The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo—and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation
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On a cold day early in February 1836, a well-dressed young omanona horse trotted along the road —littlemorethan a well-worn cart path, really — from the small town of Gonzales westward to San Antonio de Béxar. He was twenty-six, and he had already written his autobiography. He exuded self-assurance, and ambition burned in his breast, but he could be brusque, and perhaps because of that, the men under his command respected him, but did not warm to him. The rebel Texian army had no money for arms and ammunition, much less clothing for its few hundred soldiers, and the uniform he had ordered had not been delivered yet. Thus, despite his newly appointed rank of lieutenant colonel of cavalry in the regular army, he wore the fine clothes of a gentleman.
His civilian dress was no indication of a lack of courage. He had proven his mettle several times in the past few years — at the port village of Anahuac, staked to the ground with Mexican riflemen aiming at him; then three years later, leading a group of militia to seize the garrison there; and at the siege of Béxar this past fall, in the thick of things with his company of mounted scouts.
His name was William Barret Travis, and he did not want to return to Béxar. A few weeks before, his good friend Henry Smith had been elected governor by the Consultation, the meeting of representatives of most of the Texas settlements that was convened to discuss the increasing friction with Mexico and organize a provisional government to handle matters. The Consultation had been held in the town of San Felipe, the center of the Anglo colonies, where Travis resided. At Travis’s own suggestion, Smith appointed him lieutenant colonel and commander of cavalry, then charged him with raising a legion of dragoons — one hundred armed horsemen — to reinforce the depleted garrison at Béxar. All signs pointed to a large Mexican army on the march to Texas to quash the nascent rebellion in the troublesome colony.
Almost three weeks of recruiting had yielded only thirty-five men, and several of those had deserted the unit on the road. With a legion, a man could make a mark; a third of that number, not so easily. Travis himself had to provision, equip, and sometimes supply mounts for his volunteers, and the job kept him fully occupied. His personal affairs and business concerns suffered, particularly his successful law practice, though the recent acquisition of a partner had helped the latter somewhat. But the unceasing work took its toll. On January 28, soon after leaving San Felipe, dog-tired and disillusioned, Travis had written to Smith from Burnham’s Crossing on the Colorado River, just thirty miles west on the Béxar road, and asked to be allowed to return:
I shall however go on & do my duty, if I am sacrificed, unless I receive new orders to counter march. Our affairs are gloomy indeed —The people are cold & indifferent —They are worn down & exhausted with the war, and in consequence of dissentions between contending & rival chieftains, they have lost all confidence in their own Govt. & officers. You have no idea of the exhausted state of the country....
Reprinted from the book THE BLOOD OF HEROES by James Donovan. Copyright © 2012 by James Donovan. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.
The legend of the Alamo has always had a special place in American lore. The first major military conflict in the battle for Texas independence, it is at once the Texas creation story and an episode that captures the nation’s sense of independence. In The Blood of Heroes, bestselling author James Donovan draws upon newly available primary sources in U.S. and Mexican archives to offer the definitive account of this epic battle.
On February 23, 1836, a Mexican army thousands of soldiers strong, led by dictator Santa Anna, attacked a group of roughly 200 “Texians” holed up in an abandoned mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas). For nearly two weeks, the force laid siege to the makeshift fort, spraying its occupants with unremitting waves of musket and cannon fire, but the Texians refused to surrender. Then, on March 6th, at 5:30 am, the Mexican troops unleashed a final devastating assault: divided into four columns, they rushed into the Alamo and commenced a deadly hand-to-hand fight. The Americans, despite being hugely outnumbered, fought valiantly—for themselves and for a division of a free and independent Texas. In the end, they were all slaughtered. Their sacrifice inspired the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo!”—and eventual triumph with the defeat of Santa Anna’s forces later that year.
Donovan charts the rise of Santa Anna, who reneged on the land deals offered by the former Mexican government. The Texians began to organize militias for what they were sure would escalate into all-out war. Donovan takes us through the clashes that led to the Alamo, including the rebels’ December, 1835 victory at San Antonio de Béxar, which so incensed Santa Anna that he personally led his army back to the town to exact revenge.
The Blood of Heroes is populated by myriad larger-than-life characters: 26-year-old William Barret Travis, the Alamo’s heroic commander; legendary fighter and land speculator James Bowie (of Bowie-knife fame) who shared command with Travis until sidelined by a mysterious illness; and famed frontiersman and congressman David Crockett, who also gave his life in the battle.
Donovan’s description of the buildup to the clash unfolds in a series of dramatic vignettes: the Texians’ desperate attempts to bolster their manpower and supplies; the arduous march of Santa Anna’s Army of Operations north to Béxar; the official declaration of independence, drafted on March 2; and, finally, the Mexicans’ decisive assault. Donovan also shows how also the rebels—galvanized by news of the Alamo’s fall—finally began resisting in earnest. In his determination to take the Alamo, Santa Anna would ultimately lose Texas.
The Blood of Heroes is a quintessentially American story of audacity, valor, and redemption.
Hardcover Book : 544 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Usa ( April 17, 2012 )
Item #: 13-547635
Product Dimensions: 6.125 x 9.25 inches
Product Weight: 25.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)