Remember the “Haunted” Alamo?

 
 
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The citadel was originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, built as a home for missionaries and their American Indian converts in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and allocated their lands to remaining tribal residents.

In the early 1800s, part of the former mission complex was used as the headquarters of a Spanish cavalry unit. The soldiers posted there dubbed it Alamo, meaning cottonwood, to honor their home, Alamo de Parras, in the Mexican Coahuila province. By the time of the last battle, the fortress was held by Texans.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Photo: Daniel Schwen / CC-BY-SA 4.0

The Alamo: Last Battle

The Alamo is the site where one hundred and eighty-two Americans were slain and sixteen hundred Mexican soldiers were wounded or killed and buried. For two weeks, General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Perez de Lebrón and his men fought the Texans, commanded by William B. Travis and Jim Bowie.

Their forces were vastly outnumbered by the Mexican Army. On that fateful March day, Santa Anna’s troops attacked the Alamo, killing all of the Americans soldiers. Several non-combatant people were left alive so they could tell fellow Texans what would happen if they continued to rebel against the Mexicans. After the fray, the Alamo defenders’ remains were looted, dismembered, burned, thrown into the river or buried in mass graves.

A coffin in the San Fernando Cathedral purports to hold the ashes of the Alamo defenders. However, historians believe it more probable that the ashes were buried near the Alamo. Photo: Svs220 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Ghosts of the Alamo

The first experience with ghosts happened a few days after the last battle. A Mexican Army contingent went to destroy the Alamo due to disease caused by the carnage. The men fled when they saw six spectral Diablos – devils – guarding the fort who screamed at them while waving flaming sabers. When General Andrade investigated the incident, he too, claimed to have seen the Diablos.

Guests at nearby hotels see bizarre specters emanating from the Alamo’s walls. They report hearing screams, explosions, and faint trumpet notes of El Deguello, a bugle call used as a marching song by Mexican Army buglers during the 1836 siege and last battle of the Alamo.

Susanna Dickinson survived the Battle of the Alamo. Santa Anna sent her to spread word of the Texian defeat to the Texas colonists.

A cowboy’s apparition, believed to be a courier, is seen wandering the Alamo’s gardens. One ghost puts his head and shoulders outside a window, then leans back and vanishes. There’s the young spectral blonde boy seen in an upstairs window and walking in the grounds.

A woman’s misty phantom appears next to a well on the site. An American Indian’s ghost is seen in the basement that abruptly vanishes or walks through a wall. A mournful Mexican officer’s phantom wanders through the grounds.

William B. Travis

Many believe he’s the ghost of General Manuel Fernandez de Castrillon, one of Santa Anna’s regimental commanders, who was against the Alamo’s final attack. Davy Crockett’s ghost, dressed in buckskins and a coonskin cap, stands at attention.

Ghosts of a man with a toddler on the roof are seen during sunrise. Two ghostly boys follow tour groups and vanish when the group reaches the sacristy room. They’re thought to be the phantasms of Artilleryman Anthony Wolfe’s sons who were killed during the battle.

In March of each year, a few days after the anniversary of the Alamo’s demise, many people are awakened by the sound of a horse galloping on the pavement. They believe the unseen rider is James Allen’s ghost, the last courier to leave the fortress on the evening before its last battle.

Cenotaph of the Alamo defenders (fragment), San Antonio, Texas, USA. Photo: Zygmunt Put / CC-BY-SA 4.0

John Wayne’s ghost is said to haunt the Alamo. When he directed and starred in “The Alamo,” he became obsessed with its history. Shortly after his death, visitors and staff reported seeing his ghost conversing with specters of the fort’s soldiers. He haunts his vessel, according to John Wayne’s Haunted Yacht. He loved the Wild Goose so much that his death couldn’t keep them apart.

Haunted Alamo Compound

Fortress walls were dismantled and buildings were built on the land that was the Alamo’s. Specters wander on this land. Almost all of the stores on Alamo Plaza are said to be haunted. Many bodies of Americans who died in the battle were burned near where the River Center Marriott stands today and are said to haunt the place.

A nearby bookstore has a corner that’s very cold and its books often fly off of shelves by themselves. The children’s playground is said to be haunted by the Mexican soldiers who were buried in the site.

Alamo Plaza in the 1860s

Paranormal Investigations Banned at the Alamo

The fortress is a registered historical site maintained by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Taking photographs of the interiors of the Alamo church and the long barracks, the only two original structures still standing, is forbidden. No electronic apparatus, including EMF meters, are allowed to be used inside them.

Takeaway: The Alamo isn’t the Only Haunted Fortress

Another haunted citadel is Fort Monroe, a Hampton, Virginia Army Base that’s visited by specters of famous historical people who were there in life, including:

  • Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He was bound in chains and badly mistreated until he was freed. His is the most frequently seen in the fort. People have heard the rattling of chains.
  • Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, who appear to be poring over papers about the Civil War’s major victories and defeats.
  • Edgar Allen Poe sitting at a desk, writing.
  • Sauk Chief Black Hawk, who was held captive because he felt the government cheated his people with a treaty. Many people have heard his spirit’s woeful cries.