It was 180 years ago today that William Travis sent his letter from the besieged Alamo. He reported that more than a thousand soldiers under General Antonio López de Santa Anna had him surrounded. Put simply: Travis needed reinforcements.
(Find copied below the text of Travis’ letter.)
You see, Santa Anna had made the ultimate demand: Unless Travis surrendered, the Alamo defenders would be put to the sword.
But Travis didn’t consider surrender to be an option. He wrote that he was determined to “die like a solider,” and concluded his letter “victory or death.”
Reinforcements never arrived, but the murder of Travis and his fellow Alamo defenders by Mexican troops would inspire Texans to win their independence.
On this day, and every day, the courage of William Barret Travis and his men should inspire us to live boldly for liberty.
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World:
Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, 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, 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 reinforcements 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. 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.