Today in Texas History – February 23

From the Annals of the Revolution –  In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began when Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna entered San Antonio de Bexar and began to encircle the crumbling mission.   Despite knowledge that the Mexican Army was on the move, the Texian troops at the Alamo commanded by the inexperienced Col. William B. Travis were almost completely surprised by their arrival.  Historians have speculated that the Texians were still recovering from an all night party celebrating George Washington’s birthday.  The Mexican troops were no more than 1.5 miles from Bexar when they were finally spotted by a sentry in the San Fernando Church bell tower. Advance Mexican cavalry under the command of Gen. Joaquin Ramirez y Sesma would likely have taken the mission in a surprise attack but were delayed by rains which flooded the Medina River.  At the time, the Texians had only 156 able-bodied troops in the Alamo and almost no provisions.  They were able to herd a few cattle into the compound and scrounged enough corn from local houses to last for maybe a month.  By late afternoon, Béxar was occupied by about 1500 Mexican troops, who quickly raised a blood-red flag signifying “No Quarter.”  Travis answered Santa Anna’s request for a parlay with a cannon shot.  Believing that Travis had acted foolishly, James Bowie who was in command of the volunteers at the Alamo, sent Green B. Jameson to meet with Santa Anna.  The General refused but did allow Jameson to meet with some of his officers.  The Mexican officers conveyed the following message:  “I reply to you, according to the order of His Excellency, that the Mexican army cannot come to terms under any conditions with rebellious foreigners to whom there is no recourse left, if they wish to save their lives, than to place themselves immediately at the disposal of the Supreme Government from whom alone they may expect clemency after some considerations.”

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