Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Haunted Alamo

James Bowie

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is considered one of the most haunted areas in the United States. 

It was here where the legendary siege of 1836 occurred. During this battle for Texas's independence from Mexico, thousands of Mexican soldiers were killed or wounded, and 182 Texan defenders of the Alamo lost their lives.*

The Alamo was built as a mission to Christianize and educate the Native Americans in the 1700s. 

Before the Battle of the Alamo, the ground near the Alamo Plaza was used as a cemetery between the years 1724-1793. It is estimated that about 1000 people were buried here during this time. 

In the 1830s the mission housed various revolutionaries and rebels. It was at this time that the building was turned into a fortress, high walls and numerous outbuildings were put in place.

Santa Anna
In 1836 General Santa Anna marched on San Antonio with 1,000 troops, his goal was to conquer the rebellious Texans. 

When he arrived on February 23, 1836, 145 Texans took refuse within the fortified grounds of the Alamo. For the next 13 days, a raging battle ensued. 

William B. Travis commanded the regular army, and Jim Bowie commanded the volunteers. They managed to increase their number to 182 men defending the Alamo. 

But Santa Ana’s reinforcements at the same time swelled to 4,000 men.

Outnumbered, the Texans fought valiantly, but Santa Anna’s troops stormed the Alamo on the morning of March 6, 1836, killing most, including William Travis, James Bowie, and Davy Crockett. The Mexican’s won but they paid a dear price for this victory. 

1,600 Mexican soldiers lay dead or wounded. Santa Ana understood this loss. He said, “One more such glorious victory, and we are finished.”

Davy Crockett Fighting

After the battle, the bodies of the Alamo defenders were looted, dismembered, buried in mass graves, dumped in the river, or burned. All of the fallen Mexican soldiers were buried in the area. 

Today, construction crews and utility workers still turn up skulls and other bones when excavating the area.

This long tragic history has resulted in the Alamo being the site for a large number of unsettled souls. For two centuries, tales of apparitions at the old mission have been reported. 

The first ghostly sighting happened only weeks after the Battle of the Alamo. When Santa Anna moved his troops to San Jacinto, near Houston today, he left 1,000 men in San Antonio to control the rebels. 

His plans were waylaid when Sam Houston and his Texican Freedom Fighters captured him in April of 1836. In an attempt at retaliation, he sent messengers to order the total destruction of the Alamo.

William Travis
When Santa Anna’s troops approached the church with torches, a legend states-- six spirits-- in some versions described as the “six Diablo’s” or devils-- suddenly appeared before the front doors of the mission, waving blazing sabers and yelling, “Do not touch these walls!” 

The Mexicans fled in fear, refusing to return even when threatened by their superiors. Some say these spirits were actually monks protecting the mission. 

A second attempt was made to burn the Long House Barracks. However a male spirit arose from the roof, it stood above the Mexican soldiers holding two flaming balls of fire in its outstretched hands. 

At this sight, the soldiers fell to their knees and covered their eyes. Again they refused to return.

For the next ten years, the Alamo lay in ruins.

In 1846 with Texas’ annexation into the United States, the U.S. Army began to occupy the complex; they repaired the old church and the barracks. 

By the late 19th century, the City of San Antonio turned the old mission into police headquarters and the barracks into a jail. 

More tales of ghostly happenings at the Alamo were told. It became common knowledge the area was haunted. 

Between 1894-1897, the prisoners started to complain about seeing ghostly sentries that paced along the roof of the police station, shadows were seen, and moaning sounds were heard by the staff and prisoners. 

Several local newspaper articles were written about this. The guards and watchmen started to refuse to patrol the building after sunset. This caused such an uproar that the prisoners were moved to another location.

Today, apparitions appear to staff and tourists at the Alamo. In fact, there are so many reported sightings, I will just share a few. 

Several Federal Marshals have quit their jobs after encountering wandering entities on the portion of the lawn that covers the old cemetery. 

In the gardens of the mission a spirit cowboy, wearing a black duster and hat, appears dripping wet as if he has ridden through a thunderstorm. Some historians feel this spirit may be one of the 22 dispatch riders that William Travis sent seeking assistance.

One spirit spotted often is a little blonde-haired boy who is seen today in the left upstairs window that houses the Alamo’s gift shop. 

Witnesses state he has a “lonely or forlorn expression.” Some believe this boy returns every February to search for his father who died in the battle. 

Another spirit is of a woman who is near the water well on one side of the church. She appears at night and manifests as a misty torso. 

Many workers will not enter the basement area of the mission because there is a spirit of an Indian who creeps up behind people. As they turn to see who it is, they see him disappear or walk through a solid wall.

Other witnesses report seeing a tall, stately Mexican officer slowly wandering the grounds, his expression is one of great sorrow. He is seen slowly shaking his head with his arms clasped behind his back. 

It is believed he is General Manuel Fernandez de Castrillon, one of Santa Anna’s regimental commanders. He is one of the few officers who opposed the final assault on the Alamo, stating it was bound to be a “bloodbath.” 

Park Rangers, have reported seeing Davy Crockett wearing his coonskin cap and buckskin clothing. His transparent figure is spotted standing guard at various locations holding his flintlock rife.

Many visitors, while on a tour of the grounds, have reported seeing two young boys, aged 10 and 12 that appear suddenly. These boys then tag along with the group until it reaches the sacristy room in the Alamo Church where they mysteriously disappear. 

It is speculated that the two boys were the sons of an Alamo Artilleryman, Anthony Wolfe. They were mistaken for fighters and killed during the final assault when they were spotted hiding in the Alamo church.

Even the spirit of John Wayne has been spotted. People say he was so obsessed about doing research about the battle while he made his movie about the Alamo that he now returns to talk to the real participants who died. 

Here is another post about Wayne's ghost seen on his yacht, the Wild Goose.

*  At least 14 people survived the siege, almost all women and children. One African-American man survived who had fought alongside the defenders. His life was spared when Santa Anna’s soldiers mistakenly felt he was a slave and didn’t fight.

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