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.
From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1835, fighting broke out at Gonzales between Mexican soldiers and Texian militiamen. Gen. Domingo de Ugartechea learned that the colonists of Gonzales refused to surrender a small cannon that had been given that settlement in 1831 as a defense against the Indians, he dispatched Francisco de Castañeda and 100 dragoons to retrieve it on September 27. Though Castañeda attempted to avoid conflict, on the morning of October 2 his force clashed with local Texan militia led by John Henry Moore in the first battle of the Texas Revolution. The colonists motto of “Come and Take It” became a rallying cry. The actual skirmish for the cannon was brief and ended with the retreat of Castañeda and his force, but it also marked a clear break between the American colonists and the Mexican government.
From the Annals of Short-Lived Promises – In 1835, the town of Gonzales passed resolutions of loyalty to Mexico. The resolutions were passed based in part on the influence of the mysterious Edward Gritten. Gritten was reputed to be an Englishman and a long-time resident of Mexico. He came to Texas in 1834 as secretary to Juan N. Almonte. He was reported to have worked in the summer of 1835 to repair the fraying connections between the Texas colonists and the Mexican government. He urged the Mexican government to adopt conciliatory measures, assuring them that most Texans were law-abiding Mexican citizens. He was engaged to plead with Martín Perfecto de Cos to avoid any further confrontations and demonstrate that the Texian colonists were peaceful and did not want war or revolution. However, on the way to Matamoros, Gritten encountered a courier who had orders from Domingo Urgatechea to arrest William B. Travis and others. Gritten returned to San Antonio in a failed attempt to persuade Ugartechea to revoke the orders. Gritten continued his attempts to mediate the disputes between Ugartechea and the colonists. His only official post never came to fruition. Although, Gritten was elected as collector of the port of Copano, Governor Henry Smith refused to sign the commission because he considered Gritten a spy. Gritten disappeared from history. The last information found concerning Gritten is a receipt for money paid him by the government in October 1836 for his services as a translator.
Image of Domingo Urgatechea