Victory or Death Letter

President Andrew Jackson

The Victory or Death Letter
The William B. Travis Victory or Death letter was sent during the 13 day siege known as the Battle of the Alamo (February 23, 1836 March 6, 1836). Colonel William Travis was the commander of the regular soldiers and co-commander of the garrison. William B. Travis led a handful of 180 American rebels at the derelict mission in San Antonio against Mexican forces totaling 1800. The Victory or Death letter describes the level of patriotism and courage shown, against all odds, in the cause of freedom and liberty for Texas.

Victory or Death Letter
Andrew Jackson was the 7th American President who served in office from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837. One of the important events during his presidency was the Battle of the Alamo and the "Victory or Death" letter sent by Colonel William B. Travis during the siege.

   
  

Facts about the Victory or Death Letter for kids
The following facts provide information about the Victory or Death letter:

● The Victory or Death letter was written by William B. Travis
● The letter was dated February 24, 1836 (one day into the siege)
● The envelope was marked with the defiant words "Victory or Death"
● The 4 page letter was addressed "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World"
● The destination was the closest town community of Gonzales, where copies of the letter were circulated
● Colonel William B. Travis gave the letter to Private Lancelot Smither who passed it to courier Captain Albert Martin
● Albert Martin and Lancelot Smither added notes to Travis's letter
● Transcripts of the letter began to appear in newspapers as early as March 2, 1836

Text of the Victory or Death Letter
The original "Victory or Death" letter is located in the Texas State Library and Archives in Austin, Texas. The full text of the Victory or Death Letter is detailed below:

Text of the Victory or Death Letter
"To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World"
February 24, 1836

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.

Travis

The Victory or Death Letter for kids: Destinations of letters written by William B. Travis
William B Travis sent several letters during the Battle of the Alamo. The Victory or Death letter was initially dispatched to Gonzales, which was the nearest town. The destinations of letters sent by William B. Travis from the Alamo were the town communities of Gonzales, Goliad, San Felipe, Nacogdoches and Washington-on-the-Brazos. These communities made copies of the Victory or Death letter. By March 2, 1836 transcripts of the William B. Travis Victory or Death letter began to appear in newspapers which aroused the patriotism of all it readers.

Response to the Victory or Death Letter
The town of Gonzales was the first to respond to the Victory or Death letter. It was the closest town to the Alamo and responded by sending 32 men of the Gonzales Ranging Company to their aid.  The Gonzales Ranging Company entered the Alamo on the morning of March 1, 1836. Help was also sent by the other towns but by the time they reached the Alamo the battle was over.

Victory or Death Letter for kids
The info about the Victory or Death Letter provides interesting facts and important information about this important document that was written during the presidency of the 7th President of the United States of America.

The Note added by Private Lancelot Smither to the Victory or Death Letter
Albert Martin and Lancelot Smither both added notes to the William B. Travis "Victory or Death" letter. The first note written by Private Lancelot Smither was printed sideways. Its text was as follows:

Nb I hope that Every One will Rondevu at gonzales as soon poseble as the Brave Solders are suffering do not neglect this
powder is very scarce and should not be delad one moment L. Smither

It might seem inappropriate now to add a note to a letter but this was the Battle of the Alamo. 180 men were faced with the overwhelming forces of General Santa Anna - which according to the words of Travis would "...no doubt increase to three or four thousand". Private Lancelot Smither was poorly educated but to took the opportunity to add his personal plea for help.

Text of the Victory or Death Letter: Note added by Lancelot Smither
The second note added to the Victory or Death Letter was written by the courier Captain Albert Martin as an update on the events that were unfolding at the Battle of the Alamo. Its text was as follows:

Since the above was written I heard a very heavy Canonade during the whole day think there must have been an attack made upon the Alamo We were short of amunition when I left Hurry on all the men you can in haste When I left there was but 150 determined to do or die tomorrow I leave for Bejar with what men I can raise [copy here illegible] at all events Col. Almonte is there the troops are under the Command of Gen. Seisma

Albert Martin

Victory or Death Letter for kids - President Andrew Jackson Video
The article on the Victory or Death Letter provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office. The following Andrew Jackson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 7th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1829 to March 4, 1837.

Victory or Death Letter

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