Commandancy of the Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24, 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 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 and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves. Travis
Since the above was written I heard a very heavy Canonade during the whole day think there must have been an attack made upon the alamo We were short of amunition when I left Hurry on all the men you can in haste When I left there was but 150 determined to do or die tomorrow I leave for Bejar with what men I can raise [copy here illegible] at all events — Col. Almonte is there the troops are under the Command of Gen. Seisma Albert Martin
[printed sideways] Nb I hope that Every One will Rondevu at gonzales as soon poseble as the Brave Solders are suffering do not neglect this powder is very scarce and should not be delad one moment L. Smither
Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission’s but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.
In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”) in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post’s commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.
San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Martín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós’ men — and strengthened its defenses.
On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.
Texas Independence Timeline
|1830||On April 6, the Mexican government forbids further American emigration to Texas.|
|1832||June 26, the Battle of Velasco. This battle saw the first casualties in relations between Texas and Mexico.
The Convention of 1832 was called by Texans to ask for reforms in government policy towards Texas. The reforms were rejected by the Mexican government.
|1833||The Convention of 1833 was another attempt by Texans at reforms and they also drafted a constitution patterned after those in the United States. These measures were also rejected by the Mexican government.|
|1834||Stephen Austin as a representative of the Convention of 1833 was arrested without specific charges.|
|1835||On October 2, the Battle of Gonzales is waged and the War of Texas Indepedence begins.
On October 9, the Battle of Goliad takes place and ends with a victory for Texas.
On October 28, Texans are victorious at the Battle of Concepcion despite beign outnumbered 5 to 1.
On December 11, the Seige of Bexar ends with the Texans capturing San Antonio.
|1836||On March 1, the Convention of 1836 begins meeting to sign a new constitution and form a new government.
On March 2, the Texas Declaration of Independence is adopted.
On March 6, the Battle of the Alamo is lost by Texas and becomes a rallying cry for the continued struggle for indepencence.
On March 27, the Goliad Massacre takes place in which Mexican General Santa Anna orders the execution of 400 surrendered Texans. This also becomes a rallying cry for Texas independence.
On April 21, Texans under Sam Houston soundly defeat General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. This victory secured Texas’ Independence.