Today, apparitions continue to appear upon these historic grounds as both staff and tourists alike report ghostly happenings that occur at all hours of the day and night. Several reports have been made by guests at nearby hotels who have seen grotesque apparitions coming from the wall of the old Alamo, as well as restless spirits walking back and forth on top of the buildings. Others have reported hearing the sounds of screams, explosions, and the faint trumpet notes of “El Deguello,” the Spanish call of “no quarter” that Santa Anna ordered played during the final assault on the fort.
In front of the Alamo, the lawn covers a portion of the old cemetery and several Federal Marshals who have patrolled the grounds at night have quit their jobs after having encountered some of these wandering entities.
Always spotted in the gardens next to the mission appears the fully formed spirit of cowboy, complete with black duster and cowboy hat. Dripping wet, he is described as looking like he has ridden through a severe thunder storm. Many Texas historians theorize that the spirit may have been one of 22 dispatch riders that William Travis sent seeking assistance.
A second entity that makes his presence known is that of an Alamo defender who is often reported to stick his head and shoulders out of the large rectangular window over the double doors at the front of the church. After leaning out and scoping the area, he then leans back and disappears.
One of the most often sighted ghosts is that of a small blonde-haired boy that is most often seen in the left upstairs window which houses the gift shop today. Appearing almost always during the first few weeks of February, the forlorn looking boy has also been seen wandering the grounds of the complex. Some believe that the boy was evacuated during the siege and returns annually to search for his long lost father, who died in the battle.
A woman is also reported to have been seen next to the water well on the other side of the church. Appearing only at night, reports allege that she materializes only as a vaporous torso-like spirit. No one knows who this restless apparition might have been.
In an area of the mission, which is today utilized for storage and meetings, staff have often encountered a tall Indian who silently creeps up behind them. After having felt a presence, they turn to see the broad- chested Native American who suddenly disappears or walks back through a solid wall that once held a tunnel doorway to the Menger Hotel across the street. Due to these many sightings, staff often report being afraid to enter the basement.
Yet others have reported seeing a tall, stately Mexican officer slowly wandering the grounds and buildings of the historic site. With a face filled with sorrow, the man is seen walking with his arms clasped behind his back and slowly shaking his head. Many believe the ghostly man is that of General Manuel Fernandez de Castrillon, one of Santa Anna’s regimental commanders. Castrillon was one of the few officers who had opposed the final assault on the Alamo stating that it was bound to be a “bloodbath.” His opposition was obviously ignored as the regiment continued to bombard the fortress. When the firing had finally ceased, six of the Alamo defenders surrendered and were brought to General Castrillon, who offered them his protection and petitioned Santa Anna for clemency. However, the embittered dictator refused and ordered the six men executed. Having given his word, Castrillon refused to carry out the order, but Santa Anna’s men soon fell on the surrendering Texans and hacked them to death with sabers.
In buckskin clothing and coonskin cap, park rangers have often spotted the spirit of none other than frontiersman and Alamo defender, Davy Crockett. The transparent figure is described as standing at attention at various locations around the Alamo holding a flintlock rifle.
In March of every year, a few days after the final demise of the Alamo, numerous people report being awakened in the early morning hours by the sound of horse galloping on the pavement. Many believe the unseen rider is that of James Allen who was the last courier to leave the Alamo on the evening before its final battle. Wandering restlessly, he is thought to be attempting to return to the Alamo with his report to Colonel Travis.
Stories are also told of a tall thin man and small child that are often seen on the roof of the Alamo mission at sunrise. In the final hours of the siege, Colonel Juan Andrade, as well as several other Mexican officers, stated that they were “horrified” when they saw a man with a small child in his arms, leap to the ground at the rear of the Alamo church.
Two other small boys are also spied following tour groups on the property. Seemingly, these lads just “appear” behind the group, then just as quickly vanish when the group reaches the sacristy room. Thought to be the sons of Alamo Artilleryman Anthony Wolfe, the boys, aged nine and twelve, were killed in the final assault. Hiding in the Alamo Mission, they were mistaken for Alamo defenders and killed by the advancing Mexicans.
Another ghost who is reportedly seen is that of John Wayne. When the “Duke” directed and acted in the 1960 movie “The Alamo,” he became obsessed with its history. Insisting on historical accuracy he personally toured the Alamo on several occasions and consulted the actual blueprints of the fortress before spending some $1.5 million dollars re-creating an exact replica of the old mission in Brackettville, Texas . In addition to a replica of the mission, an entire village was constructed for the movie, which has since become a tourist attraction and has been used as the set for other films. Shortly after he died, staff and visitors began to report sightings of the “Duke” walking the grounds of the original Alamo. Some say he is often seen talking with the spirits of the original Alamo defenders.
Today the Mission San Antonio de Valero and the Long Barracks are dwarfed by the many tall buildings that surround the historic site. Though these two remaining buildings of the compound looks very small in comparison, the fortress once expansed some 5 ½ acres. Dominating the area to the north of the original San Antonio settlement, the fortress once housed numerous outbuildings and was surrounded by thick walls. Over the years, the fortress walls were dismantled and buildings began to spring up surrounding what was left of the Alamo compound. Many of these walls are now buried beneath the streets of San Antonio. However, the restless spirits don’t seem to comprehend this as they continue to wander in or about the surrounding area, through “newer” buildings that were never associated with the fortress.
Guides tell visitors that nearly every store front building on Alamo Plaza, which face the church are also haunted. Built directly over one of the old compound walls, the spirits of those who died defending the compound are said to roam the area.
Two locations where the bodies of those in the Battle of the Alamo were buried are also said to be haunted. Many of those who died defending the Alamo were burned near the spot where the River Center Marriott stands today. Here, a book store located beneath the bridge allegedly experiences ghostly activity, including one corner of the store that stays very cold and books that frequently fly off the shelves of their own accord. The bodies of the Mexican soldiers were taken to a spot that today is a children’s park across from Market Square nearly a mile away from the Alamo. Reportedly, the park is extremely haunted.
At the Alamo Plaza, numerous reports have been made of a spectral woman who has been seen walking across the plaza. Legend has it that the female apparition was one of two women who were walking across the mission grounds in the 1700’s and were struck by lightening. One of the women died and the other survived. Some speculate that the woman is the one who was killed on that fateful day so long ago.
Outside of town, on the road that leads from Nacogdoches to San Antonio, there have been dozens of reports of a lone man, dressed in early 19th century clothing, often spotted walking along the highway. Carrying a long rifle, when passersby stop to inquire, the man responds that he is trying to “get back to the Alamo, where he belongs.” Many speculate that this lonely specter is that of Louis M. (Moses) Rose, the Alamo’s only “coward.” Rose was the only man who refused to join the defenders and chose to escape instead. Regretting his flight, he apparently is riddled with guilt and tries over and over again to regain his honor by returning to the battle.
There is no doubt that the Alamo and the surrounding area is extremely haunted as tourists, rangers, and staff have reported such phenomena as grotesque man shaped forms emanating from the walls of the Alamo, screams of those who fought in the battle are still heard today, voices and whispers filter through the walls, and invisible eyes seemingly watch the many people that work at and visit the historic site. Other phenomena also occurs, such as eerie cold spots throughout the buildings, vanishing lights and unexplained noises.
© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.
300 Alamo Plaza
P.O. Box 2599
San Antonio, Texas 78299
Note: The Alamo is a registered historical site and a Texas shrine. For these reasons, investigations are not allowed on the site. Additionally, no cameras or other electronic equipment, including EMF meters are allowed inside the Alamo mission or the long barracks.