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Telegraph and Texas Register (a newspaper in San Felipe, Texas) prints a copy of William Barret Travis’s last surviving letter from the Alamo, describing conditions within the Alamo, urging the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos to declare independence for Texas, and appealing for reinforcements.
As commander of the Alamo, Travis regularly sent out urgent letters asking for reinforcements from the Anglo-American colonies in eastern Texas. Receiving reinforcements was, indeed, the primary strategy of the Alamo defenders as they held out against Santa Anna’s forces. Travis estimates that Santa Anna had “1500 to 6000 soldiers” in San Antonio by early March 1836, though scholars today believe it was around 2,000.
Travis described several attacks that Santa Anna made on the Alamo during the 13-day siege (the first on February 25 and another on March 2), which were intended by Santa Anna to test the defenses of the Alamo in preparation for the full assault that came on March 6, 1836. Travis mentions the 32 men from Gonzales who arrived in the Alamo in the predawn of March 1, 1836, and would prove to be the only known reinforcements that the Alamo ever received.
In the letter, Travis was particularly interested in the convention he knew was meeting in the village of Washington-on-the-Brazos, which he wanted to declare Texas independent from Mexico. Although Travis could not know it, the convention had already declared independence on March 2, 1836, and ordered General Sam Houston to raise forces to ride to the defense of the Alamo.
The Alamo fell three days after Travis’s letter, before Houston could reach them. Travis’s letter was then reprinted in the Telegraph and Texas Register (a newspaper based in the village of San Felipe de Austin) on March 24, 1836, after news of the fall of the Alamo had reached the Anglo colonies and just a few days after the massacre of Texas troops at Goliad. At the time the letter appeared in the Telegraph, widespread panic had gripped most of Texas as Sam Houston’s small army began a strategic retreat in the face of Santa Anna’s army marching eastward toward the Anglo-American colonies.