Alamo defenders call for help 1836
On this day in 1836, in San Antonio, Texas, Colonel William Travis issues a call for help on behalf of the Texan troops defending the Alamo, an old Spanish mission and fortress under attack by the Mexican army.
A native of Alabama, Travis moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1831. He soon became a leader of the growing movement to overthrow the Mexican government and establish an independent Texan republic. When the Texas revolution began in 1835, Travis became a lieutenant-colonel in the revolutionary army and was given command of troops in the recently captured city of San Antonio de Bexar (now San Antonio). On February 23, 1836, a large Mexican force commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived suddenly in San Antonio. Travis and his troops took shelter in the Alamo, where they were soon joined by a volunteer force led by Colonel James Bowie.
Though Santa Ana’s 5,000 troops heavily outnumbered the several hundred Texans, Travis and his men determined not to give up. On February 24, they answered Santa Ana’s call for surrender with a bold shot from the Alamo’s cannon. Furious, the Mexican general ordered his forces to launch a siege. Travis immediately recognized his disadvantage and sent out several messages via couriers asking for reinforcements. Addressing one of the pleas to “The People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” Travis signed off with the now-famous phrase “Victory or Death.”
Only 32 men from the nearby town of Gonzales responded to Travis’ call for help, and beginning at 5:30 a.m. on March 6, Mexican forces stormed the Alamo through a gap in the fort’s outer wall, killing Travis, Bowie and 190 of their men. Despite the loss of the fort, the Texan troops managed to inflict huge losses on their enemy, killing at least 600 of Santa Ana’s men.
The brave defense of the Alamo became a powerful symbol for the Texas revolution, helping the rebels turn the tide in their favor. At the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 910 Texan soldiers commanded by Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana’s army of 1,250 men, spurred on by cries of “Remember the Alamo!” The next day, after Texan forces captured Santa Ana himself, the general issued orders for all Mexican troops to pull back behind the Rio Grande River. On May 14, 1836, Texas officially became an independent republic.
(More Events on This Day in History)
- 1803 Marbury v. Madison establishes judicial review
- 1955 French Formula One champ born
- 1864 Battle of Dalton, Georgia, begins
- 1982 Reagan announces Caribbean Basin Initiative
- 1981 Harris is convicted of murdering Scarsdale Diet doctor
- 1999 Avalanche buries homes in Austria
- 1868 President Andrew Johnson impeached
- 1917 Zimmermann Note presented to U.S. ambassador
- 1946 Peron elected in Argentina
- 1968 Tet offensive halted
- 1988 Supreme Court defends right to satirize public figures
- 1991 Gulf War ground offensive begins
- 1938 Variety announces big news about The Wizard of Oz
- 1786 Wilhelm Grimm is born
- 2004 “Grey Tuesday” brings mashups to the mainstream
- 1836 Travis sends for help at the Alamo
- 1840 Adams begins arguments in the Amistad case
- 1982 The Great One scores 77th goal
- 1968 Hue recaptured
- 1969 Airman wins Medal of Honor for action on this day
World War I
- 1917 British troops recapture Kut in Mesopotamia
World War II
- 1944 “Merrill’s Marauders” hit Burma