|(Courtesy of www.travisletter.com)|
In February 177 years ago, a young man from South Carolina and Alabama named William Barret Travis found himself in a dire situation. Due to the illness of Col. James Bowie, Travis was the commanding officer of a little more than 100 Texians, situated in a former mission known by many as The Alamo, fighting for independence from Mexico.
On Feb, 24, the 26-year-old and his troops were surrounded by "a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna." In desperate hope for assistance, he wrote a letter, a plea for help.
In that letter dramatically addressed to "To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World," Lt. Col. Travis explained the situation and declared, "I shall never surrender or retreat....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."
A few men did come to his aid, but they were not enough to hold back the Mexican forces. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the Mexicans attacked, and The Alamo fell. Most, if not all, of the men defending the garrison died in the battle, including Travis.
A month and a half later, the Texians won, and the Republic of Texas as born. A few years later, Texas became one of the United States.
Through all of these years, that cry for help and declaration of independence that Travis penned has survived. Known as the "Victory or Death Letter," it is normally housed in the Texas State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas. However, for a short time later this month, Travis' letter will be returned to the place of its origin, The Alamo. It will be on display at The Alamo from Feb. 23 through March 7. A special protective display case has been built just for the letter, and funds were raised to pay for the security needed when the letter is transferred to and housed at The Alamo.
You can read all about the "Victory or Death Letter" on a special website, www.travisletter.com, and at www.thealamo.org. There is also a contest to win a trip to San Antonio to see the letter. Find out more information about the contest here.