San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 10
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SAN ANTONIO DE BEXAR.
bly fenced with a wall, but not of the importance of the main Convenit yard. The
Convent, the Convent yard, the prison building already mentioned, and which
was existing till 1866, (when a storm blew the roof off) or later, the space imme-
diately in front of the Alamo Church which was protected by a temporary
battery stockade of cedar posts and earthworks stretching from the prison build-
ing to the southwest corner of the Church, and lastly, the Church itself, were the
chief scenes of the siege of February and March, 186. In the Church the last
desperate stand of the remnant of the defenders was made. These portions of
the Mission were those that in these later troubles were commonly understood to
constitute the fortress of the Alamo. While some of the dwellings might have
been used and undoubtedly were used as barracks by larger forces, it could not
have been but impossible for a handful of men (less than 180) to have manned
the whole extensive original walls of the Mission square. Indeed, tradition says
that much of the western and northern boundaries of the large Mission square
had been destroyed in 1835, before the siege, and that even the prison portion
was abandoned quite early in the siege, though still covered by unerring marks-
men with the long rifles which the Texans knew so well how to handle. Before,
General Cos did much to damage the place as a tenable fortress and during and
after the siege, the walls were dismantled. Piecemeal, " here a little and there a
little," the old Mission has been improved off the face of the earth. Very for-
lorn and dilapidated must it have appeared when it left the hands of Santa Anna
and his myrmidons in the spring of 1836. " The Alamo," says Kendall, writing
of 1841 " is now in ruins, only two or three of the houses being inhabited."
For thirteen or fourteen years after " the fall," the place remained in a
state of almost absolute ruin. For much less than a century had this
church stood in the beauty of completeness. There are strong evidences
that the Alamo Church in original general design resembled the Church
of the Mission Concepcion, that is to say, it had a carved front, on either side of
which was a tower with baptismal or vestry rooms at their bases, with belfries in
their second stories. Both Churches were built in the form of the cross and had
similar arches and arched stone roofs. The Alamo Church, probably like the
Mission Concepcion Church, had a dome at the intersection of the cross arches.
Here, perhaps, the resemblance between the two Churches ceased Now, long
before the siege, tradition says, the towers had disappeared, the roof and dome had
mostly fallen in, but what was left of the walls stood bravely up. These thick,
strong walls, the Convent with its yard and the carcel or prison entrance were
recognized by the many military leaders of the various factions and armies in the
struggles and troublous times of the early part of the present century as about
the safest harbor of refuge the neighborhood afforded, as at times others of the
Missions were considered good frontier fortresses.
About the year 1849, Major E. B. Babbitt, acting Quartermaster of the
Eighth Military Department, and father of the present popular commander of the
Arsenal, Major Lawrence S. Babbitt, took possession of the Alamo buildings in
the name of the U. S. Government to use them as a Quartermaster's Depot.
The ownership of the Alamo was disputed at this time, the city claiming it on
the one side, the Roman Catholic Church upon the other. The city claimed
from Major E. B. Babbitt, on January 3d, 1850, rents due for the occupation of
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/26/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.