Terry Eastland reviews The Blood of Heroes for the Wall Street Journal:
In the fall of 1835, angered by the rebellion in the Texas colonies, the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, organized an army of more than 5,000 soldiers and marched north. In January 1836, he crossed the Rio Grande, heading for the town of San Antonio de Béxar, the base he thought he needed to make good his vow to destroy "those who wished to betray the territory of Texas."
But San Antonio was no longer in Mexican control. Three hundred rebels had taken it in December, evicting the Mexican units led by Gen. Martin Perfecto de Cos, the only Mexican military presence in the territory, (That Cos was Santa Anna's brother-in-law meant that family honor was also at stake in the decision to head for San Antonio.) The colonists thought they had triumphed. A small garrison of 100 rebels, mostly volunteers from the United States rather than Texan settlers, was established in the town. Meanwhile, Sam Houston, the former governor of Tennessee who had settled in Nacogdoches, had been named commander in chief of such armed forces as there were. Houston was one of the few colonists who thought the Mexicans would return in force.
When news reached San Antonio that Santa Anna was heading their way, the rebels began sending out urgent calls for aid. The famous backwoodsman Davy Crockett arrived with 15 or 16 Tennessee volunteers in early February, but, despite the expectations of large-scale reinforcements, the town's defenders numbered no more than 150 when Santa Anna and his army approached on Feb. 21.
Under the command of William Barret Travis and Jim Bowie, the garrison withdrew into the fort known as the Alamo, a three-acre compound that included a large courtyard, barracks and an armory—and also a chapel built in 1718. Santa Anna had declared that the rebels would be shown no mercy. After Mexican soldiers secured the town, they raised the red flag of no quarter on top of San Fernando Church and sent a courier giving the garrison a chance to surrender. Travis ordered a single shot from an eight-pound cannon as a response.
Whole thing here.