The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Catholic mission and fortress compound in San Antonio, Texas. It was originally built by Spain in the 18th Century as a center of education for the Native Americans, but was abandoned by 1793 It was used by the Mexican army during Mexico's war for independence as both a garrison and as a prison.
It was actually the site of two military conflicts during the Texas Revolution; it was taken from the Mexican garrison by Texians in 1835. The more famous and symbolically important Battle of the Alamo took place the following year, where the Texian garrison, led by William Travis and James Bowie, was besieged, overwhelmed, and ultimately slaughtered by a force led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
In the decade after Texas independence, the Alamo again fell into disuse. In 1849, not long after Texas joined the United States, United States Army Major E.B. Babbitt saw to the Alamo's restoration, creating a much more defensible position. The Confederate States Army used the Alamo during the American Civil War, after its then commander, David E. Twiggs, elected to surrender it to Benjamin McCulloch and Sam Maverick. Once the Union was restored, the U.S. Army again took control.
Subsequently, in 1876, the United States divested itself of the complex. The central chapel came to be controlled by the Daughters of the Texas Revolution, while other buildings were given to mercantile purposes. After protracted legislation involving rival factions of the DRT, the Alamo became a museum in the 1960s.
Note: It should be remembered that the Alamo does NOT have a basement.
Alamo in "Lee at the Alamo"
In February and March of 1861, the Alamo again became the sight of a crucial symbolic battle when Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Department of Texas, elected not to surrender the Alamo and other U.S. Army property, including munitions, to Colonel Benjamin McCulloch of the Texas Militia. Instead, Lee and his men retreated into the Alamo and withstood a siege for weeks in what became the first battle of the American Civil War.
In this battle, however, the defenders were not slaughtered to the last man as in the first battle. Instead, after Confederate troops successfully breached on of the Alamo's walls, Lee decided to ask for terms of surrender and parole, which McCulloch granted.