Zombie Combat- Remember the UNDEAD Alamo
6/11/2018 – Last month we covered a hypothetical zombie outbreak and what to do if you get stuck in traffic during the Dawn of Dead. So far in the Zombie Combat blog we’ve examined zombie scenarios in cars, cruise ships, and public buses. The impeccable Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan, thoroughly exhausted all the possible options of zombies on trains. World War Z had zombies on planes. So, where else can we have the living dead commence their unholy apocalypse? Adding zombies to historical settings is always fun. Let’s go to Texas and pit a legion of zombies against a handful of defenders at the Alamo.
A historical snapshot of the Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was fought in San Antonio, Texas on March 6, 1836. The Mexican Army (1,500 strong) under the command of President General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked the Alamo Mission which was garrisoned with an estimated 180 to 260 men. Among those men in the Alamo were three leaders, who have taken on legendary status. They were, (L:R) David Crockett, Lt. Colonel William B. Travis, and Jim Bowie. All three were killed in the battle.
Both sides sustained heavy losses during the brief fight, but it was the Mexican Army which emerged victorious. The Texan’s slaughter was only short lived, since the Texan army rallied to defeat Santa Anna the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. The Alamo was a flashpoint for the Texas Revolutionary War. Cries of “Remember The Alamo!” spurred individuals to fight for independence.
The following animation is a close approximation of the battle.
Ground rules for this encounter
For this Zombie Combat scenario, you are the survivor in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse and the year is current. The Alamo has been restored to its original design in 1836. Ramparts are sturdy, modern weapons are available, and food, water and medical supplies are cached within the forts defenses. All of the survivors holed up in the fort with you are hardcore; in other words, this isn’t their first encounter with the walking dead. You are armed with a rifle and a sidearm of your choice; crates of ammo sit nearby, unused and ready to go. Of course, this wouldn’t be much of an Alamo story if you weren’t armed with a deadly Bowie knife.
You walk along the stream running through the west side of the Alamo. The sentries, stationed high up on the forts sturdy walls, have been complaining that the flood lights mounted don’t have enough power. You need to determine what’s causing the problem and make your way to the improvised power supply. Days of plugging an appliance into a wall socket and paying your utility bill are long gone. Up ahead, a makeshift water wheel spins faithfully, and the alternator cranking out hydro-electric power seems to be functioning. You removed the lid from the water-tight housing and pry around for a moment inside of the unit.
“It must be a battery storage issue”, you think to yourself as you wipe the grime off your hands with an equally filthy rag tucked into your back pocket.
A cowbell, that was once used to call work hands to dinner rings out an alarm. Zombies have been spotted and are approaching the northern wall of the fort! That old water wheel will have to wait. As predicted, a few walking dead approach from the north. A dead give-away (pun intended) was the silence in radio comms from Houston. Snipers pick off the first few zombies with expertly placed headshots. It’s an effective use if ammo, but soon the horde swoons in size.
You’ve arranged your artillery batteries skillfully along the top of the wall. Waiting until the zombies are clumped together, you begin walking a bombastic barrage out to greet the undead. Limbs and rotten flesh fly as the curtain of fire decimates their ranks. The ground shakes and dust falls from the fort’s rafters with each mortar impact. Great divots form in the pockmarked terrain ahead of you, as though an angry giant with golf clubs played through.
Just like the besieged Texans, you too are able to lob two successful volleys of artillery and temporarily halt the advancing undead. In the case of the original Alamo, General Santa Ana fell back, flanked on both east and west side of the northern perimeter and charged again. Therein lies the problem…. The dead don’t retreat.
Knowing the artillery barrage is impossible to sustain in perpetuity, you allow the undead to approach even closer to the outskirts of the fort. It will take some time for the them to accumulate enough of a pile to ‘ramp up’ and get over the top of the fort. That is, if they do that at all. You’re gambling that their numbers will dwindle sufficiently to prevent their breaching the forts defenses. Calling on small arms and automatic weapons, you order your defenders to attack.
Unfortunately, the gamble doesn’t pay off. As you look out to the river to your east, the hot Texas sun shines down on the San Antonio River. In horror, you watch zombies slowly walk out of the brown muddy water. Arms outstretched and moaning, the ghouls make their way to the west wall of the fort. You’re in serious trouble now and have to divide your firepower into two separate focus groups. Sighing, you long for the day when you could have called in close air support to violently rain death from above… but, alas, those days are gone.
The odds are quickly turning in favor of the zombies. You’ve already spent over half of your ammunition. It’s time to fall back, and you order all of your fighters, save a few sappers, back to the long barracks. Plaza de Valero is abandoned and women, children and elderly are gathered into the church along the east wall. The original Battle of the Alamo lasted only ninety minutes, and this zombie attack hasn’t taken much longer than that. In a few short moments, the dead will have stacked high enough to topple over the wall.
It would be nice to have flamethrowers, but molotov cocktails, filled to the brim with a close approximation of napalm, are the best you’ve got. Teams of two, a “sparker” and a “tosser”, furiously run along the top of the walls. The Sappers heave down explosive balls of fire onto the undead, and zombies burst into flames and the fires start to spread. The stench of burning human hair, tissue, and decrepit clothing is overwhelming. You and the other survivors huddle and pray for a westerly wind to blow the toxic fumes and smoke away from the fort’s perimeter.
The saving wind, that might wash away the smoke and stoke the flames of destruction never arrives. Some zombies are badly damaged from the artillery; some are smoldering from the napalm; the others are dripping wet from the river crests the wall. A few of the defenders, the last to leave their posts on top of the wall, are overrun and consumed by the zombies. The undead tear the living’s flesh with their teeth and greedily rip entrails from the living’s abdomens. The courtyard floods with undead and they swarm the directly towards the long barracks. More death ensues, and again you and the remaining survivors fall back to the church for a final line of defense. Already some inside are passing around cyanide pills that they have held since the Government issued them during the fall of the society. Others check to make sure they keep one bullet for themselves, a final salvation from the gruesome end that awaits them if they can’t escape.
The heavy church door groans and you cringe when you hear the main western gate crash outside. The church’s door will be the next to give way. There are about 180 people left inside a few decide to flee to the open field off to the east. They run through a hidden passage, and are never heard from again. Your ammo box is empty. In a tremendous irony, you grab the bowie knife holstered on your hip and wonder if this is what Jim Bowie must have felt like in his pneumonia-induced stupor when the Mexican army came to take his life.
You squeeze the hilt of the razor sharp knife, grit your teeth and watch as the wooden door breaks away from its hinges…
Despite historical revisionists (I’m looking at you Hollywood and Disney), attempting to make the battle of the Alamo look like a win for the Texans, it was a complete rout. Both David Crockett and Jim Bowie lost their lives in this battle. (Note: He was never known as ‘Davy’ until a song writer needed a catchy rhyme.) Also, Lt. Colonel William B. Travis, the commander in charge after Bowie fell deathly ill, was shot in the head only moments into the fray. Retreat or surrender was not an option, which is why Bowie, Crocket (and his famed Tennessee Volunteer regiment), and Travis made a final stand. While the victory was an impressive feather in Santa Anna’s cap, it would later be the undoing of his cause as it spurred many Texans into action.
Odds of survival
Face the music…. Davy Crockett, the guy who killed a bear when he was only three, didn’t even make it out of this death trap. If you hold up in the Alamo during a zombie apocalypse, your fate is sealed. But look on the bright side. You might get a snappy ballad writing and sung about your life 150 years later.