187 Years After Dawn at the Alamo
187 years ago, the sun rose on the horizon as the smoke faded away from the pre-dawn battle at the Alamo. It is significant to note that many history books estimate there were 187 defenders of the Alamo, and today would mark 187 years, one for each defender, since that early morning battle. Nobody knows how many defenders fell, but it’s important to remember that a greatly outnumbered army had held a run-down mission for thirteen days.
In popular stories and lore, the defenders of the Alamo are credited with buying time for Sam Houston and the rest of the Texas army to retreat, regroup, train, and prepare for battle with the Mexican army. The Alamo would become one of Texas and America’s most famous and remembered battles. It has attracted years of study, collectors, and historians. The battle has been the subject of more books than any other battle. Legends have the defenders dying to the last man, with the famous David Crockett swinging his rifle as the last man. Movies since the silent era have given as historically accurate presentations as possible, as well as some highly fictional accounts of that battle. Interestingly, the 2004 movie about the battle would be the first to present the conflict in the pre-dawn hours. Almost all the other movies, including John Wayne’s version, present the battle in full daylight.
Today, debates continue about the battle. Some have argued it was a battle to preserve slavery in Texas; others have argued it was for freedom and the rights of the people of Texas after Mexico changed the constitution. Mexico has naturally argued that it was a battle to preserve Mexican lands. Santa Anna, the leader of the Mexican forces, wrote in his book that it “was but a small affair.” Because of the different stories, memories, diaries, and papers about the Alamo, it will likely continue to be a point of debate and study for many more years.
Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, the historical aspects, or the flaws and human side of the men defending the Alamo, we should look at it for what it was at the time. Inside the small mission-turned-fort in southern Texas, people took a stand for what they believed was right. The people inside the Alamo believed they were fighting for the rights, freedoms, and future of Texas. The people attacking the Alamo believed they were fighting for the land of Mexico. Both sides felt they were right, and at the end of the morning, one side was defeated in the battle, and the other was severely damaged. One Mexican general wrote, “Another such victory as the Alamo, and the army of Mexico will be ruined.” There is no denying that both sides fought hard for what they believed was right. Simply put, in the pre-dawn hours of March 6, 1836, the Mexican army won the Battle of the Alamo, but on March 7, 1836, forward history made all the living and dead participants immortal to the ages.