San Antonio de Béxar, Texas

DSCN1948It is trite but true that travel opens the mind.  I thought I was reasonably informed about the Texas revolution against Mexico, but when we made the more-or-less mandatory pilgrimage to the Alamo in San Antonio, I found myself learning something new just about every time we turned a corner.

We arrived by accident on February 24th exactly 180 years after Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo began [he arrived on the 23rd].  Soon I found that all the signs referring to Béxar meant San Antonio because the name of the town in 1836 was San Antonio de Béxar.  The Mission San Antonio de Valero was begun in 1724 but had closed by 1793, and the church building we know as the Alamo was not finished and lacked a roof at the time of the battle.

Model of the church and mission walls.

Model of the church and mission walls.

I did know that alamo is the Spanish word for a cottonwood tree, but did not know there are no cottonwoods at the Alamo.  Homesick Mexican troops gave it that name.  Also, the mission building, referred to now by Texas as the “shrine,” was smaller than I anticipated. However, the “fort” also included a large walled enclosure around the church which no longer exists.  The stones in the walls were sold off, and at one point they considered taking down the church to sell those stones.

20th Century well and first tree to be transplanted to San Antonio.

20th Century well and first tree to be transplanted to San Antonio.

Had I been asked, I would have said the “revolution” was just about a bunch of transplanted Americans trying to take over.  In reality, it had many aspects similar to the Civil War and even to struggles today.  It was a fight between central and local control and was supported by Hispanics in the area.

The greatest number of those who died at the Alamo seemed to come from Tennessee followed by those from Ireland.  However we saw names from many other states and even from Wales and England.  There were many Spanish names as well.

Remains transferred to Cathedral San Fernando, the nation's oldest cathedral.

Remains transferred to Cathedral San Fernando, the nation’s oldest cathedral.

After Mexico revolted against Spain, the struggle was between those who wanted a centralized government, the Centralists, and those who, far from the capitol and often neglected by Spain, wanted more local independence, the Federalists.  Many famous Anglo Federalist names like Stephen Austin held Spanish land grants.

I will not attempt to relate the history of the battle here.  Suffice it to say, it was not just a heroic last stand.  Within the Texan community, there was the usual political bickering, the leadership disputes, heroic calls to arms, disobedience of orders, botched decisions and unnecessary death.  It sounds all too familiar.  By March 6 when Santa Anna took the Alamo, things looked very bleak for the Federalists. But using what today we would call spin, the Texas leaders turned the tide with the famous call, remember the Alamo.


Click on photos to enlarge.


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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4 Responses to San Antonio de Béxar, Texas

  1. JohnRH says:

    Quite the nasty business at times. Wikipedia on Sam Houston and Goliad Massacre enlightens.


  2. Sue Slaght says:

    We visited San Antonio and the Alamo about 10 years ago. Like you I learned a great deal. Thanks for taking me back to those memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith & Loraine says:

    Guess you know that I’m another one who learned a little history and a few things that the history books didn’t mention. Thank you again for another nice history lesson and hope you folks are enjoying your travels. Love Loraine

    Liked by 1 person

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