On March 6, 1836, the Alamo garrison fell, and the fortress that had been a mission became a shrine.
Francisco Antonio Ruiz was the Acalde (mayor) of San Antonio. He was an eyewitness to the events of that day.
Twenty-four years later, in 1860, Don Poncho (as Ruiz was known), recounted what he had seen for the Texas Almanac. (Don Poncho's father, Don Francisco Ruiz, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence four days before the Alamo fell.)
Below is his account in full.
Fall of the Alamo, and Massacre of Travis
and His Brave Associates
by Francisco Antonio Ruiz
Translated by J. A. Quintero
On the 6th of March at 3 a.m. General Santa Anna at the head of 4000 men, advanced against the Alamo. The infantry, artillery and cavalry had formed about 1000 varas from the walls of said fortress.
The Mexican army charged and were twice repulsed by the deadly fire of Travis' artillery, which resembled a constant thunder. At the third charge the Toluca battalion commenced to scale the walls and suffered severely. Out of 800 men, only 130 were left alive.
When the Mexican army had succeeded in entering the walls, I with Political Chief (Jefe Politico) Don Ramon Musquiz, and other members of the corporation, accompanied the curate Don Refugio de la Garza, who, by Santa Anna's orders had assembled during the night, at a temporary fortification erected in Potrero Street, with the object of attending the wounded.
As soon as the storming commenced, we crossed the bridge on Commerce Street with this object in view, and about 100 yards from the same a party of Mexican dragoons fired upon us and compelled us to fall back on the river to the place occupied before.
Half an hour had elapsed when Santa Anna sent one of his aides with an order for us to come before him. He directed me to call upon some of the neighbors to come with carts to carry the dead to the cemetery, and also to accompany him, as he was desirous to have Colonels Travis, Bowie and Crockett shown to him.
On the north battery of the fortress lay the lifeless body of Colonel Travis on the gun carriage shot only in the forehead.
Toward the west in a small fort opposite the city we found the body of Colonel Crockett.
Colonel Bowie was found dead in his bed in one of the rooms of the south side.
Santa Anna, after the Mexicans were taken out, ordered wood to be brought to burn the bodies of the Texans. He sent a company of dragoons with me to bring wood and dry branches from the neighboring forests.
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the next day they commenced laying wood and dry branches upon which a file of dead bodies were placed, more wood was piled on them and another file brought, and in this manner all were arranged in layers. Kindling wood was distributed through the pile and at 8 o'clock it was lighted.
The dead Mexicans of Santa Anna's army were taken to the graveyard, but not having sufficient room for them, I ordered some of them to be thrown in the river, which was done on the same day. Santa Anna's loss estimated at 1600 men. These were the flower of his army.
The gallantry of the few Texans who defended the Alamo were really wondered at by the Mexican army. Even the generals were astonished at their vigorous resistance, and how dearly the victory had been bought.
The generals who, under Santa Anna, participated in the storming of the Alamo were Juan Amador, Castrillion Ramirez and Asesma Andrade.
The men burned numbered 182. I was an eye witness, for as Alcalde of San Antonio, I was with some of the neighbors collecting the dead bodies and placing them on the funeral pyre.
(Signed) Francisco Antonio Ruiz
For more on the men who sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, take a look at The Alamo Defenders by Dr. Amelia Williams. She did the original research in the 1920s and nearly every study that has come after is based on her work.