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Lt. Col. William Barret Travis

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In the 1820's Americans poured into the Mexican province of Texas, in response to offers of free land to those who would farm it. By 1830 more than 20,000 Americans were homesteading in Texas, under the general leadership of Stephen Austin, and the benign assurances of the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Then, in 1833, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna became Mexico's president, renounced the Constitution and, in 1835, sent an army to Texas to suppress her independent notions.

The Texians had occupied an old Spanish mission in San Antonio de Bexar -- called after a local tree, the Alamo -- from which a Mexican force had been ejected a short time before. Although the Texian government had sent Jim Bowie to order the mission evacuated as indefensible, he and the rest of the garrison, including adventurers like Davy Crockett from Tennessee, decided to stay and make a stand.

On February 23, 1836, Santa Anna drew up his army of several thousand before the Alamo and demanded a surrender. This was refused with a cannon shot by the Alamo's commander, Lt. Col. William Travis, whereupon No Quarter was declared by the Mexicans. The final assault on the fort occurred on March 6, when the last of the 183 defenders not slain in battle were captured and executed. Col. Travis had died sword in hand during the fight.

While a tactical loss for the Texians, the Alamo was a strategic and psychological victory. It delayed Santa Anna's army while General Sam Houston pulled together that of Texas which, shouting "Remember the Alamo!", soundly defeated the Mexicans at the battle of San Jacinto a month later.

Texas gained her independence and the Alamo gained a permanent place in her heart and in the annals of American heroism.

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Lt. Col. William Barret Travis

Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, Feby. 24th, 1836

To the People of Texas & 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 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 despatch -- 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--

Send this to San Felipe by Express night & day--

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