The Alamo Letter
Feb. 26, 2005
February 24th came & went this week with little notice of its historical importance in the state of Texas. It is the day that Lt. Col. William Barret Travis wrote his famous call for help from the Alamo, known appropriately as "The Alamo Letter".
As you may recall, on December 5, 1835, Ben Milam led the several day siege of Bexar/San Antonio. He was killed on the 3rd day of the siege but his men captured the city two days later. Some time later they received word that Santa Anna was marching a large army up from the south. On Feb. 8, 1836, Davy Crockett and his Tennessee volunteers arrived. By Feb. 24th, the Texans have been surrounded and Col. Travis writes his appeal to the people of Texas and all Americans.
What you may not know is that you can obtain a copy of the real letter from the Archives building in Austin. One of my greater discoveries was to wander into that building and find the letter while meandering around the capital one day. I picked up a copy of it and had it framed. It hung in my office and then at the entrance to my courtroom for many years. I used it a couple of times when given speeches, but strangely enough I've never been able to publicly read this letter without choking up and getting tears in my eyes. What resolve and force of character this leader and his men must have had! They clearly knew what the outcome was going to be! And yet each stood his post for as long as possible, determined in Travis' own words, to "die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country". What men these were!
I was pleased that Congressman Barton had "the letter" written on his party programs the other evening. It was indeed a party to celebrate the birthday of Texas. For those of you who may not have been there or who would like to read the letter, here it is.
Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, Feby. 24th, 1836
To the People of Texas and all Americans in the world,
Fellow Citizens and Compatriots--I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna--
I have sustained a continued bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man--
The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken---
I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and 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, and everything dear to the American character,
to come to our aid, with all dispatch.
The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and 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 and that of his country.
Victory or Death
William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.
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.
See what I mean? Is there any one of you who didn't get just a touch of a tear in your eyes?
Judge Paul Enlow
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