The Alamo Letters of William B.Travis

To Andrew Ponton, Judge and
Citizens of Gonzales
February 23, 1836

COMMANDANCY OF BEXAR, 3 o'clock p.m.: The
enemy in large force are in sight. We want men and
provisions. Send them to us. We have 150 men and
are determined to defend the Alamo to the last.
Give us assistance.

P.S. Send an express to San Felipe with news night
and day.

From W.B. Travis and James Bowie
To James W. Fannin (at Goliad)
February 23, 1836

COMMANDANCY OF BEXAR: We have removed all
the men to the Alamo where we make such resistance
as is due our honor, and that of a country, until we
can get assistance from you, which we expect you to
forward immediately. In this extremity, we hope you
will send us all the men you can spare promptly.
We have one hundred and forty six men, who are
determined never to retreat. We have but little
provisions, but enough to serve us till you and your
men arrive. We deem it unnecessary to repeat to a
brave officer, who knows his duty, that we call on
him for assistance.

To The People of Texas and
All Americans In The World --
February 24, 1836

Fellow citizens & compatriots --

I am beseiged, 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, & every thing 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 --


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 --


To Major-General Sam Houston
February 25, 1836

the 23rd of Feb., the enemy in large force entered
the city of Bexar, which could not be prevented, as I
had not sufficient force to occupy both positions.
Col. Bartes, the Adjutant-Major of the President-
General Santa Anna, demanded a surrender at
discretion, calling us foreign rebels. I answered
them with a cannon shot, upon which the enemy
commenced a bombardment with a five inch howitzer,
which together with a heavy cannonade, has been
kept up incessantly ever since. I instantly sent
express to Col. Fannin, at Goliad, and to the people
of Gonzales and San Felipe. Today at 10 o'clock
a.m. some two or three hundred Mexicans crossed
the river below and came up under cover of the
houses until they arrived within virtual point blank
shot, when we opened a heavy discharge of grape
and canister on them, together with a well directed
fire from small arms which forced them to halt and
take shelter in the houses about 90 or 100 yards
from our batteries. The action continued to rage
about two hours, when the enemy retreated in
confusion, dragging many of their dead and wounded.

During the action, the enemy kept up a constant
bombardment and discharge of balls, grape, and
canister. We know from actual observation that
many of the enemy were wounded -- while we, on our
part, have not lost a man. Two or three of our men
have been slightly scratched by pieces of rock, but
have not been disabled. I take great pleasure in
stating that both officers and men conducted
themselves with firmness and bravery. Lieutenant
Simmons of cavalry acting as infantry, and Captains
Carey, Dickinson and Blair of the artillery, rendered
essential service, and Charles Despallier and Robert
Brown gallantly sallied out and set fire to houses
which afforded the enemy shelter, in the face of
enemy fire. Indeed, the whole of the men who were
brought into action conducted themselves with
such heroism that it would be injustice to
discriminate. The Hon. David Crockett was seen
at all points, animating the men to do their duty.
Our numbers are few and the enemy still continues
to approximate his works to ours. I have every
reason to apprehend an attack from his whole force
very soon; but I shall hold out to the last
extremity, hoping to secure reinforcements in a
day or two. Do hasten on aid to me as rapidly as
possible, as from the superior number of the enemy,
it will be impossible for us to keep them out much
longer. If they overpower us, we fall a sacrifice at
the shrine of our country, and we hope prosperity
and our country will do our memory justice. Give
me help, oh my country! Victory or Death!

W. Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Com

To the President of the Convention
March 3, 1836

present confusion of the political authorities of the
country, and in the absence of the commander-in-
chief, I beg leave to communicate to you the
situation of this garrison. You have doubtless
already seen my official report of the action of the
25th ult. made on that day to General Sam Houston,
together with the various communications heretofore
sent by express. I shall, therefore, confine myself
to what has transpired since that date.

From the 25th to the present date, the enemy have
kept up a bombardment from two howitzers (one a
five and a half inch, and the other an eight inch)
and a heavy cannonade from two long nine-pounders,
mounted on a battery on the opposite side of the
river, at a distance of four hundred yards from
our walls. During this period the enemy has been
busily employed in encircling us with entrenchments
on all sides, at the following distance, to wit --
in Bexar, four hundred yards west; in Lavilleta,
three hundred yards south; at the powder-house,
one thousand yards east by south; on the ditch,
eight hundred yards north. Notwithstanding all
this, a company of thirty-two men from Gonzales,
made their way into us on the morning of the 1st
inst, at three o'clock, and Col. J.B. Bonham (a
courier from Gonzales) got in this morning at eleven
o'clock without molestation. I have so fortified this
place, that the walls are generally proof against
cannon-balls; and I shall continue to entrench
on the inside, and strengthen the walls by throwing
up dirt. At least two hundred shells have fallen
inside our works without having injured a single
man; indeed, we have been so fortunate as not to
lose a man from any cause, and we have killed many
of the enemy. The spirits of my men are still
high, although they have had much to depress them.
We have contended for ten days against an enemy
whose numbers are variously estimated at from
fifteen hundred to six thousand, with Gen. Ramirez
Sesma and Col. Bartres, the aid-de-camp of Santa
Anna, at their head. A report was circulated that
Santa Anna himself was with the enemy, but I think
it was false. A reinforcement of one thousand men
is now entering Bexar from the west, and I think
it more than probable that Santa Anna is now in
town, from< the rejoicing we hear. Col. Fannin is said
to be on the march to this place with reinforcements;
but I fear it is not true, as I have repeatedly sent
to him for aid without receiving any. Col. Bonham,
my special messenger, arrived at Labahia fourteen
days ago, with a request for aid; and on the arrival
of the enemy in Bexar ten days ago, I sent an express
to Col. F. which arrived at Goliad on the next day,
urging him to send us reinforcements -- none have
arrived. I look to the colonies alone for aid;
unless it arrives soon, I shall have to fight the
enemy on his own terms. I will, however, do the
best I can under the circumstances, and I feel
confident that the determined valour and desperate
courage, heretofore evinced by my men, will not
fail them in the last struggle, and although they
may be sacrifieced to the vengeance of a Gothic
enemy, the victory will cost the enemy so dear, that
it will be worse for him than a defeat. I hope
your honorable body will hasten on reinforcements,
ammunition, and provisions to our aid, as soon as
possible. We have provisions for twenty days for
the men we have; our supply of ammunition is limited.
At least five hundred pounds of cannon powder,
and two hundred rounds of six, nine, twelve, and
eighteen pound balls -- ten kegs of rifle powder,
and a supply of lead, should be sent to this place
without delay, under a sufficient guard.

If these things are promptly sent, and large
reinforcements are hastened to this frontier, this
neighborhood will be the great and decisive battle
ground. The power of Santa Anna is to be met here
or in the colonies; we had better meet them here,
than to suffer a war of desolation to rage our
settlements. A blood-red banner waves from the
church of Bexar, and in the camp above us, in token
that the war is one of vengeance against rebels;
they have declared us as such, and demanded that
we should surrender at discretion or this garrison
should be put to the sword. Their threats have
had no influence on me or my men, but to make all
fight with desperation, and that high-souled courage
which characterizes the patriot, who is willing
to die in defense of his country's liberty and
his own honour.

The citizens of this municipality are all our enemies
except those who have joined us heretofore; we have
but three Mexicans now in the fort; those who have
not joined us in this extremity, should be declared
public enemies, and their property should aid in
paying the expenses of the war.

The bearer of this will give you your honorable
body, a statement more in detail, should he escape
through the enemy's lines. God and Texas! --
Victory or Death!!

P.S. The enemy's troops are still arriving, and the
reinforcements will probably amount to two or three

To Jesse Grimes
March 3, 1836

Do me the favor to send the enclosed to its proper
destination instantly. I am still here, in fine spirits
and well to do, with 145 men. I have held this place
for ten days against a force variously estimated
from 1,500 to 6,000, and shall continue to hold it
till I get relief from my country or I will perish in
its defense. We have had a shower of bombs and
cannon balls continually falling among us the
whole time, yet none of us has fallen. We have
been miraculously preserved. You have no doubt
seen my official report of the action of the 24th
ult. in which we repulsed the enemy with
considerable loss; on the night of the 25th they
made another attempt to charge us in the rear of
the fort, but we received them gallantly by a
discharge of grape shot and musquertry, and they
took to their scrapers immediately. They are now
encamped in entrenchments on all sides of us.

All our couriers have gotten out without being
caught and a company of 32 men from Gonzales
got in two nights ago, and Colonel Bonham got in
today by coming between the powder house and the
enemy's upper encampment....Let the convention
go on and make a declaration of independence,
and we will then understand, and the world will
understand, what we are fighting for. If independence
is not declared, I shall lay down my arms, and so
will the men under my command. But under the flag
of independence, we are ready to peril our lives
a hundred times a day, and to drive away the
monster who is fighting us under a blood-red flag,
threatening to murder all prisoners and make Texas
a waste desert. I shall have to fight the enemy
on his own terms, yet I am ready to do it, and
if my countrymen do not rally to my relief, I am
determined to perish in the defense of this place,
and my bones shall reproach my country for her
neglect. With 500 men more, I will drive Sesma
beyond the Rio Grande, and I will visit vengeance
on the enemy fighting against us. Let the government
declare them public enemies, otherwise she is
acting a suicidal part. I shall treat them as such,
unless I have superior orders to the contrary.

My respects to all friends, confusion to all enemies.
God Bless you.

To David Ayers
March 3, 1836

Take care of my little boy. If the country should be
saved, I may make for him a splendid fortune; but
if the country be lost and I should perish, he will
have nothing but the proud recollection that he is
the son of a man who died for his country.

The letter to David Ayers is the last known letter written
by Travis before the fall of the Alamo on the morning of
March 6, 1836.

William Barret Travis died at his post on the cannon
platform at the northeast corner of the fortress.

He was 26 years old.


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