6 March: On this day in history
What events happened on 6 March in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…
6 March 1836: Rebel settlers take a last stand at the Alamo
The besieged soldiers fight to the bitter, bloody end
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.
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!”