The Siege of the Alamo
Story and the Songs
By Bernard J. Taylor
Click on the highlighted titles to hear the songs.
My approach to the telling of this story was to
try and capture some insight into the character and spirit of those who
came together at the Alamo - the lesser known as well as the more famous
names like Bowie, Crockett and Travis.
The show begins with THE ALAMO
ANTHEM, sung by a chorus. In the next song, LIBERTY, William Barrett Travis, who became the final
commander at The Alamo, explains his view of what true liberty is all about.
But the appeal of liberty and land attracted people of varying backgrounds
from all over America and beyond and I have tried to capture their pioneering
spirit in captured in the song RIDING THE WIND.
The next scene shows the Mexican commander of San Antonio,
General Cos, being confronted by General Burleson, the leader of a group
who have just taken over the Alamo . Their confrontation is expressed in
CRY FOR INDEPENDENCE). But in Mexico, Santa Anna vows revenge on the people
have dared to try to defy his rule. In the next song, SANTA
, Santa Anna vents his fury over the challenge to his authority.
Jim Bowie arrives at the Alamo with orders from Sam Huston
to blow up San Antonio so that Santa Anna has nothing to recapture. But
Bowie is a troubled man. His beloved wife Ursula and their son have recently
died in Mexico during the plague epidemic. San Antonio had become Bowie's
home after he married Ursula, the daughter of a Mexican settler whose forebears
had been Spanish aristocrats. He is a man TORN BETWEEN TWO CULTURES, as
he confesses in his first song .
But Bowie's doubts about what he should do are put to
rest by Juan Seguin, a long time Hispanic resident of Bexar County, who
reminds him that there are many people of Mexican and Spanish descent in
Texas who are just as opposed to the regime of Santa Anna as the Anglo-American
inhabitants of Texas. Juan Seguin has no doubts where his loyalties lie,
as he makes clear in the song I AM A TEJANO.
Bowie sets about restoring the morale of the men at the
Alamo, who - having very little to do as they wait for Santa Anna to march
on San Antonio - have been growing restless and bored since they took over
San Antonio from the Mexican army. One of them, Dr James Grant, who owns
vast tracts of land in Texas, is keen to march on Mexico and grab some
more land. In the song TIRED OF WAITING he attempts to incite the men of
the Alamo to follow him on a treasure hunt in the Mexican area of Metamaros.
More than half the fighting force at San Antonio choose
to follow Dr Grant, leaving barely a hundred men behind with few provisions.
But Bowie is not deterred. He feels more comfortable without people like
Dr Grant around. He decides that rather than blow up San Antonio, he will
help restore the morale of the remaining men by getting them to fortify
The Alamo. Morale grows daily and becomes even higher when the legendary
Davy Crockett arrives with his Tennessee fighters, along with William Travis
and his force of volunteers. Bowie introduces the new arrivals to the men
at The Alamo, who include people from across the Atlantic Ocean. In the
FOREIGNERS' SONG some of these men tell why they are there.
Also among the foreign contingent is a melancholy young
Scotsman, David Wilson, who a year earlier had never set foot outside the
highlands of Scotland. In WHEN I LEFT THE GLEN
he tells how he ended
up in Texas.
Like Bowie, Crockett is not quite the man he used to be.
Still a formidable fighter, even though he is in his fifties, he has become
disillusioned after failing to be re-elected to Congress. He has left Tennessee
with the message to the electorate that they can all go to hell while he
has chosen to go to Texas. The experience has also left him questioning
the reality of who he really is and the legend that has grown up around
him. ( THE LEGEND AND THE MAN)
Like most if not all of those who have come to Texas,
Crockett is looking for A PLACE IN THE SUN - which is the title of the
song which closes the first half of the Alamo story.
In the second act, the story resumes with news that Santa
Anna is on his way to San Antonio - much earlier than anyone expected and
with an army of 4000 men, vastly outnumbering the fighting force of less
than 200 at the Alamo. Appeals are sent out for reinforcements - Travis
writes to many newspapers and fighting forces across America - but they
know that time is not on their side and that Santa Anna will be at the
walls of The Alamo before any of the fighting forces from other states
can reach them. The closest force is at least two days away in Goliad,
where Colonel Fannin has around 200 under his command. The sense of impending
danger underlines the thoughts expressed by Micajah Autry, a writer and
poet, as he writes home to his wife in the song THINKING OF
But what of the women waiting anxiously at home for news
of their men? In the song, APART , one expresses the thoughts that many
of these women may have been thinking while their men were facing danger
many hundreds of miles away.
Soon the Alamo is surrounded by Santa Anna's men. The
Mexican army band plays a constant hymn of hate, trying to sap the spirits
of the men inside the Alamo. The tension is conveyed in an instrumental
reprise of CRY FOR INDEPENDENCE, this time simply called CONFRONTATION.
As the tension builds up, Crockett calls for a show of defiance by holding
a fiesta and enjoying themselves before the fighting begins. This defiasnce
is expressed in a jaunty, rousing song in the fiesta spirit, appropriately
entitled FIESTA TIME . This is followed by the FIESTA DANCE.
After the defeat of General Cos, there has inevitably
been a lot of fraternising between the fighting men and the people of San
Antonio, and a romance has blossomed between a Kentucky lawyer, Daniel
Cloud, and a San Antonio girl of Mexican descent, Consuela Esparza. Daniel
had come to Texas to escape the heartbreak of betrayal by the girl he had
loved back home. The romance between him and Consuela has blossomed in
spite of his vow never to love again. But now Daniel faces a new kind of
heartache in the song PERHAPS ONE DAY as he says goodbye to Consuela, who
has heeded his pleas to leave San Antonio for safety.
On the eve of battle, Jim Bowie collapses. He has been
fighting off illness for a while, but he - like everybody else - realises
that he is about to die, whether or not he is able to survive the battle
with Santa Anna. But Bowie is not afraid of death. In the song BOWIE'S
LAMENT, he welcomes death as a release from the loneliness he has suffered
since his wife and child were killed by the plague.
William Travis is left in charge of the men at the Alamo.
Trying to buy time, Crockett urges him to set up negotiations with Santa
Anna. There is little hope of an honourable settlement of the dispute with
Santa Anna, but an envoy is sent to discuss it with Santa Anna. Santa Anna,
as expected, is immovable - though he is willing to spare the men inside
the Alamo if they are willing to surrender unconditionally and to promise
to leave Texas forever. In the song SURRENDER OR DIE, Santa Anna lays down
Any final hope of help from outside is dashed when Captain
Bonham bravely returns from a visit to Fannin at Goliad to tell Travis
and Crockett that Fannin has decided to fortify Goliad and fight Santa
Anna there. Hearing this news, Captain Almeron Dickinson - one of the few
men to have his family with him at The Alamo - urges his wife Susannah
to flee to safety, I CANNOT LEAVE YOU.
Colonel Travis gives the men a choice - to stay and fight
and die as free men, and help those who come after them, or to take their
chances on escape. He offers the same choice to his black slave Joe. When
Joe elects to remain, Travis makes him a fully fledged member of the regiment.
Then he takes his sword and draws A LINE IN THE SAND.
Only one of the men at the Alamo chose to try to escape.
In the battle that followed, all were killed.
The show ends with a song, REMEMBER THE ALAMO
to capture the real meaning of what happened that day.