The Battle of the Alamo by Ben H. Proctor

This 2nd book in TSHA’s (Texas State Historical Association) Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series (list of the series here) starts on December 4, 1835, with Ben Milam challenging the Texas rag tag army to attack the Mexican army under General Cos that was entrenched in San Antonio. The Texans pushed the Mexican army across the San Antonio River, leading Cos to negotiate terms to leave Texas forever.

But obviously that is not the end of the story. Ben Proctor’s concise but thorough history describes the build up, the battle and the aftermath. As with the other books in this series, the included black and white images and references are superb.

The Texas revolutionaries, appealing to words and ideas that inspired Americans, spread the word of Mexican oppression, causing a flood of volunteers from all parts of the young country. Proctor gives a good background on this, including a brief bio of Jim Bowie, sent to destroy the Alamo but partnering with Col. James Neill in declaring “we would rather die in these ditches than give them to the enemy.”

The arrival of William Barret Travis on February 3 and Davy Crockett on February 8 completed the legendary triumvirate. Proctor describes each, including the rivalry between Travis and Bowie, resolved ultimately through Bowie’s ongoing illness. He then moves to describe Santa Anna, bent on making a statement after Cos’ defeat. The description of Santa Anna’s army, including Mayan conscripts who did not speak Spanish, and the harsh march from Mexico to San Antonio, is particularly well written.

The commanders of the Alamo were surprised at the size of Santa Anna’s force, and set several legendary requests for aid. But, after many days of siege, cannon fire and nightly bugle calls, on March 6 the fort was breached, it’s defenders killed.

The Battle of the Alamo has 9 excellent black and white images, and is 40 pages in the print edition. This review is of the Kindle edition.

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