During the early days of the Texas Revolution, a Texan force under Stephen F. Austin encircled the Mexican garrison in the town of San Antonio de Béxar. On December 11, 1835, after an eight-week siege, Austin's men were able to compel General Martín Perfecto de Cos to surrender. Occupying the town, the defenders were paroled and sent back to Mexico. The fall of Cos' command eliminated the last major Mexican force in Texas. Returning to friendly territory, Cos provided his superior, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, with information about the uprising in Texas.
Establishing his headquarters at San Luis Potosí, Santa Anna began assembling an army of 6,000 with the goal of marching north and putting down the revolt in Texas. In early 1836, after adding 20 guns to his command, he began marching north through Saltillo and Coahuila. To the north in San Antonio, Texan forces were fortifying the Misión San Antonio de Valero, also known as the Alamo. Possessing a large enclosed courtyard, the Alamo had first been occupied by Cos' men during siege of the town the previous fall. Initially manned by about 100 volunteers, the mission's garrison grew as January passed.
The Alamo was again reinforced on February 3, with the arrival of 29 men under Lt. Colonel William Travis. A few days later, the Alamo's commander, Colonel James C. Neill, departed to deal with an illness and left Travis in charge. Travis' ascent to command did not sit well with Jim Bowie, who led the volunteers, and had arrived on January 19. A renowned frontiersman, Bowie argued with Travis over who should lead until it was agreed that the former would command the volunteers and the latter the regulars. Another notable frontiersman arrived on February 8, when Davy Crockett rode into the Alamo with 12 men.
To the surprise of the defenders, Santa Anna's army arrived outside of San Antonio on February 23. Having marched through driving snow and foul weather, Santa Anna reached the town a month sooner than the Texans anticipated. Surrounding the mission, Santa Anna sent a courier requesting the Alamo's surrender. To this Travis responded by firing one of the mission's cannon. Seeing that the Texans planned to resist, Santa Anna laid siege to the mission. The next day, Bowie fell ill and full command passed to Travis. Badly outnumbered, Travis sent out riders asking for reinforcements.
Travis's calls went largely unanswered as the Texans lacked the strength to fight Santa Anna's larger army. As the days passed the Mexicans slowly worked their lines closer to the Alamo, with their artillery reducing the mission's walls. At 1:00 AM, on March 1, 32 men from Gonzales were able to ride through the Mexican lines to join the defenders. With the situation grim, legend states that Travis drew a line in the sand and asked all those willing to stay and fight to step over it. All except one did. At dawn on March 6, Santa Anna's men launched their final attack on the Alamo.
Flying a red flag and playing the El Degüello bugle call, Santa Anna signaled that no quarter would be given to the defenders. Sending 1,400-1,600 men forward in four columns they overwhelmed the Alamo's tiny garrison. One column, led by General Cos, broke through the mission's north wall and poured into the Alamo. It is believed that Travis was killed resisting this breach. As the Mexicans entered the Alamo, brutal hand-to-hand fighting ensued until almost the entire garrison had been killed. Records indicate that seven may have survived the fighting, but were summarily executed by Santa Anna.
The odds were unbeatable and the men that were defending the Alamo were estimated between 180 to 200 people against an unstoppable force of 6000 Mexican troops. The outcome was severe and only women and children who were in the church were eventually freed. The Christian walk is a lot like this. Our battle cry is Remember the Cross, which was the instrument that saved us from an eternity of punishment for our sins. Remember Jesus Christ who came, died and rose again for our resurrection. Remember the love that God has for us that He gave us His only Son - Hallelujah!
If you do not think, as a Christian, that we are at war, then you are kidding yourself. Ephesians 6, "12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
What then, if we are really at war, should we just live each day to satisfy ourselves and to let the world move on? What if, just what if, we really did have an enemy who wanted to destroy us - no surrender, no prisoners to be taken, that this is a battle for our very souls - then what?
2 Timothy 4:1-3
English Standard Version (ESV)
Preach the Word
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
1 Peter 3:15
English Standard Version (ESV)
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
What I learned this past week when visiting the Alamo:
- Worrying beyond the point of action causes nothing but stress and worry and inaction
- Trusting a greater sense of urgency (call it valor, integrity, righteousness) listening to that voice that gives us right from wrong - make a stand when you hear that voice
- You cannot measure cost based on what others think you will lose
- Choose this day who you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord
- Never give up, never surrender and trust Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
- Have others around you who you can trust
- In the end, God wins, therefore, we win
On our drive back to the airport, on a Spring Break trip that took us from Chicago to Dallas, to San Antonio, to Austin, back to Dallas and then home to Chicago - my family and I had a chance to talk about the Bible, about our hopes for them when they became adults and how important their choice in faith is to their mom and dad:
Things my wife and I told my kids:
- We choose our friends, our family is forever and we are to love and respect each other
- We want our children to own our faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, I walks have to be real
- We want them to grow up to be independent, confident, and equipped to navigate the daily jaunts of life - we have to live it and model it for them
- We can agree to disagree, but we still have to respect each other
- No matter what society and life tells us, the Word (the Bible) is true and awesome.
- When talking to them about other religions, we told them not to put down other religions, but rather, to challenge others to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, not to just be a "follower" but instead a Disciple!
The best thing about this trip was the time that my wife and I got to spend with our kids and how we were able to talk about real life issues both in life and our faith through these circumstances.
I am not sure about you, but today I am remembering the cross, Jesus and how much God loves us for what he did for us!