Thursday, February 24, 2011
Texas Tidbits: The Siege of the Alamo, Day 2
This is the letter that Colonel William B. Travis wrote as the Mexican Army was growing in numbers by the day. This letter is
perhaps the most famous handwritten manuscript in the history of Texas. facing certain death, Travis and his men held the Alamo for another eleven days, thus allowing troops in other parts of Texas to organize and ready themselves to fight for their God-given rights of Freedom and Liberty.
The siege of the Alamo entered its second day on February 24, 1836. James Bowie had fallen ill and confined himself to a room on the south side of the Alamo, leaving full command of the mission to Colonel William B. Travis. Seeing the enemy's 5000 troops against less than 200 of his own men, Travis sent out a desparate plea for reenforcements. His letter became one of the most famous manuscripts in the history of our country.
Colonel Travis wrote:
Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, 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, and our flag still waves
proudly from the walls. I
shall never surrender nor retreat.
Then, I call on you in the
name of Liberty, of patriotism, &
of 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 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.
(Colonel Travis' letter copied from here)
Once again we quote from Wikipedia as they detail further goings on on February 24, 1836, "Travis sent the letter with courier Albert Martin, who delivered it to Gonzales. There, Launcelot Smithers took custody of the message and delivered it to San Felipe, where it was read by Governor Henry Smith. Smith told the colonists at San Felipe "to fly to the aid of your besieged countrymen and not permit them to be massacred by a mercenary foe. ... The call is upon ALL who are able to bear army, to rally without one moment's delay, or in fifteen days the heart of Texas will be the seat of war." The letter was eventually reprinted throughout the United States and much of Europe.
In early evening Mexican Colonel Juan Bringas led scouts across a footbridge over the San Antonio River; Texian sharpshooters quickly killed one soldier and the Mexicans retreated, but Davy Crockett managed to drop a second man before the enemy finally reached cover. Throughout the night the Mexican artillery sporadically bombarded the church and long barracks, while the Mexican army fired muskets and shouted to fool the Texians into believing that an assault was imminent, or that Texian reinforcements were being slaughtered. Santa Anna also ordered that his military band serenade the Texians throughout the night. Mexican soldiers took advantage of the darkness and the distractions of the countrymen to erect two more artillery batteries around the Alamo. The two batteries combined to hold two 8-lb cannon, two 6-lb cannon, two 4-lb cannon, and two 7-in howitzers. One of the batteries was located along the right bank of the San Antonio River, approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) from the south wall of the Alamo. The other was located 1,000 feet (300 m) east of the eastern wall. By the end of the first full day of siege the Mexican army had been reinforced by 600 of Sesma's troops. Gaona and the First Brigade were still several days march away, while an additional 400–500 men and most of the Mexican artillery were struggling through mud south of Bexar."
Reading Colonel Travis' letter and knowing the strength of the Mexican Army was growing by the day, one can almost sense the desperation of the moment. Yet Travis and his men remained defiant in the face of the astronomical odds against them. For these brave souls, staring Death in the face every moment of every day must have been like living in Hell. However, these men knew that the cause they were willing to die for was much bigger than themselves. They would not die in vain. They died for Freedom and Liberty. They died for Texas, God rest their souls and God bless Texas.