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The Alamo


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The Garrison at the Alamo inflicted Casualties of 1/3 of the Attacking Force. If the Goliad Garrison of 300 men had reinforced the Alamo could they have changed the outcome or at least the timeline? Would have changed the ratio from 6-1 to around 3-1 on the day of the attack.

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The defeat was still pretty much a foregone conclusion. The defenders were completely surrounded, outmanned and outgunned. The Alamo complex was not completely surrounded by high picket walls or stone walls. There were a coouple of places where Mexican ladders were not even needed to enter the compound because the redoubt was so low to the ground. Also, the defenders had received 13 straight nights of artillery bombardment in a form of sleep deprivation, so they were not at their peak physical condition. The only way that the Goliad Garrison could have turned the tide is if it had secretly arrived and conducted an attack on Santa Anna's rear echelons to divert attention from the Alamo itself.

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  • 11 months later...

Strictly speaking the Alamo had more than twice (and in several cases heavier) artillery pieces than the mexicans and not enough men to man them all properly without leaving enough as infantry so in theory extra men might be useful. However in practice it does not mean much as siege batteries, by virtue of being small spread out(and easily repaired if hit) targets concentrating fire on a single large one (usually from favorable angles and possibly locations) had the upper hand even when heavily outnumbered. Of course the Alamo was not a proper fortress but neither mexican artillery was of the heavy type so basics should still apply.

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300 extra men entering the fort would have more than doubled the strength of the garrison. But let's say only 200 men from Goliad actually got in. That would still double the strength of the garrison. That not only increases fighting power, but also increases labor power to improve fortifications. It would probably have made a difference in the endurance of the Garrison, if not the final outcome. Or it might have made a difference. Too much is unknown about the actual condition of the fort, Santa Ana's army, etc.

 

WRT the Mexican use of artillery against the fort, it's an interesting question whether the Mexican artillerists were technically qualified to employ ricochet fire, or do more than randomly bombard. Certainly Santa Ana didn't open a formal siege with saps, parallels, fortified batteries, etc. This actually goes some way to answering the question about the effect of a much larger garrison -- If Santa Ana could not have taken the place by storm, could he have blockaded the fort long enough to starve the garrison out? Or did he have to reach a decisive conclusion at the Alamo come what may? Could he have against a garrison twice the size? Would he have to wreck his army to do so?

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Santa Anna lost a great portion of his army on his winter forced march from southern Mexico to San Antonio - due to frostbite, disease and being attacked by Indians along the way. But, he still had several thousand by the time he got there.

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Santa Anna lost a great portion of his army on his winter forced march from southern Mexico to San Antonio - due to frostbite, disease and being attacked by Indians along the way. But, he still had several thousand by the time he got there.

 

Several thousand? I'd believe anywhere between 2,000 and 2,500, given that Santa Ana had less than 1,600 men just a month and a half later at San Jacinto. Yes, he had battle casualties at the Alamo, probably had disease casualties on the subsequent march, and even left garrisons along the axis of advance. But to believe that thousands were whittled down to the equivalent of two or three battalions between the Alamo and San Jacinto is asking a lot.

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  • 3 months later...

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