The Alamo March 6, 1836 -- Dawn,
by Bob Reece
of the Alamo, March 1986
artist -- Eric
The Texas night covets the men like the
comforting embrace of a nurturing mother. The night is silent except
for the occasional yelps of coyotes coming from the hills to the
west. The cool air sinks heavy upon the Texians as they sleep their
first sleep for many days. Some huddle together to retain body heat,
others scrounge whatever they can find for cover. It doesn’t
matter—they are sleeping; how much they missed this. Even the
watchmen have succumbed to this unexpected privilege.
They have endured days and nights of artillery
shells landing inside the plaza with the heavy thud of iron or
striking hard, heavy blows against the thick walls that protect
them. They dodged behind any obstacle they could find to avoid the
exploding shells sending shrapnel into the dirt and walls of the
plaza and the Chapel. This went on into the deep hours of the night,
every night increasing exhaustion for each man. It is the sudden
gift of silence that overpowers these men as they sleep soundly
about 4:30 in the morning of March 6, 1836.
Santa Anna's Army
There grows a distant sound—not loud enough to
wake the men, but it resonantes as it draws closer to the Alamo. It
is the sound of hundreds of men, marching in formation from four
points around the compound. They halt just beyond the walls; they
wait silently as the soothing sounds of the coyote take over. They
can hear snoring coming from inside the walls. The Mexican army of
Santa Anna has waited 13 days to rid their country of these rebel
Texians and now the time has come to be done with it! Any moment the
signal will announce when they should begin the long surge against
Somewhere in the compound sleeps Davy
Crockett—probably near the southeast palisade that he and his
Tennesseans guard (the only section of the compound without an
extensive wall) or even inside the Chapel to escape what best he can
of the cold air. No roof adorns this ancient chapel since its
collapse. At least it can protect him from the north air.
James Bowie is fighting a debilitating illness
laying sweating from fever in his room somewhere within the south wall—his curandero nearby. He will probably die in
a few days anyway.
William Travis sleeps inside his office at the West Wall. We must always wonder what letter he may have
penned that night—another letter asking for assistance from the
people of Texas? Maybe one last letter to his son? Or, maybe
he was just too damn tired to write.
The men are suddenly jolted from their deep
sleep with the shout, “The Mexicans are upon us!” The stomping of
hundreds of feet grow louder; the bodies come out of the dark
streaming against the walls like a ranging, flooding river. The
Mexicans turn their carbines toward the Texians, standing on the
walls, flashes of red and yellow blinding the Texians for a moment.
The mighty Texas cannons let go their canister
into the heart of the mass of Mexican soldiers, ripping them to
shreds. One Mexican soldier fires a shot hitting Travis squarely in
the head -- falling, Travis tumbles down from the wall dying
instantly. No more letters to write—no more calling upon all, who
would listen, to do their duty and protect their freedom to choose.
The hand that wrote such potent but elegant prose lies dead upon the
dirt inside the plaza of the Alamo.
Hold The Wall
The wave of attackers hit every corner outside
the Alamo plaza. Coming toward Crockett and his Tennesseans the
Mexicans find the fire unbearable and impenetrable. Crockett rallies
his men, encourages them on, “Boys, let them have it!” The Mexicans
are forced to move west of there, away from this intense fire—many
falling wounded or dead in the process.
The dark night becomes heavy with smoke and the
smell of black powder. The cries of the fighting and the dying ring
out all around and inside the plaza as the Mexican soldiers breach
the North Wall, their flood enveloping the entire plaza. The time
has come for the last stand. The time for Texas to begin anew begins
at this moment. The battle rages for nearly 1-½ hours before the
last of the fighting Texians are done with. The Texas sun ascends as
the last bullets are fired, as the last Bowie knife flashes its cold
steel and as Crocket drops “Ole Betsy” to the ground.
Fires At Night
The funeral pyres of the 200 plus Texians burn
for days and nights as if the men continually cry out, refusing to
let go of their duty, refusing to let go of the fight.
The Battle of the Alamo has endured for 167
years; it is known worldwide. It has been portrayed in countless
paintings, books and movies. All of them never quite relating the
truth or the magnitude of what really happened there. Disney
pictures began production of a new theatrical film in January 2003 in Texas starring Billy Bob Thornton as
Crockett—believe me, he’ll make John Wayne look like Santa Anna!!
of the Alamo
There is one painting, though, that does
capture the moment just before the final stand in the Chapel and
Long Barracks. The Storming of the Alamo hangs in the
University Library of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. It
stands 23 feet long! The magnitude of its scope and its portrait
adores the vastness of the legend of The Alamo without compromising
accuracy. The artist is Eric von Schmidt—a historical artist whose
other works include Osceola and Here Fell Custer, all
authentic in every detail.
The Rest of the Story of the
Battle of the Alamo
To Order A Print of "The Storming of
The Gallery • Painting Lewis & Clark • Vonsworks Bookstore • The Alamo • Custer • Osceola • Harold von Schmidt • Links