The Catholic Defender: The Alamo revisited

Posted by John Benko - November 6th, 2010

The Alamo was built by Padre Alaverous (Franciscans) as a Catholic Mission in the year 1718.

The Mission was a typical example of a monastery and church enclosed by high walls. San Antonio de Valero was the original name for the Alamo which stood for the cottonwood trees surrounding the Mission.

The Alamo ceased to function as a church institution in 1793. When the Texans revolted from the weak Mexican Garrisons in 1835, the Commander in Chief, Sam Houston ordered a concentration on the theory that the Mexicans would return.

Houston appointed LTC William B. Travis in Command of 25 enlisted troops who arrived at the Alamo on February 3, 1836. 10 days later Jim Bowie and his volunteers arrived. Discard quickly developed between the two Commanders over disciplinary reasons.

Travis felt that Bowie’s volunteers should be marching with his regulars, the two were hardly healed when the Mexican forces began to arrive on the scene. Davy Crockett and his men would enter the Alamo on February 23, 1836.

For 13 days the defenders of the Alamo, numbering probably 188, withstood an army 30 to 1. LTC Travis sent a plea for help through a Currier:

To the people of Texas and all Americans in the world, Fellow citizens and compatriots, I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for twenty four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the Garrison are to be put to the torch, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch- the enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country. The letter was signed in Victory or death .

The Alamo was large enough to man 1,000 Soldiers, yet they numbered 188 on a good day. Day after day, Santa Anna attacked the Alamo as Mexican troops continued to arrive. It is estimated that there were nearly 7,000 Soldiers that besieged the Alamo.

Finally, on March 6, Santa Anna stormed the Alamo on all 4 fronts. The north wall was breached allowing the Mexicans to pour into the mission compound. The defenders fought valiantly throughout the compound drawing knives and using their rifles as clubs. The last point taken was the church. Davy Crockett and six of his men were still fighting as they were surrounded. They were executed by order of Santa Anna.

I have always loved to watch the Fess Parker Movie of Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Frontier”, John Wayne’s “The Alamo” (1960) and in 2004, “The Alamo” Staring Billy Bob Thornton. I’ve been to the site on a number of occasions.


During the Summer of 2006, I was in San Antonio meeting with some of the Catholics that I had met with who were part of the Defenders of the Catholic Faith (DCL).

This is a Message Board sponsored by Steve Ray, author of “Upon This Rock” and “Crossing The Tiber”. Recently, he is known for his work on the “Footprints of God” series which is an excellent DVD collection of Moses, David, Jesus, Mary, Peter, Paul, and the Early Church Fathers.

We took the tour of the Alamo and was about to take some pictures when a man began preaching in front of the Alamo.

He caught my attention as he began speaking against the Catholic Faith. As the crowd began to assemble, I went through the crowd as I listened to him talk.

I would ask someone what religion they were and a number of them responded back, “Catholic”. I did find a couple of people who was with this preacher as he continued on with his story. I began to confront him when he said something contrary to what the Church believes.

He would claim that Catholics worship Mary. I moved up to him saying this was not true. He then proceeded to tell people that Catholics worshiped the Pope. I again responded that this was not true. He then claimed that Catholics worshiped statues.

I again denied his claim and began to explain the truth of the subjects as the crowd began to cheer for me. At this, the man took off and was not seen from again!

What a blessing it was to be able to give deepertruth of what the Catholic Church taught. What a blessing this was to be able to give a defense for the Catholic Faith right there at the Alamo.


As a side note, while stationed in Iraq in 2009, I was at Sadr City just not far from Baghdad.

We were defending JSS positions which concrete barriers separated us from the Iraqi population.

In Sadr City, there was a zone that Americans did not cross. In the Spring of 2009, there had been planned a million man march that was suppose to go near our JSS.

The concern for violence was great as we were placed on total alert. Images of the Alamo was on my mind.

Fortunately, on that particular day, it rained real good and the crowd was much smaller than anticipated. Praise the Lord!




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