Victory or Death!

The Siege of the Alamo by Howard David Johnson

Commandancy of the The Alamo

Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World-

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

In the still darkness of early morning on March 6, 1836, the most important defeat in Texas history took place as the assault on the Alamo began.  Inside that former mission were 189 courageous men ready to lay down their lives for Texas’ independence.  Outside, columns of Mexican army troops were drawn up for battle, led by Santa Ana, “the Napoleon of the West”.

The walls of the Alamo, which once gave shelter to the Blessed Sacrament and Franciscan missionaries, would soon witness these few brave men shed their blood that Texas might be free.

Once the battle began, it was over in less than two hours.  Santa Ana, called it “a small affair,” despite losing nearly a third of his troops to the greatly outnumbered Texians and Tejanos.

At the beginning of the 13 day siege leading up to the battle, Col. William Barrett Travis penned a letter calling on The People of Texas and All Americans to come to the aid of the Alamo defenders.  He closed with the emphatic declaration VICTORY OR DEATH.

Those men did indeed meet death at the Alamo – and death was their victory.

The courageous sacrifice of the men who gave their lives became a rallying point, inspiring many to come to the aid of Texas in her struggle for independence.

The same bravery which inspired Travis to declare “Victory or Death” found an amplified voice at the Battle of San Jacinto, as Sam Houston’s men, quickly vanquishing Santa Ana’s troops, roared “Remember the Alamo!”

The famous letter written by Col. Travis will be on display through tomorrow (March 7) at the Alamo. This is a once in a lifetime chance to view the letter where it was written 177 years ago.