Today in Texas History – February 24

From the Annals of the Revolution –  In 1836, Col. William Barret Travis  wrote his famous letter addressed “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.” Travis, a failed lawyer and largely considered to be an inept military commander, achieved his moment of greatness with the stroke of his pen.  Writing from the besieged garrison at the Alamo in San Antonio, Travis relayed the dire circumstances he and the unfortunate forces under his command were facing.  He called out for help. “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.” Travis either knew that his situation was hopeless or was hoping against hope for a miracle that did not exist.  Inspired by his letter, some 32 men from Gonzales and the DeWitt Colony reached the Alamo in the early morning hours of March 1.  They were killed along with the other defenders when the Mexican Army assaulted the crumbling fort days later.  Col. James Fannin, another hopeless military incompetent, began a march towards the Alamo but deterred by the presence of Gen. Urrea’s forces  moved into an indefensible position, surrendered and was later killed in the mass execution of his troops.  The most famous lines of Travis’ letter pledged that he would “never surrender or retreat” and swore “Victory or Death” most likely knowing that the latter was the only possible outcome.  His prediction was correct as Travis was among the first to die in the final battle.

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