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Alamo Visitors to View 'Victory or Death' Letter
February 10, 2013

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Visitors to the Alamo will soon be able to read the famous letter written by the commander of the Texans who died there.

William Travis followed orders and took his 150 or so men into the largely empty Spanish mission in 1836, as part of the movement to get Texas into the United States. In early March, Mexican forces under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna routed the Texans holed up in the Alamo, killing all of them, including well-known frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.

The letter was addressed "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World" and read thus:

Fellow citizens and compatriots;
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and 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, and 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 and 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 and 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.

The letter made it out of the Alamo but not in time for reinforcements to arrive. The Alamo battle served as a rallying cry for the American forces, which defeated the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto a few weeks later and won the Mexican-American War a few years after that.

The battle began on February 23, with a siege, and ended on March 7, with the attack. The letter, written by Travis at the beginning of the siege, will be on display for those dates this year. 

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