On this day 183 years ago (1836), William Barret Travis, commanding the Texans under attack in the Alamo, wrote his famous letter addressed “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.” In the letter, he pledged that he would “never surrender or retreat” and swore “Victory or Death.” The predominant message, however, was an entreaty for help: “I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch.” Travis knew that his men, besieged by Mexican forces under Martín Perfecto de Cos, could not hold out long without reinforcements. Inspired by his letter, more troops did make their way to San Antonio, but too few and too late to avert disaster. Travis was among the first to die in the battle of the Alamo, on March 6.
Commandancy of the Alamo –
Bejar, Fby. 24th 1836 –
“To The People of Texas & all Americans in the World –
Fellow citizens & compatriots –
I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna – I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man – The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, or otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken – I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch – the enemy is receiving enforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country – Victory or Death.
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. cmdt
P.S. The Lord is on our side – When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn – We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves –