Revisited Myth # 62: Everyone was killed at the Alamo.


“Remember the Alamo!” became a famous battle cry.

We may remember the Alamo, but we don’t remember who died there. The battle of 1836 was a victory for the Mexican army under General Santa Anna, whose soldiers killed all the Texans who fought against them. But many other men, women, and children in the fort were spared. Historians argue about the exact number—was So-and-so still there or had he left before the final battle?—but it seems that two or three African-American male slaves were spared as were many wives and children of the defenders. And yet, I read a couple of years ago in a textbook intended for Virginia fifth-graders that “everyone at the Alamo perished,” so I’m afraid the myth is still running rampant. 

The official Alamo website tries to correct this: “It is true that nearly all of the Texans under arms inside the fort were killed in the March 6, 1836, attack. However, nearly twenty women and children, who experienced the twelve days of siege leading to the final assault, were spared and allowed to return to their homes. The survivors also included Joe, the slave of William B. Travis. The best-known Alamo survivor, Susanna Dickinson, was sent to Gonzales by Santa Anna with a warning to the Texans that the same fate awaited them if they continued their revolt.”

Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson

Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson

6 Responses to Revisited Myth # 62: Everyone was killed at the Alamo.

  1. Stephen Herchak says:

    Thanks again — I believe the slaves were released because in the Mexican revolution slavery had been abolished (although they permitted Anglo settlers in Texas to have slaves)? Certainly would be interesting to know what happened to them — did they go to freedom? Did they return to the family of their former owner?

    Stephen Herchak

  2. FH7 Productions says:

    As a person who lived in Austin, TX near San Antonio Texas I too have noted that many texts say some of the people were spared, and some lived past the Alamo.

    • Mary Miley says:

      Yes, the Alamo and Texas in general doesn’t have any problems with this myth. It’s the rest of the country. I once found the myth stated in a history text book for 4th and 5th graders.

      • all of the people that did not surrender before the battle did die though. even if they did not die in battle, after Santa Anna had taken the Alamo, he had all of the survivors executed after he got information out of them

      • Mary Miley says:

        Not true. Re-read the post, or go to the Alamo website for correct information.

  3. not everyone at the alamo died, but everybody who stayed for the final battle after the speech was killed. not everyone who stayed was killed in battle, but if they survived, they were later on executed after Santa Anna took over the fort

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