“To the people
of Texas and all Americans in the World:
I shall never
surrender or retreat … I Am determined to sustain myself as long as
possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what it is due to
his honor and that of his country-VICTORY OR DEATH.” This was a
letter sent by William Barret Travis during the siege of the Alamo on
February 24, 1836. It was a cry for help to anybody and everybody
willing to listen.
It all started
in 1830 with Stephen Austin, a leader of American pioneers in the
wild, living in Texas, under the rule of the Mexican government, who
had solved two major problems that the settlers had with the
government. The colonist were now allowed to keep slaves in Texas,
even though no other areas under Mexican rule owned slaves and the
second was the government made sure that Texans would be protected by
the Mexican government from suits to collect debts that they had
contracted in the United States before their immigration to Texas.
All over the South were signs on bankrupt homes homes saying “Gone
to Texas” were they did not have to pay off their debts (Downey
Austin and his
followers were very hot tempered and ready to start up with any
government that they disliked. They soon found a chance to stir up
trouble under the changeable Mexican rule. Mexican authorities began
to worry that too many Americans were coming into their country.
About thirty thousand settlers came to Texas in a ten year span after
Austin had established his settlement. The Mexican government under
the urging of President Bustamante made harsh laws against arrival of
new immigrants into Texas in 1830. Trade was also restricted with
America. All borders were closed to newcomers but the Louisiana
border could not be patrolled and settlers continued to arrive in
Texas. American settlers were put into jail for the ruckus they
caused due to these new laws, among them was Stephen Austin.
On July 1833
Austin traveled to Mexico City to plead the cause of the colonists.
The colonists wanted to obtain full Mexican statehood and have total
control over themselves. Mexican officials would not listen to the
Texans. On his way home Austin was arrested for treason on January 3,
1834. The government had intercepted a letter from Austin that said
that if his appeal had failed the Texans should establish themselves
as a separate state of Mexico. He was jailed for eighteen months.
protested and soldiers were sent to control the mobs. After the
release of Austin on September 1, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had
been elected President of Mexico. In the fall of 1835 Santa Anna had
sent more troops, under the leadership of his brother in law General
Martin Cos, to Texas in order to enforce the immigration laws. Austin
and some soldiers had surrounded settlements in Mexican territory and
were considered by the government to be rebels. Mexico had no choice
but to attempt to use military forces. Thirty thousand Texans were
willing to fight against a nation of seven million. They did not
receive any government aid from the United States but sympathetic
Southern states secretly sent troops.
The war began
with battle of “the Lexington of the Texas revolution” (Downey
46) taken place on October 2, 1835. This little battle consisted of
one hundred Mexican troops sent to Gonzales, a town east of San
Antonio, to order the settlers to surrender their only cannon. The
soldiers said “come and take it” (Fisher 26) and eventually they
killed one Mexican soldier. The war had begun.
More and more
Texans answered the call to arms such as Ben Milan a soldier of the
War of 1812, James Bowie who was know for his knife, Sam Houston and
Stalwart Davy Crockett both former soldiers and congressmen. And the
name that would lead them all Wiiliam Barret Travis.
October 9, 1835
Ben Milan led an attack at Goliad. The Mexicans were surprised and
surrendered to the pioneers who ended up with numerous weapons and
ten thousand dollars. Later that month Austin sent troops under Bowie
to San Antonio. While camping they were attacked by Mexican troops.
The Texan solders dominated this fight coming out with only one
fatality. They could have gone on to capture San Antonio but Austin
said that they needed to reorganize themselves. The siege continued
on for an additional six weeks.
During this time
the Texans gathered outside the city of Bejar and fifty seven Texans
signed a Declaration of Causes explaining why they were now going to
war for their independence. The word came on November 7, 1835
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and other military chieftains, have by
force of arms overthrown the federal institutions of Mexico, and
dissolved the social compact which existed between Texas and other
members of the Mexican confederacy; now the good people of Texas,
availing themselves of their natural rights, Solemnly declare:
That they have
taken up arms in defense of their rights and liberties, which were
threatened by the encroachments of military despots, and in defense
of the republican principles of the federal constitution of Mexico,
That Texas is no
longer morally or civilly bound by the compact of union; yet,
stimulated by the generosity and sympathy common to a free people,
they offer their support and assistance to such members of the
Mexican confederacy as will take up arms against military despotism.
That they hold
it to be their right during the disorganization of the federal
system, and the reign of despotism to withdraw from the union, and to
establish an independent government… (Fisher 28).
one hundred and fifty soldiers were wounded General Cos and his
troops surrendered to the Texans and among the things acquired by the
Texans was the Alamo. This building was originally used as a Catholic
missionary built by Padre Olivares in 1718. It consisted of a
monastery and church that were enclosed by high walls. The original
name was San Antonio de Valero. It was later called the Alamo due to
the cottonwood trees surrounding the mission. But this victory was a
very costly one. While the siege was going on nearly ten thousand
more settlers assembled outside the city. The one problem was that
these soldiers were getting bored and had nothing to do. Many started
to return home either out of boredom or belief that the war was over.
Only one hundred
and fifty men were left to face the winter under the leadership of
Sam Houston. The soldiers assumed that the Mexicans who now were
driven South were very unlikely to return for the duration of the
ordered a concentration of on the theory that the Mexicans would
return. He recommended the destruction and abandonment of San
Antonio. For this cautious counseling Houston was deposed from
command. Thus lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis a twenty seven
year old lawyer from Edgefield, South Carolina was now in command
with James Bowie.
Santa Anna was
infuriated by his brother in laws loss and took command of about four
thousand soldiers. They at San Antonio arrived on the afternoon of
February 23, 1836. Travis immediately ordered the town to be
abandoned and the Alamo occupied. Travis, Bowie and the soldiers
packed into the Alamo waiting for Santa Anna. Captain Almaron
Dickenson, his wife and baby also proceeded into the fort.
Travis sent out
couriers with appeals for help. It dated February 24,1836. It said:
To the people of
Texas and 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 and
cannonade for twenty four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy
has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise the Garrison are to
be put to the torch, 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 or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name
of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American
character, to come to our aid with all dispatch- the enemy is
receiving reinforcements daily and 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 and die like a
soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of
his country. The letter was signed in Victory or death (Fisher 7 ).
The day after
the battle had commenced Bowie was deathly sick with pneumonia and
had to be carried everywhere on a stretcher. He surrendered his
leadership solely to Travis. Besides Bowie nobody had been injured
A week later
after receiving Travis’ plea for help thirty two soldiers from
Gonzales would slip through the Mexican lines arriving safely to the
Alamo. Four hundred men also attempted relive the Mexicans but they
had equipment trouble on the way. That was all.
continually bombed and fired at the Alamo and the Alamo fired back
until the garrison was extremely low on ammunition.
On March 2, 1836
delegates from all fifty nine towns in Texas declared independence
and signed a Declaration of Independence forming a provisional
government whereas David Burnet was the President. But the people at
the Alamo had no idea that independence had been declared and
continued fighting. Travis knew that they were being destroyed and
the next day he called for a fight to the death. He took his sword
and drew a line in the dirt and said whomever wants to fight to the
death should step over, everybody did.
To the death
they fought. Massacred by the Mexican army only four survivors
remained. Mrs. Dickenson, her child and two male slaves. Nobody else
was spared. From that point on the Texans used the battle cry ”
Remember the Alamo!”( Downey 57 ).
description was given by the mayor of Bejar Antonio Ruiz of the scene
after the battle:
” On the North
battery of the fortress lay the lifeless body of Colonel Travis on
the gun carriage, shot only in the forehead. Toward the west, and in
a small fort opposite the city, we found the body of Colonel
Crockett. Colonel Bowie was found dead in his bed, in one of the
rooms of the south side….” ( Fisher 41 ).
The loss at the
Alamo sent a panic through Texas. Extremely angry Houston gathered an
army together and six weeks later began to search for Santa Anna and
his army. Houston marched his men toward Anna screaming ” Remember
the Alamo!” ( Downey 57 ). With that cry they defeated Anna at San
Jacinto capturing Anna and forcing him to sign a treaty granting
independence to the Texas republic.
The quote said
by Travis was a very important one. While the Alamo was on the verge
of destruction this cry for help was sent to anybody willing to help
them. Nothing that would have helped Travis win the war arrived on
time. But due to the fact that he said they would fight to the death
and actually fought to the death created a strong bond between the
rest of Texas. The Texans attacked the Mexicans with all their might
charging at the enemy screaming ” Remember the Alamo” ( Doweny 57
). Their incentive in winning was the one hundred and eighty deaths
at the Alamo. This inner strength that they obtained from the defeat
at the Alamo helped the others defeat the Mexicans and finally win
their freedom from the yolk of the Mexican government and eventually
being accepted as the twenty eighth state in the United States of
acceptance would not come easily. They had problems being accepted
due to the fact that the ownership of slaves was considered alright
in Texas but the North did not want to accept more slave states.
Eventually on February 19, 1846 they were accepted as a state.
enjoined learning about the Alamo. I never really knew what it was
before this and was always wondering why it was such an important
event in Texan history. The one thing that confuses me is why the
State of Texas would choose a war that they were totally destroyed in
as an event that is considered greater than most other events
throughout Texan history. But for one thing I truly admire Travis and
his followers for fighting to the death like heros in order to
establish freedom and their rights they believed that in all truth
TheAlamoEssay, ResearchPaper I shall never surrender or retreat … I ... William Barret Travis during the siege of theAlamo on February 24, 1836 ... had solved two major problems that the settlers had with the government. The colonist ...
The Awakening Essay, ResearchPaper “The boundaries which divide Life and ... ends, and where the other begins?” Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial (Bartlett ... , 642). To venture into the world ...
AluminumEssay, ResearchPaperAluminumAluminum is a lightweight, silver-colored metal ... aluminum. The word aluminum comes from the term alumen. Alumen is the Latin word for alum, a group of aluminum ...