Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Remember the Alamo!

As this year marks the 175th anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo, and we were already 1,000 miles closer to it, we decided to drive the extra six-hour round trip to San Antonio to visit the Alamo while on our Token Trip to Texas.  (In the Classical Conversations realm of things, this event in American History fits in between Week 8 and Week 9 of Cycle 3.)

Though many people had forewarned us that "it's so small!" we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the Alamo given the history behind it. Because downtown San Antonio has built up around this historical site, the majority of the original compound has been replaced with the bustling downtown buildings that make up the San Antonio skyline (view a Historical Map of the Alamo with Overlay of Downtown San Antonio).  Nevertheless, the Alamo shrine and long barrack still stand today, though the majority of the Alamo no longer exists.

The Story of Us: The Alamo video clip

I have to admit that I didn't really know much at all about the Alamo before arriving.  I guess all I really knew was what it looks like today (sort of) and that Davy Crockett (along with a lot of other men) died in the Battle of the Alamo.

Things we learned while on this trip and during our study of the Alamo:
  • The only parts of the original Alamo that are still standing today are the lower floor of the long barracks and the Alamo shrine.
  • The Alamo was originally established as a Spanish Mission for Indians at its present location as Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1724.
  • The Alamo shrine was only partially finished and was never used as a church. At the time of the Battle of the Alamo, the shrine (that we all know as the Alamo today) had no roof.  The parapet & two upper windows were added in 1850 by the U.S. Army. 
  • In 1803 (at the time of the Lousiana Purchase), a Spanish cavalry unit called La Compania Volante del Alamo de Parras was stationed at the Alamo until 1825.  Over time, the mission became know as Pueblo del Alamo (a.k.a., the Alamo).
  • The 13-day siege of the Battle of the Alamo started on Tuesday, February 23, 1836.
  • According to Legend, Davy Crockett played his fiddle at the Alamo to cheer the men before the battle.
  • On Day 12 of the siege, the Santa Anna's Army ended the bombardment at 10PM in order to lure those inside to fall asleep.
  • On Day 13 (March 6, 1836), at 1:00 AM, Mexican troops moved into positions.  At 5:00 AM, Santa Anna gave the signal to advance on the Alamo; troops scaled the north wall and turned the cannons that were inside onto the rest of the compound.
  • By 6:30 AM, the Alamo had fallen. 
  • No one knows exactly how many died in the Battle of the Alamo, though most historians believe that is was fewer than 200.  Colonel William Travis was only 26 years old when he died defending the Alamo.

Model of the Alamo in 1836

According to legend Colonel Travis drew a line on the
ground asking those willing to stay and fight (against
overwhelming odds) to cross the line and join him. 

Some books we enjoyed reading:

And activities we did during our investigation of the Alamo:

  • The Daugthers of the Republic of Texas offer a great 4th Grade Lesson Plan that includes an Alamo Timeline, diagrams for building a scale model of the Alamo, a map and coloring pages of the people of the Battle of the Alamo, and Alamo biographies.

Other activities we've used during our study:
This was truly a great study and a wonderful place to visit.  (I wish it was somehow incorporated into our Foundations studies!)  During this trip, we couldn't stop by the San Jacinto monument (commemorating Sam Houston and the war cry, "Remember the Alamo!" that contributed to Texas independence), but because of frequent training trips to Houston, we will try to visit it the next time around.  If you happen to make a trip to the San Antonio area, Remember the Alamo in your trip plans!

Our family is slowly working our way across the United States to visit all fifty states before our children graduate.  

Care to visit 50 states with us? How about visiting just one state? What about your own state?  If so, we would love for you to become a part of a network of families traveling the USA.  

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  1. Thanks for all the great ideas! We are visiting the Alamo next month and I have been searching for some fun projects to reinforce what we learn. Where did you get the model your son made?

  2. You are welcome! We actually bought the Alamo kit at the Alamo! :) You can order it on the site here:


  3. I love your website for CC supplements and am so excited to find a unit study of the Alamo. My two oldest are traveling to San Antonio from central Alabama with their grandparents in a few weeks! Looking forward to a unit study!