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6 March: On this day in history

What events happened on 6 March in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: March 6, 2022 at 7:04 am
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6 March 1836: Rebel settlers take a last stand at the Alamo

The besieged soldiers fight to the bitter, bloody end

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It was at about 5.30 in the morning that the Mexicans launched their final assault on the Alamo. Five months earlier, American settlers in Texas, or ‘Texians’, had rebelled against the Mexican government, driving away their forces. During the inevitable Mexican counter-attack, more than 200 Texian rebels had become trapped at the Alamo Mission, near San Antonio. Steadily the besiegers tightened their grip, and now they were ready to finish the job.

As the Mexicans attacked, the Texian leader William Travis reportedly yelled: “Come on boys, the Mexicans are upon us and we’ll give them hell!” What followed went down in legend, though the reality was much bloodier and more confused than the myth. For a few minutes, the defenders’ cannons seemed to be winning the day, pouring shrapnel – nails, hinges, anything they could find – into the onrushing Mexicans. But soon the first attackers had scaled the walls, and then the carnage began in earnest.

Once the Mexicans were inside the compound, many of the Texians took refuge inside the mission chapel. Travis had already been shot on the walls. Of the other notable rebel leaders, Jim Bowie, laid low with illness, was likely bayoneted in his bed, while the frontiersman Davy Crockett was killed during the final battle in unknown circumstances. The end actually came remarkably quickly: by 6.30am, the Mexicans had won.

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Yet the Alamo was a pyrrhic victory, for the defenders’ defiance became a galvanising symbol of American heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. As Texian soldiers later yelled: “Remember the Alamo!”

We round up smaller anniversaries…

6 March 1250
Following the crusaders' defeat at Mansourah by the Egyptians, Henry III took the cross in a public ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster.
6 March 1643
A parliamentarian force under Sir John Gell completed the capture of Lichfield from the royalists and immediately set about destroying ‘idolatrous’ images and statues in the cathedral.
6 March 1862
Thirteen people were injured when signalling errors led a mail train to run into 32 wagons being shunted back along the same line at Whitehaven. The signaller, a man named Bussey, later absconded to avoid prosecution.
6 March 1881
Horatia Nelson, the illegitimate daughter of Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton, died in Pinner, Middlesex, at the age of 80.
6 March 1888
Death of American writer, feminist and abolitionist Louisa M Alcott. Her best-known work, Little Women, which was published in 1868, was largely based on her own experiences. She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.
6 March 1909
Obafemi Awolowo is born in Ogun, Nigeria. He will become leader of Nigeria's opposition from 1960 until 1963. After serving as finance minister during the Nigerian Civil War he will twice unsuccessfully stand for president.
6 March 1937 
Valentina Tereshkova is born, the first woman to orbit the earth.

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