The Travis Letter of February 24, 1836

Among the original ink on paper war documents that have survived to our time, the Travis Letter from the Battle of the Alamo has no comparable equal in textural content and value to future generations of Texans and Americans. The Letter not only records Lt. Colonel William Barret Travis' appeal to "The People of Texas and all Americans in the world", but also carries two additional signed postscripts.

The first is from Captain Albert Martin and is located on the right hand side of the second page of Travis's Letter and appears in a darker color ink that has not transformed to the brown color on the rest of the Letter caused by water evaporating from the ink. The martin postscript could also have been written in pencil. Captain Martin was selected by Travis to carry this to Gonzales his hometown. He arrived in Gonzales on February 25th with the postscript already added as follows:

 "Since the above was written I heard a very heavy
Cannonade during the whole day think there must
have been an attack made upon the alamo We were
short of Ammunition when I left Hurry on
all the men you can in haste

When I left there was   
but 150 determined to                     Albert Martin
do or die tomorrow I leave
for Bejar with what men I can
raise and will be there Monday
at an events

Col Almonte is there the troops are
under the Command of Gen Seisma

True to his word Albert Martin returned to the Alamo with a small relief force on or about March I, 1836 and died in at the Alamo on March 6, 1836. There are few accounts in military history of personal dedication that surpasses Captain Martin's brave ride through the Mexican Armies lines and a return to almost certain death with his fellow patriots at the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

The second is from Lancelot Smither. He had been sent by Travis the day before Martin left with an estimate of the growing strength of the Mexican troops. Martin gave the February 24th Letter to Smither to carry out the order of the Letter shown on the extreme left hand side of the first page to take to San Felipe "by express day and night." Smither added a note to the back of the Letter located running at a ninety degree angle below Martin's postscript as follows:


 "Nb...I hope Every
one will Rendevu at
gonzales as soon as possible
as the Brave Solders are
suffering do not deglect the
powder. is very scarce
and should not be delad
one moment"

L Smither

Smither carried the Letter to San Felipe after forty hours of hard riding and delivered the appeal to a citizens' committee. Printed copies of the Travis Letter were made which were not faithful to the original Letter. At some point after the war the Travis Letter was returned to his family. Smither lived until 1842 having served as a city treasurer of San Antonio and as mayor pro pro-tem for a short period. He was killed by invading Mexican troops at Sutherland Springs in September of 1842. The final courier would also die at the hands of Mexican troops.

 The Travis Letter is shown as follows
(front page)

Commandancy of the Alamo------

Bejar Fby. 24th 1836

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 wall ----- I
shall never Surrender or retreat

Then, I can on you in the
name of Liberty, of patriotism &
every thing dear to the American
character, to come to our aid,

 (Second Page)

with an dispatch ----- The enemy is
receiving reinforcements daily &
will no doubt increase to three or
four thousand in four or five days.
If this can is neglected, I am deter
mined 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---

Travis

 

There were other letters sent out of the Alamo by Lt. Colonel Travis. However, the originals of these documents have vanished and most likely have not survived. The sources for these letters come from John H. Jenkins set of books entitled "Papers of the Texas Revolution". Mr. Jenkins cites his sources for these letters as having been taken from newspapers and books. The fact remains that the only original document written from the Alamo is the February 24th Letter and it must remain as the only authentic source on the thoughts and actions of the Commander of the Alamo.

The Travis Letter and the Alamo are forever linked together and they continue to provide Texans and all Americans with a sense of pride and respect for sacrifice, honor and dedication to country. In this regard, the Travis Letter continues to be a treasure for our time and a beacon from a distant past, which inspires all those who fight against tyranny, and oppression in the world.

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