As Mexican soldiers encircled the Alamo on February 24, 1836, William Barret Travis sent a letter pleading with "all Americans in the globe" to come to his help. Travis' comments are recalled 184 years later for the patriotism and Texas pride they reflected. The letter has been called the "Gettysburg Address of Texas."
Travis wrote that it was "my intention when this letter reaches you to be with the army at San Jacinto," but added that if he failed to arrive "the troops will understand that I could not leave my post without permission from my government."
The letter was written on paper stamped "General Santa Anna's Headquarters" and is dated "February 24th, 1836." It was found among Travis' papers after his death at the Alamo.
Travis's well-known letter from the Alamo Travis penned a letter to "the People of Texas and All Americans in the World" on February 24, 1836, during Santa Anna's siege of the Alamo: "Fellow citizens and countrymen, I am besieged by a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna." He went on to ask for help from other countries and also made an appeal to American people about their rights as humans. This letter is considered one of the most important documents in Texan history because it made clear that there was another country besides Mexico that wanted to free Texas, and it also showed that Travis was aware that other people outside of Texas might be interested in what would happen to his colony.
Travis's letter was written after he had been captured by Mexican soldiers while trying to escape from the Alamo with some others after its fall. They took him to San Antonio where he was held for three months before being released in exchange for two hundred pesos. After his release, he traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Andrew Jackson about sending troops to aid in the defense of Texas. When this request was denied, Travis returned home disappointed but determined to continue fighting for independence from Mexico.
On April 21, 1836, the Texas Revolution began with an attack by Anglo settlers on a Mexican military post near the present-day city of San Antonio. The battle that followed became known as the Battle of Gonzales.
Travis, a devotee of dramatic writing, knew the power of words. He carefully addressed his letter to "all Americans in the globe" in order to arouse their patriotic feelings and rally them to his and Texas's causes. In doing so, he elevated the Texas Revolution to the level of an American struggle for liberty against oppression. The letter also helped to unify citizens of different cultures and regions under one goal: independence from Mexico.
Travis's letter was published throughout America and Europe, giving it national prominence. It also greatly influenced the course of history in Texas. Before the letter was written, many individuals and groups had tried to bring about change within Mexico. After its release, other patriots began organizing military expeditions to Texas to join Colonel James W. Fannin in his fight for freedom. These events led up to the Battle of San Jacinto, where Mexican forces were defeated by young men from all over America and Texas who had come together to be free.
In addition to being honored with a day of celebration in Texas, Travis's letter is also used in university courses today to help students understand the impact that individuals can have on world history.
Side 2 of the Travis Letter. On February 24, 1836, William Barret Travis, leader of the Texian rebels at the old mission known as the Alamo, made a request for assistance as they were encircled by enemy troops led by Mexican tyrant Santa Anna. He asked that someone "command this company until further orders." Captain James D. Irwin is believed to have been the officer designated to take charge after Travis died.
Irwin had been hired by Tejanos (Hispanic citizens of Mexico) who wanted to keep Texas independent from Mexico. When news of the siege reached Washington, DC, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation on January 11, 1836, offering a reward of $10,000 for the capture of Santa Anna. The president also ordered the creation of a military unit called the "Travis Rifles" to help defend Texas against another invasion. These rifles were made up of volunteers who came from various states across the country to fight for Texas' freedom.
At the time of the siege, Irwin was living in San Antonio with his wife and seven children. He left town shortly before the battle began and traveled more than 300 miles to reach the Alamo with his command. Although he was not able to save the men inside the fortress, historians believe that he acted wisely by staying away from the battle instead of trying to go inside the walls.
Travis. "To the People of Texas and All Americans Throughout the World," it was addressed. This letter was a heartfelt request for assistance for the Alamo garrison. He finished the message with "Victory or Death," the only possible conclusion of this conflict.
After finishing the letter, he ordered it carried by courier to San Antonio before traveling himself to join the army at San Jacinto.
The letter is considered one of the most important documents in Texas history as well as in United States history. It has been cited by several presidents as justification for sending troops to fight against Mexico.
In 1973, the original letter was discovered in a warehouse in Houston by an employee of the Texas State Library. The library acquired the letter and it now resides in the J. E. B. Stuart Museum in Austin.
It is estimated that more than 10 million people have read or heard about Travis's letter over the years.
Travis had asked for rifles and ammunition for his men but did not specify how many rifles or how much ammunition they needed. When the war began, the Alamo had about 200 rifles and two dozen gunpowder weapons including pistols and muskets. After six weeks, when help had still not arrived, there were only 70 rounds of rifle ammo left for these guns.
Side 2 of the Travis Letter On February 24, 1836, William Barret Travis, leader of the Texian rebels at the old mission known as the Alamo, made a request for assistance as they were encircled by enemy troops led by Mexican tyrant Santa Anna. He asked for soldiers to be sent within two months' time to join them at San Jacinto.
Two days later, on February 26, 1836, General Deaf Smith received word that Travis had escaped with about 150 men from the town of Gonzales and was heading east toward Houston. Knowing that there were only about 715 men in all of Texas, he decided to send Captain James C. Neill with 100 men to find Travis and bring him back.
About 30 miles outside of town, near present-day Brenham, Travis met up with Captain John Moore's company of around 70 men. He told them what was happening at the Alamo and asked them to go there with him but they refused because they thought it was too dangerous. Instead, they took off with Travis' men in pursuit.
During the battle that followed, most of Travis' men were killed or wounded, including Travis himself. The only one who survived was Joshua Williamson, who took over as leader of the group. They found Neill's company at nightfall, almost dead themselves from thirst and hunger. Only 15 of his men were still alive.