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"Fannin and his 300 relieve the Alamo!!" Topic

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Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Dec 2021 1:14 p.m. PST

Hypothetical question:
If Col. Fannin and his aprox. 300 muskets had made it to the Alamo --more then doubling the defenders --- would it have made any difference at all?
If not --how many MORE men would they have needed?
300-500 more so as to completely man the long extended walls of the fortress or was it simlpy indefensible?
OR -- was it as Billy Bob Thornton said -- "were going to need alot more men !"

Russ Dunaway

doc mcb16 Dec 2021 1:52 p.m. PST

I have a Fannin at the Alamo scenario in BLOODY DAWN.

The extra rifles surely help, though Fannin would have added only a few more guns, iirc two six pounders. But Santa Anna would have also had the 1000+ men who were at Goliad.

My imagined scenario has SA using his heavier guns to breach the walls in several places. (Remember it was the Mexican Army that fortified the Alamo in the first place; they knew where the weak spots were.)

It makes for a very different game, for certain, and lots more Mexican casualties, but my sense is that the Alamo was doomed regardless.

William Warner16 Dec 2021 2:09 p.m. PST

With 300 more men, the defenders might have been able to put up more of a fight--more men to push down ladders and club ambitions attackers if they got over the walls. Santa Anna might have had to fall back until his artillery could batter down the walls and make the fort untenable. In addition, a repulse might have dampened his men's enthusiasm for a second try. But in actuality, it would have been difficult for Fannin's men to reach the Alamo without being detected and overwhelmed, since they would have Urrea's column behind them, and Santa Anna's in front. Opinions are cheap, and this is mine--William Warner Fannin (very distantly related), a born San Antonian.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Dec 2021 2:56 p.m. PST

Wow, actually answered by a descendent of Fannin -- impressive.
Nonetheless-- the question states that Fannin DID make it to the Alamo.

Russ Dunawau

doc mcb16 Dec 2021 3:17 p.m. PST

The Alamo garrison was a battalion; Fannin had two more battalions with him. And Fannin was a full colonel and would have commanded the whole force, a regiment.

I've gamed the Fannin scenario half a dozen times, and have found the Alamo perimeter is just too long, even for a larger defense force. It does increase Mexican losses a lot, though.

With a balloon-type defense, all the Mexicans have to do is seize a part of the perimeter. The larger garrison makes it harder to take the Alamo in a single assault, but a determined Mexican attacker will still prevail.

doc mcb16 Dec 2021 6:01 p.m. PST

I have found, playing the historical assault, that the defenders do better when they make little or no attempt to hold every stretch of wall, and instead concentrate on the redoubts where their guns are located, most of which can be wheeled around to fire inside the compound. The west wall is all but indefensible, but a Mexican breakthrough there can come under heavy fire from the bastions on the north and south walls. These strongpoints will collapse eventually, but not as quickly as a balloon-type defense does.

Having Fannin's men makes it tempting to try to hold the west wall, but it is still impossible, especially if the Mexicans have breached it in a couple of places.

HMS Exeter16 Dec 2021 8:30 p.m. PST

Just from a logistical standpoint, does not the 300 additional mouths hasten the food exhaustion end point of the siege?

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Dec 2021 9:36 p.m. PST

How was SA feeding/supplying his army ?
I honestly do not know?
Would Houston have began a march west --as the siege wore on-- attracting and gathering more and more men as he advanced?
Was it not SA that was in a "hostile" land?

Russ Dunaway

HMS Exeter17 Dec 2021 2:56 a.m. PST

I read an interesting book on "The Texas Navy" in which the capture of a Mexican supply ship was supposed to have obliged the Mexican column nearest the coast to retire. The premise was that the loss of these fresh troops and the victory at San Jacinto made Texas independence possible.

doc mcb17 Dec 2021 7:16 a.m. PST

Al Nofi's book has a good chapter on te naval war. The small Texian navy did prevent mexican resupply by sea.

The steamboat "Yellowstone" out of New Orleans made Brazos Houston's supply base.


Oddball17 Dec 2021 8:06 a.m. PST

I'm pretty confident that if Fannin had gone to the Alamo or stayed behind the walls in Goliad, he would have done better than he did in real life.

For those that don't know, he marched out of the fort (Goliad), got caught in the open by the Mexicans and captured.

The Mexicans then shot all 500 men captured.

doc mcb17 Dec 2021 8:50 a.m. PST

Better, sure. Couldn't have done any worse!

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2021 9:20 a.m. PST

Agree with docmb on what happens when/if SA assaults. However, would more men have made SA not assualt but take longer to batter the walls. And what does this do to the timeline? How precarious was SA's supply line? Would he have retreated before assaulting?

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2021 10:12 a.m. PST

He would have done better than in real life but that's not saying much – plus if it meant Urrea was present at the Alamo not good since IMHO he was a much, much better commander than Santa Anna

doc mcb17 Dec 2021 2:01 p.m. PST


Haven't read it yet but this thesis looks like a place to start about logistics.

Skimming the conclusion, looks like they foraged, The column operating along the coast was able to take a lot of useful supplies from abandoned settlements. but the central columns suffered great privation. And the Texans, fleeing towards the US after the Alamo fell, burned most of what they left behind. Looks like the army was on half rations pretty much all the time.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Dec 2021 4:04 p.m. PST

As I asked, If the Alamo had been reinforced enough to cause more of a prolonged siege -- would Houston have began a hasty advance westward, possibly gathering strength with more men and supplies rushing to join?
In a weird way SA was the invader and could only grow weaker as the Texicans could grow stonger?

Russ Dunaway

doc mcb17 Dec 2021 5:01 p.m. PST

Well, Houston was very far from an undisputed commander; he had vigorous opponents both within the army and among the government. IF the siege had, let's say, doubled in length, make it an even 30 days -- I suspect the pressure to relieve the Alamo would have been very great, whatever Houston's own inclination.

I don't know how much of Houston's strength at San Jcinto was recently arrived from the US. A few companies of "deserting" US regulars?

The Texan militia was mostly mounted, fwiw.

It would have been a completely different situation, for certain.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Dec 2021 9:36 p.m. PST

"Houston Was far from an undisputed commander."
This is why I believe he may have began rapidly advancing west if the siege had lasted?

Public pressure is a terrible thing.

Question: would his forces have grown stronger as perhaps people would flock to the cry of " deliver the Alamo?
Also -- if Fannin had made it to the Alamo, could SA have turned to face Houston with a force this size behind him?
OR -- does SA cavalry make any open field engagement mute ??
Do the Texas long rifles play in anyway -- or just stuff of legend ?
Was San Jacinto an act of providence?

Russ Dunaway

HMS Exeter17 Dec 2021 10:29 p.m. PST

Just an observation, but it seems like the entire withdrawal and refugee flight was away from SA and towards the US border and the "out of bounds" safety of the Sabine River.

I don't see Houston heading west.

doc mcb18 Dec 2021 9:56 a.m. PST

As to Providance, yes, I see God's hand throughout history, and certainly here.

Houston would not have WANTED to move west, but then he evidently did not want to move south to San Jacinto, but rather northeast towards the deep piney woods and the US support at Nacadoches. There was great pressure on him to be more aggressive, and a prolonged Alamo siege would have intensified that.

I think Houston would have had very nearly 100% mobilization -- which was still probably fewer men than SA had.

Some historians say the Mexican cavalry was so poorly fed (due to crossing the plains in the winter, no grass) that they were less effective. Dunno.

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