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, & 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 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 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. Travis
Colonel Travis sent that letter at the beginning of the siege of over 3000 Mexican troops. Thirteen days into the siege, on March 6, 1836, the Alamo fell, and all but a few were lost. Three days before the Alamo fell, Colonel Travis sent a final letter that ended with this:
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; demanded, that we should surrender at discretion, or that 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 honor. 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 your honorable body a statement more in detail, should he escape through the enemy's lines.
God and Texasâ€”Victory or Death.
[signed] W.B. Travis
Colonel Travis knew what fate awaited himself and his men. When the Mexicans taunted them, they only fought harder. The time for failed politics was over. The fight was afoot, and the men and women in the Alamo fought for more then their lives. Those brave rebels fought for their country.
I believe that this powerful truth is sadly missed in today's casual talk about war. People talk about sacrificing one's life for something bigger than politics with such casual acrimony, as if there is no sacrifice. I see today's warriors fighting the same fight today in Iraq, only it's not the Mexicans that have them outnumbered. It's the Americans at home who have lost their faith, lost their compassion, and lost their will.
It is because of brave men and women, such as those who fought and won Texas' independence, that I am free to pay them respect. I will never forget them, and I will never forget the Alamo.