T HE Mexians took over the town of San Antonio. They hoisted the red flag on the church of San Fernando. This red flag meant that no quarter would be given the defenders of the Alamo.
Santa Anna sent a messenger to Colonel Travis. He demanded the surrender of the Alamo. The gallant Travis refused to surrender.
Day after day new troops joined the Mexican army. Day after day Santa Anna attacked the Alamo. The attacks cost him dearly. Many Mexicans were killed but not a soldier in the Alamo had been killed.
"Crockett," said Colonel Travis, "the siege of the Alamo has been on for over a week. Every day we have waited and hoped for help from Goliad. Help has not arrived. I have one hundred and eighty-three brave men fighting against heavy odds."
"I know," answered Davy quietly. "I talked to Colonel Bowie in the hospital. He wants to know the truth."
"I saw Colonel Bowie there a few minutes ago," said Travis.
"I have lied to him about our getting help," said Davy. "I could not tell him the truth."
"I couldn't either," replied Travis. "But I think he knows. I know how he must feel because I am sick, too. But that makes no difference now. We will not abandon the Alamo."
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in," called Colonel Travis. An officer entered.
"General Santa Anna has just sent another messenger under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of the Alamo," he reported.
"What are his terms?" asked Colonel Travis.
"Immediate surrender!" replied the officer.
"Surrender! Never!" shouted Davy, taking a firmer grip on Old Betsy.
"Wait a minute, Crockett," said Colonel Travis. "I will handle this. I am in command. Here is my answer to General Santa Anna. One of our brass six-pounders is trained on San Fernando in which the general has his headquarters. Crockett, you may have the privilege of touching off the six-pounder."
"That's the kind of talk the men will want to hear, Colonel. Thank you for letting me speed the answer to Santa Anna," and Davy dashed out of the room.
"Have all the men assemble in the chapel at once!" Colonel Travis said to the officer. "I must talk to them."
"Yes, Sir," answered the officer, as he saluted and left the room.
The roar of the smoothbore came from the outer wall. The men set up a shout. Then, as the word to assemble in the chapel was passed among them, they left their posts and went in groups of two and three into the chapel. They lowered their voices and they went inside as though to divine service.
The soldiers moved aside as Colonel Bowie was brought in on a cot. When the men were all quiet, Colonel Travis cleared his throat and spoke. He said, "General Santa Anna has demanded the surrender of the Alamo."
The men shifted from one foot to the other. A murmur arose among them. Colonel Travis held up his hand.
"I have answered that demand through Davy Crockett. The answer was a shot from the brass six-pounder on the wall. Crockett fired the shot."
Colonel Travis paused. He looked about at the men who filled one end of the chapel. His right hand sought the grip of his sword. He looked at Colonel Bowie. There was a slight nod from him. Travis continued, "I am sending out another message asking for help. Assistance may yet come from Goliad. If it does not come, all we can do is fight. But every man has the right to decide for himself whether or not he will stay here and fight or try to escape. There is still time." He paused again.
"We will put it to a vote," he said. He lifted his sword. He reached out with it and drew a line on the floor.
"Now," said Colonel Travis, "those who wish to stay, step over this line."
Colonel Bowie pulled at the trouser leg of a soldier standing near his cot; he nodded to another. Without a word having been spoken the two men lifted the cot holding Colonel Bowie and set it across the line.
Every man in the chapel stepped over the line.
"Men," Colonel Travis said, "you have decided. May God be with us."
It was over; the fate of the garrison of the Alamo was decided. No man's face expressed regret. Every chin was set in grim determination.
For eleven days these gallant Texans defended the Alamo. If they had any sleep they slept at their posts. What little they had to eat, they ate there, also. They had no relief, no rest, and no help from the outside.
All day Friday, March 4th, 1836, the Mexicans kept up a heavy artillery fire. This continued on Saturday, March 5th, until late at night when it suddenly stopped.
At four o'clock on Sunday morning, March 6th, the notes of a single bugle in the Mexican camp sounded. Immediately a Mexican band began to play.
"The Deguello! The Deguello! Cutthroat! Cutthroat!" the cry went from one man to another in the Alamo. The Deguello and the red flag went hand in hand. They both meant that no quarter would be given.
Santa Anna with his army of five thousand men opened the assault on the Alamo. It began with artillery fire directed at the walls around the place. A column of infantry advanced from each of the four sides. They edged the cannon closer and ever closer.
Inside the wall Davy Crockett fought valiantly. He was surrounded by his own men. After the attack had begun, Pirate, Red Fox, Bee Hunter, and Thimblerig were on the wall with Davy. Davy was the best shot in the garrison.
"Look at that Mexican cannoneer over there. He is aiming his piece to fire at us. I consider that impertinent," said Davy.
"There is not much you can do about it. He is too far away," said Pirate.
"He is not too far away for Old Betsy," said Davy as he brought his rifle to his shoulder. He sighted for a moment. Old Betsy spat spitefully. The five friends watched the cannoneer. He stood for a moment, then slumped to the ground where he lay still.
"You're right about Old Betsy," said Bee Hunter.
Mexican infantry kept coming closer and closer. Davy was so busy picking off Mexican officers in gaudy uniforms that he no longer had time to reload his rifle.
"You just keep knocking them off. We will do the reloading for you," said Thimblerig.
"Yes, we can stop more Mexicans that way," said Pirate. "We don't want you to waste your time reloading. The four of us can keep you supplied with loaded rifles. You do the shooting."
"Travis has given word that the last man is to touch off the powder magazine," said Bee Hunter.
"Men are remembered for the way they die, not for the way they lived," said Thimblerig.
The Mexicans swarmed to the walls. On the south side, the Mexican cannon forced an opening through the wall. The Mexicans poured into the plaza. Davy Crockett and his men fought their way to the chapel.
Inside the chapel men fought hand to hand. A little band of the defenders were driven, a step at a time, up the stairway to the loft. Soon only five men were left. They climbed to the roof. They were Davy Crockett, Bee Hunter, Pirate, Red Fox, and Thimblerig.
"Thimblerig, you have shown yourself to be a man," said Davy as he clubbed the heads that appeared above the opening. Thimblerig tumbled over the edge of the roof. A Mexican sharpshooter from the plaza had found the range.
Davy swung steadily at the heads which kept coming up out of the opening on the roof. Old Betsy was heavy. Every time she landed on a skull, a dead Mexican fell back from the ladder. But the Mexicans kept coming up.
"Good-by, Pirate and Red Fox," called Davy as these two friends fell. "And you, too, Bee Hunter," as he saw the last of his companions fall over the edge of the roof.
Still the Mexicans came on and on.
Davy stood there alone, Old Betsy in his hand.
"Liberty and Independence," Davy called in a ringing voice. "Go ahead, Texas! Go ahead, America!" Then slowly he slumped over the bodies of dead Mexicans. Old Betsy clattered to the floor and lay beside Davy's coonskin cap.
All of the brave, gallant defenders of the Alamo were dead. The flag of Independent Texas was pulled down. The Mexicans reclaimed the Alamo. But only for a short time. The people of Texas inspired by the heroes of the Alamo won their freedom. Their battle cry was "Remember the Alamo!"
Davy Crockett died as he had lived, with courage, loyalty, and honor. He was one of the men who helped to make our country strong and free. He knew and believed in the people of a new frontier. He had faith in the future of America.