- Historic Sites
¡Recuerda El Alamo!?
October 1975 | Volume 26, Issue 6
Four columns were chosen for the attack. The first, under the command of General Cos and made up of a battalion from Aldama and three companies from the San Luis contingent, was to move against the western front, which faced the city. The second, under Colonel Duque and made up of the battalion under his command and three other companies from San Luis, was entrusted with a like mission against the front facing the north, which had two mounted batteries at each end of its walls. These two columns had a total strength of seven hundred men. The third, under the command of Colonel Romero and made up of two companies of fusiliers from the Matamoros and Jiménez, battalions, had less strength, for it only came up to three hundred or more men; it was to attack the east front, which was the strongest, perhaps because of its height or perhaps because of the number of cannon that were defending it, three of them situated in a battery over the church ruins, which appeared as a sort of high fortress. The fourth column, under the command of Colonel Morales and made up of over a hundred chasseurs, was entrusted with taking the entrance to the fort and the entrenchments defending it.
The sapper battalion and five grenadier companies made up the reserve of four hundred men. The commander in chief headed this column, according to the tenor of the secret order given for the assault, and its formation was entrusted to Colonel Amat, who actually led it into combat.
This was the general plan, and although several minor variations were proposed, almost all were cast aside.
Our commander made much of Travis’ courage, for it saved him from the insulting intimation that the critical circumstances surrounding Travis would have sufficed to spare the army a great sacrifice.
Beginning at one o’clock in the morning of the 6th, the columns were set in motion, and at three they silently advanced toward the river, which they crossed marching two abreast over some narrow wooden bridges. A fewminor obstacles were explored in order to reach the enemy without being noticed, to a point personally-designated by the commander in chief, where they stationed themselves, resting with weapons in hand. Silence was again ordered, and smoking was prohibited. The moon was up, but the density of the clouds that covered it allowed only an opaque light in our direction, seeming thus to contribute to our designs. This half-light, the silence we kept, hardly interrupted by soft murmurs, the coolness of the morning air, the great quietude that seemed to prolong the hours, and the dangers we would soon have to face, all of this rendered our situation grave; we were still breathing and able to communicate. Within a few moments many of us would be unable to answer questions addressed to us, having already returned to the nothingness whence we had come; others, badly wounded, would remain stretched out for hours without anyone thinking of them, each still fearing that perhaps an enemy cannonball whistling overhead would drop at his feet and put an end to his sufferings. Nevertheless hope stirred us, and within a few moments this anxious uncertainty would disappear; an insult to our arms had to be avenged, as well as the blood of our friends spilled three months before [when the Texans had driven the Mexicans from the area] within these same walls we were about to attack. Light began to appear on the horizon, the beautiful dawn would soon let herself be seen behind her golden curtain; a bugle call to attention was the agreed signal, and we soon heard that terrible bugle call of death, which stirred our hearts, altered our expressions, and aroused us all suddenly from our painful meditations. Worn out by fatigue and lack of sleep, I had just closed my eyes to nap when my ears were pierced by this fatal note. A trumpeter of the sappers (José María González) was the one who inspired us to scorn life and to welcome death. Seconds later the horror of this sound fled from among us, honor and glory replacing it.