SAN ANTONIO, TX. Steeped in American history, the Alamo was originally called the Mission San Antonio de Valero and first used in the 1700s as a place to educate and Christianize local Indians. Later the church would become a stronghold for various revolutionaries and its design was altered to reflect that use. These revolutionaries were originally settlers into what was once Mexican territory, and seeking to rise up against an increasingly oppressive rulers, decided to fight for their independence. On February 23, 1836, self-proclaimed Mexican dictator General Santa Anna marched on San Antonio with 1,000 troops determined to conquer these rebellious freedom fighters. For 13 days a fierce battled raged pitting 145 Texans, led by William Travis and Jim Bowie, against Santa Anna's Mexican soldiers. In time, the Mexican troops received reinforcements, at one point said to total 4,000.William Travis Santa Ana Eventually the Mexicans with sheer numbers on their side were victorious, killing all the brave Texans that defended the fort that including Travis, Bowie and Davey Crockett, who although having no knowledge of the details of the conflict, fought at the side of the revolutionaries. Women and small children were spared, but boys as young as age 12 were killed. Those who escaped were ran down by Mexican troops on horseback, caught, and put to death. The Mexicans, however, suffered enormous losses of their own, 1,600 by accounts. The facade of the Alamo stills stands today as a memorial to those who fought so bravely against their oppressors, but for almost 200 years, testimonials of paranormal activity at the fort and its surrounding area have been reported."Battle of the Alamo" - Percy Moran - from The Library of Congress Between 1724 and 1793, years which pre-date the battle, the grounds were used as a cemetery for about 1,000 people. In addition, most of those killed at the Alamo on both sides were also buried in this spot. Even today it is not unusual for construction workers to unearth the bones of those laid to rest there. The first recorded sighting occurred just weeks after the battle. When Santa Anna was captured by Sam Houston's troops near San Jacinto, he sent word to the 1,000 men left behind to police the rebels to completely destroy the church. As his men approached the building bearing torches, six full-bodied spirits of deceased monks were said to appear before them waving fiery sabers and shouting "Do not touch the Alamo, do not touch these walls!" The Mexican troops retreated in horror, ignoring orders and threats from their superior officers to hold their ground and complete the task. Tales soon filtered back to skeptical Mexican Gen. Andrade concerning the six devils who had appeared that day. Gen. Andrade himself brought a group of soldiers to the Alamo to complete the task Santa Anna has first ordered. As troops began the process of dismantling the building, the monks appeared again, frightening the soldiers. As they fled, a male figure was said to appear on the roof, arms outstretched, holding two flaming balls of fire in each hand which he then hurled at Gen Andrade as he rode away. The few Mexican troops remaining fell to their knees in prayer and fear before fleeing entirely, never to return. This account does run contrary to records that reveal in fact that Andrade's men destroyed a number of the fort's walls as well as the wooden palisade in the front of the church.The Alamo Cenotaph aka "The Spirit of Sacrifice" reflects the image of the ghostsaid to have emerged out of the Alamo. In 1846, Texas was indeed annexed to the United States and the Alamo came under occupation by the United States Army, who renovated both the church and the barracks. The Alamo, as it now exists was erected in 1939 as a memorial to the battle. Most ghostly activity was reported in the late 1800s by prisoners being housed in what had become police headquarters for the city of San Antonio in 1894. Accounts of the paranormal goings-on appeared in local newspapers. Spectral guards appeared on the roof of the station and both prisoners and staff heard disembodied voices and saw shadows moving about inside. Some sentries refused to patrol their positions after dark and some local councilmen felt it to be "cruel and unusual punishment" for prisoners to share the premises with ghosts. Today the activity continues. Both tourists and park rangers have witnessed sentries still on the roof of the building and grotesque shadows reported coming through its walls. Screams and voices - both American and Mexican - are said to emanate from the grounds. The sightings are sometimes so intense and frequent that Federal Marshalls patrolling the grounds have said to have resigned their positions rather than experience the continued spectral behavior. In the adjoining gardens, the spirit of a cowboy dressed in period clothing and appearing to be soaking wet, as if he has ridden through a storm, has become a frequent sight as is the male figure who has been known to look out the windows over the front entrance (below) and then disappear. Perhaps the most regularly seen figure is that of a small boy who appears in the left upstairs window of what is the gift shop. His facial features depict a certain sadness. He manifests most often in February and has been also spotted by some walking on the grounds. Two other small boys have been known to follow tour groups in and disappear as they approach the sacristy room. They are thought to be spirits of two boys who were killed in the final assault on the fortress. In an area now used for storage, the spirit of what is only described as a "tall Indian" has been encountered by the staff. The figure is said to creep up behind them and either disappears entirely or walks through a wall that was once entrance through a tunnel to the Menger Hotel (which has its own paranormal stories) across the street. As a result, many staff members are hesitant if not adamant about not going into the area alone. A ghostly woman has been known to make her appearance next to the water well. She manifests only at night and in the form of a vaporous figure. The Alamo courtyard Some historic figures are also said to make their presence known. The ghost of Davey Crockett, holding a rifle and standing at attention has been spotted as has the spirit of Gen. Manuel Fernandez de Castrillon, who despite orders from Gen Santa Anna, displayed sympathy for the rebels and sought leniency for them. Gen. de Castrillon initially opposed the siege of the church and refused orders to execute the surrendering troops. His instructions were ignored by his own troops and the men were massacred. He is known to walk the grounds forlornly, shaking his head over the loss of life that resulted. Perhaps the most "famous" ghost reported is that of actor John Wayne, who appeared in and directed the 1960 movie "The Alamo". While researching the history of the location, Wayne became very caught up and enthralled with the site. The result was an exact replica of the building that was constructed for the movie in Brackettville, Texas at a cost of $1.5 million. Even the blueprints of the fort were examined to ensure accuracy. In addition, an entire village was constructed that to this day still exists and has become a tourist attraction. Following his death in 1979, his ghost has been seen wandering the grounds of the Alamo and even communicating with other spirits from the actual battle.The sightings became so widely reported that a psychic was called in to try to verify "The Duke's" presence. She confirmed that yes, John Wayne's spirit does still roam the grounds - but only once a month. Each March, a few days after the anniversary of the battle, residents of the area surrounding the Alamo are wakened in the early morning hours by the sound of horse's hooves on the pavement. It is believed that it is the spirit of James Allen, the last courier to leave the Alamo on the evening before the massacre, trying to return and report to Colonel Travis. The hauntings are not limited to the immediate area, though. At the Alamo Plaza, spirits are said to inhabit almost every shop in the square. Most notably, that of a woman said to have been struck by lightning sometime in the 1700s. She has been spotted walking across the plaza by many visitors and staff.Looking west at Alamo Plaza - The Alamo is on the left A children's park across from the Market Square, about a mile away, is said to be extremely haunted by the spirits of the Mexican soldiers who were buried there. In terms of the defenders, many of their bodies were burned where the River Center Marriott now stands. The bulk of the activity seems to center around a bookstore there where volumes are known to fly off the shelves by themselves and various cold spots are constantly felt inside the building. Some of these events can be easily explained as imaginative embellishments of the facts surrounding the battle. Much of the reported phenomena can also be explained by natural occurrences, misidentification or exaggeration. But like other famous haunted battlefields, forts and citadels that have bore witness to tragic death, traumatic loss or emotional upheaval, the Alamo ranks among the most eerie and unusual haunted locations in the country.