The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission
and fortress compound and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
The compound, which originally comprised a sanctuary and surrounding buildings, was built
by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century for the education of local Native Americans
after their conversion to Christianity. In 1793, the mission was secularized and soon
abandoned. Ten yearslater, it became a fortress housing the Mexican Army group the
Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, who likely gave the mission the name "Alamo."
The Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. Legend holds that Colonel Travis drew a
line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did.
As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready
to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo's
garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and
former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican
soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small
arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the
walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack
and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders
were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to
survey the scene of his victory.