B. Travis


Who was responsible for overseeing the burning of the defenders’ bodies?

Francisco Ruiz


Were all the defenders burned?

No


How many Alamo defenders were not burned?

One


Who was he?

Gregorio Esparza


Who buried Gregorio Esparza?

His brother Francisco


Did Francisco Esparza fight for Santa Anna?

No, Francisco and other Mexican-Texans were ordered by Santa Anna to hold themselves in case they were needed


Who is recognized as the youngest defender at the Alamo?

William Phillip King


Who is the only other Alamo victim besides Travis, Bowie and Crockett that has a portrait still remaining that was done from life?

Dr. Amos Pollard


Who has the distinct honor of having taken part in every major engagement of the Texas Revolution?

John W. Baylor who left the Alamo as a courier February 25, 1836


Which Alamo defender was expelled from South Carolina College in 1824 for leading a student protest?

James Butler Bonham


Who made up the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers?

These were citizens of Gonzales who were called into service February 23, 1836. They were the thirty-two defenders who came to the Alamo March 1, 1836


Who were they led by?

Byrd Lockhart


What was an acequia?

An irrigation ditch which supplied water to the Alamo


Who was the self-styled ’Napoleon of the West’?

Santa Anna


What Alamo commander recommended Methodist missionaries immigrate to Texas?

William B. Travis


In what 1827 duel did Jim Bowie take part in?

The Sand Bar Fight


When did Jim Bowie come to Texas to pursue dealings in land?

1828


Who did he marry?

The vice-governor’s of Coahuila-Texas daughter, Ursula Veramendi

Who did David Crockett accompany when he came to the Alamo?

Dr. John Sutherland


Who remembered seeing Crockett’s body between the chapel and the two-story hospital building?

Susannah Dickerson


When did James B. Bonham come to Texas?

1835


Which survivor was wounded with a gunshot wound to the calf?

Susannah Dickerson